Back to Basics: Learning How to Sew

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Sewing machines are supposed to make your sewing endeavors easier, not harder. Sometimes though, the time spent wrestling with you machine would have been better spent hand stitching the dang thing. I admit that when I first got my machine I ended up threading it, trying it out, getting frustrated when it didn’t work, and then hand sewing the project I had wanted to make. Since then I’ve had countless similar experiences with the machine, usually culminating in my abandoning the project altogether and relegating my machine to the corner in disgust.

Knowing how to fix common sewing machine problems is very important for sewers of all levels, from novice to expert. Read this troubleshooting guide and hopefully your machine will dwell in the corner no more! Also check out our sewing tips ans tricks, reference information, and basics and tutorials on

Problem: Stitches are uneven, puckered, or otherwise improperly formed.
Solution: Make sure the top thread is threaded correctly, the bobbin is inserted correctly, and the needle is the proper size for your machine. Try sewing on some scrap fabric and test different tension levels. Adjusting the tension should fix the stitch problem. Once you find the proper tension for your project, proceed.

Problem: Upper thread breaks.
Solution: Again, make sure your machine is threaded correctly and the bobbin and needle are properly inserted. There are a few different reasons why your thread might break. First, decrease the upper thread tension. If this doesn’t help, try pushing lighter on the pedal so that your machine will sew more slowly. Also check to make sure there are no knots in your thread. The problem could also be that your thread is old, poor quality, or not the correct thread for your project. Re-thread the machine with new thread and try again.

Problem: Fabric starts to pucker.
Solution: Usually this happens when your stitch length is too long and/or your upper thread tension is too high. I have actually used this to my advantage when making ruffles, because I don’t have a ruffler foot. Try decreasing the tension and the stitch length. Also make sure that your top and bottom thread are the same type of thread and, of course, that the machine is threaded properly.

Problem: The needle breaks.
Solution: You may have inadvertently sewn over a pin. To prevent this from happening, make sure to remove your pins as you sew, before the needle has a chance to run into them. Other causes of broken needles include pulling on the fabric as you sew, using the wrong needle for the type of fabric you’re working with, and improperly inserting the needle into the machine.

Conclusion: If none of these solutions work, I have two more options for you. First, sometimes putting your machine in a time out really does work (hey, it works with kids, right?). Show it who’s boss by putting it away for a few days (and feel free to verbally abuse it too. It can’t hurt).
If it’s still malfunctioning, here’s option two: take it in to a sewing machine repair shop. It could be a simple maintenance issue, or you could need to replace a part. You’ll never know unless you ask a professional.

Have you ever experienced these infuriating sewing machine mishaps? What is your go-to troubleshooting action?

Originally published on FaveCrafts


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