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Sewing Machine Needle Not Moving

The reason that the needle will not move on your sewing machine may be due to a jam or a broken part. If you are unable to fix it on your own, it may be time to take it to a shop. This is a guide about what to do if your sewing machine needle is not moving.
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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
January 17, 2017

I have tried two controls for my favorite machine. The bobbin wound fine, no problem at all, but not the needle won't move. What could be wrong? Thanks for any help you can give me. The nearest repair store is 50 miles away.

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January 17, 20171 found this helpful
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You may need to tighten the inner portion of the wheel on the right side of your machine (hand clutch.) It could also be a broken drive belt.

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January 17, 20171 found this helpful
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Sounds like you may have a thread jam or lint jam.
Check the bobbin winder to be sure it is off.
I would then take all the thread off of/out of the machine.

Do you have your manual?
If so, check the instructions on cleaning, and clean the machine horoughly.
When was the last time your machine was oiled?
This can be a problem also  just be sure to use only sewing machine oil  not WD-40 or 3-in1 type products as they can sometimes make your machine freeze up. Also, only oil points indicated in your manual.

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A new needle probably wouldnt hurt  just in case.

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January 18, 20171 found this helpful
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If the belt is slipping, you can order a new belt off of online. have you contacted the manufacturer to see if they have a manual they could send to you?

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January 19, 20171 found this helpful
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You say that you do not have a manual but if you check on line with the name and model number of your 2 machines, you may be able to find a free manual or at least more direct information.

Sewing machines makes & models are different but if you check on your model number you will have a better chance of finding a solution.

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By 1 found this helpful
April 1, 2016

I'm new on here. I just picked up a Montgomery Ward sewing machine model 1917. The motor runs, but the needle doesn't move. I have checked the hand wheel. The belt it is fine and I can turn the hand wheel, but the needle doesn't move. I have worked on machines a little before and depending on the difficulty may try to fix this one. How do I get to the gear that moves the needle arm? And how do I know it's bad?
Any advice would be appreciated.

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April 3, 20160 found this helpful
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There are several reasons why a needle wouldn't move - starting with tension discs loaded with lint and going through to a worn/broken gear (usually the one just inside the hand-wheel). Although you are 'handy' and have some experience working on sewing machines, this is probably a job best left to a qualified repair tech. I do Singer repair-refurbs for my Sewing 101 students here in Scotland and can't tell you how many times I've gone into a machine thinking 'Oh, I know what the issue is and can fix it in half a second' only to find my initial 'diagnosis' was way wrong and the real problem something entirely different once I got a good view of the inside of the machine - and I'm pretty good at fixing sewing machines. I also own several very expensive service manuals to help me along.

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The main problems with home repair are: new-milled parts aren't always easy to find, and worn gears aren't always easy to spot by the untrained eye, and sometimes even to a self-trained eye, the real problem can be missed. Yes, I have had no end of 'basket case' machines brought in by DIYers who couldn't track down the problem (or source the parts to repair the machine), tried replacing parts that didn't make the fix, and/or couldn't get the machine back together after making parts swap-outs.

Best to leave this to a repair tech. Really.

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April 3, 20161 found this helpful
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Yes I prematurely posted this question.
I oiled the bobbin armature and it began sewing properly. Amazing what a little oil will do!

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By 0 found this helpful
March 4, 2017

I have Kenmore sewing machine and the needle won't go up and down. The model is #158-850. It is not going up nor down with foot pedal nor by hand. Help.

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March 4, 20170 found this helpful
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Make sure the clutch was not disengaged. The clutch is the little wheel inside the large wheel on the right side of the machine. When it is turned one way, the needle will move and when turned the other way, the needle will not move.

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March 5, 20170 found this helpful
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A lever or gear may be broken. You will have to take it in to be fixed.

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March 5, 20170 found this helpful
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Check the bobbin area. The bobbin area can become congested with thread and the needle won't move.

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December 6, 20140 found this helpful

I recently bought a sewing machine from a yard sale (Sears Kenmore model 1500). It also says model 158.15000 so I am not sure which is right. I press the pedal down, the motor runs like a normal motor, but the needle doesn't move up and down. My stepmom helped me thread it and all first so I am confident that part is right. But she doesn't know why the needle won't move.

I swear I saw the needle move when I bought it; I remember being excited that it did work. But don't assume that is true if there is an easy fix. Can anyone talk me though some trouble shooting steps? Or have any idea what the problem might be? I've never used a sewing machine before so even basic things would help.

By Brigid

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December 7, 20140 found this helpful
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Sometimes when machines sit too long without being used they freeze up. This may be why the needle won't move. I would ask Joanne's Fabrics if they have a reputable sewing machine repair person to use. When ever you buy a used sewing machine try sewing on it right there at the place you are buying it. I stopped buying used machines and only will take a used machine if given to me.

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December 7, 20140 found this helpful
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The clutch is probably pulled out, just push in on the button in the hand wheel.

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December 8, 20140 found this helpful
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Great advice here, the only thing I could add is: find a copy of the user guide/owner manual. Sears Kenmore parts centres will sell you a copy but if you may be able to find a free download online.

Well worth the trouble of finding as the manual will make using and maintaining the machine so much easier - and knowing which levers/knobs/dials/buttons to choose for simple functions like zig-zag sewing, bobbin winding, moving needle left to right to centre, etc will keep you sewing instead of giving up in frustration:)

Also can't recommend a good step-by-step sewing book highly enough! Look for one with lots of large, captioned photos (Singer Sewing Reference Library, Readers Digest, Simplicity, Colette... just a few of the great sewing reference books out there with excellent photos and text) for a lifetime use:)

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January 26, 20150 found this helpful
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I have always had Kenmore machines. Have you tried moving the bobbin spindle (where you wind the bobbin) to the left? All of the machines had (4 all Kenmore) the needle will not move if the bobbin spindle is in the winding position.

Sound like a silly thing to miss, but I've been sewing for 30 years and just today spent 15 minutes thinking my embroidery machine was broken before I remembered. They are good machines my first one is still running great, I only replaced it to get one with more functions, so I gave my basic one to a friend. My others was a serger (destroyed in a flood) and the embroidery, both work great and are each over 15 years old. Hope off and sewing.
Bea R.

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December 2, 20140 found this helpful

I have an old Homemark sewing machine and it has been working excellently. I went to make a bow for my daughter this morning and the needle won't move up and down. I did some sleuthing on the internet and saw it might be the belt, but it's not I checked. It also isn't the winding bobbin lever in the wrong position. My motor is working just fine and the belt moves when I push my foot peddle, but my needle won't move. I also tried to put the needle down in the bobbin and it moves when I turn the wheel. It just won't move when I push the foot pedal. What happened? Is this going to be a large, costly repair or can I DIY? Desperately need it to finish up my homemade Christmas presents :(

By Ashley

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December 8, 20140 found this helpful
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Considering everything you've already checked and found to not be causing the problem, it's time for a trip to the repair tech - this isn't something you can fix at home. Sorry, wish I could give you a nice step-by-step walk-through on getting your machine back to sewing but there could be so many things going on it's best that a trained professional has a look at this point.

Depending on where you live, you are looking at around $100USD or less, and if you're really lucky it may only be around $50USD. Closer to $100 if it's been some time since you've had the machine in for a full servicing that includes cleaning places you cannot possibly reach at home with home tools (never use canned air! This only forces particles deeper) and oiling.

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April 25, 20150 found this helpful
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Mine has just done this, it was the rotary arm inside needed oiling.

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By 0 found this helpful
March 30, 2014

I have inherited my grandma's sewing machine so it hasn't been used in a few years. I don't know much about them (hence incorrect terminology), but I have set it up ready to use and everything seems to operate normally except the most crucial part the needle won't move. I can turn the knob easily by hand and it moves when I push the pedal, but nothing happens to the needle. Please help!

By Emma from London, UK

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March 30, 20140 found this helpful
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Did she by any chance save her manual which should have come with it? It might be just a matter of tightening a screw or some little thing. If this doesn't work take it to a dealer and let them give it a look. Many times these check ups are free of charge, at least in the US they are. I will share this with you.... sometimes the biggest problem we encounter with our sewing machines will be a little thing we failed to notice. I hope this is true of yours, and that you get it worked out soon. Enjoy that machine!

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April 7, 20140 found this helpful
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I do repairs on vintage Singers (both electric and non) and it sounds as though the belt has snapped on your machine. The best thing to do with any machine that hasn't been used for a few years is find a qualified repair tech (most sewing centres either have an in-house tech, or someone they carry the machines to on a schedule) and have the machine serviced (around £40). The tech will inspect the machine, make any repairs needed (which will cause the price to rise of course), note any potential problems, and return the machine to you in ready-to-sew condition.

You can download a free copy of your machine manual here:
http://www.sups … oyota%20EC-1.pdf

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October 20, 20140 found this helpful

The wheel turns on my Kenmore 1251 sewing machine, but the needle does not go up and down. What needs fixing and how can I do it?

By Kate B

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October 30, 20140 found this helpful
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This isn't a fix you can do at home - the problem could be anything from a bit of fluff or thread lint caught in a part of the bobbin area you'll not be able to reach without specialty tools, to a worn or broken bobbin gear - another fix you can't do at home.

Really, the best thing is to take this to a professional. Whatever you do, DO NOT used 'canned air' in an effort to blast the possible lint out of the casing or gear, you really will only make matters worse.

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October 2, 20140 found this helpful

I have gained a Toyota Atlantis 3 machine, and when trying to sew recently (fairly inexperienced user!), the machine whirs but the needle doesn't move more than a stitch or two. It will move up and down when I use the handwheel. Does anyone have any ideas please?

By Claire K

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October 6, 20140 found this helpful
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It might need a new belt. I would take it to a sewing machine repair service and have it looked at to find out the problem.

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December 4, 20120 found this helpful

My machine was not moving so I opened it to check the problem. After putting it back in place, the needle goes very deep into the machine and it cannot move. What went wrong? I do not know which part is supposed to go where.

By Kate A

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December 10, 20120 found this helpful
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Put your machine into a sturdy box or bag-put any loose parts in a zip baggie or snap-lid margarine tub.

Go through the phone book and find the phone number of the nearest (or best rated in reviews) sewing centre.

Telephone the sewing centre and ask for the service tech. Tell him/her what you've done. Make arrangements to bring your machine for restoration.

Bring your purse-this is going to cost you around $50-100USD depending on how much work it takes the tech to open the machine, put the parts back on in the right places, and possibly replace parts that to you looked ok but to a trained tech are clearly worn or broken.

Depending on the make and age of your machine, parts may be either expensive or hard to find. Computerised sewing machine parts can be expensive, vintage parts are hard to find and not always reliable-some vintage parts are no longer milled and the 'new' part the tech puts on your machine may actually be 'salvage'. There is no way of knowing how many sewing hours are on a salvage part so you may have the same problem happening again (ask me how I learnt this little gem of vintage sewing machine knowledge).

If you have a computerised machine, you shouldn't try to do self-repair or refurbishment, ever. These machines really are best left to a factory trained tech.

Vintage machines are wonderful, and much easier to work on but the first two rules of vintage sewing machine repair are to have a good quality digital camera and a deep dish muffin tin in the work area BEFORE you start taking apart your vintage (non-computerised) sewing machine.

Camera? Photograph every step of the parts removal process-how the inside of the machine looked before you pulled the part, how it looked halfway through the removal, how it looked after the removal.

Muffin tin? Drop the parts into the tin including screws with the part they go to, and be sure to photograph the screws and parts as you remove them-photograph the screws and part as you remove them and where you removed them from.

Why? So when you go to put the machine back together you have a crisp, clear set of pictures to use as reference. Yes, it is time consuming but well worth the trouble.

There are tonnes of Internet sources of free info on cleaning, servicing, and refurbishing vintage sewing machines, this is the one to use to get yourself started:

http://www.ismacs.net/home.html

Good luck, please update your post re what happened next:)

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