How to Unjam a Sewing Machine

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All sewing machines eventually jam, sometimes more than once during a sewing project. And when that happens, the sight of all that tangled thread--not to mention a needle that just will not budge--could be enough to make you throw in the towel... or whatever it is you're sewing. The good news is, unjamming a sewing machine is usually quick and easy, once you know how to go about it.

Things You'll Need

  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Small scissors with pointed tip
  • Turn off the electrical power to the sewing machine.

  • Raise the presser foot with the presser foot lifter. The lifter is usually located to the right of the needle

  • Raise the needle to the highest position using the hand wheel. If the needle will not move, gently work the hand wheel back and forth a little bit to see if the needle loosens. If it just won't move, don't worry; move on to Step 4.

  • Cut the thread between the point of the needle and the fabric. If you were unable to raise the needle in Step 3, with the needle still down, pull the needle thread so that it is slack enough to cut.

  • Fold the fabric up off the tool box section of the sewing machine. Remove the tool box section so that you have access to the lower machine compartment.

  • Open the lower machine compartment and remove the bobbin case, cutting away any tangled threads. If you had difficulty raising the needle in Step 3, try to raise it now; it should move freely.

  • Remove the bobbin from the bobbin case to be sure you get all the tangled threads.

  • Gently tug on the fabric. It should come free from the machine.

  • Reassemble the bobbin and bobbin case. Replace the bobbin case in the sewing machine.

  • Thread the needle.

  • Pull the bobbin thread up through the needle plate

  • Reattach the tool box section.

  • Adjust the thread tension, if necessary, to prevent another jam.

  • Resume sewing.

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  • Photo Credit M. J. Doran
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