How To Fix The Reverse Button On A Sewing Machine

It’s very annoying, yet very common to wake up one day and find your sewing machine stuck on the reverse or refusing to sew in reverse.

This usually happens when there is a problem with the reverse button, either it’s broken, stuck, or just malfunctioning, but more often because someone or something messed with it.

How do you go about fixing the reverse button on a sewing machine and make it work as it should?

How to Fix the Reverse Button on a Sewing Machine

A sewing machine reverse button can be fixed easily by replacing a worn-outspring or putting it back to the right position if it’s dislodged.

In some older mechanical sewing machines, you might find that the reverse button is permanently stuck in place, causing the machine to sew in reverse or forwards permanently.

If this is the case, then using the old hair drier trick might help- just blow hot air using a hair drier towards the reverse button for a few minutes, and it will get unstuck.


This works becausethe grease behind the reverse button is too old or frozen and needs to be replaced.

However, the hairdryer trick only works for old mechanical sewing machines. Newer Brother, Singer, Bernina, and Janome machines have a complicated reverse button setup consisting of springs, belts, levers, and some electrical activation mechanism.

You may need to do a little more work to fix the reverse button in these machines, as explained in the following tips.

6 Ways to Fix the Reverse Button on a Sewing Machine

Here are some of the methods you can use to diagnose and fix a malfunctioning or stuck reverse button on any sewing machine.

1. Reattach the spring

Modern sewing machines always have a spring for the innerreverse button mechanism. It’s very common, especially with Janome, Brother, and Kenmore sewing machines, for the spring to disengage.

Reattach the spring

This either makes the reverse button or lever to get stuck in one position or to move freely without any effect. To fix or replace the switch, you’ll need to open the sewing machine headusing a set of Philips screws.

First, ensure that the sewing machine is not connected to the mains and completely switched off to avoid electrocution.

Take a look at the cover assembly for the particular sewing model you are using and unscrew the any bolts/screws holding the covers together.

Remove any knobs that can be removed and gently- without force- remove the covers. Trace where the reverse button is located on the inside and locate the spring.

You may find that it’s either dislodged from the side holds or wholly stuck due to grease, rust or gum.

If the spring is dislodged from the side plates, putting it back will fix the reverse button mechanism. You can also oil it if it’s too greasy or rusted to allow it to expand and contract as needed. Try and turn or move the reverse button to see if it’s fixed.

Note: You may need to unscrew a few components and move them out of the way before you can access the reverse button spring. Be careful not to mess with any lose components or cut the electrical cables inside the sewingmachine.

2. Replace the spring

Sometimes replacing the entire spring might be necessary if it’s too rusted or broken. Almost all problems associated with the reverse button on a modern or antique sewing machine have something to do with a worn out or rusted spring.

Replace the spring

Unlike most of the other metallic components in the sewing machine, the spring has a limited lifespan, therefore, needs to be changed after a while. If you are lucky or keen, you may hear it snap or creak as it gets older or right when the reverse button stops working.

Also, if you use a mechanical machine,take note whenyour reverse button/lever suddenly loses tension orrequires a bit more force than usual to work as this a sign that you need to replace the spring.

3. Oil the inner components

Like any other mechanical device, a sewing machine reverse button may get stuck after a while as a result of dust and too much friction. This is very common on Singer sewing machines that use a lever-driven by a set of gears and springs on the inside.

Oil the inner components

All you need to do in this case is to open the sewing machine head up and add a bit more grease or oil to reduce friction in the moving parts.

Follow the manual on how to service your machine, and you won’t have a problem with greasing or oiling your reverse button/lever and gears.

4. Release the hooking mechanism – Brother sewing machines

A common reverse button problem in most Brother sewing machines has to do with the hooking mechanism. You will often find that the internal components have grown too tight or too far apart and, therefore, can’t registerinput from the reverse sewing knob.

Release the hooking mechanism

To fix the reverse button on a Brother machine, you just need to open the headcover and see if loosening or tightening the inner screw (mostly golden in color) will fix the problem.

Remember to move the reverse button while you fix to see if tightening or loosening the screw fixes the problem.

5. Cleaning and degreasing the sewing machine

Over time, dust and grease might have accumulated around the moving components in the sewing machine. Too much grease or dust will definitely affect all the buttons and could be the reason yoursewing machine is stuck in reverse.

Cleaning and degreasing the sewing machine

Take time to service the machine from the outside to the inside and removing the grease, dust, and gum in and around the buttons and inner components.

This is especially important if the sewing machine has been sitting unused for an extended period. Doing this will almost certainly fix the reverse button on the sewing machine if it got stuck due to grease and dust accumulation.

How To Sew In Reverse

Almost all sewing machines come with a separate knob, button or lever that you can quickly turn or flip to sew in reverse. Refer to your machine’s manual if you can’t locate the reverse button or lever.

How To Sew In Reverse

Depending on the machine, you can turn from sewing forwards to sewing in reverse without stopping or have to stop before you engage the reverse motion. For instance, in older Singer antiques, you need to stop the pedal and push the reverse lever.

What Does The Reverse Button Do In A Sewing Machine?

The reverse button is used to change the direction of stitching from forward to backward. Sewing in reverse means the fabric will move towards you.

What Does The Reverse Button Do In A Sewing Machine

It’s a basicbut necessary sewing skill because it allows you to reinforce/ secure the first stitch, to finish seams, correct missed spots while repairing, create double stitches without removing the fabric, and very important for complex embroidery jobs.

Without a reverse button you will need to remove the fabric with every pass and reattach it.

How To Service A Sewing Machine?

It’s important to service your sewing machine from time to time to ensure that everything is in good working condition.

How To Service A Sewing Machine

Luckily, servicing the machine on your own is not that complicated and doesn’t need a lot of skill or tools. To service your machine, just use a set of screws to open it up and then go ahead and clean it with a soft brush and some liquid alcohol.

You may need to add some oil on some of the moving components such as gears and button mechanism to ease friction and prevent rust. If you can, check if you can replace any worn-out springs that may cause problems in the future.

If you are not sure how to replace some of the parts in the sewing machine, you can always refer to the technical manual or have it serviced by a professional on a regular basis.


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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