SEWING MACHINE Troubleshooting Check List

Posted by Alfonsina Uriburu on

The sewing machines usually stop working in the middle of a project and commonly not in front of a technicians eyes. Just at home, not witnesses.

I know people traveling miles to check their machines and not be able to reproduce the issue in front of a professional.

The 3 most important things to think about are:

  1. Lint and Fluff
  2. Top and Bobbin Thread
  3. Needle 

Let´s figure out one by one, how this can affect your stitching.

What are the first things to check?

1. Clean the Machine
Sewing machines need weekly if not daily removable of lint and fluff from underneath the throat plate. First, remove the throat plate and bobbin case to expose areas that lint gathers. Using a brush or a Q-tip, remove all visible lint and dust bunnies. If the machine requires oil, add a drop of oil after cleaning. Do not use canned air. 

2. Check the Top Threading
If there are huge loops on the back of the fabric, the problem is that the top thread is not in the tension disks. Be sure to thread the machine with PURPOSE. No wimpy threading! Firmly seat the thread in each groove and guide of the machine. If the machine is not threaded correctly it will not sew.

Remove completely the thread and thread it again, check that goes correctly between the tension disc.

Use a standalone Spool holder if your spool is big as 1.000yds. Always use good quality thread. Your sewing machine will thank you and you will have less headaches.


3. Bobbin thread not in the bobbin tension 
The bobbin too has its own tension. If the thread in the bobbing is too loose and you can touch a "spongy" texture, make sure is correctly wounded. And If the bobbin thread is not in the its tension, the stitch will look unbalanced. Be sure the bobbin thread “clicks” into bobbin tension. 

4. Wrong bobbin
With so many different brands of sewing machines all taking a difference size of bobbin, it is easy to accidentally be using the wrong size. Just because a bobbin is plastic does not mean it will fit your sewing machine. Change the bobbin and check again.

bobbin thread

5. Change the Needle
Needles are the easiest part of a sewing machine to change. Without a new needle a sewing machine can not work correctly. 

If you are breaking needles all the time it is time to have your local sewing machine service center realign your machine.

6. Needle too small for thread 
Thicker thread must go through a bigger needle. A needle’s groove down the front of the needle must fit the thread size. Small needles and thick thread are a bad combination. 

7. Needle not high enough
Sounds simple but not getting the needle all the way up into position will make stitches not form correctly. This problem is often hard to spot. Loosen the needle screw and gently lift the needle up. Another way to check is by using the built-in needle threader. If the needle threader does not line up with the needle’s eye, the needle is not high enough.

8. Needle eye not in the front
Some needles have a flat back, other needles are rounded. If this is the case and the needle is not in right position, the the thread will be damaged.

9. Sewing Machine/needle Time OUT
Timing usually goes out in your sewing machine after the Needle and thread gets jammed. You can tell you sewing machine is out of time when you can no longer sew as the hook timing is out and the bobbin thread isn't getting picked up. Or when your sewing stitch is starting to look horrible.

10. Not having your machine cleaned annually
Just like cars, dogs and cats.

Sewing machines need regular tune-ups. Having a local sewing machine center professionally clean your sewing machine will help with many troublesome issues. Sewing machine technicians know how to keep all those moving parts perfectly aligned for precision stitching. If you want your sewing machine to last, have it serviced on an annual basis.

I love this basic tools to have near my machine, take your time to check what I found for you here.

Mini Needle Plate Screw Driver

The needle plate is not an obstacle for these handy tools. When bird nesting does occur, you will need to reach up easily underneath the needle plate in the hook area, and cut this clump of thread loose from the fabric.

Be sure all the lint is cleaned out beneath the throat platemini sewing machine screw driver

Sewing machine Vacuum Set

The Vacuum Attachment Kit will help you suck dirt out of your sewing machine and serger. Clean your sewing machine or serger the safe way with this Vacuum Attachment Kit.

If you blow into your sewing machines, dust could lodge between gears. Removing dirt with suction will clean your machine without creating unintentional damage. 


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  • Very helpful article! Thank you!

    - Trudy

    Trudy on
  • Thank u for the info. Very enlightening.

    - Monica

    Monica on

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