Tips and tricks for common sewing machine problems
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We have all experienced those frustrating moments where all you want to do is sew but your sewing machine just isn’t co-operating with you. In this article we will discuss how to fix common problems with your sewing machine such as – needles breaking no matter what you do, thread that bunches up while sewing, thread gathering under your fabric, loose stitches, cleaning your sewing machine, trouble changing your presser foot, bobbin constantly running out of thread.
NEEDLES THAT CONSTANTLY BREAK
Have you ever had your needle breaking when you’re right in the middle of an important stitch? Or maybe you’re sewing for the very first time and you have never experienced anything such as your needle breaking until you started your very first project? We’ve had it happen to us many times and it’s the most frustrating thing ever! We recommend keeping a package of needles on hand at all times! Before you start your project check your needle, if it’s bent or damaged you should change it before sewing to prevent from it breaking while sewing. It’s always better to change your needle before you start your project instead of changing it during sewing.
- When you’re changing your needle always make sure to use a little screwdriver (it usually comes with your sewing machine).
- Make sure that your needle is facing the right way! We cannot stress this enough, this step is extremely important! If you have a new sewing machine or you’re changing a needle for the first time make sure to read the manual that comes with the sewing machine as some sewing machines are different when it comes to this.
- Make sure that the needle you’re using is the right type for your project. There are many types of needles – ones that are suitable for denim, leather etc. You must use the correct needle or the needle will keep on breaking. If you have done all of the above and your needle still breaks check if your machine is clean. If your sewing machine is full of lint or other debris that may come from fabric/thread it may affect your needle (more on how to clean your sewing machine below)
THREAD GATHERING UNDER FABRIC (aka.NESTING)
We have all experienced this amazing moment where we’re happily working away on a project, your stitches look perfect and then you make the mistake of flipping your fabric over and you’re instantly filled with fear as the “back” of your seam isn’t as perfect and amazing as you thought. Thread gathering or bunching aka ‘bird nesting’ is very common and you may not notice it at first especially if you’re new to sewing as it usually gathers under the fabric so you don’t see it while sewing. Fixing this problem may be frustrating but it has to be done - you will have to completely unthread your sewing machine and rethread it again. You should also check if the top spool in your bobbin is facing the right way (some threads have a ‘top” side that is very important and may cause a lot of problems if they’re not sitting in your bobbin correctly). Before returning to your project, test how your thread is looking on a “test” strip of scrap fabric.
BOBBIN CONSTANTLY RUNNING OUT OF THREAD
Problems with bobbins are very common and the solutions are easy. Issues with bobbins are the most common issues when it comes to sewing machine problems. Has your bobbin ever run out of thread in the middle of sewing? We can all agree that it’s one of the most annoying things ever! We can’t promise that after the following tips it will never happen again but it can most definitely help the problem. The first thing you should always do –> whenever you’re purchasing a new sewing machine make sure that it has a clear cover/window! This way you will always know what’s going on with your bobbin. If your sewing machine doesn’t have a feature like that it’s no problem! We recommend using clear bobbins this way you will always know how much thread you have left. Another hot tip that will help you manage your problem with bobbins that constantly run out during sewing comes from the seamstresses from our atelier! They recommend using another bobbin as a top thread spool, it will indicate when your bottom bobbin is running out of thread.
Nothing is more frustrating than when your fabric puckers, bunches and wrinkles while sewing, especially when you’re sewing delicate fabrics that are usually expensive. Fabrics that are thin and slippery such as chiffon can easily wrinkle or bunch up if the tension on your sewing machine is too high. You should always check the tension on your top thread and the stitch length. When the tension on the top thread is too high the fabric will always wrinkle and the stitching will look wrong. After you have adjusted your machine's tension always do a test run on a piece of scrap fabric (preferably a fabric that is similar to the one you’re working with) before returning to your project.
Having your stitches skip, loose up or loop while sewing is sooooo frustrating! Loose stitches are usually an indication that your tension is too loose. Remember – loose stitch = loose tension! All machines are different but try gently adjusting the top thread tension before adjusting the bottom thread tension (bobbin). You should also check if your sewing machine is clean and lint free, is properly threaded, if the needle is bent or if the bobbin is incorrect for your sewing machine. As always we recommend reading the guide that comes along with your sewing machines as sewing machines tend to differ and the way you should do certain things differs. If the problem continues despite you following all the tips we have given you the manual will always guide you.
TROUBLE CHANGING THE PRESSER FOOT
Some projects require you to change your presser foot and sometimes this may cause problems, especially for inexperienced/ beginner sewers. Most projects require an all purpose foot but there are specific foots that can be used to sew in a zipper, make button holes, quilting etc. As always we recommend checking your manual before changing your foot as all sewing machines are different but most sewing machines follow the same rules when it comes to changing your sewing machines foot, especially if they have a snap on foot. First check if your needle and presser foot are on the highest position available. ALWAYS UNPLUG YOUR SEWING MACHINE FROM POWER FOR SAFETY! Using a small screwdriver that we talked about before, unscrew the screw that is above the presser foot that is currently attached to your sewing machine. Once unscrewed completely the foot should come off when you push down on it lightly. Line up your “new” foot presser and snap it in, screw in the screw that you unscrewed earlier and you’re done!
*REMEMBER – Never forcefully unscrew the screw that is screwed in above your presser foot as it may damage your sewing machine! These screws are very hard to replace as they have a very specific length/size so be careful with them and make sure that you don’t misplace it, so whenever you unscrew it make sure to keep it in a safe place while you’re changing your foot.
CLEANING YOUR SEWING MACHINE
It is very VERY important to clean your sewing machine! Lint and other debris that comes off fabric and/or thread while sewing sticks to various places on your sewing machine (especially places where there is oil residue) it can seriously damage and harm your sewing machine! The lint and debris can also cause a series of issues such as your needle breaking constantly and your bobbin getting stuck. How to clean your sewing machine you ask? Well, it's not as complicated as you may think. First of all unplug your sewing machine from the power supply. Safety always comes first! Remove all the thread, “open up” your sewing machine and gently clean out the lint and debris with tweezers and a small brush that should come with the sewing machine (*tip – sometimes there’s a hidden seam ripper inside your brush!). Never ever blow into your machine with your mouth as the moisture may cause rust. To keep your sewing machine clean invest in a sewing machine cover or DIY one yourself!