Sewing machine troubleshooting can and should be learned by anyone who owns and uses a sewing machine.
Not only will you save time by eliminating unnecessary trips to the repairman, but you'll save money on unneeded repair bills.
Learn by doing. Troubleshoot by thinking logically about the common problems you'll face during your sewing time.
The purpose of this troubleshooting guide is twofold.
Follow these simple steps to avoid time spent troubleshooting instead of contentedly sewing along.
If you haven't had the opportunity to look inside a sewing machine to see just how a stitch is formed, please take a minute to watch the video on our page Learn How Sewing Machines Work. (This link opens in a new window to make it easy to come back here.)
Before beginning, locate the instruction manual that came with your domestic sewing machine.
Find a place to keep it handy when you are sewing. It is an invaluable aid to diagnose problems and likely has a directory of problems and fixes indexed in the back.
For myself, I keep my manual in my Tutto sewing machine carrying case. Between bee and retreats, my sewing machine travels away from home at least twice a month.
I can't stress it enough: keep your machine clean.
Personally I pull out the bobbin case and brush everything out at least every other bobbin...usually.
This is what happens when you don't...
Seriously. I was a bad quilter. This is my new machine and after a few days at retreat I realized I hadn't cleaned out the bobbin area once.
All that lint robs your machine of lubrication.
It can get stuck in the tension spring on your bobbin case and cause all kinds of tension problems.
Periodically (when I'm in my right mind) I'll vacuum out the inside of the bobbin area.
I have one of these micro vacuum attachment packages and use it with my standard vacuum cleaner. Works like a charm.
Please don't use it...for two reasons:
Keeping your sewing machine clean is one of the best ways to prevent troubleshooting excursions.
Sewing machine needles are such little insignificant things. Or are they?
This tiny piece of metal is at the root of so many problems. ‘Good thing it's so easy to change. For almost every problem listed in this guide, it is the first thing to check.
Now to learn more about simple preventative sewing machine maintenance, click here.
We have covered a number of common troubleshooting situations. Find yours in the list below and click on the name. Remember that if you feel uncomfortable with any of the adjustments consult you dealer for more information.
If you're brand new to using a sewing machine or have been away from a while, check out these three FREE video classes available from Craftsy:
Click on the pattern pictures to learn more about each...