How To Fix Sewing Machine Handwheel

If you’ve been having problems with your sewing machine handwheel, you’ll be feeling the peace of mind after checking out our post below. We’ve included the steps that you can take to fix the handwheel yourself and avoid the costly task of taking it in for repairs.

You’ll also learn more about some of the main reasons as to why your sewing machine handwheel broke or got jammed in the first place so that you can prevent problems in the future.

What May Cause Sewing Machine Handwheel Issues?

Sewing Machine Handwheel Issues

If you know possible reasons why your handwheel has become difficult to turn, you’ll be able to have an easier time identifying what the potential fixes could be. You’ll be able to take precautionary measures to prevent it from jamming again in the future. So, let’s take a look through the various reasons why your handwheel may have become jammed in the first place.

1. Upper Thread Tension

If you come across tangled threads underneath the fabrics that you’re sewing, your first instinct is probably to blame the bobbin case. In some cases, you may be right, but in others, the causes for tangled threads could be due to the tension in the upper threads.

When there’s a lack of tension in the upper threads, the sewing machine has a more difficult time bringing the thread through the fabric. In this case, re-threading the needle is your best bet by following the manual for your specific model.

2. Incorrect Threading

This possible cause for a jammed handwheel may be something that even the most experienced sewers won’t want to admit. Sometimes, incorrect threading of your machine can cause the handwheel to become stuck.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to double-check whether you’re correctly threaded the sewing machine. While checking the thread, you may notice knots which are a common reason for jams.

Be sure to completely unthread the machine and re-thread it from the start by setting the take-up thread lever to it’s highest setting before connecting your thread spool and pulling it through the tension discs. After this, pull the thread through the needle eye and leave a small amount of thread at the end.

3. A Build-Up Of Lint & Dust

It’s pretty common for the interiors of sewing machines to accumulate with a lot of dust and lint over the years. If you’ve never opened up your sewing machine to clean it out, it’s highly likely that the build-up of lint and dust is causing your handwheel to feel jammed. You’ll want to turn off the sewing machine before cleaning out your sewing machine.

4. Broken Belt

If the belt inside your sewing machine is broken, it can lead to problems with your handwheel and the needle may not be able to function properly either. Trying to replace the belt yourself can be tricky. So, we recommend getting the belt replaced by taking it to a professional.

5. The Handwheel Lacks Oil

Sewing machines with an older design will need to be oiled regularly. The main components that you should oil regularly to keep the handwheel functioning smoothly are the gears inside the handwheel.

You only need to use a very small quantity of sewing machine oil on the gears. Be sure to apply just a little drop of oil and test the handwheel to see if it moves easier. If not, you can gradually add a little more oil until the handwheel feels smoother to turn again.


How To Fix Sewing Machine Handwheel

Fix Sewing Machine Handwheel

It can be tricky trying to fix your sewing machine handwheel as several reasons can cause the problem. Multiple potential fixes include adjusting the inner knob, re-threading the machine, or removing the bobbin case.

To find out the causes of a sewing machine handwheel and the steps you can take to fix it, check out the sections below.

Steps To Fix Sewing Machine Handwheel

Step 1. Making Inner Knob Adjustments

If you have an older sewing machine, one of the potential ways to fix it involves making adjustments to the knob on the inside of the unit. This inner knob can become locked which is what can lead to your handwheel feeling more difficult to turn.

So, those of you with older sewing machines should check out the knob on the inside and make the necessary adjustments to loosen it. Another possible cause of the handwheel feeling hard to turn involves the small wheel on the interior being jammed.

If you notice that the smaller wheel is stuck, making adjustments until the handwheel feels easier to turn.


Step 2. Re-Threading your Machine

Re-Threading your Machine

One of the biggest reasons as to why sewing machine handwheels become stuck is due to the thread becoming tangled. When the thread becomes tangled, it can lead to an increase of tension in the handwheel that makes it hard to turn.

If you find that tangled threads are the reason for the wheel functioning improperly, you’ll have to re-thread the machine. Once you’ve re-threaded your sewing machine, you should find that the handwheel feels smoother to turn.

If the handwheel is still difficult to turn, then you’ve at least managed to rule out one of the potential causes by re-threading the machine.

Step 3. Cleaning the Bobbin Case

Once you’ve re-threaded the machine and found that it hasn’t solved the problem, the next likely cause involves the bobbin case. The bobbin case inside your sewing machine can accumulate a lot of lint over time.

When this lint builds up, it causes the handwheel to feel jammed. So, a simple fix for relieving tension in your handwheel is to remove the bobbin case, grab a small brush, and clean out the lint.

After you’ve thoroughly cleaned the bobbin case, you’ll want to check that the handwheel feels easier to move again before putting the case back on. If not, there may still be lint somewhere inside the bobbin case that needs to be removed.

Can You Overwork Your Sewing Machine?

If you have a more modern sewing machine, it’s pretty difficult to overwork it due to how they have an auto-shutoff feature. This feature works to automatically turn off the machine to ensure that the motor doesn’t overheat and become damaged.

However, if your sewing machine doesn’t have this auto-shutoff feature, it can be prone to overheating. This is especially if you’ve been sewing at a fast-paced for an extended period of time.

The handwheel can become stuck when your sewing machine becomes overheated. If this happens, make sure to disconnect the power cord and let the machine cool down for at least an hour before you use it again. Ideally, you’ll want to leave the sewing machine to cool down for 2-3 hours before using it again.

On the flip side, if you haven’t used your sewing machine frequently enough, it can cause the handwheel to become inactive and unable to function properly.

How Should You Turn A Sewing Machine Handwheel?

Sewing Machine Handwheel

When you’re turning your handwheel, always be sure to turn it anti-clockwise. Turning the handwheel clockwise can cause serious problems to the motor inside your sewing machine. This is especially the case if you turn it all the way clockwise regularly.

However, you can turn the handwheel clockwise in the case that a thread has become jammed and you want to unravel it. Other than that, you should avoid turning the handwheel clockwise and only turn it anti-clockwise to prevent problems with the motor that lead to costly repairs.

This is information that isn’t always included in manuals for sewing machines which makes it something that’s easy for users to miss.


Hello, I am Jessica Flores, and you are welcome to my website. I am a professional fashion designer and a seamstress. I always carried a passion for craftwork. My love for craft grew along with time. I have spent years researching and practicing in this field to gather colossal experience.

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