Sewing Machine Needle Won’t Move up and Down

A sewing machine is a valuable tool for many, but when the needle refuses to move up and down, it can quickly turn a fun project into a frustrating experience. Fortunately, there are several common reasons for this issue, and in this guide, we will explore them along with step-by-step solutions to get your sewing machine back in working order.

1. Thread Jam or Tension Issues



The needle moves up and down but doesn’t catch the fabric.


  1. Needle Position: Check if the needle is correctly inserted and positioned in the needle clamp. It should be oriented with the flat side facing the back.
  2. Damaged or Bent Needle: Examine the needle for any visible damage or bending. Replace it if necessary, as a damaged needle won’t sew properly.
  3. Needle Size: Ensure that you are using the correct needle size and type for your fabric. Thicker fabrics require larger needles, while delicate fabrics need finer needles.

3. Bobbin Issues


The needle won’t move up and down, and you hear a clicking sound from the bobbin area.


  1. Bobbin Compatibility: Confirm that you are using the correct bobbin type and size for your sewing machine. An incorrect bobbin can cause jamming.
  2. Bobbin Installation: Reinsert the bobbin into its case, making sure it’s properly wound and positioned according to your machine’s instructions.

4. Belt and Motor Problems


The needle doesn’t move, and there’s a humming or motor noise.


  1. Check the Belt: Inspect the machine’s belt for wear and tear. If it’s loose or damaged, replace it following your sewing machine’s manual.
  2. Motor Issues: If the motor seems to be running but the needle won’t move, there might be a problem with the motor. Consult a professional technician for motor repairs.

5. Feed Dogs and Stitch Length


The needle moves up and down, but the fabric doesn’t advance.


  1. Feed Dogs: Ensure that the feed dogs (the metal teeth beneath the presser foot) are engaged. If they are lowered for free-motion sewing, raise them back up.
  2. Stitch Length: Check the stitch length setting on your machine. If it’s set to zero, the fabric won’t move. Adjust it to the desired stitch length.

6. Presser Foot and Handwheel


The needle doesn’t move, and you can’t turn the handwheel.


  1. Presser Foot Position: Make sure the presser foot is in the down position before sewing. Most machines won’t sew with the presser foot up.
  2. Handwheel: If the handwheel is difficult to turn, there might be a thread jam or other mechanical issue. Investigate the cause and resolve it.

Bobbin and Thread Issues

Possible CauseDescriptionSolution
Empty BobbinBobbin may be empty.Refill the bobbin with the appropriate thread.
Thread TanglesThread may be tangled or stuck in the bobbin area.Clear the bobbin area of any thread tangles.
Incorrect Thread TensionIncorrect thread tension settings.Adjust the thread tension as needed.
Bobbin InsertionBobbin may not be inserted correctly.Reinsert the bobbin following the machine manual.
Thread QualityPoor thread quality may cause jamming.Use high-quality sewing thread.

Machine Mechanism Issues

Possible CauseDescriptionSolution
Needle PositionNeedle may be in the wrong position.Manually raise or lower the needle to the correct position.
Machine JamMachine parts may be jammed.Carefully inspect for jammed parts and remove obstructions.
Broken Drive BeltDrive belt may be damaged or broken.Replace the drive belt if necessary.
Motor ProblemsMotor may be malfunctioning.Consult a technician to repair or replace the motor.
LubricationLack of lubrication causing stiffness.Properly lubricate the machine according to the manual.

Needle and Bobbin Alignment

Possible CauseDescriptionSolution
Needle AlignmentNeedle may not be aligned correctly.Adjust the needle position to align it properly.
Timing Belt IssuesTiming belt may be misaligned or broken.Inspect and replace the timing belt if necessary.
Bobbin Case PositionBobbin case may not be in the right position.Adjust the bobbin case position if needed.
Needle Bar IssuesNeedle bar may be bent or damaged.Replace the needle bar if it’s damaged.
Bobbin Hook IssuesBobbin hook may be misaligned or damaged.Replace or realign the bobbin hook as necessary.

Thread and Fabric Compatibility

Possible CauseDescriptionSolution
Thread ThicknessThread thickness not suitable for fabric.Use a thread that’s compatible with the fabric being used.
Fabric ThicknessFabric may be too thick for the needle.Use an appropriate needle for thicker fabrics.
Needle TypeIncorrect needle type for the fabric.Use the correct needle type for the fabric being sewn.
Thread TensionIncorrect thread tension settings.Adjust the thread tension to match the fabric.
Needle SizeNeedle size may be too small for the thread.Use a larger needle if the thread is thick.

Maintenance and Cleaning

Possible CauseDescriptionSolution
Lint and DebrisAccumulation of lint and debris.Clean the machine thoroughly, including the bobbin area.
Thread ClippingsThread clippings may be stuck.Remove any stuck thread clippings.
Regular ServicingLack of regular maintenance.Schedule regular servicing and maintenance.
Needle ReplacementWorn-out or damaged needle.Replace the needle with a new one.
LubricationInadequate lubrication.Ensure proper lubrication according to the manual.

If none of these solutions work, or if you are uncomfortable troubleshooting the problem yourself, it’s best to consult your sewing machine’s manual or contact a professional sewing machine technician for a thorough inspection and repair. Regular maintenance and proper usage can help prevent many of these issues from occurring in the future.


Sewing Machine Needle Won’t Move up and Down

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