Our Troubleshooting Guide To Sewing Machine Jams & Backstitch
If you’ve switched to sewing in reverse with your sewing machine only to find that your machine keeps getting jammed when you backstitch, there could be a few different reasons why.
Anything from lack of tension, too much lint around the backstitch lever or a broken needle could be among the common reasons why your sewing machine backstitch is not working and jamming.
We’ve put together a short guide below which will take you through how backstitch works on a sewing machine, why your machine might be jamming when your backstitch and how to properly use the reverse function on your machine.
How Does Backstitch Work On A Sewing Machine?
Before we can get into troubleshooting why your backstitch is not working on your sewing machine, let’s discuss how this function works first.
Backstitching works on a sewing machine to reinforce stitches, it stops threads from coming undone over time and becoming stretched.
On modern sewing machines, performing this reverse stitch or backstitch is nowadays very simple, all you have to do is press the reverse button or lever.
Common Reasons Why Your Sewing Machine Keeps Jamming On Backstitch
Sewing machine jams can be a very frustrating sewing machine experience when you are near the end of a sewing project, so identifying the cause fast and troubleshooting it is important.
We’ve listed some common causes of a jammed backstitch below.
The Stitch Choice Is Wrong
Your backstitch option might not be working and gets jammed if your stitch selection is too short on your machine, this especially will not work if your stitch is set to number zero, resulting in jammed threads.
You Need To Hold On To The Threads
On some sewing machines, it can be helpful to hold on to the needle and bobbin threads as you start to sew, this stops the thread from getting sucked down the throat plate and blocked, causing the machine sewing to get jammed.
A Damaged Backstitch Lever
A sewing process may be interrupted if the backstitch lever becomes jammed over time with lints and thread, you can remedy this by simply cleaning it or if the lever is damaged, get it replaced.
It’s Set To Lockstitch
If you have selected the automatic lockstitch option on your sewing machine to secure threads then this might be blocking your machine from reverse sewing, since it is already being used to reinforce stitches.
The Needle Is Broken
You could have a jammed sewing machine if the sewing machine needles are broken, damaged or bent. To see if your needle is broken inspect it well, ensure you’re using the right-sized type and replace it if needed.
Lack Of Tension
If the tension of your upper thread is too loose in your sewing machine it might jam your thread since it can’t pull the thread up through the fabric when backstitching. To fix lift the presser foot and re-thread the machine with the right tension.
The Feed Dogs Are Not Working
If debris has got stuck in your feed dogs it can cause them not to work properly if this happens the best thing you can do while sewing is lifted the feed dogs and clean them underneath, this will also ensure they are gripping the fabric properly.
How To Use The Reverse Function On Your Sewing Machine Properly
To avoid the frustrating sewing experience of your back stitch not working, we’ve made a small step by step for you to follow below which will show you how to backstitch properly with your sewing machine.
- First figure out if you are using an industrial sewing machine or an old model of the sewing machine, if using a vintage sewing machine then there might not be an option to do backstitching, in this case, leave the needle down and change the fabric in the other direction instead.
- At the start of your seam, place your fabric feed underneath the presser foot aligning it with your seam guide, set your machine to reverse and sew a couple of stitches into the end of the fabric.
- Next sew forward to the length of your seam, once at the end, stop and sew in reverse for a couple of more stitches.
- Press your seams to secure and apply a seam finish.
Frequently Asked Questions About Reverse Stitch Sewing Machine Jams
Why is the backstitching on my sewing machine lose?
Loose backstitching on your machine is likely due to unbalanced tension. To fix this you will need to reset your tension and also ensure that the bobbin threads match the top threads in the machine.
What’s the point of backstitching on a sewing machine?
Backstitching is very important on a sewing machine for keeping stitches strong and durable, this is especially important in fabrics that will get a lot of use like clothing for example. This strong stitch also prevents the thread from stretching over time.
How do you sew a lock stitch on a sewing machine?
Another way to keep stitches strong in the fabric is by performing a lock stitch with your machine. To do this you can simply select the lock stitch function on your machine, if your model does not have this option you can make the stitch length as short as possible the sew one stitch back and forwards.
Can a bad needle cause my sewing machine to jam?
Using a damaged, broken or the wrong needle in your sewing machine can all be reasons as to why it jams. In this case, you want to change the needle you are using according to the fabric that you are sewing or replace it entirely.
Overall, if your sewing machine keeps getting jammed when backstitching it’s likely due to tension issues, the wrong settings or the backstitch function itself being damaged.
If your machine does not have a reverse stitch option you can simply move your fabric in the other direction to create a reverse stitch.