Sewing machine problems that drive you insane and how to fix them.

Head on sewing machine in frustration


Sewing for what ever reason can be very rewarding and therapeutic. However there are times when it can be highly frustrating and annoying, so lets take a closer look at the most common problems that I deal with frequently. 

Sewing machine knot

Thread gathering underneath your fabric and making a massive knot!

There you are happily sewing away, when BAM! It all comes to a halt. You stop and take a peep at the underside of the fabric only to find a unholy mass of knotted thread. The top thread looks fine, but the underside is a total mess! This is not only frustrating but also time-consuming to sort out.

To sort the problem, you'll need to totally unthread and then rethread your machine. Gah! I also take the bobbin out and check that. Is it the right way round? Does it have good tension? Is there any thread caught in it? Make sure you correct the issue, then check it by doing a test run on a scrap piece of fabric before setting off again.


Stitches go loose and loopy.

Skipping stitches drives me NUTS! Its super frustrating. Very loose stitches are typically caused when the tension is too loose. Tension settings on every sewing machine are different, but I would start by gradually adjusting the top threads tension before I try to change the tension of the bobbin.

If that isn't working id have a look around the needle and bobbing for a buildup of lint or threads, then check that the needle isn't bent.

Bobbin run out


When you have two inches left to sew and the bobbin runs out.

This seems to happen loads and again it drives me nuts! (I hate reloading the bobbing) Plus it throws off my momentum, even more so, if I happen to be doing something tricky. Sadly there isn't much you can do about it. Some machines do have a low bobbin indicator or a clear bobbin cover/window. This gives you a heads up that your running low, but ultimately you still need to renew the thread. If you don't have these functions on your machine a little trick is to use another bobbin as your top thread spool. You can then see how much is left on both, and when they need changing.

Broken sewing machine needle

The needle breaks

Sods law it will happen right in the middle of a visible line of stitches. (such as top stitching). We should all change our needle after a big project or every eight hours of sewing. But we (or I) don't. If you think it's bent or damaged in any way, then change it! Or it will snap! Going over zip ends and multiple layers are always a tense moment because the needle is under a lot of strain.

When you replace the needle make sure it is facing the right direction. I've put mine in the wrong way a number of times. I never learn and spend ages trying to work out whats wrong. Also make sure your using the correct needle for your project.


The foot peddle keeps running off

You get your fabric and needle all lined up, your fingers are poised and ready to go. You put your foot down, and NOTHING happens! You're franticly moving your foot around to locate the peddle, but it's gone, missing in action. Annoyingly you have to let your fabric go so you can duck under your desk and find it again.

One tip i do have is, get some of that grippy stuff you put under rugs. Stick some on the underside of the peddle and happy days, no more peddle gymnastics.


The top thread keeps snapping

You're merrily in your groove sewing away, when you notice that you've not even been stitching anything for the last few inches. Sigh!

Sometimes it may be due to a knot in the thread, because its an old spool or a low quality thread. An incorrect needle size/type could also be the problem or if your needle is bent or blunt.
If a thread is caught on the spool pin, the thread may break.

If you're starting to stitch at a great rate of knots you can cause the upper thread to break. So start off steady, it's not a race!

If the thread is shredding near the eye of the needle it's very likely it's rubbish thread. Bin it, and start a new.

Frustrated lady at sewing machine


If all else fails

STOP! Turn the machine off and walk away. Grab a cuppa and try again another time.

In an ideal world, none of these things will happen. However, let's face facts, they are going to happen and always at the most inconvenient time. Cleaning your machine regularly and having a yearly service can really help to prevent such annoying problems.

Enjoy your sewing above all. 

If you are interested in sewing you may enjoy my 'How to' tutorial blogs or my 'How To' videos 

How to make fabric weights  

How to make your own fabric face mask 

How to repair a hem  - video

How to restyle a dress  - video

Gadgets I use to repair clothing  - video

all also available through the menu at

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