Why Does My Sewing Machine Keep Jamming

Does the sewing machine continuously get stuck between your projects? Are your sewing projects getting delayed because of the machine? If the answer to both these questions is a big yes, you have come to the right place.

It does not matter whether you’re a beginner in the world of sewing or a seasoned expert, a jammed sewing machine is a common problem for all. It can be because of a maintenance issue, whereby the parts might be damaged or the machine remains dirty. Otherwise, it can be due to the use of faulty needles and entangled threads.

Regardless of why your machine keeps jamming, we have got you covered. Here are fifteen possible reasons for your machine to keep jamming and its solutions.

Why Does My Sewing Machine Keep Jamming?

A sewing machine can keep jamming for more reasons than one. However, all the reasons can be classified broadly into two groups. So, a sewing machine starts jamming either because of a project gone wrong or a maintenance issue. For instance, using a small and delicate needle to sew denim will break the needle and stop the machine. At the same time, a broken presser foot will also make the machine clamp up midway through a project.

If your sewing machine is constantly getting stuck between stitching, chances are that it has one of these fifteen issues. So, read on and find out what’s affecting your machine.

1. Needle Suddenly Fails To Move

If your needle suddenly refuses to budge an inch, the first thing to check is whether the needle is set in its place correctly. There are usually two reasons why needles refuse to move mid-sewing:

  • The clutch might have got disconnected
  • You might have a broken driver belt
  • Wrong size of needle in use

The Solution:

  • If the problem is with the clutch, you would find that the sewing machine isn’t even in its sewing mode. So, make sure that its hand wheel remains free. After this, push your machine’s bobbin winder on the left-hand side. It will get the machine back to its bobbin winder mode, and the needle will not give you any trouble after this.
  • You might have to replace the drive belt in case you find it broken.
  • Try a bigger or smaller needle as per the thickness of the fabric

2. The Motor Fails To Function

If the motor fails to start or suddenly stops running completely, the problem might be there in the faulty motor. Usually, a faulty motor is the result of the issues with the motor belt or electrical parts. When you look closely, you will find broken or loose wires between the motor and the foot pedal that need fixing.

The Solution:

  • Get the sewing machine unplugged from the power source.
  • If there’re broken or loose parts in the motor belt, make sure to get it replaced.
  • Check the wires between the motor and the foot pedal.
  • Use the multimeter for assessing the wire connections that reach the foot pedal
  • The foot pedal needs a replacement if the connectivity reads negative.
  • If the motor brake keeps making this humming noise and does not run, it simply means that your motor belt is way too tight.
  • Start spinning the handwheel before cleaning and oiling the motor belt. It will help in stripping off the debris and lint from your drive gears. Now, the motor has loosened up quite a bit, and it would run easily.
  • Keep in mind that two machines are never the same, and the location of the motor might be at different places in a machine.

3. The Thread Keeps On Breaking

There might have been quite a few instances where the thread keeps breaking right when you put your foot on the pedal to start sewing. It is utterly frustrating to have the thread breaking time and again when you are trying to stitch something in a hurry. If the machine threading is not the reason for the jamming problem, the thread breakage can have other reasons and solutions.

The Solution:

  • Poor threading issues might cause the problem. You need to rethread that top thread of the machine. It’s due to the obstruction that’s making the machine fail to function. For instance, the laser cord or spool might hold its thread improperly and make it difficult to move.
  • Go for needles with larger eyes. At times, the threads might break when you’re going with small needles. The tiny needle eyes will keep breaking under the changing thread tension due to the machine’s movement.

4. Several Stitches Keep Getting Skipped

Sewing machine skips stitches because you are using the wrong needle at the time of sewing. Regardless of whether the machine is skipping one or multiple stitches, you need to check whether the needle sits correctly. 

The Solution:

  • You might be stuck with a bad needle, and in that case, you will have to get a replacement to go in its place. Keep a simple rule in mind that knitted fabrics need ballpoint needles, and woven fabrics need sharp needles.
  • If there are inconsistencies in the stitching, the problem might be in the tension of the machine. Technically, the bottom and top stitches should not look too distant from one another.
  • In case you change the needle often, make sure you let the machine take the fabric gradually, instead of forcing it through the process.

5. Machine Refuses To Take In The Fabric

Beginners commonly face this problem where the machine fails to take in the fabric with ease. In case the machine stops stitching and fails to take the fabric, you have nothing to worry about. Follow the given options to troubleshoot this problem:

The Solution:

  • Raise and calibrate the dog feeds to a reasonable height to start sewing again
  • If you stitch buttonholes frequently, you can retain stitch lengths at zero rather than adjusting that to two or three.
  • If the earlier project was related to quilting, raise the feed dogs a couple of inches over the plate and start again.
  • Make sure the foot pedal stays raised before you start sewing. It will let the feed dogs hold that fabric as you feed.
  • Excessive tightness in the thread tension can also be an issue. So, make it loose enough and re-feed your fabric.
  • If there are entangled threads, make sure to rethread the machine

6. Sewing Machine Being Stuck In Reverse

You need to sew backwards at times, but you would not want the machine to remain stuck in doing that. You will not be able to sew effectively when the machine is on reverse. There are two ways to solve this issue.

The Solutions:

  • The machine will keep on sewing backwards when the feed dog remains stuck in reverse. You need to clear out the dirt and lint from the feed dog area to solve the issue. After this, check whether the feed dog remains sufficiently raised to grip your fabric.
  • The problem might also stem from the fact that the machine has been put in reverse settings. Make sure this isn’t an issue you face by:
  • Turning your machine on and off
  • Ensuring the reverse levers aren’t in use
  • Keeping the bobbin properly installed and clean

7. Sewing Machine Stuck At The Maximum Speed

Sewing at high speed is not the best thing to do at the complicated parts. Thus, it is important for you to have complete control over the speed at which the sewing machine works. Thus, you will have to make sure it gets fixed if full speed is the only one it knows. Here are some of the probable issues and their solutions:

The Solutions:

  • If there are problems with the machine’s motor, you will face issues with the machine’s speed. Damaged motors tend to impact the speed, and this is one thing that you cannot fix on your own, without professional assistance.
  • Problems with your foot pedal can also make the machine rush at full throttle. Check whether something is stuck at your foot pedal making it go at a higher speed. Also, clean out the debris and dirt from it to make sure that it goes back to its normal function.

8. The Machine Stuck At Its Bobbin Mode

Winding the bobbin is something that, not you, but your sewing machine is supposed to do. If you try to handle it yourself, the thread you are using will lose its tension. You cannot take the machine out from its bobbin winding mode for several reasons as stated below.

The Solutions:

  • You might be using one of those computerized machines, and maybe it requires a software upgrade. It might make the machine stuck in its bobbin mode. In this case, your machine either needs troubleshooting or upgrading. If you’re not sure how to do any of it, get in touch with a professional.
  • Most machines have a switch or lever that sets the bobbin winding mode in it. However, if you fail to turn off the mode yourself, you will need the assistance of a professional.

9. The Handwheel Refuses To Move

The handwheel of any sewing machine should have the ability to move without facing any difficulty. So, if you are finding it hard to move that handwheel, we have a problem. A handwheel turns difficult to move when the sewing machine gets stuck for any number of reasons.

The Solutions:

  • You need to check whether the needle or the fabric has got stuck in the machine
  • The thread should go in smoothly all throughout, instead of forming a tangly mess midway. You will have to completely rethread the machine if the tangled thread was the reason for the issue to begin.
  • If you have tried both the options above and the handwheel still refuses to budge an inch, it is time to call a professional and have the machine serviced by them.

10. The Presser Foot Fails To Move

You will not be able to put the fabric underneath if the presser foot remains stuck downward. The presser foot remaining stuck upwards is more of an issue because you simply cannot sew in this way.

The Solution:

  • You have the broken lever to blame for the presser foot to remain stuck downward. When the lever of the presser foot gets broken, you will have to call the professionals. Also, you can choose to get a completely new presser foot because the old one might no longer be usable.
  • The presser foot might stay stuck upwards because of broken gears in your machine or the dirt and debris lodged near the foot. Also, the machine might be in its bobbin mode, leading to this situation. But if you’ve checked all the three conditions and found nothing, you will need professional help to resolve the issue.

11. Not Enough Tension In The Upper Thread

Whenever a sewing machine starts jamming, one of the first thoughts that comes to everyone’s mind is that it is due to an entangled thread somewhere in its bobbin below the fabric. But you will be surprised to hear that the lack of enough tension in that upper thread is also a common cause. 

It is a simple problem that will make the sewing machine keep jamming because of the absence of enough tension to pull up that thread through whichever fabric you’re trying to stitch.

The Solution:

  • This issue has only one solution that you can try. So, lift up the machine’s presser foot and start rethreading the needle as instructed by the manufacturer. And if this does not work, the problem is with some other part of the machine, and the professionals will guide you better in that case.

12. A Broken Or Deformed Needle

Your machine might just suddenly stop functioning because of a broken or bent needle that prevents the thread from getting into the fabric.

The Solution:

  • Stop trying to keep on sewing and carefully check the needle for any signs of breakage or deformities. Now, if you spot anything, get it replaced with a new needle. Also, ensure you’re utilizing the right size and type of needle for your machine and your project. After all, a simple case of using a deformed needle can be the reason for all that jamming.

13. Clogging Of The Machine At One Or More Points

Machines might get clogged because of debris or lint stuck inside it. This is the reason why you will regularly need to take some time out for cleaning out the machine.

The Solutions:

  • When a clogged machine is the problem, turn it off and un-thread the machine. Now, it is time to clean the machine completely, with special attention to all the working mechanisms. You can take a small brush to remove all dust and debris stuck on the machine. Furthermore, if you want the machine to remain in a good condition, you will have to oil its metal parts regularly.
  • Utilize canned air to blow out all the residues from its bobbin parts. If you don’t want to face similar occurrences ever again, clean and oil your machine on a monthly basis. If you sew daily, you will need to clean and oil the machine more than once a month.

14. Improper Threading Leading To Tangling

A huge mess of entangled thread usually comes from improper threading of the sewing machine. So, simply because you see that mess on the bobbin part of your stitching, do not automatically assume that it is the bobbin’s fault.

The Solutions:

  • Put your machine’s presser foot up and start unthreading the machine completely. Now, go ahead and rethread your machine while keeping your presser foot upward. Next, follow the lead of the machine manual and ensure you’re taking the threads through all the places properly.
  • Avoid the highly common mistake that people make of threading their sewing machines while keeping its presser foot downward. It makes the tension disks tight or engaged, which stops the thread from staying correctly between those two disks.

15. Inability To Take The Machine Out Of The Zig-zag Mode

Zig-zag stitching is a common method used for the parts where stitching in a straight line is not possible. Thus, you might opt for zig-zag stitches to reinforce buttonholes or sew stretchy fabrics. However, simply because certain fabrics or parts of it need zig-zag stitches, does not mean the machine has to be permanently set in a zig-zag mode.

The solution:

  • Your job here is to take the sewing machine out of its zig-zag mode. So, for that, look at the owner’s manual and you might find something useful. In case you don’t find anything in the manual, contact the helpline number of the manufacturer to solve the issue.

Hopefully, you have found the answer to your query in one (or more) of these fifteen reasons. It is time now to put these ideas to good use, and fix your jammed sewing machine.



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

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