Solve your sewing machine problems here!

Sewing machines are reliable pieces of equipment on the whole; however, you need to ensure that the settings are correct, to see professional results of which you can be proud

Have you had problems with stitching, or not getting the results you hoped for? Please have a look at what we find to be the most common faults below, which will hopefully get your sewing where you want it to be . Any further problems, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Remember to keep your machine clean, it is surprising how dust and fluff can build up so quickly. We have trained technicians here at Coles Sewing Centre to help you with your regular service.

See our YouTube channel for videos to help you keep your machine stitching.




Skipped or broken stitches - Incorrect threading.

Rethread both top and bobbin, making sure the pressure foot is raised. Check the bobbin is inserted the correct way round. 


Blunt or incorrect type of needle.

Change the needle for a new one, making sure you use the correct type and size of needle for your project.


Thread reel bouncing on spindle.

Make sure the thread is retained in place with the retainer disc pushed up against the end of the spool (still allowing it to revolve).


Fluff in bobbin race.

Lint and fluff build up and can jam the mechanism, so remove the bobbin and clean out the bobbin casing using the little brush provided in the tool kit. Occasionally, also unscrew and remove the throat plate, take out the bobbin case and de-fluff underneath as well.


Fabric stretching

If sewing stretch fabric, use a stretch stitch or small zigzag stitch to sew seams that will need to stretch. If fabric is difficult to feed through the machine smoothly, change to a walking foot which will help feed top and bottom layers together, or use a Teflon-coated foot that glides easily over ‘sticky’ fabric.


Thread shredding or breaking. Wrong needle type for thread.

Make sure you use the correct needle for the thread. Thicker cottons need a larger eyed needle; metallic threads should be stitched with a metallic needle otherwise they can wear away a tiny groove into the eye of the needle, which will catch the thread fibres.


Stitching too fast.

For some delicate threads- e.g. metallic, invisible or smocking threads-decrease the speed of stitching.


Cheap thread.

Buy good quality branded thread. Cheap threads are made up of many fibre lengths twinned together which can split and divide. Also avoid very old threads which can deteriorate over the years.


Top thread clearly visible on the underside. Incorrect threading.

Rethread both top and bobbin, making sure the pressure foot is raised. Check the bobbin is inserted the correct way round.


Incorrect stitch length/width for fabric used.

Check the stitch length; if using a sideways stitch, also check the width. Make sure the stitch is suitable for the weight of fabric and the numbers of layers being stitched. Lightweight fabrics can be stitched with a short stitch whilst several layers may need a longer stitch.


Tension too loose

First, try all the rethreading options and only then adjust the tension. The higher the number, the tighter the tension, so go up one number at a time and test the stitching each time you make an adjustment.


Bobbin thread clearly visible on upper fabric. Tension too tight.

First, try all the rethreading options and only then adjust the tension. Loosen it a little at a time by turning the dial to a lower number.


Fabric is difficult to feed through the machine. Incorrect presser foot.

Some fabrics are more difficult to sew because they do not feed smoothly under the presser foot. This can be because they: are ‘sticky’, e.g. PVC; have a pile, e.g. Velvets, fleece or fur; are stretchy or slippery. Changing to an appropriate presser foot can make all the difference: use a walking foot for pile fabrics, multi-layers or stretchy fabrics; use a Teflon-coated, ultra-glide foot with smooth underside for ‘sticky’ fabrics.


Fabric gathers as you stitch. Incorrect stitch length.

If the stitch length is too long for the fabric weight, it may gather as you stitch. Try decreasing the length and test again.


Fabric gets snags as you stitch. Bad fabric.

The needle may be blunt, or it may have a burr or tiny chip or be bent. Insert a new needle. The needle should be replaced every 8 hours for each new project.


Needle breaks or bends. Fabric too thick.

If the needle is not strong enough for the thickness of the fabric then it can break whilst trying to penetrate several layers. Use a thicker needle for heavyweight or multi-layered fabrics.


Needle hits presser foot or side of throat plate.

Check that the needle clears both the throat plate and the presser foot by turning the balance/fly wheel by hand, turning it towards you. If it is rubbing against the throat plate, it may be bent out of shape so needs to be replaced


Needle incorrectly inserted or too loose.

Check that the needle is properly inserted (usually with the flat part of the shank to back of the machine, but check your users guide) and that it is fully inserted. Tighten the retaining screw by hand initially and then finish tightening with the screwdriver supplied in the tool kit. Failure to tighten the screw sufficiently may result in the screw working itself loose as the machine stitches, which in turn will allow the needle to wobble, bend and break.


Thread feeding unevenly.

If the thread reel on the spindle is unravelling unevenly, due to thread wrapping around the spindle or the reel bouncing up and down on the spindle, it can cause the thread to catch, tighten and result in a broken needle. Make sure the thread runs smoothly off the spindle and that the reel is held in place with a thread retainer.


Stitching too dense for the needle size.

When stitching very dense designs, or over another part of a stitch design, use a new machine embroidery needle that has a larger eye and can cope with dense stitching. Also use machine embroidery thread which is lighter and finer so suited to densely stitched patterns.


Needle getting caught in the bobbin race when changing stitch selection.

Make sure the needle is raised before changing the stitch selection as it will move from side to side and may hit the throat plate and bobbin mechanism causing it to bend and break.


Fabric gets caught in throat plate. Lightweight, fine fabric.

At the start of the seam, where there is not enough fabric behind the foot, the fabric may be pushed down into the machine below the feed dogs, which jams the mechanism. This can damage the machine as well as the fabric. Add a small scrap of tearaway or soluble stabiliser (or paper) under the seam at the beginning of the seam, and make sure your using a fine needle. If sewing straight seams, also fit a straight stitch foot and straight stitch throat plate if available; both have a small hole which helps to feed the fabric through the machine so preventing the fabric being pulled into the feed dogs.


Fabric not moving when stitching. Feed dogs lowered.

Check that the feed dogs are moving, i.e. lowering and rising above the throat plate as the needle goes up and down. If they aren’t, check that free motion stitching hasn’t been selected by turning the feed teeth up/down dial or lever to the raised position. Note that once set to raised, the feed dogs do not come up again until you begin to sew.


Bobbin unevenly or loosely wound. Not properly threaded through tension.

When winding the bobbin make sure that you follow the bobbin thread path and place the bobbin through the tension button for it. Feed the thread end through the hole in the bobbin, from inside to out, and hold this thread tail when you start to wind the bobbin automatically, letting go only when it is winding securely.


Bobbin thread wraps around bobbin spindle when winding the bobbin. Not properly threaded through tension or not pushed down onto spindle properly.

Make sure the bobbin thread is fed through the correct bobbin winding thread path. Push the bobbin down onto the spindle firmly so that it clips into place.


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