Sewing Machine Issues

A sewing machine is a complicated piece of equipment and is therefore prone to its share of malfunctions and mechanical issues. Regular maintenance can go far in preventing major problems, but small issues are still bound to arise that can throw a wrench into your project. The good news is, you can probably fix many of these issues yourself! Troubleshooting common issues with your sewing machine is well within your grasp, and learning to do so is an empowering way to celebrate National Sewing Month!


Solution: This can happen to the best of us. You are stitching along, admiring the smooth, even, straight line of topstitching. Then, you turn the fabric over to find a rat’s nest of thread on the underside. Why is this happening? The most likely culprit is not having enough tension in the top thread.The answer is often as simple as re-threading your machine. Lift the presser foot and unthread and rethread the machine, allowing the tension mechanism to do its work. Also, check to be sure the bobbin is threaded correctly, and the bobbin case is placed properly into the machine.


Solution: Probably, something is amiss with your needle. It may be broken or bent and is pulling your thread strangely. Try just replacing your needle – remember, this is something you should do after 16-20 hours of sewing! Another cause might be self-inflicted. Be sure that you are not pulling the fabric through from the back. Let the machine work at its own pace or risk uneven stitches or even broken needles.


Solution: There are a few easy fixes you can try. First of all, make sure you are using high-quality thread. The cheaper, off-brand threads have a tendency to break easier. If this doesn’t fix the problem, it could be another tension issue. Try unthreading and rethreading your machine, and again, be sure not to pull or force the fabric through the machine.


Solution: Improperly putting the needle into the machine is a possibility, or hitting a straight pin that causes the needle to bend or break. But most likely, you are simply using the wrong size of a needle. Be sure you know what gauge of needle your machine takes and buy accordingly. Also, be sure to educate yourself on which needle size should be used for which fabric. Needle sizes range from 8-18. Here is a quick guide to get you started:

  • Delicate, lightweight fabrics (chiffon, silk, and organza): Size 9 or 11
  • Medium-weight fabrics (flannel, linen, and synthetic suedes): Size 14
  • Heavy-weight fabrics (denim, canvas, thick wool): Size 16 or 18


Solution: Your sewing machine has a lifespan. It will not last forever. However, with proper care and maintenance, you can keep your sewing machine for many, many years. Experts recommend you take it into a shop for routine maintenance about once a year.

Once your machine is in perfect working order, be sure to use it to sew a custom label onto your finished projects!