How To Fix A Sewing Machine That Won T Sew

Most of us have experienced a frustating moment when trying to repair a sewing machine that won’t sew. From a threading problem, a jammed stitch or a machine that powers but does not run, it can be a taxing experience. Learning how to fix a sewing machine that won’t sew will help you save money and prevent the need to take it to a repair shop. A few preliminary steps in knowing how to fix a sewing machine that won’t sew, include understanding what kind of machine you have, what features it has and how it works.

The basics of how to fix a sewing machine that won’t sew begins with a simple troubleshooting check list. First and foremost, visually check the pressor foot, which is the part that contacts the fabric. Common problems include the machine not having the foot properly attached, or it may be set too high, preventing the foot from creating a proper seal against the fabric. Also check the bobbin area, appearing as a small window located underneath the needle plate. You may have to make sure that your bobbin is in the right orientation and is passed the pinch point.

It’s also important to check the machine’s power supply. If your machine runs while connected to a wall outlet, you need to ensure that your extension cord properly works. Double check by plugging another appliance in the outlet, such as a table lamp, to make sure it’s receiving adequate power. If the machine still does not work, you may need to test the wall outlet that you’re plugging your machine into for voltage.

Checking the machine’s tension is also key when learning how to fix a sewing machine that won’t sew. The majority of machines come with preset tension settings from the manufacturer, and are quite durable. Some machines even have self-adjusting features so that a wide range of fabrics can be used. The general rule of thumb is that you should use the same thread on the bobbin and the upper side, to ensure a balanced tension. Additionally, if you experience problems with thread breakage, this can be resolved by increasing the tension slightly.

Finally, check the needle of the sewing machine. They are usually one-time use needles, but can be reused if not totally worn. Make sure that the eye is clear and the point is perfect for the type of fabric you are using. The most common needles are DFx, HAx, and FLx sizes, so be sure to replace your needle if it is not one of these three.

Maintaining the Sewing Machine

Maintenance is essential to keeping your machine running properly. Following the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions will help to ensure that your sewing machine will last longer and keep running smoothly. Cleaning your machine regularly is an important step to avoid issues and breakdowns. A simple cloth will do the trick, and make sure to avoid spraying cleanser directly onto your machine. You should also inspect the parts of your machine and replace worn out or broken pieces. It is highly recommended to oil your machine after every few hours of use, as this will help keep your machine working for years to come.

Following the manufacturer’s instruction manual is also important to ensure proper maintenance and protection of your machine. If you’re new to sewing, the manual can help you understand the basics of the machine and how it should be handled. If your machine is adjustable, for example, the manual will tell you how to adjust the settings and tension to create a proper stitch. Additionally, the machine will usually come with a warranty that will cover damages, parts, and service while also protecting your investment.

It’s important to note that patching or fixing minor damages on your own machine may not be the best idea, as it could introduce further issues that can be costly. Taking your machine to a qualified technician will provide the best guidance, and will help diagnose any major issues that your machine may have.

Contacting the Manufacturer

In some cases, contacting the manufacturer may be the best option to fix your machine. They are often equipped with experts who can help diagnose technical problems, provide support and guidance in replacing parts, and help find solutions for any repairs. Manufacturer warranties often include free repair and services, so be sure to check the fine print when purchasing your machine.

The internet has also become a great resource for finding troubleshooting tips and tricks. Various online forums are a great way to access knowledge and expertise from professionals and other sewers. You may be even able to find online video tutorials and demos.

Fixing a sewing machine that won’t sew can be a stressful experience. However, with the proper approach and understanding of the machine, the process can be relatively easy. Following these steps will provide the best chance of success in restoring your sewing machine.

Checking the Timing

Checking the timing of the machine is one of the most critical steps when troubleshooting sewing problems. The timing must be in sync for the needle and feed dogs to work together. This can be a difficult task and usually requires the assistance of an expert. As mentioned, it is more cost-effective to take your machine to a qualified technician who can help fix any timing issues with the machine.

In most cases, there is a screw under the needle plate that will adjust the timing between the needle and the feed dogs automatically. Adjust this screw carefully and in increments to help find the optimal timing between the two elements. It is crucial to take extra precaution when handling the timing as incorrect adjustments can do more harm than good.

Additionally, make sure to check the tension between the needle and the hook. It is important that the hook and bobbin thread form a loop of equal tension in order to produce proper stitches. Move the tension adjustment lever slowly and in increments, to give the optimal amount of tension between the hook and needle.

Finally, the release lever should be checked. This lever will help release the tension from the stitch when the machine has been switched off. Make sure the lever is released before starting the machine to prevent any thread problems. If your machine does not have this feature, use the pressor foot to help release the tension from the stitch.

Using the Right Threads

Using the right type of thread is also important to ensure successful sewing. Commercial sewing machines typically require thicker threads known as core thread. This type of thread is specifically designed for durability and strength when stitching.

Be sure that the thread is fed through the system properly, with the tension knob turned off, and that the pressure foot is lifted. The stronger the thread type, the less tension will be needed. Additionally, using the same thread on the upper side and the bobbin will reduce the amount of tension needed and make it easier to sew.

It is also important to check the needle size. As mentioned earlier, common needle sizes include DFx, HAx, and FLx. The numbers at the end of each needle size indicate the type of fabric being used. Be sure to choose the correct needle size for the type of fabric you’re using.

Finally, it is important to use the pressor foot when sewing. This part of the machine is used to create a seal between the fabric and the feed dogs, helping to keep the fabric aligned and steadied.


Fixing a sewing machine that won’t sew can be tricky. But by understanding the basics, you will be well on your way to successfully fixing your machine. Following a simple checklist, understanding the kind of machine you have, and knowing the type of thread and fabric you are using are all key to a successful repair. Additionally, it is quite important to maintain your machine regularly in order to prevent any further issues and breakdowns. Lastly, taking your machine to a qualified technician or contacting the manufacturer can offer some guidance with any major repairs and servicing.

Geoffrey Kirby is an experienced author and sewist who has been creating sewn projects for over 20 years. He has a passion for teaching beginners and inspiring more advanced sewists both online and through his writings. Outside of writing about sewing, Geoffrey loves to explore new techniques and styles of sewing that incorporate upcycling fabric remnants into sweet items with personality.

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