How to Troubleshoot a Broken Sewing Machine

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It's frustrating to be working on a sewing project and suddenly forced to a thumping halt because your machine stops running. If the machine is smoking and shooting sparks, unplug it and drop it off at the nearest repair shop. If you can’t see any visible signs of distress, do some troubleshooting on the machine before calling the professionals.

  • Identify the nature of the problem. Possible issues include needles or threads that break often, knocking and jamming and fabric that won't move through the machine.

  • Breaking needles may be caused by a loose presser foot or an incorrectly set needle. Tighten your presser foot. Remove the needle and reset it. If your needle is too light for the weight of fabric you’re sewing, change to a heavier needle.

  • If your upper thread is breaking, you may have set your tension too tightly. Check your tension and loosen, if necessary. Be sure your machine is threaded correctly. Make sure you put your thread through every loop, disc and lever. Your needle may have a sharp eye that is actually cutting the thread. Replace your needle.

  • Knocking and jamming can be caused by thread and lint caught in the shuttle. Remove the shuttle and clean the assembly.

  • You may not have enough pressure on your presser foot if your fabric is not moving through the machine. Increase the pressure on the presser foot. Make certain that your feed dog is up. If it’s down, it won’t pull your fabric through. Pull both your upper and bobbin threads down and back under the presser foot before beginning to stitch.

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