16 Reasons Why Sewing Machine Keeps Jamming (How To Fix)

  • By: Tiffany Peris
  • Time to read: 10 min.

Has your sewing machine been jamming of late?

Are you forced to delay your sewing project due to a jammed sewing machine, or do you probably want to know some of the reasons why your sewing machine keeps jamming and how you can solve the problems? This article looks at 15 different reasons why a sewing machine is likely to be jammed and how to fix the issue.

From the onset, it is important to point out that sewing machine jamming is, most of the time, a maintenance issue that does not need any expert knowledge of the sewing machines to fix. As you will see, you will probably solve the issue yourself.

How To Troubleshoot A Sewing Machine That Keeps Jamming?

The Sewing Machine Is Dirty

If you do not clean your sewing machine regularly, there is a high chance that your machine is clogged up; hence it’s jamming. Specifically, that could be the case if hair, dust, stray threads, and lint have accumulated on the sewing machine’s bobbing section. When the debris mix with oil, the mixture could end up crystalizing, and as a result, the sewing machine could end up jamming.

How To Fix

Visually inspect all the sections of the sewing machine to inspect and identify the areas where there is an accumulation of stray threads, lint, hair, and dust.

Using a soft paintbrush, new or used toothbrush (recycling), or a cotton swab, remove any dirt found. In the bobbin section, make sure that you remove all the compartments to clean the compartment thoroughly.

In extreme situations where you find some crystallization, you might have to use the sewing machine’s oil to loosen the dirt to remove it effectively.

According to the manufacturer’s manual, you have to lubricate the machine once you have removed the dirt. It is important that when done with lubricating, you use a practice fabric so that your actual fabric is not stained by any lubricating oil that could be on the feeder dogs, thread plate, slide plate, and pressure foot. In addition, you must stick to a regular maintenance schedule to avoid the machine jamming in the future.

You Are Using The Wrong Needle

When you use the wrong needle for your sewing machine, you are certain that the upper and lower threads will not come together. As a result, you will experience stitches that have been skipped and uneven stitching as there will be varying amounts of sewing thread both above and below the fabric. In this case, the moment the sewing thread gets pulled short, the sewing machine will stop and will not move.

How To Fix

Make sure that you always use the correct needle for your sewing machine. If you are not sure about the size of the needle that you are using with your sewing machine, you can read the manual or contact the sewing machine supplier. In addition, you will also need to ensure that the stitch length is not very fine, especially when the materials been sewn are lightweight.

Incorrect Upper Threading

When there is improper threading for any sewing machine, the tension will either be entirely lacking or overbearing for the machine. In such a case, the machine could jam as the sewing thread makes the machine stop.

How To Fix

You will unthread the machine in its entirety and then rethread again. When threading, it is paramount you make sure that no guides have been missed while the thread needs to run firmly through the tension gloves. If the thread spool mounts sideways, you need to ensure that the spool cap is in place. Inspect along the spool edges for regions where the thread could catch, hindering it from smooth movement in the machine.

Handwheel Is Not Moving

In sewing machines, handwheels are meant to move smoothly without any challenges. Thus, if you find that your machine’s handwheel is not moving smoothly, an issue needs to be urgently fixed. Furthermore, since there are various reasons why the handwheel could be stuck, you will need to take various measures to fix the issue.

How To Fix

  • Visually check if there is a sewing needle or fabric that happens to be stuck in the sewing machine – in case you find a stuck needle or fabric, remove it.
  • Check whether the thread is threaded and guided well. If not, you will need to rethread again.

Feed Dogs Are Low

An increased number of sewing machines feed dogs are adjustable. However, if the feed dogs of your machine are set the incorrect way, you will have stitches piling up, and in a short while, your sewing machine will end up jamming.

How To Fix

Always ensure that your feed dogs are up. First, carefully inspect the feed dogs and make sure that there is no dirt or other debris. In case there is dust, wipe it off. After that, turn the wheel and ensure that it rises above the faceplate. You should then remove the faceplate and ensure that the entire feed dog system is not clogged up and does not have any dirt.

The Sewing Thread Used Is Of Low Quality

Even if a sewing thread is meant for sewing, it is important to note that there are different types of sewing threads. You, therefore, need to be cautious about the type of thread that you purchase since if you buy a cheap sewing thread, there is a high chance that the thread could end up breaking and be entangled in various parts of the sewing machine, thus resulting to the sewing machine jamming.

How To Fix

Ensure that the sewing threads you are using are ideal for the fabric or material you are sewing. For example, the sewing thread with which you will sew a canvas cannot be used to sew cotton or nylon fabric.

One of the best sewing thread brands you should always seek to buy is the Coats and Clark brand, widely available in most retail outlets.

Faulty Pressure Foot

If the pressure foot of your sewing machine is not working and is stuck downward, you cannot be able to place the fabric underneath. In short, you will not be able to sew anything as the pressure foot is stuck and the sewing machine is jammed.

How to fix

One of the reasons the pressure foot is stuck upwards is most likely due to the broken lever. In this case, your either decide to replace the pressure foot by buying a new one or have your sewing machine repaired by a certified repairman. In some cases, dirt clogged close to the foot or even broken gears could be why the pressure foot is stuck upwards.

You thus need to address those issues to stop the machine jamming. If you cannot see any dirt and debris close to the pressure foot or you can’t see broken gears, then it is time for you to seek the services of a sewing machine technician.

Sewing Needle Is Broken Or Deformed

If your sewing machine breaks down or gets deformed when you are sewing, it will jam and stop working. There are various reasons why the sewing needle could be deformed or broken.

How To Fix

Visually inspect the sewing needle and look out for breakage or deformities in the needle. If you find that the needle is deformed or broken, you will need to replace it. It is also important you make sure that you are using the correct needle size since if the needle size used in your sewing machine is not the correct one, the needle will break or deform even after replacing it.

Sewing Machine Does Not Take In The Material

For those who are sewing with sewing machines for the first time, it is common for them to encounter challenges in their sewing as they struggle to get the sewing machine to take in the material that has been sewn. Don’t be worried about this. It is not a complicated problem, and you can easily fix it.

How To Fix

The first thing to do is to raise the dogs’ feeds and then make sure that you have adjusted the dog feeds to their right position. In situations where buttonholes are stitched regularly, it is recommended that the stitch lengths are retained at zero instead of adjusting them to any other length. Next, ensure that the foot pedal is raised before commencing to sew. Finally, ensure that the sewing thread tension is right and not excessive.

Sewing Machine Gets Stuck In The Zig-Zag Mode

When sewing with the machine, it is always advisable to use zig-zag mode in areas where you cannot sew straight lines. For example, when strengthening buttonholes, zig-zag stitches can be used. However, many people tend to forget to switch the zig-zag mode off after they have finished stitching with the Zig-Zag stitch, and as a result, the machine ends up jamming.

How To Fix

Since you have control of the sewing machine, you need to ensure that you get the sewing machine out of the zig-zag mode. If you refer to the manual that came with the machine, you will find that the manufacturer has detailed how to do that. If you can’t find anything in the manual, you can contact a sewing machine technician to help you address the issue.

Machine Has Been Stuck At The Top Speed

When you embark on sewing, it is always recommended that you sew at a speed you are comfortable with. However, at times, sewing at high speed is not always the best thing since if the motor of your sewing machine or the foot pedal is faulty, it could jam your sewing machine.

How To Fix

If the motor of your sewing machine is not working, you need to seek help from a professional repairman. First, you can find whether it is broken or stuck on the foot pedal. If you find it’s broken, you can fix it or have a technician look at it.

Software Issues In Computerized Sewing Machines

For computerized sewing machines, it is common for the machines to come to a stop due to software issues. However, you need to remember that a computer system controls these machines, and if the system was to crash or freeze, the sewing machine is immediately going to jam.

How To Fix

You can switch off the sewing machine and restart it again after at least 2 to 3 minutes to fix this issue. The reason for the restart is to ensure that if the machine’s processor has been overloaded, the processor will abandon the overload and start afresh.

You should also check on the sewing machine manufacturer’s website if there has been a software upgrade. If there is, you can download and upgrade the software. If you are unsure how to download the software, you can take the machine to the accredited repair center to have the software issue sorted.

The Sewing Machine Is Stuck in Reverse Position

When sewing, you at times find that you have to sew backward. However, your machine cannot now be sewing in the reverse position since the sewing experience will not be good, while you will also not be able to sew correctly.

How to fix

It is important to note that the sewing machine will only sew in the reverse position as long as the feed dog is stuck in the reverse position. Thus, you will need to clean all the dirt in the feed dog area. Once you have done that, it will be important you make sure the feed dog has a good hold of the textile. Next, check and ensure that the machine’s reverse levers are not used. Finally, make sure that the bobbin compartment is well maintained.

Unresponsive Foot Pedal

If your foot pedal is not responsive, it will likely jam your sewing machine. As you already know, the foot pedal is responsible for regulating the speed at which your fabric is sewn. Thus, if the foot pedal is faulty, it will jam your sewing machine.

How To Fix

To fix a jammed foot pedal, you will first need to check the power cable of the pedal. If you notice that the cable is broken, you will need to fix it or replace it.

Sewing Machine Not Moving From Bobbin Mode

Even if you are not supposed to wind the bobbin, you might be winding it. However, you don’t have the capability of winding the bobbin with the same tension as the sewing machine. Thus, after you have winded the bobbin, you find that the machine has been stuck in the bobbin mode and that you cannot take it out of that mode.

How To Fix

If your sewing machine has a bobbin winding button or switch, make sure that you turn it off. However, if you cannot turn the bobbin mode off, your best option will be to seek the help of an expert. If you have a computerized sewing machine, then there is a chance that the machine needs a software upgrade. Thus, get the software upgraded, and if the jamming issue is not solved even after upgrading, it will be time to seek help from an expert.

Threading Has Been Wrongly Done

If you do not thread your sewing machine correctly, you will have a big mess. Therefore, you should never consider that the mess in the bobbin part has been caused by the bobbin since, in most cases, it is caused by threading being wrongly done.

How To Fix

Ensure that the machine’s pressure foot is positioned in the upward position. You will then start to unthread the machine and stop once all the sewing thread has been unthreaded. After that, you need to refer to the sewing machine’s manufacturer’s manual and ensure that you have threaded the machine correctly.

It is important to point out that you should always ensure your thread when the pressure foot is positioned upward. If you thread when the pressure foot is positioned downwards, it will tighten the machine’s tension mechanism, and due to that, the sewing thread cannot be well-positioned in the disks.

Final Thoughts

As we have seen, it is common for sewing machines to jam. Some of the causes can be easily fixed without any expert knowledge, while on the other hand, other causes can only be fixed by experts. By using the guide given, you will be able to determine the likely cause of the jamming of your machine and what you could do to solve the issue.