How to Troubleshoot Common Sewing Machine Problems

If your sewing machine is acting up, you may not need to take it in for repairs just yet. Sometimes there are small things you can do to fix a problem, or it may be that you're using the machine incorrectly so that it doesn't work as it should. Note a few tips for troubleshooting common sewing machine problems so you can address these before assuming you need a new machine or need the old one repaired.

Dropped stitches

Usually a bent needle is at fault for dropped stitches; you may not realize you've bent the needle but if you went over a straight pin or used fabric that was too thick for the needle, it can easily get bent. In some cases, a needle may get bent simply due to old age and wear. If you haven't changed the needle of your sewing machine in some time, try that and note if the machine no longer drops any stitches. You might also be trying to force the fabric through as the machine sews; the feed dog under the fabric should be moving it while your hands only guide the fabric, so be sure you're using a gentle touch to avoid bending needles and dropped stitches.

Breaking needles

Using the wrong needle for fabric is the most common reason for one to break; an old and dull needle may also be more prone to breaking. Forcing fabric through, as mentioned above, can also break a needle as the fabric drags along the needle bottom, snapping it in two. You might also consider if you use cheap needles that are very thin and lightweight and not as likely to hold together as high-quality needles. If yours break repeatedly, try investing in a better quality needle and always change it as needed for the fabric you're sewing.

Seams don't look professional

If the seams of your sewing projects don't line up properly or seem to be different sizes, note that you may need to iron or steam fabric before it's sewn; failing to do that can mean stitching over wrinkles so that stitches are uneven. You also need to watch your stitch guide and not the needle itself, so that you're guiding the fabric through properly. Large holes usually mean that you're using a needle that is too big for the fabric and bunched up seams may mean that the needle is too small. Check your sewing techniques before assuming that the machine itself is the culprit in these cases.