How to troubleshoot your sewing machine

how to sewing resources troubleshooting

Troubleshooting 101

Often in the middle of a project, you may find that your machine quite simply doesn't want to sew! Most of the time, this is due to a simple issue that we overlooked while setting up the machine, or a very basic mechanical problem that can be fixed at home. This guide is intended to provide a simple checklist of problems and solutions that you can fix at home - without consulting a professional.

Problems whilst setting up:

Problem

Solution

Cannot thread the needle

  • Needle is not in the correct position - raise the needle.
  • Needle is not installed correctly- remove the needle and reinstall.
  • Needle is bent, dull or broken - replace the needle.
  • Upper threading is incorrect - rethread the upper machine.
  • The wrong size needle is being used - check your manual and use the correct size.

Bobbin thread is not winding neatly

  • The thread is not passed through machine guides properly - rethread.
  • Bobbin spinning too slowly - make sure machine is set to full speed.
  • The thread was not wound correctly - wind the thread ⅚ times around the bobbin, clockwise before winding the bobbin.
  • The bobbin was not on the winding post correctly - make sure it is clicked in place before filling.

Bobbin thread is not pulled up to make stitches

 

  • The needle is bent, snapped or dull - replace the needle.
  • Bobbin is inserted incorrectly - reinsert the bobbin/case.

 

Problems whilst sewing:  

Problem Solution

Needle breaks

  • Needle is not installed correctly - reinstall, following instructions.
  • Needle clamp screw is not tight enough - tighten the screw.
  • Needle is bent or dull - replace the needle.
  • Needle is not suitable for the fabric you are using - use a different type of needle, suitable for the fabric composition.
  • Upper thread tension is too tight - adjust thread tension settings.
  • Fabric is pulled during sewing - apply no pushing or pulling motion when sewing.
  • Your bobbin is not suitable for your machine - replace with a style recommended in the manual.
  • Upper threading is incorrect - rethread correctly.
  • Bobbin is set incorrectly - reset.
  • Presser foot is attached incorrectly - reset.
  • Screw of the presser foot holder is loose - tighten the screw.
  • Your fabric is too thick - only use fabric that your machine can pierce when the handwheel is turned.
  • Stitch length is too short - adjust the stitch length.
  • Bobbin is incorrectly wound - re-fill the bobbin.

Upper thread breaks

  • Machine is not threaded correctly - rethread.
  • Knotted or tangled thread is being used - untangle.
  • Needle is not appropriate for the thread being used - use a different thread or needle.
  • Upper thread tension is too tight - adjust thread tension.
  • Needle is bent, snapped or dull - replace.
  • Needle is installed incorrectly - reinstall.
  • The bobbin is not suitable for the machine - replace with a recommended style.
  • While sewing, thread has tangled - rethread upper and lower thread.

Thread is tangled on the wrong side of the fabric

  • Upper threading is incorrect - rethread.
  • Needle or thread are not compatible with the fabric - use suitable needle and thread for fabric composition.

The upper thread is too tight

  • Bobbin thread is not correctly installed - reinstall.

Bobbin thread breaks

  • Bobbin is set up incorrectly - re-set.
  • Bobbin thread is incorrectly wound - refill bobbin.
  • The bobbin is damaged or doesn't rotate - replace the bobbin.
  • The thread is tangled - remove tangles and excess thread.
  • The bobbin is not suitable for the machine - replace with a recommended style.

Fabric puckers

  • Upper/lower threading is incorrect - rethread.
  • Needle or thread are not compatible with the fabric - use suitable needle and thread for fabric composition.
  • Needle is bent - snapped or dull, replace.
  • Stitches are too long when sewing thinner fabrics - shorten the stitch length.
  • Upper thread tension is too tight - adjust thread tension settings.
  • Incorrect presser foot used - use suitable foot.

Skipped stitches

  • Machine is threaded incorrectly - rethread.
  • Needle or thread are not compatible with the fabric - use suitable needle and thread for fabric composition.
  • Needle is bent, snapped or dull - replace.
  • Needle is not installed correctly - reinstall, following instructions.
  • Dust or lint is clogging machine - clean machine with a brush.

No stitching

  • Needle is bent, snapped or dull - replace.
  • Bobbin is set incorrectly - reset.
  • Upper threading is incorrect - rethread.

The needle hits the needle plate

  • The needle clamp screw is loose - tighten.
  • Needle is bent, snapped or dull - replace.

Fabric being sewn cannot be lifted/removed from the machine

  • Lift the fabric, trim threads below it - clean out machine/bobbin area.

Stitches are not sewn correctly

  • The presser foot is not the right type for the stitch/fabric - use an appropriate foot.
  • Thread tension is incorrect - adjust tension of the upper thread.
  • Feed dogs are in the down position - lift the feed dogs.

 

Problems after sewing:

Problem

Solution

Thread tension is incorrect

  • Upper threading is incorrect - rethread.
  • Bobbin is set incorrectly - reset.
  • Needle or thread are not compatible with the fabric - use suitable needle and thread for fabric composition.
  • Presser foot holder is not attached correctly - reattach.
  • Thread tension is set incorrectly - adjust thread tension.
  • Bobbin thread is incorrectly wound - refill bobbin.
  • Needle is bent, snapped or dull - replace.
  • The bobbin is not suitable for the machine - replace with a recommended style.

 

This is only a condensed list of common problems, so if you do have other issues, it may be best to refer to your manual, manufacturer or get a professional service!

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