How to Fix Jammed Sewing Machine

A jammed sewing machine can be a frustrating roadblock in your sewing projects. However, with some basic troubleshooting and maintenance, you can often resolve the issue without the need for professional help. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to fix a jammed sewing machine, covering common causes and solutions.

Safety First


To fix a jammed sewing machine, you must first identify the cause. Common issues include:

  1. Thread Tangles: Check for tangled threads both above and below the fabric.
  2. Thread Breakage: Broken threads can lead to jams.
  3. Needle Problems: A bent or dull needle can cause jams.
  4. Bobbin Issues: Inspect the bobbin and bobbin case for problems.
  5. Fabric Jam: Sometimes, fabric can get stuck in the feed dogs.

Clearing Thread Tangles

  1. Cut and remove the fabric from the machine.
  2. Open the bobbin case and remove any tangled thread.
  3. Check the upper thread path for tangles and remove them.
  4. Rethread the machine, ensuring correct threading according to the user manual.

Addressing Thread Breakage

  1. Replace the needle with a new, appropriate one for your fabric type.
  2. Ensure proper needle insertion with the flat side facing the back.
  3. Re-thread the machine.
  4. Adjust the tension settings as needed.

Bobbin Troubleshooting

  1. Remove the bobbin case and inspect for thread tangles.
  2. Clean the bobbin case area with a small brush or compressed air.
  3. Wind a new bobbin with high-quality thread and insert it correctly.
  4. Re-thread the upper thread.

Dealing with Fabric Jams

  1. Raise the presser foot and gently pull out the fabric.
  2. Examine the feed dogs for lint or debris and clean if necessary.
  3. Ensure you’re using the correct needle and thread for your fabric.

Testing and Adjusting

  1. After addressing the issue, rethread the machine completely.
  2. Test it on a scrap piece of fabric to ensure it runs smoothly.
  3. Make any necessary tension adjustments based on your fabric and thread.

Routine Maintenance

To prevent future jams, maintain your sewing machine regularly:

  1. Clean the machine after each use, removing lint and dust.
  2. Change needles regularly, especially if you sew frequently.
  3. Use high-quality thread to reduce breakage and tangles.
  4. Oil your machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

When to Seek Professional Help

If you’ve tried the above steps and your sewing machine is still jammed or malfunctioning, it may be time to consult a professional sewing machine technician. They can diagnose and resolve more complex issues.

Advanced Troubleshooting

For persistent issues or if you’re comfortable with more advanced techniques, consider the following:

  1. Check Timing: Timing issues can cause jams. If you suspect this is the problem, consult your sewing machine manual for instructions on adjusting the timing or seek professional help.
  2. Check for Bent Hook: A bent hook can also lead to jams. Examine the hook closely and replace it if needed.
  3. Clean and Lubricate Gears: If your sewing machine has gears, inspect them for wear and tear. Clean and lubricate them as recommended in your manual.
  4. Inspect the Foot Pedal: Sometimes, a faulty foot pedal can cause inconsistent stitching and jams. Ensure the pedal is in good condition and properly connected.

Common Sewing Machine Issues and Solutions

Here are some other common sewing machine problems and their solutions:

  1. Skipped Stitches: If your machine skips stitches, it may be due to a bent needle, incorrect needle size, or improper threading. Address these issues to resolve skipped stitches.
  2. Uneven Stitching: Uneven stitching may result from uneven tension. Re-thread the machine, check the tension settings, and adjust them as needed.
  3. Machine Not Powering On: If your sewing machine doesn’t turn on, check the power cord and ensure it’s plugged in properly. If it still doesn’t work, consult a technician for electrical issues.
  4. Bobbin Thread Loops: Loops on the underside of your fabric can be caused by incorrect bobbin tension. Adjust the tension screw on the bobbin case until the loops disappear.

Preventing Future Jams

To minimize the risk of jams in the future, consider these proactive measures:

  1. Quality Supplies: Invest in good-quality thread, needles, and bobbins to reduce the chances of breakage and tangles.
  2. Proper Storage: When not in use, cover your sewing machine to protect it from dust and debris.
  3. Regular Servicing: Schedule annual or biannual servicing with a professional technician to catch potential problems early.
  4. Sewing Machine Manual: Keep your sewing machine manual handy for troubleshooting and maintenance guidelines specific to your model.

Common Causes of Sewing Machine Jams

CauseDescriptionSolutionTools NeededAdditional Notes
Thread Tension IssuesIncorrect tension settings can cause jams.Adjust thread tension as per machine manual.Thread tension toolCheck bobbin tension as well.
Thread SnagsThread can get caught on rough edges.Smooth out rough edges with fine sandpaper.SandpaperTrim thread ends neatly.
Bobbin ProblemsBobbin improperly inserted or wound.Reinsert bobbin correctly; rewind if needed.Bobbin winding toolCheck for bobbin threading.
Needle IssuesBent or dull needles can cause problems.Replace with a new needle as per machine type.Sewing machine oilUse appropriate needle size.
Fabric Type and Thickness IssuesSewing thick or delicate fabric can jam.Use the correct needle and thread for fabric.Fabric samplesAdjust machine settings as needed.

Steps to Clear a Jammed Sewing Machine

StepDescriptionActions to TakeTools NeededAdditional Notes
Step 1Stop the machineTurn off power; unplug if needed.NoneEnsure safety first.
Step 2Remove the fabricCarefully cut threads or remove fabric from needle.Small scissorsAvoid pulling fabric forcefully.
Step 3Check the bobbin areaOpen bobbin compartment and remove tangled threads.Bobbin case openerRefer to machine manual.
Step 4Inspect the needle areaExamine for thread snags or needle damage.Magnifying glassReplace damaged needle.
Step 5Rethread the machineFollow threading diagram in machine manual.Machine manualEnsure proper thread tension.
Step 6Reinsert the bobbinEnsure bobbin is correctly placed and wound.Bobbin winding toolCheck for bobbin threading.
Step 7Test sew a scrap piece of fabricEnsure machine operates smoothly without jams.Fabric scrapsMake adjustments as needed.
Step 8Clean and oil the machine (if applicable)Keep your machine in good working condition.Sewing machine oilFollow maintenance schedule.

Tips for Preventing Sewing Machine Jams

TipDescriptionActions to TakeAdditional Notes
Use quality threadLow-quality thread can break and jam the machine.Invest in good thread brands.Check thread compatibility.
Clean your machine regularlyDust and lint can clog the mechanism.Follow cleaning schedule in machine manual.Use a lint brush or vacuum cleaner.
Change needles regularlyDull needles can cause snags and jams.Replace needles after a certain number of hours.Use the correct needle type.
Properly wind bobbinsUnevenly wound bobbins can lead to issues.Use a bobbin winder or wind bobbins evenly by hand.Follow bobbin winding guidelines.
Practice good sewing techniquesUneven stitching can cause thread snags.Improve your sewing skills and techniques.Take sewing classes if needed.

Troubleshooting Sewing Machine Jams

IssueDescriptionPossible SolutionsAdditional Notes
Thread bunching under fabricThread bunches up underneath the fabric.Check top and bobbin threading; adjust tension.Use the correct needle size.
Needle breaking or bendingThe needle keeps breaking or bending.Ensure correct needle type; adjust needle size.Check for any obstructions.
Bobbin thread looping on topBobbin thread forms loops on the fabric’s top.Rethread the bobbin; check for bobbin tension.Follow the machine manual.
Stitches skipping or unevenStitches are skipped or unevenly spaced.Check needle type and threading; adjust tension.Clean and oil the machine.
Fabric not feeding properlyFabric doesn’t move smoothly under the needle.Check feed dog and presser foot; clean the machine.Ensure proper foot pressure.

Sewing Machine Maintenance Schedule

Maintenance TaskFrequencyTools NeededAdditional Notes
Cleaning and dustingAfter every projectLint brush, vacuum cleanerPrevents dust buildup.
Changing the needleEvery 8-10 hours of useNeedle replacement toolPrevents needle-related issues.
Oil and lubricationEvery 20 hours of useSewing machine oilKeeps machine running smoothly.
Bobbin windingAs neededBobbin winding toolWind bobbins evenly.
Thread tension check and adjustRegularlyThread tension toolEnsure even stitching.


Fixing a jammed sewing machine is a skill that every sewist should have in their repertoire. With patience and practice, you can become proficient at identifying and resolving issues, ensuring that your sewing projects proceed smoothly. Remember, maintenance and regular checks are key to preventing jams and maintaining the longevity of your sewing machine. Don’t hesitate to consult a professional if you encounter persistent problems beyond your expertise. Happy sewing!


How to Fix Jammed Sewing Machine

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