Sew Guide » 18 Common sewing machine {PROBLEMS} answered – Easy fixes

18 Common sewing machine {PROBLEMS} answered – Easy fixes

You have started your new project with great anticipation. But your sewing machine does not seemsewing machine problems to be sharing your enthusiasm. It has decided to go on a lockout or a hiccup. This is one of the most common and frustrating scenario a sewist could experience (other than not getting the exact fabric in mind of course)

But if you know some of the common problems and their easy solutions you will be surprised that they can be resolved so easily. Many of these problems can be prevented by proper setting up of the machine and maintenance – but if you have developed problems anyways, help is at hand.

How to troubleshoot a Sewing machine problem 

Do this first – Refer your Sewing Machine Manual

The sewing machine manual you got when you purchased the machine, should always be kept near your sewing machine at all times for easy reference anytime a problem arises. It should be thoroughly read before your first stitch. All the settings and maintenance information will be given in them. If you have lost it, you may contact the manufacturer through their online sites; some are available for download from their websites

Most of the time it may be small details that causes the sewing machine hitches . There are somethings you should check first as soon as you one such hitch. Check the placement of NEEDLE. Most of the time the sewing machine is giving you skipped stitches , thread breaks, not taking the bobbin thread etc. because the needle is not placed properly. Put the needle so that the flat side is backwards or as per your sewing machine manual. Putting it backwards is what mine says. Next to look for is whether the machine is threaded properly. One little missed step and your sewing sequence is off.

This is assuming that you have done the regular sewing machine maintenance which is recommended every 100 hours of your sewing machine working. Checkout the post on the 3 steps to do sewing machine maintenance


Why is there excessive noise while sewing ?

A knocking noise coming from your machine is giving you jitters. If your sewing machine is making loud noises there could be various reasons behind.

The most common explanation is a need for cleaning or maintenance. Right away stop operating the machine ; turn off the power and then inspect the machine for the problem.

Try Replacing the needle.

Another solution is to remove lint from under needle plate and bobbin area. Lint build up could also be causing the unnatural noises ; Use a lint brush to clean out lint and other debris.

Also make sure thread is not wrapped around take-up lever. Thread caught around the shuttle also could cause noise.If that is the case clean the shuttle.

Checkout that there are no loose screws in the machine; if yes and you know what you are doing (beware some screws are not meant to be tightened) tighten them.

Read the sewing machine manual and if it says so oil the machine with appropriate oil to lubricate the parts

If everything else fails take the machine to the service centre for repair

Why is the machine running slowly?

  • Check foot control
  • Adjust speed control
  • Remove lint/dust from under needle plate
  • Check if bobbin winder is still engaged

What to do if the machine will not form stitches ?

Needle may have come un-threaded. You may also have threaded the machine wrongly. When threading the machine keep the pressure foot up to release the tension. Checkout this post on correctly threading the machine.

Needle may be inserted wrong or not in all the way ; Make sure that the needle is fully inserted and facing the correct directions as specified in the sewing machine manual. Blunt or bent needle also will result in stitches coming undone.Push the needle all the way up the clamp

Needle may be wrong for the machine.Checkout the different types of sewing machine needles you may need

Bobbin may have run out, or not inserted correctly.

If spool cap is wrong size for the thread spool this problem can occur.Replace the cap with the correct size in this case.

If thread is not properly and fully pulled into the thread sensor guide also this problem can occur.

My sewing machine has suddenly stopped while working? What do  I do? 

Have you been sewing for a long time at low speed continuously. Your sewing machine may have stopped itself to prevent overheating of motor. In this case turn off the power and wait for 20 minutes before using it again

What to do if the motor/light is not working?

  • Make sure power cord is plugged into the wall and machine;
  • Also check fuse and/or wiring in the outlet
  • Make sure power strip is on

What to do if the motor/light is working but the machine not sewing?

Check to see if there is a bobbin on bobbin winder; check to see if foot control is plugged in properly; make sure foot control can be depressed completely and is free from obstruction

Replace the pressure foot. if the needle hits pressure foot.

Ensure that needle is correctly inserted.

Why does the needle break or the needle gets bent/ blunt ?

You needle is the most used part in a machine – so it could have broken due to prolonged use or it may have run over a pin or a hard object while sewing . But if this is not the case –

  • Ensure that you are not pulling on the fabric as you sew.If you force the fabric it could result in bend needle which in turn will lead to needle breaking.
  • Make sure needle is not loose. Insert the needle fully and properly into the needle bar.
  • Check size/type of needle for project – this is very important; make sure that the needle size matches for the fabric you are sewing. You cannot use a needle used for lingerie for sewing a heavy upholstery material.Using the correct sized needle is very important.Checkout this post on selecting the best needle for your project.
  • Make sure bobbin is inserted properly
  • Make sure thread you are using is free from knots. Cheap threads should be avoided especially for your best projects. Checkout the post about sewing machine threads.
  • Check pressure foot is the correct one
  • check presser foot pressure; make sure presser foot is securely attached
  • Check if needle clamp screw is loose or not

Don’t sew over pins because that is a sure fire way of breaking all your needles

Raise needle out of fabric before removing.  

Why do I get the occasional skipped stitches?

Most of the times this is due to needle problem. It may be due to bent or blunt needle or it maynot be properly and fully inserted.

Select a different type/size needle

Pre-treat ( pre wash) fabrics to remove excess sizing

Check the thread tension. If it is too tight skipped stitches could occur. Change the tension

Make sure that you have selected the correct size needle appropriate for the thickness of the material you are sewing. Also allow the feed dog to move the fabric rather than forcing the fabric with the hand, which usually results in bend needle

Apply adequate pressure on the pressure foot.

Ensure that you are swing at an even speed and not pulling the fabric.

Why is my thread bunching up?

This may be due to a number of reasons. Inspect your machine for each of the solution given below

  • Bobbin thread not aligned in bobbin tension ; check that bobbin is correctly inserted
  • Incorrect thread tension
  • Ensure that you have drawn both the upper and lower thread to the back under pressure foot.
  • Check if feed dog is down

Why is the stitch forming in loops in between?

Number one reason is usually a not properly wound bobbin

The fabric is not taunt enough when stitch is formed because of less pressure. Adjust stitch tension. Another reason may be because the machine is not threaded properly.

What to do if the thread breaks frequently?

Usually this happens because the threading is not done properly.Try to re-thread the machine

Sometimes it may be due to a knot in thread or because of old thread or low quality thread

Incorrect needle size/type for project or if you have a blunt or bend or even a too sharp needle.

If the thread tension is too tight the thread may break

If the thread is caught on spool pin the thread may break

Make sure thread and needle are compatible

Adjust thread tension

Make sure needle is properly inserted

If the bobbin thread breaks frequently make sure that bobbin is inserted properly or bobbin does not  have more than appropriate amount of thread  

Why do I get Unattractive / uneven stitches?

Check thread tension and pressure foot placement and stitch regulator.

Make sure thread has not come out of bobbin case

Lack of stabilizer, inferior thread and lint build up, incorrect placement of needle also can result in unattractive stitches

Try vertical instead of horizontal spool pin

What do I do if the fabric will not feed?

This may be due to many problems

  • Pressure foot is not down
  • You may be using incorrect foot
  • The feed teeth could be down ; Ensure that feed dog is in a raised position when sewing
  • Presser foot pressure may have to be adjusted. If it is set too low the fabric will not feed. If the fabric is too heavy the pressure maynot be enough.
  • Stitch length may be too short like near to zero
  • Check for dust under needle plate – dust-lint build-up could jam due to debris inside the sewing machine
  • Make sure needle plate is firmly seated
  • Check that thread is not knotted under the fabric.

Why is my stitching wrinkled or fabric puckering?

This could happen due to many reasons .

  • If the fabric you are sewing is very soft or a sheer delicate one, use an underlay of tissue paper or two layers.
  • If the stitch length is too long for the material decrease the stitch length
  • If the needle point has become blunt change the needle.
  • check thread tension
  • Needle may be bent
  • incorrect size/type needle
  • incorrect or poor quality thread
  • wrong presser foot
  • incorrect presser foot pressure
  • incorrect or insufficient amount of stabilizer
  • lower stitch length
  • Incorrect thread tension

Why does the stitches fail to “grab” at seam beginning?

This occurs most often with lightweight/loosely woven fabrics – In case of such delicate cloths start the seams with an extra bit of fabric to prevent your pressure foot eating your fabric

Increase presser foot pressure

Try a smaller needle

Use straight stitch plate

Be sure threads are under presser foot

Make sure needle is fully inserted

Why can’t I thread the sewing machine?

This can happen if needle is not in its highest position. What you can do is to turn the hand wheel until it reaches the highest position

If the threading hook is not entering the needle eye it could mean that the needle is not properly inserted. Fully insert the needle into the needle bar to solve this problem.More on threading the machine here.

Why is the needle threader not turning ?

The needle threader will not turn if the needle is not up. Turn the hand wheel until it reaches the highest position. 

Why does the upper thread break when I sew?

This can happen if the threading is not properly done, or if the thread has a knot in it or if the thread tension is too tight.

Starting to stitch very fast also can cause the upper thread to break. Make sure that all the procedure is followed in threading the machine.

Improper Needle also can cause this problem. Make sure the needle is properly inserted, it is not bend or blunt and it matches the thread and fabric. Push it all the way up in the clamp. 

Why does the bobbin thread breaks when I sew?

 If the bobbin thread breaks firstly clean the lint from the case or shuttle. Ensure that the bobbin is turning smoothly in the case .Check that bobbin is fully inserted and threading is properly done. If the bobbin is too full it may cause problems. 

The Sewing machine is not sewing reverse.

Check whether the machine has the capacity for reverse stitching

At times, some stitches like buttonhole or stretch stitches maynot reverse stitch. So check your stitch control and adjust to straight stitch before reverse stitching. 

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