We all know that a sewing machine needle is one of the most important parts of a sewing machine because it’s responsible for transferring thread from the bobbin to create stitches that secure fabric layers together. If your sewing machine needle isn’t working properly then you’ll have to spend time fixing this problem instead of making clothes or other items.
Sewing machine needles are not particularly expensive, but having to buy one every time your needle fails can be quite frustrating. So let’s take a look at some simple tips that will help you fix it in no time!
Why is my sewing machine needle not going up and down?
This means the tension on the thread is too loose.
The sewing machine’s needle up/down mechanism runs on a small, flat metal belt that may have broken or worn away at its edges. This would happen gradually as you sew with it, eventually making it difficult to sew constantly straight lines.
If your machine does not have a separate presser foot lift control lever, try raising your presser foot manually up and down manually to see if you have enough friction to cause the needle rod to raise and lower automatically.
As an interim measure before repairing or replacing this part, take special care when lowering the presser foot not to let it snap back down onto the fabric sharply which can give some additional momentum for raising it again while continuing on the same seam.
Not enough pressure applied to fabric or feed dogs not working
This is self-explanatory. If you’re not applying enough pressure on your fabric with the presser foot, your stitches will be too loose and could cause puckered seams, loops in the underside of the fabric, or skipped/missed stitches.
Make sure to adjust the presser foot pressure properly on your machine for different types of fabric. See the manual that came with your sewing machine for instructions, or if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself then ask a friend or knowledgeable person for assistance.
Most machines have an adjustable screw under the plate/foot which you can turn clockwise to apply more pressure or counter-clockwise to apply less. If the screw is already turned all the way in one direction, it may be stuck and you will need to look carefully for instructions on how to free/loosen it.
Stitch length too long (or 2, if needle not properly threaded)
This can also be self-explanatory. If your stitch length is not adjusted properly, it will affect the fabric’s tension, resulting in puckering or gathering of the fabric after sewing. Especially if you are stitching over more than one layer of fabric (ie: topstitching, etc), this can cause loops underneath and unsightly wavy lines on the right side of your fabric.
It is important to always make sure the presser foot has tension on it before sewing (ie: it is pushed down onto the surface of the fabric), otherwise you will get loose and uneven seams or skipped stitches.
For machines that have a separate, adjustable screw for stitch length and width, turn in the stitch length screw counter-clockwise to decrease the length or turn it clockwise to increase it.
Check your sewing machine manual for proper adjustment procedures. Also, make sure your needle is threaded properly (ie: not backward) and in the correct position in the needle clamp/plate before sewing. If you can’t figure out how to thread it yourself, ask a friend or knowledgeable person for assistance.
Stitch width set incorrectly
This refers to the stitch width lever on your machine, not how much fabric you are sewing over which is determined by your presser foot selection. If this is off, it will affect both the width of the stitches as well as their appearance – they may be too narrow or too wide depending on this setting.
Stitch length set incorrectly
This refers to the stitch length lever on your machine, not how long you hold down the foot pedal – that is determined by your foot pedal selection. If this is off, it will affect how long each stitch appears – they may be too short or too long depending on this setting. I
Machine processing thread improperly (wrong tension, bobbin wound incorrectly)
This refers to the upper thread which is the one controlled by the stitch length and width dials. Caution: if you lower your needle into your fabric before making sure that the upper thread has no slack, it could be pulled into the machine and cause damage (sewing machines are very powerful!).
This is most commonly caused by a) not pulling up on the upper thread to remove any slack before lowering the needle or b) winding the bobbin incorrectly, which can cause improper tension. If you are not sure how to properly thread your sewing machine’s upper and lower threads, ask a friend or knowledgeable person for assistance.
Machine processing thread too loosely (wrong tension)
This refers to the upper thread which is the one controlled by the stitch length and width dials. If it is threaded incorrectly, wound too loosely or damaged in any way, it will become loose while sewing and may cause bunching of the fabric along with skipped stitches.
Machine processing thread too tightly (wrong tension)
This refers to the upper thread which is the one controlled by the stitch length and width dials. If it is threaded incorrectly, wound too tightly or damaged in any way, it will not have enough give while sewing which can cause puckering.
Stitches are too small
If you have turned it up all the way, try backing it down so that each stitch is slightly longer than normal. This can also be caused by a) having your stitch length set to 2mm or b) not pulling up on the upper thread to remove any slack before lowering the needle.
Stitches are too large
This refers to the stitch length setting on your machine. If you have turned it down all the way, try turning it up slightly so that each stitch is slightly shorter than normal. This can also be caused by a) having your stitch length set to 0mm or b) not pulling up on the upper thread to remove any slack before lowering the needle.
Seat height not adjusted correctly
If your machine’s seat height is not adjusted high enough, the presser foot will not come down all the way. This can result in skipped stitches and the bunching of fabric.
Presser foot too high or too low
If your machine’s needle is raised by pressing the front (or knee) lever all the way up, and your presser foot is only raised about halfway, this will result in skipped stitches.
However, if you lower your needle by pressing the front (or knee) lever halfway down and your presser foot comes down to touch the fabric but then when you raise it again doesn’t come all the way back up, this will also cause the needle not to move.
Needle not set correctly
If the needle has been inserted into the machine backward or at an angle, this can cause a needle not to move. If you are not sure how to properly insert a sewing machine needle, ask a friend or knowledgeable person for assistance.
Fabric too thin to be sewn by machine
If you have tried sewing a knit fabric that is very low in weight (such as chiffon) with the same settings that you used for sewing a woven fabric with a higher weight, you may find that your stitches are loose and skipped.
This is because the thread tension was set for the heavier weight of the woven fabric which would cause puckering if used with a lower weight knit fabric.
To remedy this, try tightening your stitch length and width dials (not too much) and try decreasing the presser foot pressure (this adjustment can be made with an adjustable screw or spring located behind your presser foot).
Needle plate not inserted correctly
If you’re using a snap-on/snap-off needle plate, make sure that it is snapped all the way down so that you can use pins or appliques. If it is only snapped partway down, you will have a hard time sewing around pins.
Machine clogged up from the previous project
If you’re trying to sew but the fabric seems to be feeding in very slowly, it may be that your machine is clogged up with old thread.
To clean the machine properly you need to lose power at the wall (not just unplug) and then after removing all of the old thread with an electrical screwdriver or by any other method, re-wind the bobbin so that there is a fresh thread in the machine.
Fabric caught on the bobbin case
If you start sewing and notice that your fabric is not going through the machine as it should be but instead seems to be getting caught on the bobbin case, check to see if the fabric is caught on a small metal tab under the dials by the needle.
If it is stuck there, try using tweezers or pliers to carefully pull it out (you don’t want to damage this piece of your machine).
If your needle is old or clogged up with previous projects then it may be that you need to change the needle on your machine. If this doesn’t work, try a smaller/thinner needle.
How to fix a needle that doesn’t move?
A). The first thing you should do to troubleshoot this problem is to check the foot pedal. Make sure your foot is pressing it down all the way, and try turning the wheel on top of it with your other hand.
If there’s no resistance, or if it’s difficult for you to turn the wheel, then either you need a new part or maybe just some lubricant for that area.
The next step would be checking your power cord; if that doesn’t seem like an issue, move on to inspecting any loose parts near where they connect to each other (like screws).
And finally, inspect anything in front of where the thread comes out of the machine, as this will be where it comes down from. And you’ll know if something is wrong here by any rattling or scraping sounds that your sewing machine makes.
If everything above checks out okay, then most likely the issue is with the needle going up and down the mechanism itself. This usually happens due to a loose screw or two (or more) which you can tighten up with a screwdriver. As long as it’s not the needle itself that is broken, this problem should be easy to solve.
B). Make sure your sewing machine is threaded correctly. If the thread isn’t threaded through the right path then this will cause your needle not to go up and down correctly.
The threading path varies from sewing machine to sewing machine, so you have to consult your manual or study the model of your sewing machine until you find out how it should be threaded. Once you do that, follow these simple steps:
1) Cut a length of thread long enough for your sewing machine needle to go up and down through the fabric layers at least three times.
2) Insert one end of the thread into the hole behind the presser foot and pull it until you see a larger hole (big enough for your threaded needle to fit in).
3) Put both ends of the thread through this hole and pull it until the thread reaches the bobbin case.
4) Insert both ends of your thread into these two holes and pull them to tighten them. Make sure they are taut, but not too tight! Your needle should go up and down smoothly if you do this correctly.