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Monofilament thread problem on a Bernina 820

by Patty

I cannot get the monofilament thread to work in my new Bernina 820.

I am using the best thread and have tried setting the tension to looser settings. I am using the 75 or 80 Microtex needles and 50wt cotton thread in the bobbin. But it still will only make a few stitches before it begins to hang up and stretch to the breaking point.

The Bernina 820 does have a tall thread stand and I have used the net to help control the unwinding to no avail. I have discussed this with my Bernina dealer and they claim that they don't use the monofilament thread on the Bernina 820 because the arm is so long that it makes the thread tangle. I am really disappointed that I cannot use this machine with the monofilament thread to do the invisible applique.

I am able to use it on my old Bernina 1090 but not my new machine. I have searched the Bernina website and sent messages to them but have not responded or nor do they list any good advise that I haven't already tried.

Is anyone else having this problem with the Bernina 820? If so, has anyone found a solution to the problem?


Patty, I'm posting this question in hopes that a Bernina 820 user will respond with actual experience, but in the meantime, have you gotten...

Bernina 820 Sewing Machine

A New Thread Lubricator Guide for
Series 8 Machines

This new 'Thread Guide Accessory Kit' is free from Bernina (Reorder # 033595.70.00 Location: B8903010201. "8 Series Kit for FREE" is marked on the box itself).

Installed near the spool holder, it adds an additional guide to tame unruly threads, as well as providing a sponge for thread lubricant. Check with your dealer for availability.

Intuitively, each thread guide adds a bit of tension to the thread as it passes through your sewing machine. I would expect to have to reduce needle tension further or increase bobbin tension to offset this additional guide.

Additional Research Reveals...

In researching information I've found, threading your machine with monofilament thread is a bit trickier than, say, a cotton thread. Bernina asks that monofilament thread be held tight all the way through to the white lips, only then can threading your sewing machine begin. Bernina also suggest to reduce your stitching speed to 1/2 or 1/4. (For machine applique, this is a good idea anyway, the zig zag is pretty small. It's faster to sew slower than sew fast and have to rip things out.)

If you are quilting with the BSR (Bernina Stitch Regulator) engaged, the manufacturer recommends these tension settings:

  • Sulky monofilament: 1.75 - 2.0
  • YLI monofilament: 1.75
  • Madeira monofilament: 2.5-3.0
While you want to use the thread for invisible machine applique, these are at least indications of where to start testing the tension.

One quilter recommends using Superior Threads' Bottom Line in the bobbin with Superior MonoPoly in the needle, a 5.5mm throat plate, with bobbin tension two clicks right of normal.

Have you tried making any adjustments to your bobbin tension?

Increasing it would help counteract the higher tension created by the needle monofilament. (Both of the Superior Threads this quilters recommends are polyester.) Refer to your owner's manual for instructions on how to do this.

Other recommendations from quilters who've had problems with this machine include:

  • Download any updates from Bernina as they are available. Many report the updates DO make a difference.

  • Make sure your machine is on a very sturdy table. Any bounce will effect tension.

  • Always clip your thread at the spool and pull the thread tail out through the needle. Just removing the spool and pulling the thread back through the machine can effect your tension.

  • Try a separate cone holder for threads. YLI and SewArt monofilament are cross-wound onto cones. The separate thread stand gives them a bit longer to 'un-kink' before they get to the machine.

Online Bernina Discussion Groups

You may want to join an on-line discussion group for your sewing machine. Yahoo has one for the Bernina Series 8. These groups can be quite helpful, especially when you have a problem. You have the option of selecting 'digest' which means you'll get a batch of posts at once or choose to have the posts emailed to you individually.

Bernina 820/830 users, if you've had these problems and overcome them, please use the 'Comment' link below to help a fellow quilter.

You may also wish to add your experiences with this machine to our Sewing Machine Reviews to assist other quilters who may be purchasing this machine.

Patty, I hope one of these suggestions helps. These machines cost a pretty penny (lots of pennies, really). You are not alone with problems you've been experiencing.

Thank you.


Julie Baird

Comments for Monofilament thread problem on a Bernina 820

Click here to add your own comments

by: Darla

After many attempts at quilting on the 830 with Monofilament, FINALLY I achieved success!

It was the comment about changing the needle to a Jeans size 14 needle. That seemed to do the trick!

Thank you, whoever you are!

Bernina 830 Skipping stitches w/BSR
by: Darla

After reading the comments on Monofilament & 830 most of the issues talked about breakage. I'm not having as much of an issue with that as I am skipping stitches as I am doing free motion.

I am only using this machine on my frame for quilting and have not had this problem with my 440QE tabletop. I have tried the various solutions, tension, new size needle, slower speed but I am tiring of all the POSSIBLE solutions!

Does anyone know how to correct this?

Enough! with the Bernina 820
by: Tamar Smith

Fellow Quilters,

I put a complaint about the Bernina 820 on the Bernina FACEBOOK site and they have replied to me asking for more information.

Like many others I spend more time trying to figure it out than I spend sewing. Initially, I assumed that it was something I wasn't doing correctly but after two years of 10 steps solutions for something my other machine does quickly and easily (I bought the 820 to do machine quilting), I've had enough.

Then after reading others complaints, it became clear that the Bernina * series meet the qualifications for the lemon law: "...products that repeatedly fail to meet standards of quality and performance."

I would encourage others to complain on the Facebook page as this is very bad publicity for Bernina. I want a refund. Period. I sew every day and I can't afford to lose upwards of $6 thousand dollars on a lemon. If you would like to discuss this further in another context, we can either do it on facebook or you may write to me and we'll figure something out.

Tamar Smith

Monofilament Issues
by: Anonymous

I'm also having monofilament issues.
I really wish I had never purchased this machine.
I spend more time trying to sew than actually sewing...


Monofilament thread and the 830
by: Anonymousjacey

I had problems with monofilament thread breakage. My dealer told me monofilament needs to feed directly into the machine. I took a smaller spool and set the monofilament spool on top of it so it would feed straight into the machine. Worked well with no problems.

Hope this helps!

Bobbin thread coming to top of work
by: Jan

I have had my 820 for 2 years and have made about 20 quilts with it. Never had a problem until last week.

While using my BSR the bottom thread is looping on the top. I have adjusted the "Dot" on the bobbin - no results, adjusted the top tension - again no results. Needle changed, cleaned thoroughly, oil - still looping. Tried decorative stitching and the top stitching was all the color of the bobbin thread!

After 6 million stitches with no problem and regular check ups by a Bernina technician does anyone have any ideas?

I use poly threads and have never had problems. In desperation I put a heavy cotton thread in the bobbin and top and it worked perfectly. This indicates tension to me.

Monofilament on the 820
by: Anonymous

My 820 was in and out of the shop from the end of March and all through April for just this problem.

I researched it on Yahoo groups (for the 820/830) and brought the solution to my LQS repair man. On the "older" 820s (I'm assuming the same is true for the 830), there are rivets on the back of the bobbin case stopper (whatever that is), which catch the very fine MonoPoly. Bernina was aware of the problem and fixed it on the newer machines. The repair man finally replaced the bobbin case stopper and made sure to seal anything on the back, which could possible catch (just in case).

I was thrilled when I could finally finish my micro-stippling on a project (it had sewed fine for a few hours one day, before the catching started). Hope this helps anyone else with this problem.

Beth in AZ

From the Editor: Thank you so much for taking the time to share your solution, Beth. I'm sure it will help others!


by: 820 and 780 user

Thank you for all the helpful tips. My 820 has been difficult to master however today I had great success....hopefully on my final piece results will be the same. For those still having trouble, I used these suggestions in order.

FYI: My sample fabric was, cotton bottom, poly fusible batting and muslin top.
1) I used a separate thread stand off to the right about 1 foot away from my machine.
2) I kept tension at thread throat opening firm while threading into the 820
3) I left the thread outside the last catch at the base of the foot and threaded the monofilament manually. To reduce added thread stress.
4) I used Aurifil cotton in bobbin
5) Changed top thread tension to 1.75 to keep it from trying to gather the fabric sandwich. I left the bobbin tension at default
6) Slowed the machine way down about a 1/4" from zero

Surprisingly, the stitching was straight, no bobbin thread showed on top. Thank you for helping me; this has been THE most informative and helpful tips section I have ever come across.

I also suspect each step will require adjustments based on my sandwich and the effect I prefer so I will always use these suggestion as a start and will only adjust if issues arise.

830 using BSR and monofilament thread
by: Susie

I am an experienced free motion quilter (with and without the BSR) using monofilament in the needle and embroidery thread in the bobbin (on my 730 and my Pfaff). I have no problems when using embroidery thread in needle and bobbin on my 830.

My 830 does "see" the monofilament and I do not have thread breakage but the bobbin thread shows on the top. I have tried every trick I know (changing tensions above and below - all combinations,changing needles, lowering machine speed)and still nothing works. I have heard of the "Special Accessory Kit" for the 8 Series but I think it came with my machine and in my experience, it adds tension to needle thread. I definitely don't want to add tension to the monofilament needle thread. I purchased my 830 especially for the wide arm bed for quilting.

Until I figure this out, I must use my 730 for quilting. I was unable to find solutions on the 8-Series and the 830 Yahoo groups.

From the Editor: I am not a Bernina owner so I don't have working experience that this will work, but...

...if the bobbin thread is showing on the top, that says the needle tension is too tight. (Makes sense, monofilament thread creates it's own tension as it goes through the machine.) If you've lowered the needle tension all the way to zero, have you tried taking the monofilament out of the thread guide right before it gets to the needle? Each thread guide, itself, adds a bit of tension.

Let me know if that helps.


~ Julie

Monofilament and the 820
by: Debbie

Monofilament thread will not work on the 820. A lot of other threads also won't work. This is a very touchy machine in more ways than one!

monofilament thread problem
by: Carol Woodward

I am glad to see I am not the only one with this problem. I am very disappointed that such an expensive machine will not handle this thread.

Metalic thread problems
by: Pauline

I am having problems with using the halogen metalic thread it gets caught around the bobbin with just a few stitches. My Bernina dealer tells me the machine does not like metallic thread, they break, but she has never heard of this problem.

Has any one else had issues like this?

Tension to 1
by: Aileen

I was shown by the serviceman that using the thread tension at 1 worked better.

He did this for straight stitching and it was OK. When I tried free motion and the BSR I had a problem then had to reset the tension again to 1 with the BSR. I have tried free motion again and it did not work.

After fighting the machine and clearing out the bobbin case it was just easier and faster to use my Brother 1500 for monofilament free motion.

So much for having a mid-arm machine.

Still does not work
by: Maggie

I have tried all the comments above, i.e., tighten lower tension, loosen upper tension, jeans needle (16) and my 820 sews about 6 stitches and then stops. The information screen comes on with the broken thread symbol.
I have reverted back to my old Virtuosa 153 and using the above techiques it is working quite well.
Why dont the Bernina people figure it out for 820 and post it on their site so that we can all just get on with it.

Monofilament Thread
by: Jeri

I sew with a Bernina 830. I use Superior Monopoly and put Superior Bottom Line in the bobbin. Set the upper tension to 1.75 and tighten the bobbin tension one notch to the right. I use a jeans needle size 14. It is a very sharp point and the eye of the needle is large. I experience little to no breakage. I have used this set up for free motion on the quilt frame and it worked perfectly. I change my needle often and this one small adjustment may be all you need to try. A new needle. I have great success with YLI Invisible Thread also. I hope this helps.

~Thank you so much for your contribution, Jeri!...Julie

Monofilment thread
by: Anonymous

I have the 830 and have sewn more than 5 quilts with the mono thread. The only problem I have had is to make sure the mono thread is threaded thru the bobbin tension. It is very easy to miss the guide. Sometimes I have adjusted the upper tension. It is so easy to do. It just has to be tested for a short time. I hope you get the issue solved to your satisfaction.

Needle issue?
by: Lisa D.

Have you tried a 80/12 topstitch needle, Bottom Line thread in the bobbin and have the top thread unwind from the side. If your machine does not have a way to thread the spool so it unwinds from the side, there is a kit available from Bernina that will fix the problem. Good luck!

820 invisible thread problem
by: Anonymous

Wondering which needle and foot she is using. Is she using the Bernina Stitch Regulator or the standard free motion foot?

Response to your suggestions
by: Patty

Hi Julie, I really appreciate you posting my question and your response with suggestions. However, I have tried all of the suggestions that you and others have made but still have breaking issues after an inch or two of straight stitching with the monofilament thread. I am completely unable to free motion quilt with the thread. I am curious if there are any Bernina 820HQ machine owners who are successfully using monfilament thread. I have spoken to several Bernina Dealerships and none of them claim to use the thread and don't have any suggestions. As a side comment, I went to a Janome dealer and tried their new Horizon 7700 with the monofilament thread and was able to straight stitch, free motion and zigzag stitch without any problems on that machine. It didn't even require special tension setting, just Auto setting. They had King Tut thread in the bobbin. Now I am beginning to think I need to sell my Bernina 820HQ and buy a Janome.

reduce upper tension
by: Anonymous

I just finished using monofilament on my 830 for the first time. I lowered the upper tension quite a bit and sewed slowly until it felt comfortable. No issues.

Remove the spool properly
by: Anonymous

If you haven't already, take the mastery classes. I got a lot of great tips when I did.

Don't pull the thread out backwards. You know like when you grab the spool and pull it off the machine. Clip the thread at the spool and then pull the thread out through the needle. You can mess up the auto-threader if you don't.

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