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Common Sewing Machine Ailments 101

Threading needle on sewing machine

I hope that you’re just here out of curiosity and not because your sewing machine is giving you problems. I’ve worked with sewing machines of all types, ages, and brands, and I understand that they can be a complicated piece of machinery. With so many moving parts, sometimes things go wrong. Whether it’s uneven stitches or broken needles, here are some of the most common problems for sewing machines of all types and the simple ways you can get things running smoothly again.

Skipped Stitches

Come on sewing machine, you had one job!

When your machine starts skipping stitches or stitches come out unevenly, the usual culprit is the needle. This is most evident when it was sewing just fine, and all of a sudden starts skipping stitches.

While the average life of a sewing machine needle is around twelve hours, they can become dull, bent, or even broken before that time. That’s how averages work; for every needle that lasts through twenty hours of sewing, there will be one that only makes it to four.

When your machine starts skipping stitches, the first step is to change that needle. It’s easy enough to bend the needle if you are in the habit of pulling on the fabric as you sew. Learn to let the feed dog do its job with the fabric and you’ll have fewer bent needles.

Thread Breaking

The first question I ask when a machine has an apparent problem with breaking thread is, “What thread are you using?” Some threads that are more suitable for hand sewing can have loose fibers, knots, or simply not be strong enough to handle the tension of a sewing machine.

If thread quality isn’t a problem, then usually it’s simply user error rather than something wrong with the machine. Rethread the machine, keeping the presser foot up, and make sure the bobbin is threaded correctly.

You should also inspect the bobbin itself, as even minor abrasions can damage thread or cause the bobbin to wobble.

Thread Bunching

While things might look great on top, sometimes we can see an awful mess of thread bunching on the bottom of the fabric. What’s going on here?

Begin with rethreading the machine. This is like when your computer starts acting up, and step one is always to restart it. Raise the presser foot and rethread the machine, and perhaps that will fix the issue, which is usually caused by a lack of tension on the upper thread.

The tension likely needs to be corrected. You’ll need to raise the take-up lever and needle to the highest position that you can, confirming that you have the right tension.

Needles Breaking

Nothing says “something isn’t right with my sewing machine” like the needle breaking repeatedly. Fortunately, the most common causes of this problem are relatively easy to correct.

Most often, needles are broken due to a poor job threading the machine. When thread doesn’t line up with the tension and thread guides, it can tighten up, pulling on the eye of the needle and causing breakage. The thread also needs to be secured on the spool pin correctly or you can end up with the same problem.

Needles are not ‘one size fits all’. Using the right needle for your project will result in better work with fewer problems. Fine needles are suitable for light fabrics, but thicker needles are necessary for heavier work.

Sometimes, it just needs some T.L.C.

Woman hugging sewing machine

As I always say, “when in doubt, clean it out.” Dust and lint can accumulate in your machine pretty fast. A clean and lubricated machine will serve you well. We recommend having your machine professionally serviced at least once a year if it is used frequently.

If your sewing machine is still giving you trouble after trying these steps, the experts at Jones Sew & Vac can help. Give us a call, today:

Boise – 208-323-6087
Pocatello – 208-233-0670
Idaho Falls – 208-552-2567

For the love of Embroidery!

Jones Sew & Vac Team

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