S9 tension issue

Toni Valenstein

I'm making a quilt and just doing straight1/4 inch seams.  The stitches are pulling the fabric to cause it to pucker slighter.  (It's puckering upwards at both corners, yet the bobbin thread seems too tight?)   When I press the thread cutter button it pulls the thread and makes it worse.  I'm using 100% cotton thread and Janome prewound bobbins.  Checked the tension settings.  They're both on Auto.  Tried playing around with the settings and it only gets worse.  Cleaned out all my dust bunnies and changed the needle.  Nothing helps.....

Any suggestions?

Lyn Quine

Check the cutter, thread could be trapped in there if it isn’t cutting cleanly, and it could be catching the thread as it sews


If you haven't already, you might slide a folded piece of paper between your tension discs for the top thread to clear any build up or stuck piece of thread.

Toni Valenstein

I've gone thru all the cleaning steps on pg. 160 (manual) Cleaned the thread cutter and everything else.  Videos I've seen says to place some oil in the center of the bobbing holder.  My machine didn't come with oil, just cleaner, and it doesn't mention oiling anywhere in the manual.  My stitching is a bit better, but still curls a bit.  I've tried both bobbing cases and the one with the yellow dot seems to be a little better.  Which bobbin holder is meant for the embroidery?

Where are the tension disks?  


The Skyline series does not have tension disks, but the HD9 does so I think that's the confusion.
There is a tiny wick in the center where bobbin case sits. Touch it with your pinky tip and see if any oil shows on your finger. If yes, it's fine. If no, you can carefully put a drop of oil there. Being a bit dry though, shouldn't have any real effect on the sewing tension.

Is this is a new problem, or a new to you machine?
Are you using the same weight top thread as the Janome bobbin thread?
Have you tried a different spool of thread?
Have you tried a different bobbin thread?
Are you making sure the top thread is snapping under the guide plate (see step 2, p 16 of manual)?
If the guide cover is removable, lift to check for any dust bunnies. If not removable, use a piece of dental floss as thread to guide through the slot for cleaning.
Have you tried a different size needle?
Have you tested other fabrics, eg plain weave cotton and batik?
Last but not least, have you tried a heavier foot pressure?
There are so many things on the machine that can affect thread tension, but different fabrics will also.

Hopefully you'll find an answer. If not, it might need tech adjustment. It's not unknown for them to be too tight coming from the factory.
Jan in MD


The tension disks for your upper thread is where your thread goes between when you loop it down and up then through your take-up arm.
The video link is for a Husqvarna but it's the same place. I know pictures or videos always help me. Hope you find a fix, it's so frustrating when you can't just sew.


I had no idea there were actual discs in there. I thought that path was for the take up lever.



Try lengthening your stitch length a little.  That should help with the puckering.  

I'm not sure what it is about the bobbin thread that you think the tension there is too tight.  It's much easier to adjust the upper tension.  If top thread is being pulled to the bottom, increase the upper tension number to make it a bit tighter and it should pull the bobbin thread more into the middle of the fabric layers.  If bobbin thread is showing on the top, decrease the top thension so that it won't pull as tightly and will relax the thread into the fabric layers.  Do not be afraid to change thread tension.  Sometimes it's what makes the stitches look like they should.  And- like someone else mentioned- there are many things that can cause stitches to not be "right".  I won't list them all again.

Tracy in Nashville, TN

Martha Pullen Licensed Educator

Toni Valenstein

Thank you.  I viewed the video and did that.  Didn't help.

Toni Valenstein

I tried lengthening the stitch.  Same results!  Look at the pics I've added.  If I run my finger along the bobbin thread it feels like a ridge.  I think it's pulling the top thread thru too tightly.  Should I give the screw on the side of the bobbin, near the metal piece that catches the thread a tiny bit to the left.  Using the tensions on the maching did nothing.  They are both set back to "Auto".

Jim Stutsman

Overly tight bobbin tension can cause the symptom you describe, but it's more likely to be insufficient top tension. Fold a piece of fabric in half (denim is good for this) and slide it in the rightmost slot at the top. Work it back and forth like dental floss. This will dislodge anything that may be caught in there. If that has no effect I would suggest having the machine looked at by a technician. It is VERY rare for a machine to come out of the factory with bad bobbin case tension. Trying to fix that will just about always make things worse.

Toni Valenstein

Thank you everyone for trying.  I did learn a lot but nothing seemed to work.  I finally turned the bobbin holder screw 1/2 turn to left.  That worked (using a Janome prewound bobbin).  That bobbin ran out so I wound a new bobbin myself.  Whoops the problem came back, worse.  I then turned the bobbin holder screw back to its original position and it's perfect.


Thanks so much for letting us know. Though we'd rather not tinker with preset bobbin case tensions, it's good to know that could be a problem-solver in certain situations.
Jan in MD