Troubleshooting Guide for Sewing Machine

It is very annoying when your sewing machine don’t cooperate properly. Suppose you want to start a project with full enthusiasm but your sewing machine don’t work properly. I think it will be very frustrating experience for a sewer. But in maximum case troubles of sewing machine are not major. If you know few tips for troubleshooting of sewing machine then you can easily handle it. In this article I will list out of tables for sewing machine problems, causes and remedies.

Troubleshooting for Sewing Machine
Fig: Troubleshooting for sewing machine

Problem, Causes and Remedies of Sewing Machine:

Sewing machine problems Possible causes Remedies
Skipping stitches, shredding and breaking thread Bent needle When to change needles
Needle in backward When to change needles
Wrong needle for fabric Relationship 2: Needle style and fabric
Damaged needle tip When to change needles
Needle not pushed all the way up into needle clamp Push needle all the way to stop
Needle too fine for thread thickness Relationship 1: Needle size and thread
Too much basting spray Switch to a different basting spray
Glue too sticky in fusible stabilizer Switch to a different stabilizer
Not enough presser-foot pressure Presser-foot pressure adjustment
Thread getting caught somewhere in thread path Wrong size of thread stopper
Incorrect threading Correct threading
Old thread Change thread
Damaged needle plate Needle plate damage
Tarnished or damaged bobbin case Damage to the bobbin case
Burr on hook Smoothing burrs on the hook
Timing not set right Take your machine in for servicing
Hook to needle distance off Take your machine in for servicing
Sewing machine problems Causes Remedies
Loops on back of fabric Machine threaded with presser foot in down position How the presser foot is involved
Take-up lever not threaded Missing the take-up lever
Thread not in tension discs Presser foot up
Thread or lint caught in tension discs Clean the tension discs
Burr on hook Smoothing burrs on the hook
Damage on bobbin case Damage to the bobbin case
Top tension set too low Making top tension adjustments
Thread too thick for needle Relationship 1: Needle size and thread
Metallic thread too stiff Try a softer thread
Tarnished metal bobbin case Damage to the bobbin case
Thread is not supply enough May be designed for hand stitching
Thread too thick for sewing machine Relationship 1: Needle size and thread
Knee resting on knee-lift lever when sewing Reposition so you are not resting on the knee-lift lever
Sewing machine problems Causes Remedies
Inconsistent tension Thread and needle mismatched Relationship 1: Needle size and thread
Damaged bobbin case Damage to the bobbin case
Burr on hook Smoothing burrs on the hook
Tarnished bobbin case Damage to the bobbin case
Wrong thread stopper Wrong size of thread stopper
Catch on outside edge of thread stopper Wrong size of thread stopper
Burr on hook Smoothing burrs on the hook
Damaged needle plate Needle plate damage
Damaged needle When to change needles
Low quality thread Use good quality thread
Thread too stiff Try a softer thread
High contrast in color between thread and fabric What could go wrong?
Sewing machine problems Causes Remedies
Fabric won’t feed Not enough presser-foot pressure Presser-foot pressure adjustment
Lint buildup in feed dogs Clean out lint and felt by using a fine screwdriver, tweezers or any other object that will fit.
Damaged needle plate Needle plate damage
Thread caught somewhere Remove thread
Stitch length set too short Increase stitch length
Walking foot lever not on needle clamp Remove and reattach the walking foot on the needle clamp.
Presser foot damaged on underside Replace the presser foot
Knee resting against knee-lift lever Reposition so you are not resting on the knee-lift lever
Rubber feed dogs may be distintegrating Take your machine in for servicing
Feed dogs down Raise the feed dogs
Sewing machine problems Causes Remedies
Uneven stitch length Incorrect pressure on presser foot Presser-foot pressure adjustment
Presser foot worn underneath Replace the presser foot
Wrong foot for job Change presser foot
Lint buildup between feed dogs Clean out lint and felt by using a fine screwdriver, tweezers or any other object that will fit.
Heavy fabric needs more support Help fabric to feed
Pulling fabric Guide fabric without pulling
Pushing fabric Guide fabric without pushing
Rubber feed dogs may be disintegrating Take your machine in for servicing
Walking foot lever not correctly mounted on needle clamp Remove and reattach the walking foot on the needle clamp
Sewing machine problems Causes Remedies
Won’t climb seams Too much presser-foot pressure Presser-foot pressure adjustment
Wrong foot Refer to your machine’s manual to select the correct foot.
Seam needs to be flattened Flatten the seam with a wooden clapper or rubber mallet before stitching.
Feed dogs not all the way up (some older machines) Raise the feed dogs.
Lint buildup in feed dogs Clean out lint and felt by using a fine screwdriver, tweezers or any other object that will fit.
Stitch length set too short Adjust length
Sewing machine problems Causes Remedies
Fabric puckering Tension too tight Tension in the relationship
Stabilizer required Fabric puckering
Wrong needle plate Refer to your machine’s manual to select the correct needle plate. Needle plate damage.
Needle point damaged When to change needles
Wrong needle for fabric Relationship 2: Needle style and fabric
Top thread hung up somewhere in thread path Rethread machine
Not enough presser-foot pressure Presser-foot pressure adjustment
Thread too heavy for fabric Change thread.
Sewing machine problems Causes Remedies
Needle hitting Bent needle Change needle
Pulling fabric Guide fabric without pulling
Pushing fabric Guide fabric without pushing
Wrong presser foot Refer to your machine’s manual to select the correct foot.
Wrong needle plate Refer to your machine’s manual to select the correct needle plate.
Top thread caught Wrong size of thread stopper
Drop-in bobbin case has spun around Missing the take-up lever
Timing out Take your machine in for servicing
Sewing machine problems Causes Remedies
Noise in bobbin area Hook needs lubrication Refer to the manual for your machine and oil hook
Damaged plastic drop-in bobbin case Drop-in bobbin case
Bent needle hitting hook Change needle
Tarnished metal bobbin case Damage to the bobbin case
Sewing machine problems Causes Remedies
Machine jammed Thread caught in hook Thread lock
Lack of lubrication Refer to your machine’s manual and lubricate as directed.
Use of inappropriate lubricant Refer to your machine’s manual and lubricate as directed.
Thread cutter jammed Automatic thread cutters
Thread caught and wrapped around handwheel Unravel thread
Thread caught in take-up mechanism Using gentle force, try to remove the threads. If this doesn’t work, let your sewing machine technician do this at the next service.
Sewing machine problems Causes Remedies
Machine won’t turn on Cord not properly plugged in Check cord placement
Fuse blown after needle hitting Take your machine in for servicing
Fuse blown after thread jam Take your machine in for servicing.
Damaged power cord Replace cord
Surge protector turned off Turn on surge protector
Problem with power print Take your machine in for servicing
Sewing machine problems Causes Remedies
Erratic on high speed only Burned contacts in rheostat Take your machine in for servicing or replace with an electronic foot control.
Grease or debris on resistor of electronic foot control Unplug the control and press it up and down through its entire range of motion for a minute.
Blown capacitor in foot control Take your machine in for servicing.
Sewing machine problems Causes Remedies
Low bobbin sensor not working Lint in sensor area Remove loose thread, debris and lint.
Damaged bobbin Damaged bobbins
Wrong type of bobbin Using the right bobbin
Using prewound bobbins Prewound bobbins
Bobbin door open while sewing Close bobbin door
Malfunctioning sensor Take your machine in for servicing.
Sewing machine problems Causes Remedies
Upper thread warning comes on Lint or thread in sensor Clean thread path
Incorrect threading Rethread machine
Sensor activator has jumped out of check spring Take your machine in for servicing.
Sensor malfunctioning Take your machine in for servicing.
Sewing machine problems Causes Remedies
Machine is on and makes buzzing noise but won’t sew Bobbin-winder activating lever may be engaged Disengage bobbin winder mechanism.
Thread nest after using cutter Pulling extra top thread after using cutter Thread cutter
Buttonholes won’t feed properly May need compensation plate Troubleshooting buttonholes
Stitch length may be set too short Making great-looking buttonholes.

References:

  1. Sewing Machine Reference Tool by Bernie Tobisch
  2. The Sewing Machine Master Guide: From Basic to Expert by Clifford L. Blodget
  3. Understanding and Using A Sewing Machine by Nicola Corrigan
  4. The Sewing Book by Alison Smith

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