We’ve all suspected it at times…when your sew-jo has flown out the window and everything is going wrong. But how do you really know if your sewing machine hates you? Here are 10 signs to watch for to determine if your sewing machine is out to get you. And jokes aside, there are also tips for troubleshooting each of these issues.
So take the quiz – if you answer yes to question number 8 or at least 3 others, then I’m sorry to tell you, your sewing machine probably hates you.
1. It tries to eat your fabric.
This most often happens when you are sewing knits and or if you start sewing too close to the edge of the fabric. First, make sure you’re using the correct needle for the fabric (ballpoint for knits, universal for most other fabrics) and that your needle isn’t too big for your fabric (thin fabrics 70/10, quilting cottons and similar 80/12, denims, twills, canvas and other heavier fabrics 90/14 and larger needles). If you’re still having issues, try placing tissue paper under your fabric – it tears off easily and will help prevent your fabric from getting sucked into the machine.
2. The back side of the stitching looks like this:
When I worked in schools, the IT guy would sign every email with “80-90% of all computer problems can be solved by rebooting. Have you tried it?” To borrow his words, 80-90% of sewing machine problems can be solved by rethreading. Try that here, both the top and bobbin threads. If you’re still having issues, try the solutions in number 3.
3. Your fabric won’t feed through.
First make sure you’re not starting too close to the edge. Next, make sure your presser foot is down – it’s silly, but even I forget to lower it sometimes. Still not feeding? Make sure that you haven’t somehow accidentally dropped your feed dogs. Many machines have an option to disengage the feed dogs (you’d want to do that for freehand stitching for example) and if they’re not up they can’t pull your fabric.
4. The thread keeps breaking.
See Number 2 – rethread. While rethreading, check that your thread hasn’t wound itself around the thread holder at the top or the base. Still having issues? New needle, and make sure it’s inserted the correct direction – if you accidentally put it in backwards it can shred thread. Still having issues? Make sure your thread isn’t too thick for your needle (don’t try heavy duty thread with a 70/10 needle, for example). Still having issues? Try new thread.
5. The needle keeps breaking.
Are you sewing sequins, hitting pins, using a thin needle on really thick fabric? If so, cut sequins out of seams, remove pins, and/or switch needles. If that’s not it, check that the needles are inserted correctly and not bent, and check for possible pins stuck in the bobbin casing area. If you’re still having an issue, it’s time to go to the sewing machine doctor as your timing may have gotten off somehow.
6. It won’t stop skipping stitches.
Try a new needle. Also make sure your needle is the correct type for your fabric.
7. It unthreads itself each time you start to sew a new seam.
This is an easy fix – and a common issue for beginners. Before you cut your thread, make sure the take up lever is all the way up.
8. It displays a message like this:
Sorry, if your machine is doing this, you may need to call the Ghostbusters. And get the heck out of your house.