Apr 22, 2009

Troubleshooting your sewing machine

This post is for the very beginner in sewing who’s having problems getting their machine to work properly.

There are a few things you can do to make sure your machine is sewing right. I see problems like this all the time in my classes. Sometimes the beginner sewer doesn’t know what to do or how to make their machine sew again.

1. If you have loops of thread on the bottom side of your fabric this is usually a bobbin issue - make sure you wound your bobbin properly. After you put what thread you want on your bobbin use your finger and push the thread from top to bottom and bottom to top to see if you can move the thread on the bobbin. The right tension must be used to thread the bobbin or your machine will not sew properly for you. If the bobbin isn't wound properly you can put that bobbin on the spool holder of your machine and rewind the thread to a new bobbin. You don't have to waste the thread that isn't on the bobbin properly.

2. Make sure you install your bobbin properly in the machine. Most of the time when your machine will not sew for you it’s because there is a problem with the bobbin. If it has the right tension, make sure you have installed your bobbin the right way. If you’re not sure how to do this you will need to refer to your owner’s manual. The drop in bobbin is the easiest to install.

3. If the bobbin’s all OK the next thing to check is your top thread (the thread through the needle) usually when you thread your machine through the needle you start from the spool holder – bring the thread through the top and back of the machine – the thread comes down through the tension (for the top thread) – then bring the thread up around the take up lever (you can turn your hand wheel to bring up the take up lever) down to the top of the needle – thread your needle through the hole going front to back.

Another thing that could happen that you might miss and seams to happen to a lot of machines – sometimes the thread comes off the take up lever. Pull the thread all the way out and re thread the machine.

4. The thread keeps coming out of the needle. This is because you aren’t pulling enough thread out from the needle after you finish your stitch. You must pull 3 to 4 inches under your pressure foot and going to the back or when the needle moves up and down sometimes it will pull the thread out of the needle. Another thing that may cause this to happen is when you finish sewing your seam, you pull the project out to cut the thread with your scissors. If you don’t pull enough out or pull it too tight the tension of the thread will bounce back and come out of the needle.

5. Your machine is threaded right but still not sewing. It could be a tension issue with the top thread. When you thread your machine you want to make sure the pressure foot is in the up position to assure the thread goes through the tension properly. When you drop your pressure foot it causes the tension to close. Make sure the tension is open when threading. Now, when you travel with your sewing machine make sure you put your foot in the down position so you don’t hit the little button on the back that causes your foot to drop. I’ve had many people who bring their machines to class with missing pressure feet because they forget to drop the foot.

If the thread is going through the tension properly and it’s still not sewing try to move your tension wheel. If the stitch is loose turn the wheel to make it tighter and too tight turn it to make it loose. If you move the tension wheel and it’s still not sewing for you there is one last thing you can do.

6. Change your needle. You should change your needle every 4 – 6 projects. They get dull and cause the machine not to work. Also depending on the fabric you need a special needle from ball point to sharp. Light weight fabric uses a smaller needle (smaller number) heavy weight fabric uses a bigger needle (bigger number). There are many places to learn about what kind of needle to use for what fabric you’re working with. Some but not all owners’ manuals have a chart to help you.

After doing all of this and your machine still aren’t working for you then you probably need to take it in for service. To assure you keep your machine in top working order you should service it yourself (take your brush and get all the lint out) ever 100 hours of use. I service my machines every 2 to 3 weeks.

I hope this helps if you’re having problems with your machine.

Until next time,
Enjoy your moments ~ make them “sew” much fun,