How to Troubleshoot Common Sewing Machine Problems

Hey, you!

Look:

Don’t you think that it would be so much easier to embrace ourselves and others if we came with owner’s manuals?

Just think of all the pain, frustration, miscommunications, and other nonsense that would be avoided if we did.

[SIGH]

Okay! unfortunately, we humans don’t come with an owner’s manual, but sewing machines do.

So before we begin, the first thing I want you to do is to locate the owner’s manual for your sewing machine. It is your number #1 reference tool!

And it will save you time and frustration when your sewing machine decides to act like it is demon possessed.

So I’ll wait while you locate it…

Got it?! Good!

Just place it right next to your sewing machine and keep it there permanently!

Now, let’s begin with a few sewing machine troubleshooting rules…

NOTE: This article may contain affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure HERE.

Sewing Machine Troubleshooting Rules

Rule #1: Begin each sewing session with a clean machine. Because a dirty machine is an unhappy machine. And if your machine isn’t happy, you’re not going to be sewing.

RELATED: Click here to learn how to clean your sewing machine and keep it blissfully happy!

Rule #2: Only use high-quality thread. Machines detest lint and fuzz. And choosing a high-quality thread goes a long way in reducing lint and fuzz build up in your sewing machine.

RELATED: Click here to learn how to choose quality thread!

Rule #3: Are you using the right needle for the type of fabric you are sewing? And is it a new needle? Is your needle defect free? Sewing machines can be a real bee-atch about this!

RELATED: Click here to learn how to choose the right size and type of sewing machine needle!

Rule #4: When your sewing machine is acting up like a three-year-old having a major tantrum in the middle of Target, RETHREAD. Rethread both the needle and bobbin threads!

RELATED: Click to learn how to rethread your machine and draw up your bobbin thread!

The Six (6) Most Common Sewing Machine Problems

Honestly, I tried to recreate some of these common sewing machine problems, but I couldn’t.

You know why?!

Because my Janome DC2014 is so freaking amazing! She is just so darn well-behaved. No fuss. No craziness. No drama.

front view of my janome dc2014 [artsy]

And I love her!

Anyhoo, here’ a short list of common sewing machine woes you might encounter…

Bird’s nest

I think you can easily visualize this hot mess.

If this happens to you, rethread both your needle and bobbin threads.

Also, make sure you have selected the proper needle size and type for the fabric you are sewing.

Jamming

This is most likely the result of a damaged needle.

Keep in mind that even a new needle may have defects or burrs. So it is a good idea to test the quality of every new needle before you insert it into your sewing machine.

Needle breakage

If you are experiencing broken needles, your needle is probably old or damaged.

Or, it could also be the result of the wrong needle size or type for the fabric you’re sewing.

Puckered Seams

A scrunchy stitching line is not pretty!

So if you are getting ugly stitching lines, make sure you are using a new needle and that it is the correct size and type.

If your needle is new and is the correct size and type for your fabric but you’re still experiencing a puckered stitching line, it is time to rethread both your needle and bobbin threads.

Honestly, when I experience this problem, I automatically check the needle quality and rethread both my needle and bobbin threads in one go.

Skipped Stitches

The #1 cause of skipped or uneven stitches is a damaged or old needle or the wrong needle type or size for the fabric you’re sewing!

If this is the case, replace the needle with a new needle that is the correct type and size, and then rethread both your needle and bobbin threads.

Thread Breakage

Make sure the tension is set to the default of 4. And then, test the strength of your thread. If it breaks immediately, your thread is old.

RELATED: Click here to learn how to test thread strength!

Pretty Stitches Topside + Snarly Stitches Bobbin Side

If your stitching looks pretty on the needle side but the bobbin side is a hot mess of snarly threads, you probably need to RETHREAD.

RELATED: Click here to learn how to rethread your sewing machine!

Do You Hear…

a dull sewing machine needle makes a thunk, thunk, thunk sound as it pierces fabric

This is the noise a dull, blunt needle makes as you stitch. Did you forget the new project, new needle rule? Change your needle NOW!

RELATED: Click here to learn how to change your needle!

4-Step Sewing Machine Troubleshooting Process

graphic of the 4-step sewing machine troubleshooting process

When sewing machine problems pop up, this is the 4-step process that I use to easily solve most problems…

  1. Make sure you’re using the correct needle size and type for the fabric you are sewing.
  2. Clean your machine’s bobbin case. Personally, I clean my machine before each project. That way, I know that I am getting off to a good start. You’ll be amazed how often this one thing is the solution to your problem.
  3. Rethread both your needle and bobbin threads carefully! Rethreading is GOLD.
  4. Finally, turn your machine off and then back on. This resets the machine much like CTRL-ALT-DEL resets a computer.

Honestly, nine out of 10 sewing machine problems can be solved by one thing:

Rethreading both the needle and bobbin threads.

Pro tip: Adjusting your tension is NOT on the list above for a reason! It is easy to think that when you are experiencing problems that tension is where you need to start. But this is often NOT the source of most sewing machine problems.

The End

First, keep your sewing machine manual close.

If your manual is missing, you can Google it. In your browser’s search bar, simply type in your Brand Model PDF with or without quotes: “Janome DC2014 PDF.” You’d be surprised how many sewing machine manuals are downloadable on the Internet for FREE! Here’s a sample screenshot:

google search for sewing machine manual

And if this doesn’t work for your sewing machine, then click HERE to purchase it.

Troubleshooting sewing machine woes are often as simple as remembering this trio of tips:

  1. Keep your machine clean!
  2. New project, new needle! And make sure you choose the correct needle size and type!
  3. Be calm and rethread!

If these three things fail to make your sewing machine happy, don’t make matters worse by continuing to sew with it.

Instead, take your machine to an authorized dealer for a little tender, loving professional servicing.

And remember…

Life is the ultimate red carpet event. Dress for it!

RELATED: Click this link to learn all the essential sewing tools you need to begin sewing insanely pretty dresses!

RELATED: Click this link to learn everything you need to know about your sewing machine!

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