Quick sewing machine troubleshooting! Some people just love lists: shopping lists, to-do lists, event lists and checklists. All good ideas and helpful ways to keep your life organized! Getting a list of sewing machine troubleshooting ideas and tips is a great way to save time when something goes wrong.
Regardless of the sewing machine troubleshooting problem, most sewing issues can be traced back to one of the following causes. Start at the beginning and eliminate each issue.
Sewing Machine Troubleshooting | Solutions
If you have a specific problem, these individual articles may help you otherwise this article will give you lots of tips for things to check.
- Sewing Needle Keeps Breaking
- Sewing Machine Thread Keeps Breaking
- Sewing Machine Skipping Stitches
- Seam Puckering when Sewing
- How to Thread a Sewing Machine
Before you Start
Before you start, grab your sewing machine manual and if you haven’t got one, then try and download one. Most will have a troubleshooting section in the back. They are generally quite brief but at least it will give you somewhere to start.
Now before you start the sewing machine troubleshooting, just make sure that the problem is on all fabrics. If the problem is just on the fabric you are sewing then you probably just need some fabric tips instead.
Here are some common fabric solutions listed alphabetically.
- CHIFFON – Sewing Chiffon
- BATIK – What is Batik
- CANVAS – Sewing Canvas
- COTTON – Sewing Cotton
- DENIM – Sewing Denim
- FELT – Sewing Felt
- FUR – Sewing Fur
- KNITS – How to Sew Stretch Fabric
- INTERFACING – Types of Interfacing
- LACE – How to Sew Lace
- LEATHER – Sewing Leather
- RAYON – Sewing Rayon
- SHEER – Sewing Sheer Fabrics
- SILK – How to Sew Silk
- THICK – Sewing Thick Fabrics
- VELVET Sewing Velvet
- WOOL – Sewing Wool
If the problem is on all fabrics then continue reading below.
Tips for Sewing Machine Troubleshooting
TIP #1: Troubleshooting Power
If your machine won’t even turn on, then check everything is plugged in correctly and switched on at the wall.
Power issues mean a trip straight to a sewing machine technician as you should never attempt electrical work yourself.
TIP #2: Troubleshooting Tension
If your machine is not sewing nicely or is sounding strange, your tension may be too tight or too loose.
Test a scrap of fabric and see if the upper and lower threads are both even and uniformly formed. If either the top or bottom thread is loopy, you will need to adjust the tension.
This diagram should help you visualize the tension a little better.
- Upper thread and bobbin thread are balanced – no adjustment needed
- Upper thread too loose or bobbin too tight – increase tension (higher number)
- Upper thread too tight or bobbin too loose – decrease tension (lower number)
When sewing machine troubleshooting, make any adjustments slowly until you get it right. Big turns of your tension dial can cause more problems or new problems.
Read my full article on sewing machine tension
TIP #3: Troubleshooting Needles
Check for bent, blunt or broken needles. If your needle is not in perfect condition, it can cause skipped stitches and needles to break.
Also, ensure you are using the correct type of needles for the fabric and in the correct size.
Here are just a few needle weights and types.
Read my full article on needle sizes and uses .
|FABRIC WEIGHT||SEWING NEEDLE SIZE|
|Very Fine||8/60, 9/65, 10/70|
|FABRIC TYPE||MACHINE NEEDLE TYPE|
|Knits/Stretch||Stretch or Jersey Needle|
|Denim||Denim or Jeans Needle|
Make sure the needle is inserted correctly. The flat part of the needle should be facing towards the back of the machine and the screw should be tight.
TIP #4: Troubleshooting Threads
Next on our list of sewing machine troubleshooting, is to check the thread used in the top spool and bobbin.
Don’t use cheap threads that may break or run through the tension disks unevenly. Also check if your thread is knotted, twisted or caught. The thread may be twisted and caught around the bottom of the top spool.
Did you know that there are different types of threads for different fabrics and purposes? Make sure your thread matches your fabric.
Read my full article on sewing thread types
TIP #5: Troubleshooting Dust and Dirt
A dirty machine cannot function at its best so start cleaning. Ensure the power is turned off and the cord removed before you start. Don’t forget the bobbin case and tension disks as this is a common spot for thread tangles and clumps of fluff.
Read my full article on how to clean a sewing machine
TIP #6: Troubleshooting Threading
Even if your machine looks correctly threaded, rethread it now. Don’t forget to rethread the bobbin! When threading your machine make sure the needle is in its highest position. The thread needs to go securely through the tension disks.
Read my full article on how to thread a sewing machine
TIP #7: Troubleshooting Bobbins
Take a look at the bobbin. Is it wound correctly? The thread should be wound evenly and tightly around the bobbin. If you have a couple
Read my full article on how to wind a bobbin
TIP #8: Troubleshooting the Knobs
If the machine needle is not moving at all – Check the bobbin winder is not engaged.
If little fingers have been playing with the buttons on your machine, you may have to reset them. Or maybe you just forgot to switch it back across after bobbin winding.
TIP #9: Troubleshoot Stitch Type
When doing sewing machine troubleshooting, check all the stitch dials. Is the stitch type correct and is the setting locked in and not halfway between two settings? Is the stitch length and width correct? When troubleshooting it is best to have your settings on a straight stitch.
TIP #10: Troubleshooting Throat Plate
If your throat plate has been nicked by you sewing over a pin it will snag the bobbin thread and cause tension problems. New throat plates are inexpensive and readily available from most dealers.
Sewing Machine Troubleshooting | In Conclusion
A trusty list is a good resource to fall back on and save time for more creative ideas. Keeping your list close by enables you to add to it as you go along and build up your own personal guide to sewing machine troubleshooting.
Sew…Keep your list by your side and your sewing machine in top condition, you will be a force to be reckoned with!
Call a technician! Sometimes it is not you – your machine just needs help and a tune-up.