Last Updated on 2 years by Susan Mayrich
There are a lot of things that can go wrong with your sewing machine. It’s possible you’ve never even thought about it until now.
A lot of people are intimidated by the idea of fixing their own machines, but it doesn’t have to be that hard. All you need is some basic knowledge and a few simple tools.
If something is wrong with your sewing machine, or if there’s something that just bothers you about its use, then this article is for you! We’ll show you some common problems and offer solutions so that when someone asks “How do I fix my sewing machine?” You won’t have to say “I don’t know.”
Sewing Machine Troubles Causes and Remedies
Some of the common issues that people have with their sewing machines are skipped stitches, thread breakage, needle breaking, or bending.
Thread tangles can be caused by too much tension in the machine or if there is too much thread on the spool. If you notice your fabric puckering up when you sew it together then it’s likely that your feed dogs aren’t working properly which means they need lubricating or readjusting.
You may also experience a problem with your foot pedal, either it won’t stay down while stitching or it takes two pedals for each stitch to work right (if so, check out our blog post on foot pedal issues).
Whatever the case may be, the following tips will help you to get your sewing machine back on track.
How to fix a sewing machine that won’t sew
A sewing machine that won’t sew may be due to a worn or broken needle, bent or broken needle, or a thread that has knotted under the needles. It could also be due to a missing presser foot and in this case, you will need to reattach it and make sure it is installed in the right direction.
There may be lint and dust caught in your machine’s throat plate if this is the case you’ll need to clean them out. A general rule of thumb is to never sew with stiff threads; which could cause a problem if they’re too thick for your machine.
Another possible reason for sewing problems might be catching your fabric on something like pins or buttons, when that happens try removing them before you start to sew again.
If none of these things work then you could need to oil your machine, try using a sewing machine oil that is specifically meant for your machine type.
Why is my sewing machine not moving the fabric?
If you notice that your fabric isn’t moving while you’re sewing something, the problem might be the foot pedal. Try replacing the foot pedal with one that provides more resistance.
If it’s not performing well enough on its own, remove the back panel on your machine to lubricate the gears on the feed dog.
What to do if your sewing machine is tangled?
To remove thread tangles, use the needle to pick the knot out of the fabric. If this is not an option then you can cut off excess threads around the knot and pull them through. Sew over the stitches that were just retied.
If you’re still having problems with your sewing machine, contact a service technician in your area to look at it.
The threading on the machine may have been messed up, or you might have threaded it wrong.
Why does my sewing machine keep running out of thread?
There is a three-inch opening right in the center of the bobbin case that allows you to see there is a thread in it. Thread from the bobbin threads onto a straight metal screw leading up to the needle, which you always have to check.
As for when it stops working with no warning, sometimes this can happen when your sewing machine becomes clogged with thread or lint. Try using a needle cleaner and general maintenance tool kit product if these issues bother you often.
Also, First, check to see if the thread is on a spool and tied so that one end “pops” out of the hole in the top of a metal spool. That’s what you should see from this side.
On the other side of that spool of thread, you’ll need to do some stringing along another row of holes for your sewing machine bobbin. In some cases, you’re going to tie a knot around these new knotted ends with an extra inch or more length hanging off either side.
What causes thread to pull out of seam on sewing machine?
There can be a few different reasons for this happening. You may have been trying to sew something that is too thick and the thread has not been able to pull through the fabric easily.
The other issue could be with your sewing machine needle which has come up at an angle. This will cause the thread to shred instead of neatly pulling through the fabric.
Try changing your needle or make sure it is inserted correctly, if not you might also want to run some water on it to remove any lint or dust that may have built up.
What does the tension dial on a sewing machine do?
This determines how much tension is applied to the sewing machine needle. Looping around this disk prevents it from rotating, but by rotating the dial you can increase or decrease the tightness of the loop.
This will have an effect on how much resistance your stitch has.
Is there a way to tighten the tension on a bobbin?
Yes, but a lot depends on your machine. If you’re using the screw-in type of bobbin, there is usually some nut or catch (near) to tighten with your fingers.
If you are using an older straight “wedge” type of bobbin, twisting the shank sometimes tightens it.
Why is there no tension on my sewing machine?
This could be the result of either a buildup of lint or thread that weaves in and out of the machine’s hook (located underneath) and gate or poor-quality thread.
If there’s no tension on your machine, try cleaning it with compressed air if you can’t find anything wrong. If this does not work then the problem is with the needle; try another sewing machine needle if available.
How do I fix the tension on my sewing machine?
- Use a few drops of oil or sewing machine oil
- Try changing the needle for something more suitable, such as a ballpoint needle for thick fabrics
- Check that your rotary hook isn’t overloaded by removing extras such as thread and fabric from the upper pole
- Examine the bobbin; make sure it is wound tightly with enough thread and plastic wrap to prevent tangling or unraveling
- Use straight stitches when possible because these will be easier on your machine’s tension cable
- Adjust the sewing foot pressure depending on what you’re sewing (heavier fabrics will need less pressure).
How do you know what tension to use when sewing?
Many people will use the same pressure for all types of fabrics, but this can be too heavy or too light depending on the thickness. It’s best to start with a middle range and make adjustments as needed.
Tension can also depend on what type of stitch you are using. Other factors like needle type (sharp vs blunt), fabric type (heavier or lighter weight), and general sewing preferences (tightly sewn vs loose) will affect how much tension is needed to avoid puckering or stretching adjacent stitches that are being sewn.
When in doubt, test different tensions by machine stitching together small fabric scrap samples first before sewing together your project.
Why is my thread bunching underneath?
A thread bunch may result from the use of a poorly-sized needle, a spool that is not wound evenly, or from the use of poor-quality thread.
How do you tighten top tension?
Loosen the top thread tension.
How do I stop my sewing machine from bunching?
Move the needle position left or right.
Secure the fabric in the sewing machine correctly.
If two pieces of fabric are sewn together, loosen threads on the underside of the piece you’re working on to avoid bunching between pieces.
Why does my thread keep jamming?
There are many reasons why your thread might be jamming. A common reason is if the thread is coming off the spool of the sewing machine.
You can tell whether or not this is the problem by looking at how it’s running through the machine. If it seems like it’s getting caught on something, then you’ll know that this is likely what’s causing you to have problems sewing.
Another possible culprit is that you’re not using the right type of needle. For example, for heavy fabric or knits, you’ll need to use a ballpoint needle – a special needle made just for these types of fabrics.
The last potential cause may seem a little odd, but there’s a chance that it might be lint in your
Why is my stitching wrinkled or fabric puckering?
Puckering or wrinkling of fabric is commonly caused by a sewing machine needle that is either too big, too small, or blunt. Fabric can also become puckery from tension issues with the threading of the machine.
Why is the needle threader not turning?
The threader doesn’t work if the needle is bent or broken.
The needle might be bent, blunt or the wrong type.
Why does the needle unthread when I start to sew?
The needle has hit a knot in the thread. You can untie any knots on the end of the thread before starting to sew again.
The Sewing machine is not sewing reverse
Sewing machines sew in one direction only, either forwards or backward.
Why are the threads of my fabric snagging as I sew ?
Threads are snagging when they’re not long enough to grab the bobbin threads.
The thread in the needle should be long enough to have some slack for it to grab onto the strands in the bottom of the bobbin without getting too close to touching another strand.
If you’ve threaded your machine correctly, make sure your thread is long enough by feeling around after you’ve threaded it through its slot.
Remember, if your machine does not have slots for bobbins or spools of thread, make sure that there are about 6 inches (160 mm) of a loose leader at the end before tying a knot to secure it.”
What do I do if the fabric will not feed?
If the fabric will not feed, try these steps-
1. Check to see if there is any lint or tangled thread that is preventing the fabric from feeding.
2. If this doesn’t solve your problem, then your machine may be broken and needs to be taken for repair.
If the feed dogs are not working, this is a mechanical problem with your sewing machine. The machine should be taken in for repair.
What to do if the bobbin thread breaks?
If the bobbin thread breaks, it might be because there is a kink in the thread. Pull the thread back up and insert it into the slots on either side of the machine, then manually wind it around to continue sewing.”
Why is the stitch forming in loops in between?
The most common reason for loops in a stitch is a poorly threaded needle. If there is an obvious knot or bird-nest in the thread, it may be possible to untangle this and continue sewing.
Another cause of looped stitches might be that you’re using the wrong type of needle for the fabric. In general, use a ballpoint needle when sewing with heavy fabrics or knits.”
A third potential cause could be too much tension on the upper thread. This can lead to looping because when there’s too much tension there isn’t enough give in the top thread – so once it meets resistance from going through multiple layers of fabric it will roll over and form a loop”.
The last possible culprit might have to do with your bobbin. Make sure that it’s inserted correctly, and make sure that the bobbin thread is coming up through the right set of holes in front of the needle (the threader should help with this if you’ve got one).
Why is my thread winding itself on the shuttle?
The thread is winding itself on the shuttle because you’re winding it too tight and fast, or because the thread is crooked.
Why do I get the occasional skipped stitches?
It is not uncommon for people to experience skipped stitches every once in a while. This is caused by the thread getting caught on something underneath the fabric. One way to avoid this problem is to place your needle down into the fabric before you go back to it with the thread, which will prevent it from catching on anything that is under it.
Why does the needle break or the needle gets bent
The needle might have broken because it was bent or not fixed properly.
If the fabric will not feed, try these steps-
1. Check to see if there is any lint or tangled thread that is preventing the fabric from feeding.
2. If this doesn’t solve your problem, then your machine may be broken and needs to be taken for repair.”
Why is the machine running slowly?
Most likely because feet are not squared to the feed dog that moves fabric smoothly over the sewing machine foot.
The feed dogs are usually positioned at the front of the machine, running parallel with where you’re feeding your material.
The purpose of these metal teeth is to move your fabric forward evenly under your presser foot – think of it as a conveyor belt for fabric! There are usually one or more metal tabs right below each set of feed dogs – make sure they’re pointing down towards you and behind you.
Gently rock them back and forth until they move freely in all directions, which should solve any issues around slowness or jumping stitches.
How do I know if my bobbin tension is correct?
If your bobbin tension is too tight, your stitches will come out uneven and looped.
If the needle thread breaks or loops around on the fabric face it could be because you need to make an adjustment in order for the material to glide smoother over the machine’s foot.
The feed dogs usually aren’t adjusted on a standard sewing machine without service performed by a technician. If they are running off of either side of center, then that will cause the stitch formation to be off as well.”
Why am I getting skipped stitches?
It may be possible that there’s something caught on your machine underneath and causing your needle thread to break. To avoid this, try holding your needle down into the fabric before you go back to
How do you adjust thick fabric tension?
To increase the thickness, turn the dial so that it’s positioned farther away from you. To decrease the thickness, turn it closer to you.”
How do you adjust the upper tension on a sewing machine?
To adjust the upper tension on a sewing machine, place the needle into an upward position and turn the dial clockwise to increase tension. For a thinner seam, it is necessary to keep the upper thread tight.
To tighten up: Turn RAIL/LEVER clockwise
To loosen: Turn RAIL/LEVER counter-clockwise.
If your project requires additional tension adjustment, Graduated Slides allow for limitless adjustments in just ⅛” increments at regular intervals along with directional arrow markings to ensure perfect placement of seams and stitches for easy trimming after stitching.
What setting should my sewing machine be on?
If you’re using a sewing machine at home, it should be set in the appropriate setting. If you’re buying a sewing machine, that information would be in the manual.
What tension should I use for quilting?
It’s recommended that you use a medium-tension for quilting.
What should the tension be on a Brother sewing machine?
Brother sewing machines usually recommend using a low tension.
Why is my fabric bunching up when I sew?
Fabric bunching up can be caused by a few different reasons. You might need to change your needle, the thread tension might be too tight, or you used the wrong type of fabric for the type of sewing machine you’re using.
What tension should I use for cotton?
Generally, we recommend using a low tension when sewing with cotton.
What thread tension should I use for stretchy fabric?
The maximum thread tension to use for stretchy fabric is 2.5-3.0.
How do you fix a singer thread tension?
You can adjust the needle to accommodate the thread. If you change the needle, make sure it’s a size 12 or 14 and that you’re using a sharp needle.
When you’re sewing that grew up, measure the folded fabric against the needle. If it’s not that big, then your needle is too far down.
How do I adjust the bobbin tension drop?
The bobbin tension drop should be changed to add or remove the thread from the bobbin so that it matches or is smaller than the pressure of the upper thread.
There are four different types of bobbins: class 15, class 25, class 35, and class 50. The bobbin tension will change depending on the type of sewing machine being used.
It is a good idea to keep a spare set of bobbins handy at all times in case they need replacing.
What is upper thread tension dial?
The upper thread tension dial is located on the top of your sewing machine and can be adjusted to set the “tension” on the top of the threads. Different fabrics require different tensions, so it’s best to experiment with this setting to see what feels best for you.
What is the normal tension setting on a Singer sewing machine?
The tension is set to either “sew” or “off.” If experiencing difficulties with tension, start on the “sew” setting and gradually decrease the tension. Keep in mind that this setting will change according to material thickness.
If you want your machine to sew more easily through thicker materials, lower the tension on your machine, but if you’re sewing through thinner materials, be sure to remember to increase the pressure.
Should I Backstitch when piecing a quilt?
Yes. Backstitching is the act of sewing one stitch, then taking the needle up and over to the starting point, then sewing another stitch. This will ensure that all your stitches are even with each other.
What is the best stitch length for machine quilting?
For machine quilting, you would want to set the stitch length on your machine at 2.5-3 inches.
What tension should I use for polyester?
Polyester fabric can range in thickness. If you’re using polyester, start with the 1.5 settings, then go up to 2.
The tension will go up accordingly if thicker materials are used. You can also decrease tension for thinner material, but remember to increase it when needed!
What setting should I sew stretchy fabric on?
Usually, when sewing stretchy fabrics, you would sew on a “sew” setting. If the seams are puckering, you want to reduce your tension and if it’s coming loose, then increase your pressure.
How do you fix stretchy fabric?
It helps to use a clothesline or a clothes rack to hang the dresses or difficult fabrics. It is also better to iron fabrics that are still clinging. Finally, the starch spray may help give a little extra grip too.
Why is my zigzag stitch sewing straight?
Zigzag stitches always look the same on either side of the fabric.
A zigzag stitch is a great option for beginners because it can secure raw edges to prevent them from unraveling and has great stretch and recovery properties.
It’s also often used in edge finish applications for quilts or blankets where maximum durability is desired or when you want decorative finishing techniques such as blanket stitching.
What is the effect of improper threading?
Incorrect threading will often show through the fabric and often cause the machine to jam. It can also damage the needle and bobbin case, so it’s always a good idea to check that your tension is dialed in correctly before you sew.
What causes a sewing machine not to stitch?
A sewing machine doesn’t stitch when there isn’t any thread in the bobbin or needle.
How do I fix the bobbin tension on my sewing machine?
You can fix the thread tension with the bobbin by adjusting the small screw on top of it. Turning this clockwise loosens it, making it easier to wind more thread onto your bobbin so your sewing machine will stitch again.
How do I fix the timing on my sewing machine?
In order to fix sewing machine timing issues, follow these steps:
Press the foot pedal with one foot and push up on the handwheel while you turn it. Stop when it feels like it’s in the right spot.
Next release the foot pedal and treadle slowly back to its original position.
You should keep testing by pressing down on the foot pedal and turning your hand wheel while watching for changes in where your needle is hitting to see if you’ve found a better starting place for your bobbin case thread to hit the right zone every time.
How often should I oil my sewing machine?
It is necessary to oil your sewing machine periodically, typically every few days. This will make it more slippery, clean up dust and debris more easily, and remove grit that can wear down the motor.
Why isn t my sewing machine catching the bobbin thread?
One possible reason your sewing machine won’t catch the bobbin thread is because of many accidental empty threads. Empty threads can create a pile behind the spool and they’re not caught by the tension spring and they don’t represent any danger to the machine.
Why is the back of my sewing messy?
This could be because the machine needs to be checked for blockages by checking the needle and any lint or thread build-up.
You should clean your sewing machine regularly, and also check that your top thread is at the right height and tension.
Make sure you’re using the proper needle size and type of seam that matches what you’re sewing.
How do I reset the tension on my Brother sewing machine?
- Below are the steps for Brother sewing machine tension resetting:
- Hook the top thread into the needle eye.
- Pull it through.
- Then, wrap your thumb and index finger around the upper part of the thread, then grab the lower side of the thread with your other hand. Pull to tighten.
- Attach the bobbin to the bobbin hook by pulling it out of its container.
- Place it in position on top of your fabric so that when you stitch down one row, you will catch the next row’s thread in your stitching motion.
- Find where you want to stitch, then turn on the machine and press down on the foot pedal with one foot and push up with the handle on the other.
- When you see your needle hitting the bobbin hook, release your foot from the foot pedal then slowly press down again as you continue to hold onto your threads. You should then feel a vibration as the bobbin thread is pulled into place for stitching with the top thread now. Then, let go of your threads.
- If you are getting a vibration, but not the tightness you want, adjust the small screw located on top of the bobbin with a tiny screwdriver. Turning this clockwise will loosen it for easier winding onto the bobbin hook.
- You can repeat this process until your machine gets to your desired tension and stitching.
How do you fix a singer thread tension?
If you’re a beginner, a simple tension adjustment can often do the trick. If it’s still stitching wrong after that, then chances are there is a thread break under your presser foot plate lip. Follow these steps to fix this problem:
-Pinch the threads together from where they come from the feed dog as well as from under the press-foot plate and pull them across to find out if they were broken there.
-If so, remove those strands, pierce them with a pin or needle and tie off each knot tightly using pliers for reinforcement.
-Fold up excess thread ends and tuck them back into the sewing machine just below the cover plate. Then repeat steps 2 & 3 to see if it corrected your error.
How do you fix Birdnesting on a sewing machine?
The first thing to do when you notice birdnesting is using the screwdriver or set of tweezers that came with your machine. Find where the thread loops around and begins nesting, then gently tease it out.
If the tension break is beneath your presser foot, pull both ends across one another (underneath) and feed them back through under the foot.
When you’re finished, check your stitch cycle for increased caught thread presence followed by a quieter patch of sewing once more.
How do I stop my sewing machine from jamming?
Some sewing machines have a built-in bobbin winder that may require a little maneuvering to get it going.
Open up the sewing machine and fix any threads around the problem area – removing the excess thread from bobbins often helps solve tension problems.
A couple of other solutions include manually winding both spools before starting to sew or switching back to straight-stitch mode, which will prevent needles from repeatedly piercing right through the fabric as you sew.
In addition, some people find it helpful to use a walking foot attachment on their machine when they’re working with slippery fabrics.