Why Is My Machine Not Sewing? 10 Common Issues & Fixes

Are you feeling frustrated by the sudden halt of your sewing machine’s productivity? You’re not alone. Why Is My Machine Not Sewing is a question that echoes through the minds of many sewing enthusiasts. It’s more than just a technical glitch; it’s a disruption to your creative flow.

Perhaps it’s a skipped stitch, a tangled bobbin, or a jammed needle—whatever the issue, it’s putting a pause on your passion project. But fear not, because understanding the root cause is the first step toward getting those threads flowing smoothly again. Let’s unravel the mystery and get you back to stitching with ease.

Salient Points

  • Check Thread Tension: Ensure correct tension for even stitches and prevent thread breakage.
  • Inspect Needle Condition: Bent or dull needles can cause skipped stitches or thread breakage.
  • Maintain Machine Regularly: Proper cleaning and lubrication prevent seizing and malfunction.
  • Adjust Settings Appropriately: Correct settings for fabric type and thickness ensure smooth sewing operation.

Why Is My Machine Not Sewing?

Here are some common reasons why your sewing machine might not be functioning properly:

  1. Thread Tension: Incorrect thread tension can cause stitches to be too tight or too loose, resulting in uneven sewing or even thread breakage.
  2. Bobbin Issues: If the bobbin is not inserted correctly or is low on thread, it can cause sewing problems.
  3. Needle Issues: A bent, dull, or incorrectly inserted needle can result in skipped stitches or thread breakage.
  4. Thread Quality: Poor quality or old thread can lead to thread breakage or uneven stitches.
  5. Machine Maintenance: Lack of proper cleaning and lubrication can cause the machine to seize or malfunction.
  6. Machine Settings: Incorrect settings such as stitch length, stitch type, or presser foot pressure can affect the sewing process.
  7. Bobbin Tension: Incorrect bobbin tension can cause thread nests or bobbin thread showing on the top of the fabric.
  8. Fabric Handling: Trying to sew thick fabrics without proper machine adjustments can lead to needle breakage or motor strain.
  9. Power Supply: If the machine is not receiving adequate power or if there are issues with the power cord, it may not operate correctly.
  10. Mechanical Issues: Problems with the sewing machine mechanism or parts can cause various sewing problems.
Why Is My Machine Not Sewing

How to Fix a Machine Not Sewing?

Here are some steps you can take to address common issues with your sewing machine:

  1. Thread Tension: Adjust the thread tension according to the sewing machine manual and test on a scrap fabric.
  2. Bobbin Issues: Ensure the bobbin is properly inserted and has enough thread. Wind a new bobbin if necessary.
  3. Needle Issues: Replace the needle with a new, correctly sized needle and ensure it is inserted properly.
  4. Thread Quality: Use high-quality, fresh thread suitable for your project.
  5. Machine Maintenance: Clean the machine regularly and lubricate moving parts as recommended in the manual.
  6. Machine Settings: Check and adjust settings such as stitch length, stitch type, and presser foot pressure as needed.
  7. Bobbin Tension: Adjust the bobbin tension screw carefully following the instructions in the manual.
  8. Fabric Handling: Use appropriate needle size and adjust machine settings for different fabric thicknesses.
  9. Power Supply: Ensure the machine is plugged into a working outlet and check the power cord for any damage.
  10. Mechanical Issues: If you suspect mechanical problems, consult a professional sewing machine technician for repairs.
Why Is My Machine Not Sewing Answered

Let’s discuss these fixes in detail now.

Adjusting Thread Tension

Thread tension is crucial for achieving balanced and even stitches in your sewing. Here’s how you can adjust it:

  1. Understand Thread Tension: Most sewing machines have two types of thread tension controls – one for the upper thread and one for the bobbin thread. The ideal tension setting ensures that the threads interlock in the middle of the fabric layers.
  2. Test on Scrap Fabric: Begin by testing the tension on a piece of scrap fabric similar to what you’ll be sewing. Stitch a few lines with different tension settings to observe the results.
  3. Adjust Upper Thread Tension: If the stitches are too loose (loopy) or too tight (puckered), adjust the upper thread tension dial. Turn it clockwise to increase tension and counterclockwise to decrease tension.
  4. Adjust Bobbin Tension: If adjusting the upper thread tension doesn’t solve the issue, you may need to adjust the bobbin tension. Refer to your sewing machine manual for instructions on accessing and adjusting the bobbin tension screw.
  5. Test and Fine-Tune: After making adjustments, test the tension again on scrap fabric. Continue adjusting until you achieve balanced stitches.

Checking Bobbin Insertion and Thread Supply

A correctly inserted bobbin with sufficient thread is essential for smooth sewing:

  1. Bobbin Insertion: Ensure the bobbin is inserted correctly into the bobbin case or shuttle, following the arrows or markings indicated in your machine’s manual.
  2. Thread Supply: Make sure the bobbin has enough thread. If it’s running low, wind a new bobbin with the same thread as the upper thread for consistency.
  3. Check Bobbin Tension: Some machines allow you to adjust bobbin tension. If necessary, adjust it following the instructions in your manual. However, be cautious as improper bobbin tension can cause more issues.

Needle Maintenance and Replacement

The needle plays a significant role in the sewing process and can affect stitch quality if not properly maintained:

  1. Inspect Needle Condition: Check the needle for any signs of damage, such as bends or dullness. Even a slight bend can cause stitching problems.
  2. Replace with Correct Size: Ensure you’re using the correct needle size and type for your fabric. Consult your machine’s manual or needle packaging for guidance.
  3. Proper Insertion: Insert the needle with the flat side facing the back and ensure it’s fully seated and tightened in the needle clamp.
  4. Regular Replacement: Replace the needle regularly, especially if you’ve been sewing through thick or tough fabrics. A general rule is to change the needle after every 8-10 hours of sewing or whenever stitching issues arise.

Thread Quality and Maintenance

Using high-quality thread and proper maintenance can prevent many sewing problems:

  1. Choose Quality Thread: Opt for threads specifically designed for sewing, preferably from reputable brands. Lower quality threads may have inconsistencies or weak fibers that can lead to breakage or uneven stitches.
  2. Inspect Thread Condition: Before use, inspect the thread for any signs of damage, such as knots, tangles, or fraying. Avoid using thread with these issues as they can cause sewing problems.
  3. Thread Storage: Store thread in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent it from deteriorating. Keep thread spools or cones upright to maintain thread tension and prevent tangling.

Machine Settings Adjustment

Correct machine settings ensure optimal stitching results:

  1. Stitch Length and Type: Adjust the stitch length and type according to your project requirements. Longer stitches are suitable for basting or gathering, while shorter stitches are ideal for securing seams.
  2. Presser Foot Pressure: Some machines allow you to adjust the pressure exerted by the presser foot on the fabric. Increase pressure for thicker fabrics and decrease pressure for delicate fabrics to ensure even feeding.
  3. Feed Dog Adjustment: Check that the feed dogs are engaged and moving smoothly. If the feed dogs are not working properly, it can cause fabric to feed unevenly or get stuck.
  4. Needle Position: Ensure the needle is in the correct position for your sewing task. For straight stitching, the needle should be in the center position. For other stitches or techniques, adjust the needle position accordingly.

Handling Fabric Appropriately

Proper fabric handling prevents sewing difficulties:

  1. Choose the Right Needle and Thread: Select a needle and thread appropriate for the fabric you’re sewing. Use a ballpoint needle for knits and a sharp needle for woven fabrics. Match the thread weight to the fabric weight for optimal results.
  2. Fabric Preparation: Pre-wash and press fabric before sewing to remove any sizing, shrinkage, or wrinkles. This ensures accurate cutting and prevents distortion during sewing.
  3. Support Heavy Fabrics: When sewing thick or heavy fabrics, use appropriate machine settings, such as a larger needle size and longer stitch length. Consider using a walking foot or even feed foot attachment to help feed bulky fabrics evenly.
  4. Handle Delicate Fabrics with Care: Use a light touch when sewing delicate or slippery fabrics to prevent puckering or stretching. Consider using a stabilizer or tissue paper under the fabric to provide support during stitching.

Machine Maintenance

Regular cleaning and lubrication keep your sewing machine running smoothly:

  1. Cleaning Routine: Establish a regular cleaning routine to remove lint, dust, and debris from the machine. Use a soft brush, lint roller, or compressed air to clean the bobbin area, feed dogs, needle plate, and other accessible parts.
  2. Lubrication: Lubricate moving parts as recommended in your sewing machine manual. Apply a small amount of sewing machine oil to designated points such as the hook race, shuttle race, and other metal-to-metal contact areas. Be sure to use the correct type of oil specified by the manufacturer.
  3. Thorough Inspection: Periodically inspect the machine for any signs of wear, damage, or loose parts. Tighten loose screws and bolts as needed, and replace any worn or damaged components promptly.
  4. Storage: Store your sewing machine in a clean, dry environment when not in use. Cover it with a dust cover or case to protect it from dust, moisture, and sunlight.
  5. Professional Servicing: If you’re unsure about performing maintenance tasks yourself or if your machine is due for a more extensive servicing, consider taking it to a qualified sewing machine technician for professional cleaning, lubrication, and adjustment. Regular servicing can prolong the life of your machine and ensure optimal performance.

Power Supply and Cord Check

Ensuring proper power supply and cord functionality is essential for the smooth operation of your sewing machine:

  1. Outlet Connection: Verify that the sewing machine is plugged into a working outlet and that the outlet itself is functional. Try plugging in another device to confirm if the outlet is supplying power.
  2. Power Cord Inspection: Check the power cord for any signs of damage such as fraying, cuts, or exposed wires. If any damage is detected, discontinue use of the cord immediately and replace it with a new one to prevent electrical hazards.
  3. Fuse or Circuit Breaker: If your sewing machine is equipped with a fuse or circuit breaker, check to see if it has blown or tripped. Replace the fuse or reset the circuit breaker if necessary, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Mechanical Troubleshooting

Identifying and addressing mechanical issues can restore your sewing machine’s functionality:

  1. Visual Inspection: Perform a visual inspection of the sewing machine’s mechanical components, such as the needle bar, presser foot, feed dogs, and bobbin case. Look for any signs of misalignment, obstruction, or damage.
  2. Cleaning and Lubrication: Clean the mechanical parts of the sewing machine regularly to remove dust, lint, and debris that may accumulate and interfere with its operation. Lubricate moving parts according to the manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure smooth movement.
  3. Timing Adjustment: If your sewing machine’s stitches are consistently skipping or uneven, it may indicate a timing issue. Consult your sewing machine manual or a professional technician to adjust the timing of the machine’s internal mechanisms.

Professional Assistance

When all else fails, seeking professional assistance may be necessary:

  1. Qualified Technician: If you’ve tried troubleshooting common issues and your sewing machine still isn’t functioning properly, consider seeking help from a qualified sewing machine technician.
  2. Repair Service: Contact the manufacturer’s customer service department or a local sewing machine repair shop to inquire about repair services. Be prepared to provide details about the machine’s model and the specific issues you’re experiencing.
  3. Preventive Maintenance: Once the sewing machine has been repaired, consider scheduling regular preventive maintenance appointments to keep it in optimal working condition. This can help identify and address potential issues before they escalate into larger problems.

Troubleshooting Common Sewing Machine Issues

Sewing machines are essential tools for crafting and repairing clothes, but like any device, they can encounter problems. Below, we’ll discuss common sewing machine issues and how to troubleshoot them.

ProblemPossible CauseSolution
Machine Not StartingCheck if the power cord is plugged in properly. Ensure the power switch is on. If still an issue, examine the fuse in the plug.Replace the fuse or try a different power outlet. If the problem persists, consult a professional.
Uneven StitchesThe needle may be bent or dull. Incorrect threading or tension issues can also cause this.Replace the needle regularly and ensure proper threading. Adjust the thread tension according to the machine manual.
Thread Bunching UnderneathIncorrect bobbin threading or tension settings are common culprits.Rethread the bobbin, ensuring it follows the machine guidelines. Adjust the bobbin tension if necessary.
Breaking NeedlesIncorrect needle size for the fabric or a bent needle can cause breakage.Use the appropriate needle size for the fabric being sewn. Replace bent or damaged needles promptly.
Machine JammingAccumulated lint or debris in the bobbin area may be causing the jam.Clean the bobbin area regularly, removing lint and debris. Ensure the machine is properly lubricated as per the manual.
Skipping StitchesA dull or bent needle, incorrect thread tension, or improper threading can lead to skipped stitches.Replace the needle, check and adjust thread tension, and ensure correct threading following the machine manual.

Remember, regular maintenance and proper usage significantly contribute to a sewing machine’s longevity and performance. If issues persist, consult the machine’s manual or seek professional help.

Maintenance Tips for Sewing Machines

Here are some practical tips to help you maintain your sewing machine:

  1. Clean the Machine Regularly:
    • Lint buildup is a common issue. Use a small brush or a vacuum attachment to remove lint from the bobbin area and around the feed dogs.
    • Wipe down the exterior with a soft, lint-free cloth to prevent dust accumulation.
  2. Change Needles Frequently:
    • Replace the needle after 8-10 hours of sewing or when switching to a new fabric type.
    • A dull or bent needle can lead to uneven stitches and potential damage to the machine.
  3. Oil Moving Parts:
    • Lubricate your machine as per the manufacturer’s recommendations. Typically, every 8-10 hours of sewing.
    • Use a small amount of sewing machine oil on designated areas to reduce friction and prevent wear.
  4. Check Tension Regularly:
    • Ensure the thread tension is balanced. Incorrect tension can result in loose or tight stitches.
    • Refer to your machine’s manual to adjust the tension settings correctly.
  5. Keep Bobbin Area Clean:
    • Remove the bobbin and bobbin case regularly to clean any accumulated dust or lint.
    • A clean bobbin area prevents thread jams and ensures smooth stitching.
  6. Inspect and Replace Belts:
    • Check the belts for signs of wear or damage.
    • Replace worn-out belts promptly to maintain consistent speed and prevent motor strain.
  7. Store Properly:
    • When not in use, cover your sewing machine to protect it from dust.
    • Store it in a cool, dry place to prevent rusting of metal parts.
  8. Follow the Manual:
    • Always refer to your sewing machine’s manual for specific maintenance instructions.
    • Manufacturers provide guidelines tailored to the machine’s model and design.

Regular maintenance ensures that your sewing machine remains in optimal condition, providing you with reliable and high-quality stitching for years to come.


In conclusion, understanding why is my machine not sewing empowers you to overcome minor setbacks in your sewing endeavors. Whether it’s a simple bobbin mishap or a more intricate tension adjustment, these troubleshooting tips ensure your sewing machine remains a reliable partner in your creative journey. Remember, a well-maintained machine guarantees precise, professional-looking stitches every time.

By incorporating these solutions into your routine, you’ll be back to crafting impeccable garments and projects without missing a beat. Keep your sewing space organized and your machine in top shape, and watch your creations flourish. Happy sewing!


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Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Troubleshoot if My Sewing Machine Is Not Turning on at All?

To troubleshoot a sewing machine that is not turning on at all, first, check the power source and ensure it is properly connected. Then, inspect the power cord and switch for any damage or loose connections. If the issue persists, consult a professional technician for further assistance.

Why Is the Thread Bunching up and Getting Tangled Underneath the Fabric?

The thread tension may need adjustment for smooth sewing. Common mistakes that cause thread bunching and tangling include incorrect threading, improper bobbin placement, and using the wrong needle size for the fabric.

What Should I Do if the Needle Keeps Breaking While I’m Sewing?

To prevent needle breakage while sewing, ensure you are using the correct needle for the fabric, insert it properly, and avoid sewing over pins. Common causes of needle breakage include sewing too fast or using a dull needle.

Why Is the Bobbin Thread Not Properly Feeding Through the Machine?

Common causes of bobbin thread not feeding properly include incorrect threading, a dirty or damaged bobbin case, or a tension issue. Troubleshooting tips for fixing bobbin thread feeding issues include rethreading the machine, cleaning the bobbin area, and adjusting the tension settings.

What Steps Should I Take if the Machine Is Making Strange Noises or Not Sewing Smoothly?

To address issues with machine noises or smooth sewing, first ensure proper machine tension. Clean and maintain your sewing machine regularly by removing lint and oiling moving parts. Seek professional help if problems persist.

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