Ever been caught in a sewing blunder and wondered, "How can I fix my sewing machine?" Well, I've been teaching on Janome machines for about 6 years, and I have seen some consistent complications along the way. If some of these issues sound familiar to you, hopefully my Janome sewing troubleshooting tips will get you back on track quickly so you can return to the fun part: sewing!
Most of these problems and solutions are applicable to all brands of machines, so even if you do not have a Janome machine, read on, as these will likely work for you too!
Here's my basic guide to fixing common sewing machine problems!
But first, remember to cut yourself some slack!
Learning the little tips and tricks of a sewing machine can take time. Think of your machine just like you think of your car; each has its own quirks that are unique to it and that can take some time getting used to when you start working with something new, even if you have been sewing for a long time.
Just like even if you have been driving for decades, when you get into a rental car, it can feel like you've never driven before because everything is in a new place and all the knobs behave differently than the car you're used to driving. This is the same feeling when learning how to use a Janome sewing machine, or any new machine for that matter. So, don't let yourself get discourage if you run into a couple issues!
Problem #1: There are three threads instead of two at the presser foot and the threads are tight.
Troubleshoot: Your machine is still in the middle of a stitch and the "third" thread is not actually a third thread at all, rather it is the bobbin and needle threads looping, trying to form a stitch that you've interrupted.
Solution: Check the take-up lever (the metal hook that moves up and down at the top of the machine directly above the presser foot area) is in the highest position before lifting your presser foot. Raise the take-up lever manually by turning your handwheel toward you and "finishing" the stitch. Your fabric and threads will pull out of the machine with ease now, as you are at the end of a stitch cycle.
Problem #2: The machine is making a loud sound, the fabric isn't going anywhere, and the stitches look loose and messy.
Troubleshoot: This will occur when you have started sewing with the presser foot still in the upright position. The feed dogs cannot pull the fabric through the machine without the foot down on top of them, and the thread is jamming around the fabric, making a big mess.
Solution: The feed dogs need the presser foot to be on top of the fabric, holding it in place so it can be pulled through the machine. Simply unclog your jam, remove any excess threads on the fabric and inside the machine, and start again.
Problem #3: The machine comes unthreaded when you start sewing.
Troubleshoot Plan A: This is something I see all the time with new sewers, and the answer could be one of a few issues. One answer could be that your threads are too short and/or were not under the presser foot upon starting to sew. The short thread could be pulled out of the eye of the needle when the machine starts to sew, unthreading itself.
Solution: Make sure the threads from the bobbin and the eye of the needle are 3-4 inches long, under the presser foot, and hanging back behind the machine.
Troubleshoot Plan B: Another answer could be that you finished your sewing mid-stitch and the take up lever is not in the highest (finished) position. The machine then tries to finish the stitch when you start sewing, sometimes unthreading the needle since the machine is in the middle of the stitch's cycle.
Solution: When you finish sewing, before you pick up your presser foot to pull out your project, always check to make sure your take-up lever is in the top position. If it isn't, simply turn the handwheel on the right side of your machine toward you and finish the stitch until the take-up lever is as high as it will go. Then pick up the presser foot and pull your project from the machine.
Problem #4: The stitch looks really loose and loopy on one side of the fabric or both sides of the fabric.
Troubleshoot Plan A: One possible problem is that the thread has fallen out of the take-up lever, which can happen if the machine was jammed along the way.
Solution: Look to see if the machine is threaded properly, both into the tension discs and the take-up lever. If not, re-thread the machine properly and try again.
Troubleshoot Plan B: Another possible issue is that your bobbin tension might be off, which can happen if the thread from the bobbin isn't going into the tension area on the bobbin casing or in the drop-in bobbin tension area.
Solution: Take the bobbin out and rethread the bobbin threads, making sure that the thread is properly inserted into the tension area on the bobbin casing or the drop-in bobbin tension.
Troubleshoot Plan C: A third spot to check is to see if your tension discs are set to the wrong setting on the machine.
Solution: Check to make sure that the tension dial on the machine is set to the middle "automatic" setting on the machine. Refer to your manual for the suggested setting if you are unsure as to what that is.
Problem #5: The thread is really tight when you pull it through the machine and it's creating an uneven stitch.
Troubleshoot Plan A: It is likely that when threading your machine, you accidentally threaded the spool of thread through the bobbin winding tension at the top of the machine.
Solution: The first thing to always check is to make sure if you have threaded the machine properly, so pull out the manual and confirm to see if you have threaded it following their instructions. If so, and you're still having these issues, try the troubleshoot below.
Troubleshoot Plan B: The other possible issue is that the tension is set incorrectly. Most of the time the machine will be best to sew on the "automatic" setting, and lots of new sewers think they need to move this dial a lot. But the reality is that it's best on the basic setting.
Solution: Refer to your manual and set the tension at the "automatic" setting and try the stitch again.
Problem #6: The machine is skipping stitches and sewing an uneven looking stitch.
Troubleshoot: Quite possibly this is happening as a result of a dull sewing machine needle.
Solution: Change your needle to a fresh sharp needle, making sure as always to select a needle that is the correct type and size for the fabric of your project.
Problem #7: The machine is trying to sew and making sewing-like sounds, but the fabric is not moving through the machine.
Troubleshoot: If you have followed the suggestions above and have checked that the machine is threaded correctly, and the presser foot is down on top of the feed dogs, and it's still not sewing, it's likely that your machine is set to the "free-motion" or "darning" set, which disables the feed dogs.
Solution: Refer to your manual and find out how to change the machine back to regular sewing, engaging the feed dogs so they can pull the fabric through the machine properly.
I hope these prove to be helpful as you encounter issues along the way with your sewing! And as a general rule, reading your manual can be of huge help during times of crisis, so be sure to start there and see what they have to say about fixing a problem.
Free Online Sewing Class
Learn to fix common sewing machine problems & get better results.