How to Fix Your Own Sewing Machine


8 sewing machine golden rules!

  • DO unplug your machine before attempting any maintenanceEven if it’s something as simple as removing the bobbin plate. Metal tools and electricity don’t mix!
  • DO refer to your manual for guidance If you don’t have your manual, contact the manufacturer or search online for a copy.
  • DO keep your machine under a cover When it’s not in use in between projects, cover your machine up to protect it from everyday knocks, dust and spills.
  • DON’T remove the main stuff Neer attempt to remove any of the internal machine mechanisms or wiring. Call in the pros for this!
  • DON’T spray any cleaning chemicals on your machine Simply use a microfiber cloth to wipe it over. No water should ever to come into contact with the internal parts.
  • DON’T attach magnetic pincushions Avoid adding these to your machine as the magnets can cause problems on the inside.
  • DON’T force the handle If it won’t turn, you will most likely break the needle and possibly cause expensive damage to the machine. Instead, investigate the problem by raising the presser foot and checking the bobbin case for thread nests.
  • DO service your machine if you can with a local professionalOften fabric/haberdashery shops will do servicing in-house, or will be able to recommend a third party. You don’t have to do this but we service our machines every year or two.


Jammed Machine

As dramatic as it may be, jamming is a very common problem for a sewing machine. Your first step toward a remedy is to remove any fabric you were trying to sew. This may require gently tugging at the fabric and lifting it enough that you can snip at the threads and pull the fabric free of the machine. Next, remove all the jammed thread; this may require removing the bobbin, the throat plate, and any other parts to release any jammed threads and get the machine sewing again.

Before you start sewing again, check your sewing machine needle. Even a slightly bent needle can cause a thread jam.

Do this first to check your thread tension

Before we get started, be sure to wind a bobbin with a different color than your top thread.

With contrast thread in the bobbin and the top thread, it’s easy to see where the problem is.

You’re going to be making simple test swatches with a plain cotton. Muslin is great here.

Getting Used to My Machine

After this couple of days, I wondered if it was meant for me to sew with this machine. After those initial problems, it seems to be doing okay but I still do not know exactly why the thread take up got stuck inside the machine. To be safe, I'm going to take it to a sewing machine shop. I still feel like something is not quite right.

I learned that when it comes to sewing machines (at least this one) if you have anything out of place, it's not going to work properly. You really have to pay attention to the details and do everything the correct way. I think these things could happen with any sewing machine, so I hope that this hub is helpful for others.

If your machine isn't working properly, check the small stuff first. It may not be anything major, sometimes it's just a matter of having it properly threaded or pushing a lever to the left or right. If you purchased a used machine, it is a smart move to go and get it checked out before you start sewing with it to make sure everything is in good running condition. I should have done that first thing but better late than never, I guess.

Happy Sewing!

How To Fix Sewing Machine Handwheel

It can be tricky trying to fix your sewing machine handwheel as several reasons can cause the problem. Multiple potential fixes include adjusting the inner knob, re-threading the machine, or removing the bobbin case.

To find out the causes of a sewing machine handwheel and the steps you can take to fix it, check out the sections below.

Problem 2: The Fabric Isnt Moving

Most of the time, when your fabric isn’t moving it’s because you’re trying to sew with the presser foot still in the upright position. The feed dogs can’t pull the fabric through the machine without the foot down on top of them. When they try, it causes the machine to make a loud sound and the thread jams around the fabric, making a big mess.

Solution A: Simply unclog the jam, remove any excess threads on the fabric and inside the machine, then start again.

If your fabric isn’t moving and the machine is making the normal sewing-like sounds, check to see if the machine is threaded correctly. If it’s threaded correctly (and the presser foot is down on top of the feed dogs), it’s likely your machine is set to the “free-motion” or “darning” set, which disables the feed dogs.

Solution B: Refer to your manual for instructions on how to change the machine back to regular sewing, which will engage the feed dogs so they can pull the fabric through the machine properly.

Sewing machine breaks or bends needles

  1. Do not pull a fabric with your hand while sew

1. Do not pull a fabric with your hand while sewing. If sewing machine does not feed properly the fabric you need to adjust pressing it. 2. Needle is bent. Such bent needle falls on metal surface of needle plate and breaks. Be careful, pieces of needle can scatter in different directions. 3. Combination of needle size, thickness of fabric and thread is selected incorrectly. 4. Do not use needles that are designed for industrial sewing machines (with round shank). 5. A needle is inserted in needle bar incorrectly.

The Problem: Stitches are coming out uneven or skipping entirely


Odds are, the secret culprit here is a needle that is broken, bent, or otherwise damaged. Experts recommend that you replace your needles for every 16 hours of stitching time.

Another possibility is how you handle the fabric whilst sewing. If you have the tendency — and many of us do — of pulling the fabric from behind to make it go through the machine, the practice can result in unclean stitching and can even break your machine. This kind of force-feeding of the fabric works against the feed dogs (the metal teethlike ridges that grip the bottom of the fabric, coaxing it to move away from the needle as stitches are sewn). Work with the machine — don't force it.

TRY THIS: Here's What to Do if Your Sewing Machine is Skipping Stitches


Fabric puckers when sewing

  1. If thread tension is too, thin fabric during

1. If thread tension is too, thin fabric during sewing will be tightened, as shown. 2. Pressing a fabric to feed dogs need to adjust depending on types of fabrics. Too strong pressure on thin and lightweight fabrics leads to apearing the fabric puckers. 3. The height of raising feed dogs teeth does not correspond to thickness of selected fabric. 4. The combination of needle size, thickness of fabric and thread is selected incorrectly. 5. Treading of sewing machine was done not correct.

Skipped Stitches

The most common cause of a sewing machine skipping stitches is using the wrong type of needle for the fabric you are sewing. The simplest rule of thumb is that a knit fabric requires a ballpoint needle, and woven fabric requires a sharp needlebut of course, there is more to it than that. If the machine is sewing fine and you find yourself changing the needle very frequently, you should make sure you are allowing the machine to feed the fabric and that you are not forcing the fabric through the sewing process.

Skipped stitches can also result if the needle is bent, which can occur if you are forcing the fabric, rather than let the machine feed it automatically.

A sewing machine needle is the smallest and usually one of the least expensive parts of a sewing machine to replace; you owe it to yourself to understand everything about sewing machine needles.

10 Solutions on How to Fix a Sewing Machine

I won’t talk about the sewing machine’s most complicated problems, as those ones might need to be solved in a specialized service. Down below you will find the most common issues, that with a little ability and some good information can be repaired all by yourself.

Problem 1: Thread is Bunching Under The Fabric

Sometimes it happens to have a really straight stitch on the top, but a “crowd” of material on the bottom. So why does this annoying inconsistency happens? The first thing that will go through your mind is that the bobbin is the issue. And you are not very far from the truth. Then, the thread is going under the fabric, because there is no tension on the upper thread. Makes sense?

The solution: The first thing you need to do is to lift the presser foot lifter and rethread the sewing machine. By doing so, the tension of the mechanism will unlock and get the thread. Then you will need to raise the take-up lever, so the needle will go to the highest position. This way, you should obtain the right tension.

Check the video and see how it is done:

Watch video: Sewing Machine Problem – Thread Bunching Under Fabric

Problem 2: Your Stitches are Uneven

When a needle is twisted or damaged, most of the problems of sewing tend to appear. Therefore, experts in sewing recommend you to replace the needle for every 16 hours of stitching time.

Another trigger of this problem, although it might seem to you very off, is how you use to handle the fabric while sewing. If you are pulling the fabric from behind, in order to make it go through the machine, then the result will be very unclean stitching. Moreso, in time, this can cause the breaking of your machine. I would name this a force-feeding of the fabric against the metal teeth-like ridges, which are called the feed dogs. The coaxing will move away from the needle and the stitches will be sewn.

The solution: try to work with the machine gently and never force it.

Problem 3: Tangling Produced by Abnormal Threading

There might appear a “ball” of tangled thread, which is so annoying, I know. This is usually a result of improper threading of the sewing machine. The fault doesn’t stay only in the bobbin, but the fault lies also in the presser foot. One of the most common mistakes is people who thread the sewing machine with the presser foot down.

The Solution: To fix this issue, place the presser foot up and try to completely unthread your sewing machine. Most of the time, you will need to retread the sewing machine while keeping the presser foot up, but I would recommend you to follow your sewing machine’s manual. This way, you will know that you do the correct job.

Problem 4: The Needle Keeps Breaking

First of all, needles are sized from 8 to 20, depending on the way you are going to use them. While the sizes 9 or 11 are best for thin, delicate materials, sizes 16, 18 and 20 are reserved for thicker materials, like denim. So, if you will use a needle of size 9 for sewing denim, is crystal clear that the needle will break. So, the question you need to ask yourself should be: “Am I using the needles in the right way?”

The solution: Before sewing, I would recommend you to check a full-size chart, this way you will know which needle suits each material.

Problem 5: Skipped Stitches

This one has to do with the previous problem, as it is the cause of the use of the wrong type of needle. You need to adapt it to the fabric you are sewing. Skipped stitches can also be the result of a bent needle. It happens when you are forcing the fabric, rather than letting the machine feed it automatically.

The solution: The easiest rule you need to remember is that a knit fabric requires a ballpoint needle, while a woven textile needs a sharp needle. Also, if the machine is sewing fine, but you observe a permanent need of changing the needles, you need to make sure that machine is feeding the fabric by itself and that you are not forcing the fabric through the sewing process.

Problem 6: The Fabric is not Feeding Under The Needle

Most of the sewing machines come with a setting that lowers the feed dogs, which makes possible the free-motion sewing. Now, normally, the feed dogs are moving the fabric under the sewing machine needle, but when the feed dogs are not coming up and move the fabric, it’s time to check if there is a special setting that has lowered the feed dogs.

The solution: if you don’t see such a setting on the machine, maybe it’s a problem of cleanliness. Yes, you heard it right. It’s time to take off the throat plate and clean all the dust, lint, and the thread.

You should also oil the machine.

Watch the following tutorial to learn to do it properly.

Watch video: Basic Sewing Machine Maintenance

If it still doesn’t work, take the sewing machine manual and search for the problem.

Problem 7: The Jammed Sewing Machine

As odd and dramatic it may sound, jamming is a very common problem for sewing machines.

The solution: the first step you need to do is to remove any fabric that you were sewing. You need to be gentle and tug at the fabric and lift it up enough. This way, you will be able to snip at the threads and pull the fabric free from the machine. Then, remove the jammed thread from the bobbin, the throat plate and from other parts and turn on the machine again. Before starting to sew, check the needle, because it can be the cause of a thread jam.

Problem 8: Shredding and Breaking the Thread

It might happen that the thread to break down very often. If this happens, you need to check out the next possibilities: is the thread getting hung up on the thread spool?

Solution: This problem can be caused by a notch in the spool, which is meant to secure the end of the thread. You can solve the issue by changing the direction the thread feeds off.

Are you using an old thread or a cheap one?

Solution: look at the type of thread you are using. Discard the supplies that seem old or poor quality.

Are you using a new needle for your sewing machine? Then this one might have a nick in it, that will play havoc with the thread. This will cause a break and shred.

Solution: Look for special needles that come with a larger path for special threads. If the thread continues to break, try to clean out all the dust and lint from the tension disk and the bobbin area.

Move your finger over the thread’s path and look for loose fabric, debris or burr that might cause the snags.

Problem 9: Poor feed technique

If you encounter this problem, here is a simple solution: pay attention to the technique you are operating your sewing machine. Make sure you are letting the feed dogs work correctly. Never force the fabric while sewing it, as it can cause a range of multiple problems.

Problem 10: Sewing machine tension problems

Most of the time, when a sewing machine doesn’t work properly, many people will immediately think that they need to adjust the tension. Luckily, most of these mechanisms require just a little work with the tension settings.

The solution: threading the sewing machine with the presser foot up is a good practice, and if the thread is not even at the front and the back, then it might be because of the tension adjustment. To solve the tension adjustment, check the manual of the sewing machine. If you don’t have a manual or can’t find one on the internet, remember that the rule “Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey” also applies to the tension of the thread.

The Most Basic Solutions to Keep in Mind

The previous sewing problems I mentioned above are pretty significant. But to make everything clearer, I would suggest you pay attention to only 3 basic rules when the sewing machine seems to brake:

  • Rethread the machine: as simple as it might be, this step has amazing results. Even the slightest bump can cause trouble to the stitching. Now, check the needle, the bobbin, and the thread and make sure everything is in its right place.
  • Make a habit of cleaning the sewing machine: be honest, when was the last time you did a top-to-bottom cleaning process to your machine? Dust can accumulate in the bobbin area and tension the assembly. If you use the sewing machine daily or weekly, cleaning is a must. If you use the sewing machine weekly, then clean the machine only once a month. But if you are sewing just occasionally, clean the mechanism every three months.
  • Check the thread and needle: using the right type of needle and thread is mandatory. As I already mentioned, you should work with a high-quality thread, that has a nice filament and doesn’t get woolly or irregular in thickness. Keep your collection of spools in rotation and store it out of sunlight and humidity.

Problem 4: You Have Loose and Loopy Stitches

A probable culprit: the thread has fallen out of the take-up lever, which can happen if the machine is jammed.

Solution A: Check if the machine is threaded properly, both into the tension discs and the take-up lever. If not, re-thread the machine properly and try again.

Your bobbin tension could also be off and causing this problem. If the thread from the bobbin isn’t going into the tension area on the bobbin casing or in the drop-in bobbin tension area, then loose and loopy stitches can happen.

Solution B: Rethread the bobbin, making sure the thread is properly inserted into the tension areas.

A third spot to check is to see if your tension discs are on to the wrong setting on the machine.

Solution C: The tension dial on the machine should be set to the middle “automatic” setting on the machine. Refer to your manual for the suggested setting if you’re unsure what the automatic setting is.

Can You Overwork Your Sewing Machine?

If you have a more modern sewing machine, it’s pretty difficult to overwork it due to how they have an auto-shutoff feature. This feature works to automatically turn off the machine to ensure that the motor doesn’t overheat and become damaged.

However, if your sewing machine doesn’t have this auto-shutoff feature, it can be prone to overheating. This is especially if you’ve been sewing at a fast-paced for an extended period of time.

The handwheel can become stuck when your sewing machine becomes overheated. If this happens, make sure to disconnect the power cord and let the machine cool down for at least an hour before you use it again. Ideally, you’ll want to leave the sewing machine to cool down for 2-3 hours before using it again.

On the flip side, if you haven’t used your sewing machine frequently enough, it can cause the handwheel to become inactive and unable to function properly.

Wrapping Up

A high-quality or a heavy-duty sewing machine can help you do a lot, from mending holes in fabric, to creating your own clothes, to quilting. You want to protect your investment, and continue with your projects, and that starts by knowing your machine.

Read the manual and understand how your machine works. Having that information at your disposal, and knowing how to fix common problems will save you time and money. Time and money that can be better invested in all the projects that you want to do.

Next time your sewing machine has a problem, fix it yourself, and finish that project.