How to troubleshoot your sewing machine – things to try before you take it for a service
Every now and again my sewing machine gives me trouble. It could be skipping stitches or making a funny sound. Sometimes it chews up the bobbin thread or my fabric – GASP!
Like all mechanical things, it can sometimes need a service from a sewing machine professional who really understands how it works inside – unlike me. But before I rush off to my local machine guy, there are a few simple things that I have learnt can fix the problem with less time out.
Things I do when my machine is not sewing properly:
- Clean out the fluff – This is always my first thing to try. Fluff gathers quickly so remove the bobbin and brush out any dirt or threads. My machine also has a metal plate above the bobbin which can come off to gain greater access to the bobbin area. I often pop that off as well to clean the feed dogs.
- Check the bobbin – My machine has a small bobbin casing that comes out of the machine that the bobbin sits into. (I know some machines don’t have this.) While the bobbin and it’s casing is out of the machine, I remove the bobbin and brush out the casing. Then I can put the bobbin back into the casing, checking that it is threaded the correct way. I also check that the bobbin doesn’t have any loose thread hanging from it that could interfere with the machine workings.
- Re-thread the machine – Next step is to completely un-thread the machine and re-thread it. Many machines will still sew even when they are threaded incorrectly, so if you’re not sure about how to thread yours, check the manual and make sure you’re threading it correctly.
- Change the needle – Next, grab a new needle. When I was first told to try this I thought “Really? But my needle is pretty new”. Now that I have changed needles to fix problems a few times, I have realised that this is really a ‘thing’. A needle can have just a little bend on the end or be a little blunt and that can cause the machine to work harder to push it through the fabric.
- A little oil – I don’t oil my machine anywhere near enough but check your manual to see whether it recommends oiling and if so exactly where you should put the tiniest drop of oil. I tend to leave this one to a professional but it may solve your problem – especially on older machines.
- Turn it off and on again – Another step that might seem a little useless but it is for computerised sewing machines. Turning it off will let the computer reset itself and start afresh – just like when you need to regularly turn off a mobile phone or desktop computer.
- Check your settings – Is the stitch length, stitch width, and tension all set where you would normally have them? It can be easy to knock a dial or button without realising it so check them all.
- Take a break – If all else fails and your machine is still not playing nice, turn it off and take a break! I get frustrated with my machine not working and just taking a minute to walk away, grab a coffee and check my Instagram feed means that I go back refreshed – and my machine has cooled down too!
Of course, if all else fails, it might be time for a service. There should be someone in your area who specialises in your brand of machine and who can give you a quote on price and the time it will take before they start. I have found my local guy only needs my machine for a couple of days to give it a little tune up and have it running like new.