Sewing Machine Needle Troubleshooting Guide

Important Points to Remember

  • Needles DO NOT last forever, they should be replaced approximately every 8 hours
  • The eye of the needle should be 40% larger than the diameter of the thread
  • When going to a larger size of thread, a larger needle should be used
  • Use the appropriate needle for the type of fabric being sewn
Problem Causes Solutions
Upper Thread Breaks Incorrect threading
Knots or twists in thread
Tension too tight
Damaged/old needle
Needle too small
Rethread machine properly
Replace thread
Reset bobbin and top thread tension
Replace needle
Use correct needle for thread and application
Bobbin Thread Breaks Bobbin case incorrectly threaded
Bobbin case incorrectly inserted
Bobbin does not turn smoothly in bobbin case
Lint in bobbin case
Bobbin tension too tight
Remove bobbin and re-thread with bobbin turning clockwise
Remove and re-insert bobbin case
Check that bobbin case and bobbin are in “round”; replace if necessary
Clean bobbin case and surrounding machine area
Check and reset bobbin tension
Skipped Stitches Thread tension too tight
Needle damaged
Needle wrong size
Sewing machine out of adjustment
Reset top and bobbin tension
Replace needle
Use correct needle size
Have sewing machine adjusted for timing; hook to needle clearance; needle bar height
Frayed Stitches Needle too small
Tension too tight
Damaged thread
Increase needle size
Reset tension
Replace thread
Thread Loops on Bottom Thread not in top tension
Machine incorrectly threaded
Top tension too loose
Burr on hook mechanism
Rethread machine with presser foot “up”
Rethread machine incorporating take up lever
Reset top tension
Remove burr
Irregular Stitches or Malformed Stitches Wrong needle size
Incorrect threading
Upper tension too loose
Operator pulling fabric
Bobbin wound unevenly
Ensure correct needle for fabric & thread
Un-thread machine and carefully rethread
Reset lower and upper thread tension
Check presser foot pressure
Rewind bobbin
Fabric Puckers Excessive stitch length
Needle point is blunt
Excessive thread tension
Fabric is too soft
Thread displacement — too much thread in a small area
Fabric not feeding
Decrease stitch length
Change needle often
Check bobbin and upper tension
Use stabilizer
Decrease field density; scale embroidery designs; increase stitch length
Check presser foot, needle plate, feed dogs