How Do You Unfreeze a Sewing Machine?

If you’ve been using a sewing machine for a long time, you’ll know the potential issues that might come up. Since all of it is built with different mechanisms, it is likely to malfunction sometimes. The gears of your sewing machine might occasionally freeze and prevent you from working.

It eventually freezes as dust and dirt accumulate on the machine’s inner components. Sometimes, the bobbin and hook assembly might also freeze. Thus, you can no longer operate and use it until you unfreeze it.

You first need to figure out the root cause to fix the persisting issue. This article will provide you with some tips to unfreeze your sewing machine and sew without any significant disturbances. Let’s check them out.

How to Unfreeze a Sewing Machine?

To unfreeze a sewing machine, you should first find out where the problem is. You can start with the bobbin by removing and checking it.

If the bobbin is clear, it must be dust or dirt in any other parts of the machine that is causing the machine to freeze. You should remove the machine top and side covers and thoroughly check it. You should also consider lubricating the machine thoroughly so that all parts move smoothly.

lubricating the machine

Let us have a detailed look at the various steps to follow to unfreeze a sewing machine.

A sewing machine requires proper maintenance to work correctly. When a sewing machine is not used for a long time, the oil and grease in the machine gets mixed with dust and dirt and becomes dry and gummy.

This eventually leads to the freezing of the machine. To avoid freezing, you should service your machine and use it frequently.

service your machine

When you try to turn the wheel of the machine, and if it does not turn, then you can infer that the machine has frozen. Do not force the wheel to turn. Instead, you should then try to find out where exactly the problem is and try to fix it.

For unfreezing a sewing machine, you can follow the below steps:

Step 1. Remove the bobbin

The bobbin is the cylindrical part of the machine that holds the thread. You should first remove the bobbin by pulling it out and then clean it with a brush.

Now remove the needle plate cover and pull out the bobbin case. The bobbin case is a small part of the machine that supports the bobbin in sewing. The bobbin case should be adequately cleaned with a brush or a vacuum cleaner.

remove the needle plate cover and pull out the bobbin case.

Sometimes, if the bobbin case is out of place, then also the handwheel may not turn properly. Thus, you should ensure that the bobbin case is fixed properly after cleaning.

Similarly, if a needle has broken or fallen in the shuttle area, then you may also find it difficult to turn the handwheel. If such a thing has happened, then you should remove the broken needle.

Once the bobbin case is cleaned and put back in place, try turning the wheel. If the wheel is moving freely, then it is the debris in the bobbin case that caused the machine to freeze.

If it is not moving, then you need to do further investigation to find the cause. For this, check out step 2.

Step 2. Remove the cover from the machine

If the machine is still stuck after removing the bobbin, then you need to remove the cover and do further investigation. You should remove the top, bottom, and side covers of the machine.

The sewing machine covers are easy to remove as they are all screwed to the machine. All you have to do is find out the screws and then unscrew them using a screwdriver.

sewing machine covers are easy to remove

Some machines come with a top handle, which makes it easy to remove the top cover. If you have any doubt, you can refer to the instruction manual for removing the covers.

Once all the covers are removed, you should blow the machine with an air compressor. This will blow out the thread or dust stuck inside the machine.

If you find any thread entangled in any of the parts, you can remove it by hand. You should thoroughly inspect all parts to make sure that it is dust-free.

Now, check the instruction manual and oil the areas that require lubrication. While lubricating, special attention should be provided to areas where two metals are joined. Remember to clean the area thoroughly off all dirt before lubricating.

Check the wheel once again and see whether it is turning smoothly. If it is turning smoothly, then your problem is solved. If not, move to step 3.

Step 3. Check the other parts

If the machine is still frozen, it is now time to check the pulley assemblies, tensioner, and drive mechanisms. These are machine parts that are used to maintain the right tension in the sewing machine so that it functions properly. Clean it thoroughly and see whether you can turn the wheel smoothly.

maintain the right tension in the sewing machine

If the lubricant residue in these parts is too stubborn, then you might have to use some solvent and even heat to clean the parts. Sometimes you need to soak the parts in solvent for a few hours before you can clean it thoroughly.

If none of the above is working, then you need to seek the help of a technician or replace the sewing machine. Depending on the brand of the sewing machine, you can contact the nearest customer service center for help.

Unfreezing a sewing machine can take just a few hours up to a day, depending on the type of problem. Make sure that you have enough time in hand before you start work.

3 Easy Fixes for Unfreezing Your Sewing Machine

Other than the above mentioned steps of fixing your sewing machine, you can try these three easy solutions. We’re sure you will be able to fix your jammed sewing machine without any significant complications.

1. Clean Your Sewing Machine

Your sewing machine freezes because of lint and debris buildup over time. So it is essential for you to inspect your sewing machine at regular intervals. You need to brush certain areas of your sewing machine gently, without removing or dislocating any part.

If you find that the debris within your machine has crystallized, you can use an air compressor for cleaning. Once you are done, you can try lubricating and running the sewing machine, and checking whether it is functioning properly.

2. Check the Bobbin

Even after cleaning certain parts of your sewing machine, your machine might still not work. You need to check the bobbin area thoroughly for any persisting issues. Plug out the hook assembly and carrier and clean them up.

After that, you need to put back all the removed pieces in their respective places.

3. Check for the Metal Parts

After cleaning your sewing machine and checking the bobbin, your sewing machine might still remain frozen. For this, you will have to check other binding areas and metal parts.

Sometimes the pulleys, drive mechanisms, and tensioners get jammed. Since these metal parts rub against each other, they are prone to collecting lint and dirt. Before you can oil these parts, you need to clean the old grease thoroughly. To remove the parts, you should refer to your sewing machine’s manual.

What Is The Reason For the Machine To Lock Up?

Malfunctions are expected when working with machines, but it can be very frustrating if you encounter problems while chasing a project deadline or have very little patience left to troubleshoot. 

Machine lock up is a very common problem when sewing. It is unavoidable but easily resolved especially if you already know what to do. Let’s look into the reasons why your machine locks up and how you can fix it. 

Thread Jam – this is the most common reason why your machine locks up. If you are a beginner at sewing, it is crucial that you don’t cut the thread tails too short before sewing. This will cause your bobbin thread to be sucked into the bobbin case which will then cause the jam and your hand wheel gets stuck. If this happens, remove your fabric by cutting the thread underneath it, open the bobbin case, and remove the jam. You can also unscrew your presser foot for easier fabric removal.

Thread Tension – choosing the correct thread tension is a crucial step before you start sewing. Improper thread tension will cause your machine to create tangles and jams which then leads to lock up. Depending on your fabric, select the  best tension to avoid future issues.

Bobbin – there is a specific way on how to load your bobbin. Home sewing machines have instructions embedded for your guide on how to do it correctly. Damaged or incorrect loading of the bobbin will cause your machine to lock up. Make sure that there are no thread jams in your bobbin case or any obstructions, and replace damaged ones with a new bobbin. 

Maintenance – just like everything else, your sewing machine needs cleaning and maintenance, too. Lints or loose threads can easily gather inside your machine which, most of the time, cause issues like lock ups. Make it a habit to free your machine from unnecessary threads after every finished project. Keep your machine in its pristine condition for as long as you can to avoid problems in the future.

Why Is My Sewing Machine Not Turning On?

The sewing machine may not turn on due to a defective power source, a damaged outlet cord, or a broken power switch. Just because your sewing machine is not running, does not mean it’s broken. 

Your power supply may be defective. Check your chosen outlet and try plugging in a different appliance to see if it works. If it doesn’t, it means you will have to restart the power supply for that outlet by turning off and on the specific switch in your circuit breaker. If it still is not working after doing it, you will have to transfer to a different outlet or location. 

Check if the power cord is plugged in and check for damage. Bending your power cords too much can cause breakage, just like in any other cord. Make sure that you don’t put anything heavy on top of your power cords that might cause the case to rip open and if your power outlet is too far from your sewing station, it will be better to get an extension outlet so you don’t have to strain the power cord just to reach the outlet. While sewing, your machine moves and vibrates which may cause your power cord to gradually unplug. Check to see if your power cable has come loose on both ends. 

When turning on your machine and your light bulb does not light up, it may already be burned out. Before you panic and think your machine is broken, try stitching first and see whether your machine runs or not. If it does, you just have to replace the light bulb with a new one, and if  it doesn’t, your power switch may need  a replacement.

If nothing works at all after trying the steps mentioned and troubleshooting your machine according to the manual, consult your local technician about the issue.  

Why Does Sewing Machine Motor Run But Nothing Moves?

You turn on your sewing machine, step on the pedal and you can hear the motor running, but nothing happens. There are various potential causes for your sewing machine to malfunction. Basic troubleshooting guide can be found in the manual included in your sewing machine upon purchase. 

Let’s identify the problems to watch out for and some possible solutions to them.

Bobbin Winder – a bobbin winder is responsible for loading thread into your bobbin. With newer home sewing machines, you just have to flip the bobbin spindle to the right to engage and step on your pedal to start winding. Even though you’re stepping on the pedal, your needle will not move while the bobbin winder is engaged. However, you have to remember to switch it back to the left to disengage before you start sewing again. 

Loose Drive Belt – for older sewing machines, the drive belts are visible and can easily be fixed or noticed if they have come loose. However, for newer models, drive belts are Located internally. To check, first, unplug your sewing machine and open it up a little. Enough  that you can check whether the drive belt is loose or not. 

Foot Pedal – check the wiring of your foot pedal. If you have a basic home sewing machine and you often have to unplug the foot pedal from the machine for transfers or safety keeping, be wary that this might cause damage to the wire. If you step on the pedal and your machine doesn’t run, you may have to replace it with a new one. You can get it from the store where you got your machine from. 

Internal Gears – Disconnected or broken internal parts in your machine are not very common but it’s unavoidable. If you hear weird noises inside your machine whenever you step on the pedal, it is most likely that something is wrong internally. You can unscrew your machine to check, however, if you are not knowledgeable enough about it, it is better to contact your local technician and ask for help. 

Why Does My Sewing Machine Needle Not Move Up and Down?

First, make sure that your sewing machine is turned on and the motor is running. Your machine will not work if your power source turns out to be defective.

Even after being inactive, the bobbin winder could still be in use. The bobbin winder may have started spinning as a result of the winder being left in the winding position. To activate sewing mode, move the bobbin winder unit all the way back to the left or back.

Many newer machines will not operate if the presser foot is not lowered, so check and lower the foot if it is in the up position. 

Check for tangles and whether your machine is threaded correctly. Incorrect threading of the machine can cause jams  which results in the machine locking up. Re-thread your machine accordingly to avoid these issues and to achieve desired stitches. 

Why Is My Sewing Machine Handwheel Stuck?

A crucial component of the sewing machine is the handwheel. Whenever sewists encounter issues, their first instinct would be to turn the handwheel to check if something is stuck. When you wish to initially wind some thread to the bobbin to secure it, you utilize this wheel to turn. 

When threading the top thread, you will also move the needle up or down using the handwheel. The wheel also aids in threading by assisting in raising the thread take-up lever. However, the handwheel can occasionally become stuck and prevent you from sewing at all. 

Handwheels are meant to be turned towards you and not the opposite way. Turning it backwards may result in operational problems and destroy your stitches. If you encounter this problem, simply stop what you are doing, open your bobbin compartment and reset your bobbin. If you see tangles, remove them and clean the excess threads too. 

Forgetting to lower down the presser foot is a common mistake even experts experience. Always check whether your presser foot is in place and ready for sewing. Using compatible materials is also essential. Make sure that you installed the correct needle and you are using the proper bobbin for your specific machine. 

Maintaining your machine in its best condition can save you a lot of time and stress. If your machine is already old, it may need tuning up to optimize its functions and use it to its best potential. Constant cleaning and removing of dust gets you a long way. Make it a habit to clean it after you finish your projects. 

How to Fix a Jammed Sewing Machine?

Your sewing machine might get stuck and jammed sometimes and fixing it is extremely easy. You don’t have to check and clean numerous areas before restoring it. Instead, you can unjam and fix your sewing machine by:

  • Cut off the extra threads that remain stuck within your sewing machine.
  • Reassemble your sewing machine if threads are still tangled around the bobbin.

Why Does a Sewing Machine Lock Up and Freeze?

Keeping your sewing machine seamlessly functional requires proper maintenance at regular intervals. Sometimes significant environmental conditions might lock the sewing machine up, thereby failing to function correctly.

The lubricants within the machine might get mixed with dust and dirt and affect its viscosity. Eventually, it dries up and crystallizes, thereby causing the machine to lock up completely. So examine your device thoroughly, find the root cause of the issue, and unfreeze it.

not used for a long time,

When the machine is not used for a long time, the lubricants that are already present in the machine get mixed up with lint, dust, and dirt. This affects its viscosity.

Slowly the lubricant starts drying and becomes sticky. Eventually, it crystallizes and gets stuck inside the sewing machine. When this happens, the machine is completely locked up, and you are not able to move the handwheel.

Sometimes, the handwheels might be jammed and not locked up. This is mainly caused by the tangling of the thread. In such a case, removing the bobbin and untangling the thread will solve the problem.




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.