Sewing Machine Stitches Not Catching – Cause & Solutions

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Last Updated on 2 years by Susan Mayrich

It is so frustrating when stitches on your sewing machine don’t catch on the fabric. It’s not only frustrating, but it can also be extremely time-consuming and frustrating to re-thread your machine. 

Sewing Machine Stitches Not Catching - Cause & Solutions

This happens to everyone at one time or another, but there are ways to troubleshoot it. Here are some common reasons why your stitches don’t catch and how to fix them:

Causes of Sewing Machine Stitches Not Catching

Stitch length too long

If your stitch length is too long, it will start to pull out of the fabric before it catches. To fix this problem, shorten your stitch length until you get the right amount of tension. If you’re not sure what length to use, try using a universal presser foot (the Teflon-coated ones often have markings on them).

The needle was not threaded properly

It’s easy to forget that needles need threading every time you change fabrics or thread colors. Make sure you always double-check that the needle is threaded properly before starting a new project because this is often when stitches won’t catch.

Thread tension that is too tight or too loose

Another common cause for sewing machine stitches not catching is thread tension that is too tight or too loose. The best way to check this is by attaching your bobbin case and setting it aside while testing with a new spool of thread on top. 

If it catches immediately and easily when lowering the presser foot, then tighten up the tension until it no longer catches as soon as pressure is applied.

The needle is bent or dull

If your needle is bent or blunt, it will not pierce through fabric properly and will result in skipped stitches. To check if this is the case, pull out the bobbin cover of your machine and remove the needle from its shaft. 

If there are any burrs along the top side of the needle, use a pair of pliers to gently bend them off until they are gone. Make sure that you don’t bend too much as this may make the needle bend permanently and ruin it completely.

You’ve run out of bobbin thread

If you’re running low on the bobbin thread and haven’t replaced it yet, then there might be nothing wrong with your sewing machine at all. 

Replace your spool of bobbin thread as soon as possible so that you don’t run into any more problems while sewing in the future.

The presser foot pressure is too low or too high 

The presser foot pressure is the amount of force applied by your sewing machine to hold down your fabric during stitching. If this is too low, your stitches will look loose and sloppy like they’re not catching at all. 

If this is too high, your fabric may get caught up in between the needle and presser foot as you stitch, causing holes and other damage to your fabric.

Machine timing issue

A timing issue can occur when the position of the needle changes slightly during sewing due to wear and tear or improper maintenance of your machine parts like belts and pulleys etc. 

This issue can be solved by servicing your sewing machine at least once every year by an authorized service

Poor quality thread

If your machine has trouble catching the thread, it could be because of a poor-quality needle or thread. A machine will not work properly with a low-quality needle, which can cause the needle to break or bend during use. 

The machine may also be unable to pull the lower quality fiber through the bobbin case, which results in poor stitching and skipped stitches. 

Make sure that you have top-quality needles and threads for your sewing machine, as this will make a difference in how well your machine works.

The fabric is too thick

If your fabric is too thick, then it will cause problems while sewing on your machine. You must check if there is any problem with your needle nose pliers which can prevent you from getting through thicker fabrics. 

As well as this, if your presser foot doesn’t open wide enough then it will also cause problems while sewing on thick fabrics like denim jeans etc.

Sewing Machine zigzag stitch not working

You’re using a poor-quality thread or an incompatible type of thread in your bobbin case. If you are using a poor quality thread or an incompatible type of thread in your bobbin case, this could cause problems with the zigzag stitch too – especially if it’s also causing lint covers on top threads or broken threads in front of the needle when sewing straight forward.

You can also check if there is any dirt or lint stuck in between the bobbin case and the bobbin holder, which can cause problems with your zigzag stitching as well. 

If there are any dirt particles or lint stuck in between these two parts, then they will cause friction between them and this will make it hard for them to move properly when sewing with your machine.

Sewing Machine Stitches Not Catching or Stitching Properly

It can be frustrating when your sewing machine stitches are not catching or stitching properly. The good news is that there are a few simple steps you can take to get your machine working properly.

Replace the broken or bent needle

Check that the needle is sharp and straight. Replace it if necessary. A blunt needle will not cut through the fabric, while a bent one will make it difficult to sew a straight seam. 

To fix this issue, replace the needle with a new one. 

Use high-quality thread

The type of thread used can also affect how well your stitches catch and hold onto fabric. The high-quality thread will produce better results than cheap brands found at discount stores. The thread that is too thick or thin can also cause problems with your stitches.

Thread the bobbin

Make sure you have enough thread on your bobbin (this can be particularly important if you change color frequently). If you run out of thread while sewing, check that your machine has enough space in its bobbin case for a new spool of thread, if it doesn’t, try winding a thinner strand around an empty spool until there’s enough room to fit another full bobbin in place.

The presser foot pressure is too low or too high

Lift up on your presser foot and see if there’s a screw underneath that adjusts its height (this will also be mentioned in your manual). 

While holding down on that screw, adjust the height until it feels right against the fabric when you sew over an existing stitch line or seam line without hitting any pins or pins holes in the seamline itself (if you’re using those).

If you have a heavy material that you need to sew but it doesn’t fit into your sewing machine’s capabilities then consider using another type of needle or thread combination with smaller eyelets so that it can handle thicker materials more easily without skipping stitches while sewing them together.

Use the right Fabric for the needle

Some fabrics are too thick or too thin for certain needles. These types of fabric can cause the needle to bend or break while sewing. 

Make sure you choose the right type of fabric for your project so that there won’t be any problems with your stitches catching or not catching properly.

Thread the machine properly

Make sure that when you are threading your machine that there isn’t any extra thread coming out of either side of the spool holder. 

If there is extra thread coming out from one side or both sides then this could cause problems with your stitches catching or not catching properly due to too much friction between the spool holder and bobbin.

Fixing the zigzag stitch not working

The first thing to do is check the thread tension setting on your machine. Make sure that it is set at the correct level for your type of fabric and use a seam ripper or small screwdriver to loosen any screws or turn any knobs if necessary until you get a nice even stitch. You may also need to adjust the bobbin thread tension as well (if applicable).

A common problem with zigzag stitches is dirt or lint getting stuck between the bobbin case and the bobbin holder. 

To fix this problem, remove the bobbin case from your sewing machine, clean it thoroughly, then let it air-dry completely before you put it back into place. 

Make sure all of the parts fit together correctly so there are no gaps between them that could allow lint or dirt to get trapped inside your machine’s internal workings.

Final words

A sewing machine that breaks frequently can be a big problem. You need to make sure that you have taken care of all possible causes of the machine not working before you think about purchasing a new one. This can save you time and money.

1 thought on “Sewing Machine Stitches Not Catching – Cause & Solutions”

  1. Still struggling – I cannot get my sewing machine to pick up the bobbin thread from beneath. I have rethreaded the machine, replaced the needle, reloaded a bobbin, checked foot position, checked needle height and position. I note someone else taking the sewing machine to pieces to adjust the timing, but I cannot get a screwdriver to turn the screws. Can you suggest anything else please?


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