Sewing Machine Trouble Shooting PDF Download

Posted by Freya Gilbert
on January 20, 2019

There is nothing more frustrating when you are trying to work on your latest sewing project then when your machine just wont sew!

We get queries all the time about sewing machines playing up.  It's not unusual, at some point or another for the machine not to do what you're expecting of it, but it is darn annoying.   There can be a number of reasons why a machine suddenly isn't working right, I had a word with our mechanic, John, to get his advice on getting those machines running again. 

I've created a nice PDF for you to print off and hang at home to reference next time your machine isn't playing ball.  You can download it at the bottom of the page.

Between the two of us, John and I came up with five simple solution that you can try at home to get you project back on track.  They're all DIY-able, and worth trying before you call in the mechanic.  I also asked John to list the top three reasons why sewing machines are sent in to him for repair.  The solutions to these problems do require a more experienced eye.

sewing machine trouble shooting

DIY Fixes

Re-Thread Your Machine

Your first port of call is to rethread both top and bottom from scratch, this can fix most tension issues.  All it takes is for a thread to catch on something it's not supposed to on the internal working for the tension to be upset.  Generally speaking, on modern machines the tension is relatively stable and won't need much adjustments.  Older machines are less reliable, but try rethreading first all the same.

Change your Needle

Can you tell me with certain what type of needle is in your machine right now?  Or when the last time you changed it was?  It's amazing how a blunt needle can effect the stitch quality of your sewing.  Generally it is recommended that you change your needle every 8-10 hours of sewing, or between every project, to make sure it's sharp.

Also, the right needle for the fabric can make all the difference too.  Check out my guide for matching sewing machine needles to fabric here. 

Check you are using the right Foot

Different stitches require different feet to sew out correctly, check you are using the right foot for the job.  Most modern machines will tell you which foot you need for each stitch. Read my blog post about all the different feet you get with a machine here.

Dust inside the Machine.

It's amazing the different a dusting can make!  All the fluff and fibres coming off your fabric have to go somewhere and often they end up inside your machine.  Take off the footplate and give the inside a quick dusting to stop it from clogging up.  I'd recommend doing this every couple of months, more if you sew very frequently.  I use a cheap make-up brush for this job and it works perfectly!

Change your Thread

Cheap and old thread can fluff up and break more easily, if you find your threads keep snapping, switch them out for a high quality polyester thread, such as Mettler or Gutterman.  We stock Mettler thread and think they are ace, but Gutterman are also a fantastic quality.

sewing machine trouble shooting

Time to Call in the Professionals

Some issues need an expert eye to identify and fix.  If none of the solutions above help,  your machine probably needs a service.  These are the three most common problems that a mechanic deals with regularly

Is your machine missing stitches?  

It's probably a timing issue between the needle and the feed dogs.  This can be caused when you sew over the top of your needles- time to break the habit!

Will the machine even turn on?

It could be a number of things, including the motor burning out or an electrical issue.

Has the machine compleatly seized up?

In the case of the mechanics not moving at all, the machine is going to need a full strip down and lubrication.  Definitely something to leave to the pros.


sewing machine trouble shooting

Download and print a PDF copy of this advice and pin it up next to your sewing machine, next time you have an issue you can have a go at getting your machine running again!