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Fixing Sewing Machine Stitching Problems

It is so easy in our day to day work in upholstery (or any sewing business or craft) for any of us to space out for a moment, to not be watching what we are doing or to get distracted. The next thing we know our sewing machine isn't sewing right. Any number of things can cause a sewing machine to miss stitches, the bobbin can get tangled up, the needle might split the thread or any number of other sewing irregularities. Many times we have inadvertantly or unknowingly caused the problem and we wonder what happened. Let's examine some possibilities of what might be wrong.

When trying to fix sewing machine problems, make sure that its not a thread problem or an adjustment problem before taking it in to the repair shop.

Did the problem start suddenly or did it develop gradually? If the problem started suddenly, what changed just before the problem started? 

  • Did you change to a different spool of thread or a different type of thread? Is the new thread thicker or thinner than the previous thread?
  • Did you start sewing on a different fabric?
  • Did you just change needles? (Could you have put the needle in incorrectly?)
  • Did your needle just hit something that may have dull the point or bent the needle or knocked the sewing machine out of time?
  • Did you just rewind your bobbin?
  • Did you just switch to another bobbin or another type of bobbin?
  • Was there any type of noise (such as a knocking sound, etc.) just before the sewing machine started sewing irregularly?

First thing to do is the make sure that we set everything back to a known good starting spot. Let's go through the whole thread system systematically.

  • Check the top thread
    • Unthread all the thread from the top thread path.
    • Check at each thread guide for any buildup of lint, dirt, or anything else that would clog the thread guide. Also closely inspect each thread guide for any sharp burrs or knicks that might nick the thread.
    • Check that the thread tension is adjusted properly.
    • Check that the needle is in correctly.
    • Pull a length of the upper thread through and cut the end of the thread off cleanly.
    • Rethread everything through all the correct threading path.
  • Check the bobbin
    • Take out the bobbin.
    • Make that the bobbin thread is wound smooth and even. (Sometimes the bobbin winder may have wound the thread unevenly. Sometimes the bobbin threads get tangled up, etc.)
    • Rethread the bobbin thread. Rewind the bobbin if necessary.

Other things to check:

  • Sometimes the thread is from a bad batch. Thread the machine up with a known good thread to see if it works with that.
  • Sometimes some spools of thread have sat around too long, or have some type of irregular stiff finish on the thread that causes the thread to stick together on the roll, which causes stiching problems.
  • Check that your bobbin hook is free from knicks or burrs.
  • Check that you didn't overwind the bobbin, which causes the bobbin too be tight in the bobbin case
  •  If you have just changed the thread, change back to a thread that was working properly. If it sews correctly then, maybe the other thread was defective.