Tension Problems in the Singer Sewing Machine Model 3116

Renee Shelton

The Singer sewing machine model 3116 was also known as the "Simple" sewing machine. It was an electronic sewing machine produced around 2005, and you can still find it today. The 3116 model had all the basic features, including a bobbin stopper at the top, one-step buttonhole leveler right above the presser foot and an automatic needle threader. Its snap-in sewing table also combined as an accessory storage box. Troubleshooting tension problems include adjusting both the upper and lower threads.

Upper Thread Tension

Correct tension will provide even stitching.
  1. Set the thread tension for the default setting. For the 3116 sewing machine, it will be at setting "4." Test sew on the fabric for the garment being worked on. If the top stitching is loose or tight, the upper stitching tension will need to be corrected.

  2. Turn the dial to a higher number when the upper stitching is very loose. For straight stitching this will be obvious. Decorative stitching may only show if the design is out of place and the stitching is out of bounds. Turn the dial by one, then test sew, and continue increasing the tension until the stitching is straight.

  3. Turn the dial to a lower number to decrease the tension. The tension will need to be reduced if the upper thread is pulling down into the fabric as it is being sewn.

Lower Thread Tension

  1. Turn the handwheel to raise the needle to its highest position.

  2. Open up the hinged cover to the bobbin area and pull on the bobbin case tab to remove the bobbin case and bobbin together.

  3. Hold the thread in one hand and let the bobbin still inside the bobbin case fall, and suspend both in mid-air by itself, by the single thread.

  4. Check the tension by flicking your wrist downward once. The thread tension will be correct if the thread unwinds on its own an inch or two. If the bobbin tension is too loose, it will drop several inches, and if it is too tight, it will not drop at all.

  5. Loosen the bobbin tension by turning the screw with a fingernail slightly to the left. Test by flicking the bobbin and bobbin case downward to check that the thread does release a bit from the bobbin. If it is still not moving, repeat until the bobbin thread flows about an inch or two with each flick of the wrist.

  6. Tighten the bobbin tension by turning the screw with a fingernail slightly to the right. Test again by flicking the bobbin and bobbin case downward to see if the thread flows correctly from the bobbin.

  7. Insert the bobbin back into the bobbin area and close the hinged cover.