Sewing Machine Troubleshooting Guide
                                                                                                                              







My Thread Keeps Breaking
                                                                                   

    Try these fixes:

    Your upper thread is breaking:

    Rethread your machine
    An incorrectly threaded machine can cause thread to break.

    Decrease the tension on your machine
    The tension may be too tight for your thread.

    Reposition the spool of thread on the spindle
    You know that little nick in the edge of a spool that’s used to hold the loose end of the thread?
    Your thread may be catching on this nick as you sew. Place your spool so that this nick rests
    against the bottom of the spindle.

    Reinsert your needle
    Make sure it goes all the way into the holder and that it’s positioned correctly, usually with the
    flat side away from the bobbin, but consult your machine’s manual to be sure.

    Change your needle
    Your needle may be bent or dull. The eye of your needle may have a nick in it that’s cutting the
    thread as you sew. Or your needle may be too small for the thread you’re using, in which case,
    change to a larger needle. And make sure your needle is appropriate for the weight and type of
    your fabric.

    Change your thread
    Your thread may be weak. Or your thread may be fuzzy and irregular, causing it to catch in the
    eye of your needle as you sew. Cheap thread tends to be weak and fuzzy, so make sure to
    use a quality, brand name thread. And if you’ve been sewing with an older cotton thread, which
    can dry out and become brittle with age, try a newer thread.

    Check your presser foot for damage to the needle hole
    A burr in your presser foot’s needle hole may be cutting your thread. Gently smooth any rough
    spot you find with an emery cloth.

    Also...
    There may be a burr in one of your thread guides, in which case, you may need to have your
    machine professionally serviced to have the part replaced.


    Your lower thread is breaking:

    Reinsert your bobbin
    Your bobbin may not be seated properly in its case.

    Rethread your bobbin
    Your bobbin may be threaded incorrectly or the thread may be tangled.

    Remove some of the thread from your bobbin
    If your bobbin is very full (if it’s hard to insert into the case, it’s too full), this may be keeping
    your bobbin from turning smoothly.

    Rewind your bobbin thread
    If your bobbin thread is wound unevenly, this may be keeping your bobbin from turning
    smoothly.

    Try a new bobbin
    There could be a nick along the edge of your bobbin spool that’s catching your thread as you
    sew.

    Clean the lint from your bobbin case
    Lint in your bobbin case could be keeping your bobbin from working properly.

    Check the needle hole in your throat plate for rough spots
    A burr in the needle hole of your throat plate (usually caused by the needle hitting the throat
    plate) could be cutting your thread. Gently smooth any rough spot you find with an emery cloth.



My Stitches Are Coming Out With Little Loops in Them/
My Stitches Are Coming Out Too Loose
                                                                                   

    Try these fixes:

    If the loops are on the top side of your fabric:

    Decrease the upper thread tension on your machine
    It may be too tight.

    Increase your bobbin tension
    If your sewing machine allows you to adjust it. Consult your manual.

    Rethread your machine
    It may be threaded incorrectly.

    Check the tension disks on your machine
    There may be dirt or lint between the disks. (If you’re not sure where your tension disks are,
    consult your manual.)

    Change your needle
    It may be damaged. And make sure your needle is appropriate for your type of fabric and
    thread.


    If the loops are on the under side of your fabric:

    Increase the upper thread tension on your machine
    It may be too loose.

    Decrease your bobbin tension
    If your sewing machine allows you to adjust it. Consult your manual.

    Rethread your bobbin
    It may be threaded incorrectly.

    Reinsert your bobbin
    It may be inserted incorrectly.

    For loops on either side of your fabric:

    Change your thread
    If your upper thread and bobbin threads are different types, try using the same thread for both.



My Seams Are Coming Out Puckered
                                                                                   

    Try these fixes:

    Decrease the tension on your machine
    It may be too tight for your fabric.

    Change your needle
    It may be blunt or dull. And make sure the needle you’re using is appropriate for the weight
    and type of your fabric.

    Change your stitch length
    It may be too long or too short for the type of fabric you're sewing.

    Change your pressure foot
    Use the kind of pressure foot most appropriate for your fabric. Consult your machine’s manual
    for recommendations.

    Change your thread
    If your upper thread and bobbin threads are different types, try using the same thread for
    both. Or your thread may be too thick for your fabric - especially if you're sewing a sheer,
    lightweight fabric.

    Don’t stretch your fabric as you sew
    Just guide your fabric, letting it feed on its own.

    Change the pressure of your pressure foot
    It may be too light or too heavy for your fabric.

    Change your needle plate
    If you’re using a needle plate with a wide hole and sewing a thin or sheer fabric, your fabric
    may be getting pushed into the hole as you sew. Try switching to a needle plate with a small
    hole (a straight stitch needle plate). (Important: After changing your needle plate, check to make
    sure your needle aligns perfectly with this smaller hole before starting to sew. A misaligned needle
    could hit the plate and break, which could be dangerous. And make sure to change your needle plate
    back for zigzag and other wide stitches.)

    Use a stabilizer underneath your fabric
    If you’re sewing a thin or sheer fabric, this may stop the puckering.



My Sewing Machine Is Skipping Stitches
                                                                                   

    Try these fixes:

    Rethread your needle
    It may be threaded incorrectly (backwards).

    Reinsert your needle
    Make sure it goes all the way into the holder and that it’s positioned correctly – usually with the
    flat side away from the bobbin, but consult your machine’s manual to be sure.

    Change your needle
    Your needle may be blunt, bent, or otherwise damaged.

    Your fabric may require a different needle. Generally, heavier fabrics require larger needles and
    thinner fabrics, smaller needles. You may also need a larger needle if
    you’re sewing through many layers of fabric. And make sure to use a ballpoint needle for knit
    fabrics and a sharp needle for wovens (or a universal needle for either).

    And make sure your needle is appropriate for the type of thread you’re using.

    Adjust the pressure of your pressure foot
    It may be too light for your fabric.

    Change your thread
    If your upper thread and bobbin threads are different types, try using the same thread for
    both. And use a good quality, brand name thread.

    Adjust your thread tension
    It may be too tight or too loose.

    Rethread your machine
    It may be threaded incorrectly.

    Change your needle plate
    Try switching to a needle plate with a smaller hole (a straight stitch needle plate).

    (Important: After changing your needle plate, check to make sure your needle aligns perfectly with
    this smaller hole before starting to sew. A misaligned needle could hit the plate and break, which
    could be dangerous. And make sure to change your needle plate back for zigzag and other wide
    stitches.)



My Stitches Are Coming Out Uneven
                                                                                   

    Try these fixes:

    Rethread your machine
    It may be threaded incorrectly.

    Change your thread
    If you’ve been using a cheaper or an older thread, change to a newer, quality, brand-name,
    thread. Also, if you’ve been using different threads for your upper and bobbin threads, try using
    the same for both.

    Check your bobbin
    Make sure it’s threaded correctly.

    Don’t pull your fabric as you sew
    Just guide your fabric, letting it feed on it’s own.

    Change your needle
    Make sure it’s a size and type appropriate for your fabric and thread.

    Adjust the tension on your machine
    It may be too loose or too tight.

    Check your pressure foot
    Make sure it’s securely attached.

    Adjust the pressure of your pressure foot
    It may be too light or too heavy for your fabric.

    Check your needle plate
    Make sure it’s securely in place.

    Check your feed dogs* for lint
    If your feed dogs are clogged with lint, they're not gripping your fabric properly. Remove your
    pressure foot and clean out any lint with an old toothbrush.

    Use a “Jean-a-ma-jig” or a “Hump-jumper”
    If you’ve been trying to sew over a bump of fabric, such as a thick jean hem, try using this tool
    (your local fabric store should carry it). It keeps your pressure foot level as you sew and gives
    your feed dogs something to grip.

    Your machine may be skipping stitches
    See My Sewing Machine is Skipping Stitches



My Needle Is Breaking
                                                                                   

    It could be a problem with the needle itself…

    Your broken needle may have been blunt, dull or otherwise damaged.

    Your broken needle may have been too thin for your fabric. Make sure your replacement needle
    is appropriate for the weight and type of your fabric and thread. You may also need a thicker
    needle if you’re sewing through bulky layers of fabric.

    When you insert your new needle, make sure it’s positioned correctly (usually with the flat side
    away from the bobbin, but consult your manual), that it goes all the way into the holder, and
    that the screw is securely tightened.


    If there doesn’t seem to be a problem with your needle, try the following:

    Check your pressure foot
    Make sure it’s attached securely.

    Change your pressure foot
    Your pressure foot may be bent, causing your needle to hit it.

    Don’t sew over pins
    A needle that hits a pin can break. Always remove the pins from your fabric before they reach
    your needle.

    Don’t pull your fabric as you sew
    You could be bending your needle back, causing it to hit your needle plate instead of going into
    the hole. Just guide your fabric, letting it feed on its own.

    Check your needle plate
    Make sure it's securely in position.

    Change your needle plate
    If you’ve been using a straight stitch needle plate (a plate with a small hole, often used for
    sewing fine, delicate fabrics), switch to a needle plate with a wider hole.

    Check the position of your needle
    Sewing machines with zigzag capability allow you to adjust the position of your needle – right,
    left, or center. If your needle is not positioned correctly, it may be hitting your needle plate or
    pressure foot.



My Sewing Machine Isn’t Feeding My Fabric/
My Fabric Isn’t Moving Forward
                                                                                   

    Try these fixes:

    Check your fabric
    Make sure it isn’t caught on something.

    Check your pressure foot
    Make sure it’s screwed tightly in place.

    Adjust the pressure of your pressure foot
    It may be too light or too heavy for your fabric.

    Check your feed dogs* for lint
    If your feed dogs are clogged with lint, they're not gripping your fabric properly. Remove your
    pressure foot and clean out any lint with an old toothbrush.

    Raise your feed dogs*
    If your machine has this function. They may have been inadvertently lowered.

    Check your stitch length regulator
    If it’s set at “0” or a very small number, try switching to a longer stitch length.

    Change your needle
    It may be damaged.

    Check your needle plate
    Make sure it’s securely in place.

    Use a “Jean-a-ma-jig” or a “Hump-jumper”
    If you’ve been trying to sew over a bump of fabric, such as a thick jean hem, try using this tool
    (your local fabric store should carry it). It keeps your pressure foot level as you sew over the
    bump and gives your feed dogs something to grip.



My Thread Is Bunching Up Under My Fabric
                                                                                   

    Try these fixes:

    Rethread your machine
    It may be threaded incorrectly.

    Raise your feed dogs*
    If your machine has this feature.

    Also, before you start to sew a seam, grasp the upper and bobbin thread tails. Hold them back
    and out of the way as you sew your first couple of stitches. This will keep them from getting
    caught in your machine.



My Sewing Machine is Jammed
                                                                                   

    Try these fixes:

    Unthread your machine and remove your bobbin. Clean any loose thread or lint out of your
    bobbin case. Rethread your machine, reinsert and rethread your bobbin.

    Change your bobbin
    There could be a nick along the edge of your bobbin spool that’s catching your thread as you
    sew.

    Also, before you start to sew a seam, grasp the upper and bobbin thread tails. Hold them back
    and out of the way as you sew your first couple of stitches. This will keep them from getting
    caught in your machine.



My Sewing Machine Won’t Sew Through Thick, Bulky Layers
                                                                                   

    Try these fixes:

    Change your needle
    If your machine needle is blunt or dull, it will have difficulty piercing your fabric. Use a new,
    sharp needle for every project, appropriate for the weight and type of fabric you’re sewing.

    Use a “Jean-a-ma-jig” or a “Hump-jumper”
    If you’ve been trying to sew over a bump of fabric, such as a thick jean hem, try using this tool
    (your local fabric store should carry it). It keeps your pressure foot level as you sew over the
    bump and gives your feed dogs something to grip onto.



My Tension Adjuster (regulator/dial) Doesn’t Seem to Be Working
                                                                                   

    Try these fixes:

    Rethread your machine
    It may be threaded incorrectly. And when you rethread it, make sure your thread goes in
    between your tension disks. (If you don’t know where your tension disks are, consult your
    machine’s manual.)

    Check your tension disks for dirt or lint
    Lint or dirt between your tension disks may be keeping your tension from working properly.
    Clean out any you find.



*Your feed dogs are the little teeth that stick up beyond your needle plate.


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