Troubleshooting Why Is Sewing Machine Not Working Properly?

Is your sewing machine causing more frustration than satisfaction? Why is sewing machine not working properly? is a question that plagues many sewing enthusiasts. When your trusty machine starts acting up, it can throw a wrench in your creative projects and leave you scratching your head. However, fear not; there’s hope on the horizon.

In this article, we will unravel the mysteries behind sewing machine malfunctions and offer valuable insights to help you regain your stitching stride. Let’s delve into the common issues that lead to this question and discover effective solutions to ensure your sewing machine works flawlessly.

Salient Points

  • Ensure the tension dial is set correctly to avoid overly tight or loose stitches.
  • Regularly replace and use the right needle for your fabric to prevent stitching issues.
  • Use good-quality thread to prevent breakage and ensure smooth sewing.
  • Keep your machine clean, well-oiled, and follow proper threading and bobbin insertion for optimal performance.

What Is a Sewing Machine and How Does It Work?

A sewing machine is a versatile device designed to simplify and enhance the process of stitching fabrics together, revolutionizing the way clothes and other textile items are created. At its core, a sewing machine operates by using a needle to penetrate the fabric, creating a series of interlocking stitches with thread. This process is powered by a motor, which drives the needle up and down, facilitating the smooth movement of fabric through the machine.

The basic components of a sewing machine include the needle, thread, bobbin, and feed dogs. The needle plays a crucial role as it pierces through the fabric, creating a hole for the thread to pass through. The thread, typically made of cotton or synthetic materials, forms the stitches that hold the fabric together. The bobbin holds the lower thread and is placed beneath the sewing machine, working in coordination with the upper thread to create a secure stitch.

Feed dogs are small, tooth-like mechanisms that move the fabric forward and backward under the needle. This ensures a consistent and even stitch length. The tension in the threads is crucial for a well-balanced stitch, and sewing machines are equipped with tension adjustment knobs to achieve the desired result.

Additionally, sewing machines often come with various stitches and settings to accommodate different fabric types and sewing styles. For instance, a straight stitch is commonly used for basic sewing, while zigzag stitches are employed for finishing edges or sewing stretchy fabrics.

In summary, a sewing machine simplifies the complex task of stitching by automating the process through the use of a needle, thread, bobbin, and feed dogs. The coordinated action of these components, driven by a motor, allows for the efficient creation of stitches, making sewing more accessible and efficient for individuals of all skill levels.

Why Is Sewing Machine Not Working Properly Answered

Why Is Sewing Machine Not Working Properly?

When your sewing machine is not working properly, it can be frustrating, especially if you’re in the middle of a project. Understanding the possible reasons behind the issue can help you troubleshoot and fix the problem. Here are some common causes:

  1. Thread Tension Issues:
    • If the upper thread tension is too tight or too loose, it can result in stitches that are too tight or too loose.
  2. Bobbin Problems:
    • Improperly wound or inserted bobbins can cause sewing irregularities.
  3. Needle Issues:
    • A dull or bent needle can lead to stitching problems.
  4. Thread Quality:
    • Low-quality or old thread can lead to breakage and other issues.
  5. Machine Maintenance:
    • Lack of proper maintenance, like cleaning and oiling, can affect the machine’s performance.
  6. Incorrect Stitch Length or Width:
    • Choosing the wrong stitch length or width can result in sewing problems.
  7. Incorrect Threading:
    • Incorrect threading of the upper thread can lead to problems.
  8. Fabric Issues:
    • Some fabrics may require special needles or settings.
  9. Machine Malfunction:
    • Mechanical issues or malfunctions within the machine can cause problems.
Troubleshooting Why Is Sewing Machine Not Working Properly?

What to Do if Your Sewing Machine is Not Working Properly?

Facing issues with your sewing machine can be a common occurrence, but the good news is that many problems have straightforward solutions. Here’s what you can do to address common sewing machine issues:

  1. Thread Tension Issues:
    • Adjust the tension dial. If stitches are too tight, decrease tension; if too loose, increase tension. Experiment with scrap fabric until the tension is balanced.
  2. Bobbin Problems:
    • Ensure the bobbin is wound evenly and inserted correctly. Re-thread the bobbin, making sure it follows the machine’s threading guide.
  3. Needle Issues:
    • Replace a dull or bent needle with a new one. Ensure you’re using the right needle type and size for your fabric.
  4. Thread Quality:
    • Use good-quality thread appropriate for your fabric. Replace old or weak thread that might be prone to breaking.
  5. Machine Maintenance:
    • Regularly clean the bobbin area and feed dogs. Oil the machine as instructed in the manual to keep it well-maintained.
  6. Incorrect Stitch Length or Width:
    • Adjust the stitch length or width based on your sewing requirements. Refer to the machine’s manual for guidance.
  7. Incorrect Threading:
    • Follow the machine’s threading guide carefully. Ensure the upper thread is correctly threaded through all guides and the needle.
  8. Fabric Issues:
    • Choose the right needle and settings for the fabric you’re working with. For stretchy fabrics, use a ballpoint or stretch needle.
  9. Machine Malfunction:
    • Consult the machine’s manual for troubleshooting steps. If the problem persists, seek professional help or contact the manufacturer’s customer support.

Now let’s discuss these potential fixes in detail.

Fixing Thread Tension Issues:

When your sewing machine has thread tension issues, it can result in uneven or tight stitches. Here’s a step-by-step approach to fix this problem:

  1. Identify the Issue:
    • Examine your stitches. If they are too tight or too loose, it indicates a thread tension problem.
  2. Access the Tension Dial:
    • Locate the tension dial on your sewing machine. It is usually numbered, with higher numbers indicating tighter tension.
  3. Loosening Tension:
    • If stitches are too tight, set the tension dial to a lower number. Start with a small adjustment, such as going from 4 to 3.
  4. Tightening Tension:
    • If stitches are too loose, set the tension dial to a higher number. Again, make small adjustments.
  5. Test on Scrap Fabric:
    • Sew a few stitches on a piece of scrap fabric after each adjustment. Check the stitches to see if the tension is now balanced.
  6. Repeat if Necessary:
    • Continue making small adjustments and testing until you achieve balanced and even stitches.

Fixing Bobbin Problems:

Problems with the bobbin can lead to sewing irregularities. Follow these steps to address bobbin issues:

  1. Remove the Bobbin:
    • Turn off the sewing machine and remove the bobbin case.
  2. Inspect the Bobbin:
    • Check the bobbin for any uneven winding, knots, or tangles. Rewind it if necessary.
  3. Check the Thread Path:
    • Ensure the thread is correctly threaded through the bobbin’s tension spring. Refer to the machine’s manual for guidance.
  4. Insert the Bobbin Correctly:
    • Place the bobbin back into the bobbin case, ensuring it rotates counterclockwise. Follow the machine’s manual for proper insertion.
  5. Thread the Bobbin Case:
    • Pull the thread through the bobbin case’s thread guide. Make sure it’s properly seated in the tension spring.
  6. Test Sew on Scrap Fabric:
    • Sew a few stitches on scrap fabric to ensure the bobbin is correctly inserted and the thread is flowing smoothly.
  7. Re-thread the Upper Thread:
    • Sometimes, re-threading the upper thread can also resolve bobbin-related issues. Follow the machine’s threading guide carefully.

Fixing Needle Issues:

A dull or bent needle can lead to stitching problems on your sewing machine. Here’s a step-by-step guide to fix needle-related issues:

  1. Identify the Issue:
    • Examine the needle for any signs of dullness, bending, or damage. If you notice issues, it’s time to replace the needle.
  2. Turn Off the Machine:
    • Ensure the sewing machine is turned off to avoid any accidents while handling the needle.
  3. Select the Right Needle:
    • Choose the correct needle type and size for your fabric. Needles come in various sizes and styles suitable for different fabrics.
  4. Remove the Old Needle:
    • Use a screwdriver to loosen the needle clamp and remove the old needle. Note the position of the flat side of the needle for proper insertion.
  5. Insert the New Needle:
    • Insert the new needle with the flat side facing the back. Push it up as far as it will go and tighten the needle clamp securely.
  6. Test on Scrap Fabric:
    • Sew a few stitches on a piece of scrap fabric to ensure the new needle is properly inserted and there are no issues.
  7. Replace Regularly:
    • Make it a habit to replace needles regularly, especially when starting a new project or when you notice stitching problems.

Fixing Thread Quality Issues:

Using low-quality or old thread can result in sewing problems. Follow these steps to address thread quality issues:

  1. Inspect the Thread:
    • Check the quality of the thread on the spool. Look for any fraying, knots, or uneven thickness.
  2. Choose High-Quality Thread:
    • Use good-quality thread suitable for your fabric. Investing in higher-quality thread can prevent breakage and ensure smoother sewing.
  3. Replace Old Thread:
    • If the thread on the spool is old or weakened, replace it with a fresh spool of thread.
  4. Thread Tension Check:
    • After changing the thread, double-check the thread tension settings to ensure they are appropriate for the new thread.
  5. Test Sewing on Scrap Fabric:
    • Sew a few test stitches on scrap fabric to ensure the new thread is working well with the machine.

Fixing Machine Maintenance Issues:

Proper maintenance is crucial for the smooth operation of your sewing machine. Follow these steps to address maintenance-related issues:

  1. Turn Off and Unplug:
    • Ensure the sewing machine is turned off and unplugged before performing any maintenance tasks.
  2. Clean the Bobbin Area:
    • Remove the bobbin case and clean any lint or debris in the bobbin area. A small brush or compressed air can be useful for this task.
  3. Clean the Feed Dogs:
    • Check and clean the feed dogs – the teeth-like components that move the fabric. Use a brush to remove any accumulated dust or lint.
  4. Oil the Machine:
    • Refer to the machine’s manual for instructions on oiling. Apply a few drops of sewing machine oil to designated areas, ensuring proper lubrication.
  5. Check the Needle Plate:
    • Remove the needle plate and clean any lint or thread buildup. Ensure there are no obstructions that might hinder the needle’s movement.
  6. Inspect the Bobbin Case:
    • Examine the bobbin case for any lint or tangled thread. Clean it thoroughly and ensure the thread is correctly threaded through the case.
  7. Test Sewing on Scrap Fabric:
    • After maintenance, sew a few stitches on scrap fabric to ensure that cleaning and oiling have improved the machine’s performance.
  8. Regular Maintenance Routine:
    • Establish a regular maintenance routine based on your sewing frequency. Regular cleaning and oiling can prevent many common sewing machine issues.

Fixing Incorrect Stitch Length or Width:

Choosing the wrong stitch length or width can result in sewing problems. Follow these steps to correct stitch length or width issues:

  1. Refer to the Manual:
    • Consult your sewing machine manual to understand the recommended stitch length and width settings for various fabrics and stitches.
  2. Select the Right Stitch:
    • Choose the appropriate stitch for your project. Different stitches may require adjustments in length and width.
  3. Adjust Stitch Length:
    • Use the designated dial or button to adjust the stitch length. Shorten the length for delicate fabrics and lengthen it for heavier fabrics.
  4. Adjust Stitch Width:
    • If your machine allows for variable stitch width, adjust it based on your requirements. Certain stitches may require a wider or narrower width.
  5. Test on Scrap Fabric:
    • Sew a few test stitches on scrap fabric to ensure the selected stitch length and width produce the desired results.
  6. Fine-Tune as Needed:
    • Depending on the fabric and project, fine-tune the stitch length and width until you achieve the desired sewing outcome.

Fixing Incorrect Threading:

Incorrect threading of the upper thread can lead to various sewing issues. Follow these steps to address incorrect threading problems:

  1. Refer to the Threading Guide:
    • Consult your sewing machine manual to locate the threading guide. It typically provides step-by-step instructions for threading the machine.
  2. Unthread the Machine:
    • Completely unthread the machine, starting from the spool. Ensure you follow the correct path as indicated in the threading guide.
  3. Re-thread the Upper Thread:
    • Begin by threading the upper thread from the spool through each guide and tension disc according to the manual’s instructions.
  4. Thread Through the Needle:
    • Ensure the thread passes through the eye of the needle from front to back. Use a needle threader if needed.
  5. Check Tension Discs:
    • Double-check that the thread is correctly seated in the tension discs. Incorrect threading here can lead to tension issues.
  6. Test Sew on Scrap Fabric:
    • Sew a few stitches on scrap fabric to verify that the machine is now correctly threaded and that the stitches are even.
  7. Regularly Check Threading:
    • Periodically check the threading, especially when changing thread colors or types, to prevent future threading-related issues.

Fixing Fabric Issues:

Mismatching fabrics with the wrong needle or settings can lead to sewing problems. Follow these steps to address fabric-related issues:

  1. Identify Fabric Type:
    • Determine the type of fabric you are working with. Fabrics vary in thickness, texture, and stretchiness.
  2. Select the Right Needle:
    • Choose a needle that is suitable for the fabric. For example, use a ballpoint or stretch needle for knits and a universal needle for woven fabrics.
  3. Adjust Machine Settings:
    • Set the stitch type and length according to the fabric. For stretchy fabrics, you may need a zigzag stitch, and for heavier fabrics, a longer stitch length may be appropriate.
  4. Test on Scrap Fabric:
    • Before starting your actual project, sew a few stitches on a scrap piece of the fabric to ensure the needle and settings are correct.
  5. Evaluate Stitch Quality:
    • Examine the stitches on the scrap fabric. They should be even, without puckering or skipped stitches.
  6. Make Necessary Adjustments:
    • If needed, make adjustments to the needle type or machine settings until you achieve satisfactory results.

Fixing Machine Malfunction:

If your sewing machine is experiencing mechanical issues or malfunctions, follow these steps:

  1. Consult the Manual:
    • Refer to the sewing machine manual for a troubleshooting guide. It often provides insights into common issues and possible solutions.
  2. Check for Obstructions:
    • Inspect the machine for any visible obstructions or foreign objects that may be hindering its operation.
  3. Test Sew on Scrap Fabric:
    • Sew a few stitches on scrap fabric to identify specific issues, such as unusual noises or irregular stitching patterns.
  4. Contact Customer Support:
    • If the problem persists and you cannot identify or fix the issue, reach out to the manufacturer’s customer support for assistance.
  5. Professional Service:
    • If the machine continues to malfunction, consider taking it to a professional technician or a sewing machine repair service for a thorough inspection and repair.

By following these steps, you can ensure your sewing machine operates smoothly and produces high-quality stitches.

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.

If interested you can read how many watts is a stitching machine here. Moreover, you can read the power rating of a sewing machine motor here.


In conclusion, the frustration of a malfunctioning sewing machine can be overwhelming, but the question, Why is my sewing machine not working properly, need not be a perpetual mystery. By understanding the common issues and applying the solutions discussed in this article, you can restore your sewing machine to its full potential.

Don’t let a troublesome machine stifle your creative spirit; instead, use these tips to tackle any sewing challenges that come your way. With the right knowledge and a little troubleshooting, your sewing machine can once again become your trusty companion in all your stitching adventures.


  1. Design and implementation of a participatory ergonomics program for machine sewing tasks
  2. Experimental analysis of the sewing machine
  3. Modeling of industrial sewing machines and the balancing of thread requirement and thread supply
  4. Multi-objective robust design optimization of the mechanism in a sewing machine

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Fix a Broken Sewing Machine Needle?

To fix a broken sewing machine needle, start by identifying the cause, such as incorrect needle installation or fabric jamming. Use the troubleshooting tips for common sewing machine problems and follow maintenance guidelines to ensure proper needle function.

What Should I Do if My Sewing Machine Is Not Turning On?

If your sewing machine is not turning on, there could be several reasons for this issue. Troubleshooting a sewing machine involves checking the power source, examining the power cord, and inspecting the machine’s internal components for common problems.

Why Is My Thread Constantly Breaking While Sewing?

Common causes for thread constantly breaking while sewing include incorrect threading, poor tension settings, worn-out or incorrect needle, and using low-quality thread. Troubleshooting tips involve rethreading, adjusting tension, replacing needle, and using high-quality thread for optimal results.

Can I Use Any Type of Thread in My Sewing Machine?

Yes, you can use different types of thread in your sewing machine, but it is important to choose the correct thread for the specific type of stitch you are doing. Troubleshooting common sewing machine issues can help maintain proper functionality.

How Often Should I Clean and Oil My Sewing Machine?

To maintain optimal performance, it is recommended to clean and oil your sewing machine regularly. This helps prevent common issues and ensures a smooth operation. Follow these tips for troubleshooting and maintaining your sewing machine.

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