Skip to content

What Are The Common Sewing Machine Problems? Find Out Here!

We have all had problems with our sewing machines at some point. Sometimes they just stop working. Other times the thread gets tangled.

Other times the needle won’t turn. It’s a good idea to check it when you are done running the machine and clear it out of the machine and all the way to the back of the machine.

When sewing it’s obviously really important that your machine is in good working order. This is because if your machine isn’t working properly, then it’s going to be more difficult for you to sew that perfect seam.

So if your machine isn’t working properly, then what should you do? Well, the first thing you should do is try and determine what the problem is. There are a few things you can do to determine what the problem could be.

Sewing is a great hobby, and one of the most popular methods of crafting for people of all ages. Whether you are a beginner or a professional, you can find a variety of sewing machines to suit your needs.

Everyone who sews has problems with sewing machines at one time or another. But how can you tell if your sewing machine is acting up or if you have a problem? 

There are a few signs of a problem with your sewing machine.

Tight stitches

The most common sewing machine problems are caused by tension and timing issues. Tight Stitches – or lose stitches, as they are often called – can be a real nuisance for those who sew on a daily basis.

Tight stitches can be caused by tension settings that are too tight. When your machine starts to jam up, a loose stitch can make your project look sloppy, and it’s no fun when your machine just can’t seem to keep up with your sewing pace. 

Most machines are designed to have a needle clutch, meaning that the needle has a spring-loaded catch that holds it in place while the machine is in use. But what happens if the catch wears out?

Well, in most cases the needle will fall out, and the machine will appear to stop functioning. But if you can get it back to the point where the needle is caught in the clutch, it will start working again.

What to do:

  • Remove the existing bobbin case, by removing the screws in the back. Then take the bobbin case apart. Locate the bearing at the bottom of the bobbin case, and remove it with a hammer and chisel.
  • Clean the bearing and place the bearing back in the bobbin case. Place the top on the bobbin case and tighten the screws.

Loose bobbin case

One of the most common is a loose bobbin case that is not holding the bobbin in place, preventing the needle from going around the bobbin. 

Loose bobbin in sewing machine problems is a common sewing problem in which the bobbin fails to wind up into the bobbin case.

When you’re sewing, it’s always good to have a bobbin case (sometimes called a bobbin case retainer) that prevents the bobbin from coming out of the machine when the needle is at rest.

This prevents extra stitching, a frustrating situation. However, when the bobbin case comes loose, a loose bobbin is just as bad because it can cause needle breaks, stitches that don’t match up, and other problems.

What to do:

  • First remove the existing bobbin case, by removing the screws in the back. Then take the bobbin case apart. Locate the bearing at the bottom of the bobbin case, and remove it with a hammer and chisel.
  • Then clean the bearing and place the bearing back in the bobbin case. Place the top on the bobbin case and tighten the screws.

Needle breakage

Needle breakage is a real problem that happens to almost every sewing machine. It has been around for as long as sewing machines have been around.

Needle breakage is a major issue for all sewing machine users. It is a fact that needle breakage happens often, and it is one of the top issues for users of hand-operated sewing machines.

Some are quick to blame the machine, but the truth is there are many potential causes of needle breakage.

The two most common reasons for needle breakage are:

1. Excessive force when stitching multiple layers of fabric

2. Needle breakage due to the fabric being too thick or too thin.

What to do:

  • If your needle is frayed, a replacement needle is available in the sewing machine. If your needle is bent, use a needle bending tool to straighten it out.
  • If your needle is broken, replace it. If your needle is misshapen, return it to the store where it was purchased. Take a couple of minutes to learn how to handle your sewing machine needles, and you will have many years of sewing ahead of you.

Thread breaking

Thread breaks are one of the top reasons for sewing machine repairs because they are usually easy to fix. Thread breaking is an issue that plagues almost every sewing machine user but does not receive the attention it deserves.

Thread breaking is a common problem with thread-based machines, and it happens when the spool runs out of thread.

If you have this problem, a few tips will help you fix it quickly, easily, and inexpensively.

What to do:

  • When you are doing a straight stitch, are you getting a straight stitch? If the answer is no, you may be breaking the thread on the bottom of the bobbin case. There are two ways to check this. The easiest way is to untwist the thread, and if you go far enough, you will see the break. The next step is to check the tension of the thread. If you are getting a good stitch, the tension should be perfect.
  • If you are getting a straight stitch but are not getting the same tension all the time, then it may be that the presser foot is not set up correctly. The presser foot is the part that sits on top of the fabric and pushes down on it. It should be a very snug fit when you put it on your machine. You should also make sure that the needle is in its correct hole and that the needle plate is clean and free from lint or bits of fabric.

Machine jams

Machines sometimes jam. Machines get stuck. Machines make strange noises. Sometimes a machine may make a sound that is not normal and may be a sign of a problem.

Machine jams are a common enough problem for sewing machine owners, but they are often assumed to be simple enough problems to be fixed by the owner themselves.

This is not always true, as the damage caused by a machine jam can often be extensive and difficult to repair – and even harder to replace.

If your machine has stopped sewing and is jammed, use the needle to release the material that is stuck.

What to do:

  • Lower the needle. If the machine still doesn’t work, try to raise the needle again. If that doesn’t work, turn off the machine and call for help.
  • Turn the handwheel toward you and see if the machine starts working.
  • Turn the handwheel toward you and see if the needle starts going up and down.
  • If the needle is moving, stop winding, lower the needle and see if it will run.

Foot pedal getting stuck

Some vintage sewing machine owners have had problems with their machines getting stuck on the foot pedal. The problem is that the foot pedal is a safety feature designed to prevent the machine from running away.

When the foot pedal gets stuck, the machine does not keep running and it will not stop until you disengage the foot pedal.

The problem is that if you attempt to disengage the foot pedal while the machine is still running, the foot pedal will get stuck under the pedal and it will be impossible to disengage.

 What to do:

  • The most common reason is the debris that accumulates in the pedal.  To fix this problem, you can remove the pedal and check for debris.
  • If you have a metal peddle, the piece that pivots can get stuck. To fix this, you need to loosen the screw.
  • If the pedal gets stuck it most probably the indexing position is set to high. To make a test, turn the handwheel and press the pedal.  If the needle rises and lowers again immediately, the index position is too high, you have to turn the handwheel until the needle stays raised.

Problems with the handwheel

Handwheels are used on sewing machines to control the machine’s movement. The wheel will become worn if used improperly or excessively.

Handwheels can become seized if the machine is not lubricated sufficiently. If the hand wheel has trouble turning, it may be jammed with debris. Try cleaning the hand wheel with a cloth dampened with water.

The hand wheel of a sewing machine can become loose and cause the needle to catch.

What to do:

  • To fix this, you can tighten the screw that holds the hand wheel to the machine.
  • Check the treadle. Make sure you are not missing a belt or that the belt is tight.
  • Check that the treadle is not damaged.

Do not touch the hand wheel when sewing. Check the needle to see if it is bent or broken or if it has become loose. The hand wheel may be hard to turn due to a piece of fabric stuck in the machine.

This can be removed by turning the hand wheel in the opposite direction while it is off. Check that the needle is not broken, and if it is, replace it before turning the hand wheel back on.

If the hand wheel is still too hard to turn, or if you are not sure if it is broken or not, you will need to take your sewing machine to a local sewing machine repair store.

As an alternative, there are hand wheels with an integrated plastic gear that can be installed without any additional parts. If you are unable to repair your hand wheel, you can buy a new one at your local sewing machine store.

Kirsten Carter

Kirsten Carter

Kirsten Carter is a freelance content writer who specialises in writing about travel, technology and health. When she's not traveling between her home of Tanzania and England, she writes for her blog Rightminded Travelling and features on a variety of different travel and technology sites.View Author posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *