Sewing machine detail photo by J Williams on Unsplash

Getting back together with your sewing machine

Many people are pulling out their sewing machine to make masks or do repairs and are flummoxed by the wad of thread that shows up when they try to sew a simple line of stitching. 

Machine won’t sew? Here are the three main reasons:

  1. There’s a threading problem.
  2. There’s a tension issue.
  3. There’s a blockage of lint or other debris.

Here are some tips for when your machine won’t make a nice row of stitches. 

  • Stay calm and stay positive. Your machine isn’t out to get you, I promise. 🙂
  • Rethread your machine, top, and bobbin. Removing both completely and starting fresh solves a lot of problems. Make sure the bobbin is seated correctly and that the thread is going through all the guides. 
  • Change your needle if you can, and make sure it’s secure.
  • Use the right needle for the weight of fabric you are sewing.
  • Use the right type of thread. Make sure you aren’t inadvertently using topstitching thread. 
  • Adjust the tension and use scrap fabric to test your changes. Start in the mid-range of your tension dial and adjust up or down in small increments until the stitch improves. 
    Check out this short video from Professor Pincushion for more tips.
  • Can’t find your manual? Search on the internet for your model or a similar model. 
  • Make sure you are using the right presser foot for the stitch you are trying to use.
  • Tighten the screw on your presser foot.
  • Clean under the throat plate and around the feed dogs and bobbin casing
  • Refer to the maintenance section of your manual and do what you can. 

Still not working? Walk away for a bit and do something else. This often provides a clear mind to start again, allowing you to diagnose the problem more easily. 

Or: Get on FaceTime with a fellow sewer. They might see something you’ve missed, and if nothing else, you’ll get some much needed human attention.  You can also contact me. I love to talk about sewing.


Photo by J Williams on Unsplash

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