Problem With Bernina Check Springs Easily Fixed

Bernina Check Spring Popped Out (click to enlarge)Every sewing machine that I’ve ever seen has a check spring. The check spring is located just before the take-up lever, and takes slack out of the upper thread just as the needle is about to penetrate the fabric.

For some reason, many Bernina machines have a problem where the check spring tends to pop out of position. I don’t really know how this happens, but once it is popped out of position, the machine sews terribly. The machine operator may believe they have tension issues, and the machine may sound loud and rough. Unfortunately, adjusting the tension is not going to help the machine sew better.

For as many sewing machines as I have serviced over the last 12 years, I’ve seen this problem enough to call it a common problem. Take a close look at the image to the right. The check spring is not located in the space (or channel)  between the take-up lever guard. Click on the image to enlarge it, and take a closer look.

Bernina Check Spring in Correct Position (click to enlarge)Fortunately, it’s really easy to pop the check spring back into place. By simply removing the left end cover, you will have access to push the check spring back into place. I just use my finger. In most cases the check spring does not pop back out, and my customer sews happily for many hours. If the check spring does pop back out, then a new upper tension unit will need to be installed.

The second image, shown to the right, shows the check spring in its correct position. Click on the image to enlarge it, and take a closer look.

Both images were taken of a Bernina 153 that came in for service this week. This issue could apply to, but is not limited to, any virtuosa, artista, or activa sewing machine. Most Bernina machines made in the last 15 years could have a check spring problem as described in this post. It’s an easy fix, and hope this information helps somebody.

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Reader Comments (59)

Betty on 11/29/11 @ 7:23pm

I think this is the problem with my Bernina. Thanks for the info. Now I need to figure out how to find it.

b.gottier on 11/29/11 @ 9:27pm

Betty, the check spring is located just below the take-up lever. The take-up lever is the thing that goes up and down behind the metal guard in the front of the machine.

Janet on 6/7/17 @ 12:28am

Hi, I am hoping you maybe able to help. I have a Bernina 720.
The bobbin case cover will not spring off/open when I depress the spring. I wait in hope. Thank you

b.gottier on 6/7/17 @ 1:59pm

It sounds to me like you might not be pressing the spring to the left, or that possibly your not pressing it hard enough.

Neil Warren on 12/6/11 @ 5:58am

Thank you for sharing. Not to many people in your position are so gracious. Your article was very poignant and understandable. It helped me to understand very clearly. Thank you for your help.

b.gottier on 2/25/12 @ 9:23am

I'm glad I could help!

Danelle on 1/18/12 @ 7:30am

THANK YOU from TN! This information saved me from driving 60 miles (one way) to have my machine fixed. I had my machine opened and saw what I needed to do immediately. FIXED!

b.gottier on 1/19/12 @ 11:11pm

Danelle, glad I could help.

Kristil Harrell on 11/19/12 @ 10:25am

Would this cause the check thread message to pop up!?

b.gottier on 11/20/12 @ 10:55pm

Yes, this could absolutely cause that error message.

Dian Davis on 4/12/14 @ 8:06pm

Today, during my owner's class this warning came up. Since I was at a Bernina store the technician came out and did this exact process, after several other attempts. As I continued to sew the warning came back on....The technician did not have the time so he will be looking at it before the next class.... I think my questions are what is involved in replacing the upper tension and what would something like that cost? Thank you, for this article.
Dian

b.gottier on 4/13/14 @ 3:10pm

Dian, we are no longer a Bernina dealer, so I don't know what the part costs now. It could be under warranty, so you will want to ask about that. As far as labor goes, most of the tension units can be replaced very easily. I done during a regular service, we wouldn't charge for it, but it depends on your dealer.

steph on 4/21/14 @ 4:37am

I have had my Bernina machine for about 4 years and every 6-9 months it goes wrong. It sews perfectly and then the top thread looks fine from the top, the machine makes a funny noise, but when you turn the material over it is very loopy underneath to the extent that it can't be used. The machine has gone back to the dealer every 6 months and I think he is fed up of me. Could this be the problem? so far Bernina have supplied him with a new bobbin casing and he has replace that but he hasn't mentioned this spring. Thanks for any help you can give.

b.gottier on 4/21/14 @ 9:57am

Hi Steph, without knowing more about the specific model you own, I can't really say whether this could be your problem. I recommend asking your dealer to call Bernina and ask their technicians if there is something that may be overlooked in regards to your problem. Bernina's technicians can be very helpful when it comes to weird problems, because they've seen just about every problem that exists with their machines. Also, if you'd like to have your dealer send the machine back to Bernina for inspection, just ask your dealer, as this is always an option. If all else fails, we'd love to show you our Janome line of machines.

Melanie on 6/10/17 @ 10:01pm

Steph,

Did you ever solve your problem? Mine does the same thing and it's driving me crazy. I can't seem to figure it out.

trish on 11/3/14 @ 11:19am

I have a bernina nova. I cannot get the tension right. Do you know if this machine has a check spring. I cannot find it. Much appreciated your blog.
Trish

b.gottier on 11/11/14 @ 10:30am

All modern sewing machines have a check spring, and sometimes they break. If you can't find your check spring, there's a good chance that it broke and the piece is down on the floor (or somewhere else far far away).

Reggie on 9/23/15 @ 5:36am

Have taken my Bernina 820 in to be fixed for this same problem. Was told it happens when the upper thread is pulled out the wrong way. I have always pulled it out through the needle when I have a breakage as instructed. I will be sewing and the machine will stop with error message. No amount of rethreading, adjusting tension, cleaning, changing needles will fix it. The Bernina tech says it's an easy fix to pop the spring back in place but I have to bring it in. This is expensive as it happens all the time. I have never been able to finish one project without this happening. I've been told to turn off thread observer to finish projects. But the tension is off and I have loops . I wish I knew how to fix the spring myself. I'm regretting that I bought this machine, so very frustrating.

b.gottier on 9/24/15 @ 3:28pm

Reggie, when we were Bernina dealers, if this sort of thing would happen repeatedly on machine, we would have Bernina replace the tension unit under warranty. We only had to do it a handful of times. Perhaps you should ask your Bernina dealer if this is an option.

margarette laizure on 10/8/15 @ 9:24pm

I had a spring come out of the rear thread guide on my Bernina 330. Do I need to replace it? It seems to sew fine without it. I wondered why this happened as I looked around on the internet and don't see that springs are in the rear thread guide on the back on the top of the machine. (the first place the thread goes in the threading process) Is there really supposed to be a spring there? Many thanks.

b.gottier on 10/8/15 @ 10:49pm

Yes, that thread guide is a pre-tensioner, and it's function may be critical with some threads. Since it is easily replaced and not expensive, you should have your Bernina dealer replace it during your next service.

Lu on 12/6/15 @ 7:58pm

How do you remove the left end cover?
I am having an issue with the top thread looping underneath when I embroider. It will see good for awhile and then loop and then sew good again. Thinking this might be the problem. I have a Bernina Artista 730.
Thanks for your help

Lu on 12/6/15 @ 8:16pm

Never mind. I figured it out and that's not the problem.

Susan Loomis on 6/28/17 @ 10:22am

Did you figure out what the problem was? Mine is doing the exact same thing.

Gwen kitzerow on 1/9/16 @ 1:50pm

I'm having a terrible time with my 730 Bernina---sews fairly good on the top---loopy on the bottom---I cannot find a spring check---is my machine too old to have one? It seems my tension(s) are off---help!

b.gottier on 1/9/16 @ 2:25pm

You have a check spring, but it's a different style, and it's doubtful that you have a problem with that on your older 730. I suggest bringing it to your local sewing machine technician.

Gloria Burlette on 3/10/16 @ 9:33am

The spring inside the bobbin case has come out and now I can't get the machine to sew a straight stitch that is not gathering on me. I have replaced the spring then turned it over and replaced it and nothing makes a difference. It seems to sew better without it.

b.gottier on 3/12/16 @ 7:43am

This is a problem not easily diagnosed over the internet. It sounds like you're going to need to bring the machine to your local sewing machine technician.

Mary on 3/29/16 @ 6:04am

Hello, I have an ancient 830 bernina which I love but have had a problem with it for ages.. Firstly it struggles to get going. A little like when you forget to wind the wheel on the right back to sewing after threading the bobbin.. Especially if the fabric is more than two thicknesses.. And the second problem seems to be tension.. The top thread is just straight and can very easily be pulled out.. Once checked the spring as you described and that seems ok to me.. Do you have any suggestions please?
Thank you
Mary

b.gottier on 4/1/16 @ 4:47pm

Hi Mary. The problems you describe would be things that only a qualified sewing machine technician could fix. I recommend bringing the machine to your local sewing machine technician.

Jill Hill on 4/18/16 @ 4:08am

Hi. How do I remove left end cover on 1008. I need to rmove all thesnarled threads from the take up lever

b.gottier on 4/19/16 @ 12:55pm

There is no left cover on a 1008. You have to remove the right side cover, the back cover, and a lot more. You're going to need to go to a qualified sewing machine technician.

Jennie on 5/4/16 @ 3:11pm

I have a problem with my little Bernina 215 which I take to classes. It stitches really well when I an doing any stitching with feed dogs up, but when I put them down and lower stitch width and length, it makes the most terrible clonking noise. Is there anything that I can do to help, before taking it to the dealer. Many thanks for reading, my tale of woe. Jennie Lewis

b.gottier on 5/5/16 @ 3:52pm

Jennie, if you put the feed dogs down, they no longer feed, so adjustments to stitch length won't do anything. Can you clarify the issue you are having?

If the machine is making bad (clunking) sounds related to when the feed dogs are dropped or raised, you'll need to bring it to a qualified sewing machine technician.

brenda scofield on 5/10/16 @ 9:20pm

Thank you for your generosity in answering these questions. Since the stitch on my Bernia 153 has suddenly gone loopy in the middle of a project I suspect the spring check. The end cover seems to need a special kind of screw driver to remove. IS this a Bernina trick to make sure we handywomen don't take the machine apart?

b.gottier on 5/11/16 @ 12:39am

No, this type of fastener is actually very common. Your 153 should have came with an L shaped tool that you can use to take the end cover off. It is silver in color. If it's lost, just go to your local auto parts store, Home Depot, or Walmart and get a Torx T-20 driver. Click HERE to see a purchasing option on Amazon.

Kat on 5/13/16 @ 8:19pm

Hi there I just recently purchased a new Bernina 330 and went to wind a bobbin today and the lever is pushed over some. Do not know if it got pushed in a weird way when I recently transported it. It will push over to the position that winds a bobbin and it spins, but I cannot get a bobbin on the winder pin, due to its current position. Is that what the torx adjustments screwdriver is for? I have searched high and low for troubleshooting this area and come up empty. Is it operator error or is this something that needs adjustment somehow? I am desperate as I am in the middle of a paid project and the dealer whom I purchased it from decided to close its doors three weeks after purchasing.
Thanks so much for any input you can give on this subject

b.gottier on 5/14/16 @ 9:40am

Hi Kat. I'm sorry, but it sounds like you need to go to your dealer and have them check the machine. This type of help is part of what you pay for when you buy a machine.

Kat on 5/14/16 @ 9:58am

Oh gosh well thank you! I was hoping it was just something that I was doing wrong or a basic adjustment. Thanks again appreciate the quick reply. I am in Bakersfield and our dealer is closing after 25 years..I may end up in Temecula!!

b.gottier on 5/14/16 @ 2:46pm

You'd think a dealer that lasted 25 years would sell the business, right?

Keep in mind that we are not a Bernina dealer anymore, so you might now want to make the trip all the way here from Bakersfield, as there are at least a couple Bernina dealers between you and I. I've had some success with bending the bobbin winder plate and it sounds like yours might be bent, but should you need parts you'd have to get them from a Bernina dealer, as Bernina will not sell parts to people that aren't dealers.

Kris Aaron on 5/31/16 @ 1:38pm

I have an elderly Bernina 540 (bought on ebay) that was sewing perfectly. Then one day it gave out with a "clunk" and simply stopped sewing. The motor sounds fine, but the needle doesn't want to move up and down, even when I turn the wheel. I LOVE this old machine, and hate to give up on it. Our local Bernina service center says it's too old to bother with (but they'd be delighted to sell me a new model). Any suggestions?

b.gottier on 6/1/16 @ 12:03am

Take it to somebody else? It could be a simple fix, but if your local service center won't even take a look at it, then I think going somewhere else is your only option.

Barbara Clemmensen on 6/19/16 @ 3:43pm

Thank you so much for these pictures and explanation. That was exactly what ailed my Bernina, and I was able to fix it easily once I knew what to look for.

Darlene on 11/29/16 @ 7:41am

Bernina Nova 900
I looking for the total dimensions of the machine in the case. Thanks

Debbie Williams on 1/17/17 @ 9:01am

My Bernina 1008 does not see a straight stitch. Is there something I can do at home without taking it to a professional?

b.gottier on 1/17/17 @ 4:32pm

It doesn't sound like you'll be able to fix it yourself. Sorry for the bad news.

Mary on 2/16/17 @ 1:50am

I have bernina1130 while i was using a 1" spring fell anyone knows where it is it place please

b.gottier on 2/16/17 @ 12:50pm

It's probably the spring for the basting clutch. Only a qualified sewing machine technician is going to be able to fix that for you.

Joyce on 2/21/17 @ 9:07pm

On my Bernina 230, the door to access the bobbin won't latch shut. Is there some kind of spring there that may have come out?

b.gottier on 2/21/17 @ 10:20pm

Yes, there may be. Visit your local Bernina dealer for help with that.

Renda on 2/26/17 @ 5:02am

just watched how to fix the spring on my 530 put cover pack on and the check upper thread still comes on, is there anything else I can do?

b.gottier on 2/26/17 @ 1:13pm

I think the only thing you can do is go visit a qualified sewing machine technician.

Renda on 2/26/17 @ 3:23pm

Thank you, i will take it tomorrow.

JoNell Smith on 4/2/17 @ 12:23pm

How do you remove the left side cover in order to replace the spring? I have a bernina Virtuosa 160

JoNell Smith on 4/2/17 @ 12:33pm

I figured it out and think I need a new spring because as soon as I tried to sew again, it popped back out. Thank you for the above info.
Sincerely,
JoNell

Lily on 5/1/17 @ 4:12pm

I have a Bernina 930 Record. The top thread keeps on breaking in the basting mode. I have tried to replace the thread and rethreading but that does not seem to help. What can I check to see what is causing the issue? Thank you in advance.

b.gottier on 5/2/17 @ 10:53am

Hi Lily. The basting clutch and associated parts and finely tuned by a qualified sewing machine technician. I'd love to tell you that it was something you could easily fix, but due to the complexity of the adjustments, your only option is to have a qualified sewing machine technician look at it. I recommend your closest Bernina dealer.

Kim Blalock on 7/3/17 @ 7:31pm

I have a brand new Bernina 560. I was loving it until I started getting a message that the upper thread was out when it wasn't. After much frustration, rethreading, tension adjusting, etc., I was ready to take it in to have it looked at. I was at a quilting group tonight and was frustrated that I wasn't getting anything done. I made one last ditch effort and searched online and came upon your article. I checked and my spring was in the wrong place. I popped it in and it has been sewing fine the rest of the evening. I remembered that it started right after I had a thread break that got stuck. I probably got the spring out of place trying to dislodge the thread. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge.

Dorian Walton UK on 7/20/17 @ 8:39am

Thank you so much for the information on the check spring - it's just enabled me to fix my Bernina 170 after nearly two days of frustration, quilt comp deadline looming! You're a star!

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