Sewing Machine Not Stitching

Sometimes you can troubleshoot and make the needed repairs to your sewing machine. This is a page about sewing machine not stitching.


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February 16, 2015

My vintage Kenmore 158.130 picks up the bobbin thread, but won't stitch. It is threaded correctly, the tension is OK, and I cleaned and oiled it. Everything moves so smoothly just as if it's stitching, but it never forms a stitch. Could it be the needle length? The needle I'm using was already on it. It is in fine condition, but it is shorter than the example in the manual. Maybe I'm answering my own question. I know little about sewing, and have spent 4 frustrating days on this. Any help appreciated. I live in a very rural location so it will be some days before I can buy new needles.

By Penny


February 22, 20150 found this helpful
Best Answer

Is the needle currently on the machine even coming down far enough to penetrate the fabric? Turn the handwheel and watch to see if it is. If not, there's your answer - order the correct needles for the fabric you want to sew and watch for the postie or courier van:)


However, the problem may be something different. As you write you're in a remote location, give serious consideration to using the Sears website to order a replacement manual for the machine if you don't already have one. You don't say if you do have it, so I'm taking a jump and suggesting the manual purchase.

Also, whilst on the Sears parts and repair site, look for the location of the closest authorised Kenmore machine repair tech - as this is a vintage machine, even though you've cleaned and oiled it, there may be a worn part inside that is best looked at by a repair tech.

I love vintage machines and do a good bit of repair on them here in Scotland where I now live (lived in the US 40+years). But buying and using vintage sewing machines is not for the faint of heart - parts wear with age and conditions-of-use (dusty, going too fast, more, all can wear a machine no matter how good it looks on the outside), and all sewing machines require periodic inspection by a qualified repair tech to stay on top of potential problems (wearing parts, parts about to fail, etc).


Best of luck to you. I've lived in a remote, rural area and know how sewing machines (and other home-craft tools) are needed for household items, and creative outlet! I hope you and your machine have many happy sewing years ahead.

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October 13, 2017

I have a Brother sewing machine. I can sew perfectly fine on my scrap material and some flannel blankets I have, but as soon as I put my uniform under and start it up it just skips stitches or won't stitch at all. What am I doing wrong?


October 16, 20170 found this helpful
Best Answer

Try using a Denim needle. It is made for tough fabrics. Also, some of the bargain thread has a tendency to break, especially when sewing on heavier fabrics.


Make sure to use a quality thread. Hope this helps.

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September 17, 2015

My sewing machine is not stitching.


September 19, 20150 found this helpful

When my sewing machine would not sew, I found out that it had dust in it, and so it was not catching the thread. So periodically, I have to take the piece off that is holding the bobbin, and clean in there with a Q-tip! I don't know if that will help you but it's a possibility. Wrong thread tension, (mine can be tightened on the bobbin case and on the tension dial), or the wrong thread. Wrong needle for the fabric you're using, if your machine needs to be oiled or if any parts are loose, those can all be reasons why your machine won't sew. If you don't have a manufacturers booklet, the manufacturer may be able to send you another one. You will need to know the info that is somewhere on your machine, when you call. The phone number may be there also! I hope this helps! GOOD LUCK!

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September 20, 20151 found this helpful

Gale 100 is correct - there are so many things that could be wrong. Here is the checklist I go through every time I sew: Correct needle for fabric or if you are embroidering, do you have an embroidery needle on? Is the needle sharp or dull? I change my needles very frequently. Is the needle in correctly & in the correct position? Correct thread for fabric? Correct upper & lower tension? Is the bobbin wound correctly? Are you using the correct style of bobbin for your machine? I have 3 machines that all have different bobbins & if I get the wrong one in one of them, it will either break my needle or the stitches will not catch or will cause a 'birds nest' mess on the back of the material or under the shuttle plate - really hard to get out if really bad! Yes, it also matters how you put your bobbin in & thread the bobbin thread through the plate or not.


Are you using the correct foot for the project &/or stitch-type? Is the machine threaded correctly? Sometimes just re-threading it solves the problem. And after going through all of that, I use scrap material from my project to check & make sure my tension is correct, sometimes sewing line after line & adjusting both the upper & lower tensions until the stitch looks the way it should on both the top-side & bottom-side of the fabric. I also clean & oil my machines at least once a month whether I use them or not - which I usually have. Also, I still have the manuals that came with my machines, but I also have them on my computer. Google your brand of machine & the type or series of machine that you have & you should be able to download a free copy of the manual to your computer. If need be, you can always print out a copy of it. I hope this helps! Good luck!!!

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May 7, 2013

I have a Morse zig zag 4100 sewing machine. It has thread on the spool and the bobbin, but it doesn't make a stitch.

By Wrplm


May 13, 20130 found this helpful

Do you have the user manual and have you tried all of the troubleshooting tips (usually listed at the back of the manual)?


If you don't have the manual, have a look at this freebie reprint of some very important pages from the manual-if you aren't threading, and inserting the bobbin case correctly, the machine won't sew:

That link also offers a purchase of the manual at a fairly reasonable price. It's always good to have that manual, it usually solves or prevents sewing machine problems.

If proper threading and bobbin insertion doesn't solve your problem, the next thing is to take the machine to a trustworthy repairman. Look for a sewing centre near you or online at your area community bulletin board for reviews and contact details of someone who can fix your machine.

The vintage machines are superbly built but sometimes a gear or belt breaks and you need a sewing machine repairman with the right parts to get your machine back to sewing.

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August 18, 2016

The needle of my Kenmore sewing machine got broken when I was sewing. After replacing it with the same size needle it has refused to stitch even though it is able to pick up the bobbin thread. The fabric only passes through without stitching.


August 22, 20161 found this helpful

Hello ! Maybe you could check the new needle. It could be split opened but it does not show.

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October 30, 2015

My Brother sewing machine's top thread just isn't sewing at all. I've tried changing tension, oiling it, etc. The lower one is fine. Please help, I am so frustrated.


October 30, 20150 found this helpful

make sure it's threaded correctly, one missed spot will cause problems. Also put in new needle, sometimes the needle can have a burr or slight bend

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October 31, 20150 found this helpful

This might be a possibility. I was having the same problem and same frustration. Took my machine into the shop and the guy looked at it and noticed it was threaded wrong! I somehow mis-threaded time after time and hadn't noticed (even though I knew better). Good luck.

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November 2, 20150 found this helpful

I do repair-refurb work on student machines (I teach Sewing 101) and would love to try to help but you've not given enough information for me to even try making a guess. The problem could be anything from a tiny piece of thread fluff (lint) caught somewhere in the thread path (oh those tension discs, they do love to gather lint!) to a broken/worn gear. Without more information it's hard to say.

You write that you've changed the tension, oiled, etc - I'm wondering if you've checked to be sure the machine is set back to sewing mode after winding a bobbin, and if you've used the 'troubleshooting' pages of your manual?

If I knew the model, age, and more about what's happening, I might be able to hazard a guess. As you've not included that info, I'm going to suggest you take the machine to a qualified repair tech for a check.

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August 1, 20160 found this helpful

I need help too mine won't stitch ether it's a Singer promies

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I have a Sears Kenmore sewing machine model 385.1884180. It picks up the bobbin thread, but does not stich. I have gone by my model's booklet and have changed the needle twice with #15 to sew cotton. I have re-wound the bobbin 5-6 times and changed the bobbin. I have re-threaded the machine/needle, opened the bobbin section, cleaned it (sucked it out with vaccum cleaner) and oiled it. Still no stitching. Your help would be greatly appreciated. I need it to work properly. I do a lot of volunteering sewing. Thank you. No stitching at all. Sometimes a couple of stitches, then a big skip then a a stitch or two. Then nothing.

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June 10, 2011

My JMB sewing machine is not stitching. What could be wrong?

By Rachael


June 11, 20110 found this helpful

Does it make a noise like ahum?

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June 16, 20110 found this helpful

Recheck treading if no go then try changing the needle.

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September 7, 2016

I just got a Brother CS6000i and it does not really work as far as I can tell (I'm very new to this). It picks up the lower thread, the hook timing is right, the tension seems fine too. But no stitches are made.
I made a video to show what the machine is doing:

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July 22, 2019

I own a Carina Professional computer sewing machine and today I am in absolute despair. I've been trying for hours to troubleshoot the problem.

The machine has already been to a repair shop last year (for which I payed 80 Euros). It worked perfectly afterwards, but since then I haven't used it.

The machine made one short stitch line and suddenly stopped sewing. The bobbin thread doesn't go up through the fabric. I re-threaded both threads multiple times, changed the needle, being careful with the bobbin direction and needle position, and checked underneath the plate to see if there's any lint.

I removed the top-down bobbin case and observed the hook. The bobbin thread is picked up only after threading and once up it just stays there. The hook picks up the upper thread, but once released, the upper thread doesn't take the bobbin thread with it. During the troubleshooting I managed to make the threads lock once or twice, but not reliably.

I thought maybe it is a slight timing issue, so I made a couple of bad phone photos of the hook and needle's height. Yet I do wonder how a machine that hasn't been used for a year and is straight out of the repair shop can have a timing issue.

There is no service/repair manual I could find for this machine and I am not quite sure how high the needle's eye has to be when the hook's point reaches it.

Anyway, I don't have the means to invest in another expensive shop repair and this problem I find very weird. Does somebody know more about this?

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February 9, 2017

I recently bought a Singer Confidence 7465 and today I want to sew something. I turned on the machine and turned the wheel left to insert the needle into the fabric and the machine got stuck. I checked the internal part for lint and threads, but there was nothing. I tried a few times after that, but cannot seem to fix it.

May I know whether this is a faulty product? Because I once returned an exact same model to Singer and they gave me this current one. The defective one had the exact same problem the only difference is it was stuck since the beginning (my first time using). I have been using the current one for about 1 month. I have a habit of not inserting the needle into the fabric and start stitching straight away. Is this my problem or the machine's problem?

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September 1, 2015

I have a Brother sewing machine that I love. It's worked great for many projects. I think this is more of a me problem than a machine problem. When I try to sew certain fabrics my machine won't stitch. It happens with thin fabrics mostly. Is there something I should be doing?


September 3, 20150 found this helpful

Yes, there are some things you should be doing:) Following the instructions in your sewing machine user guide, be sure that you are:

Making all the needed adjustments to the stitch settings - for thinner fabrics especially! Stitch width and length, upper thread path tension setting, and feed dog height adjustments all need to be made.

Using the right needle, and thread in upper thread AND bobbin. Sewing any fabric requires the use of the right needles and threads to ensure skip-free stitching. Your user guide should have a table showing which needles and threads to use for each fabric type.

Using a needle that hasn't been dulled by too many sewing hours - a dull needle can cause the skipping you're describing.

Trying to sew a fabric that's been pre-washed enough times to remove any excess fabric sizing sprayed or soaked into the fabric at the mill. Sizing is used to make a fabric hold its shape/hand/drape/crispness in the shop so it's more attractive to buyers, and to deflect dust and stains. Some mills load so much sizing onto/into their fabrics it can take up to 10 washings to get it all out so you can sew it without skipped stitches (not only does sizing defect dust and stains, it acts as a shield so well it often deflects needles too!).

Putting the starting edge of the thin fabrics a quarter to half inch back so the starting sewing point is not the very edge of the fabric (starting a thin fabric at the very edge often causes it to be pulled under the throat plate - and skip stitches). Another little sewer tip is to grasp the thread tails (should be two, one upper and one bobbin) and gently pull the fabric through the first two inches of stitching.

There are other reasons for skipped stitching but the above should sort your issue. If you don't have your user guide, Brother does offer some free downloads for their machines, and also sells replacement hard copies.

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August 15, 2015

I have a Brother sewing machine and am trying to sew stretchy fabric. I have a ballpoint needle in and the walking foot on. When I try to sew, using the stretchy stitch, the machine does not feed the fabric but sews in one spot. When I cut the thread, the material is stuck in one of the holes in the bottom where the feed dogs are, and I have to yank it out, which concerns me because I wonder if I will damage that part of the machine. Any ideas what I am doing wrong?


August 16, 20150 found this helpful

It sounds as though you've forgot to set the stitch width and or stitch length to the correct setting for stretch sewing - check your user manual to make sure you're making all the right settings for the stretch stitch you're hoping to use.

I teach sewing and I have this same problem every time I go to use my stretch features unless I get out the manual and follow the instructions step-by-step to set up the machine correctly:)

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April 1, 2015

I've had the machine, a Singer Signature 9340, for 2 weeks and it was sewing excellently. Then I was doing a decorative stitch and about half way through the stitching, it started making really small stitches. I turned the machine off and started taking the small stitching out. When I turned the machine back on it made a loud humming sound. I rethreaded the bobbin and top thread and cleaned out all lint. The machine still hums loudly and won't sew. I can turn the wheel, but when I press on the foot control it won't move. What could the problem be? I've cleared memory. The machine never jammed with thread, the stitching just got so small I had a hard time getting the seam ripper to pick a thread in the fabric it was so tight.

By Lizz


April 6, 20150 found this helpful

Have you tried a shock-reboot? (connect the machine to the power source, turn it on and let it sit there for a minute then without turning the machine off, disconnect it from the power. Wait at least five minutes then reconnect the machine to the power - it will likely not automatically turn back on so turn it back on at the switch, and try sewing again).

If that doesn't fix it, try the troubleshooting pages of your user manual. Here's a link to a SingerCo free download for your machine:

If your machine is still under warranty you should be able to get a cost-free resolution to your issue if none of the above works for you.

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October 25, 2014

I bought a unic 4in 1 Silian machine. It stiches fine at first, but suddenly it gets struck and does not stitch. Now I find and fixed the bobbin, but the stiches are not coming. Please reply to me with a solution.

By Sai


October 30, 20140 found this helpful

Is this a mini-sewing machine? If yes, I don't think there's much that can be done - it sounds as though one of the gears inside has broken but most repair techs won't touch it because these are very inexpensive, and very unreliable. It would cost more to have fixed than to buy a good entry-level full size machine.

If you can, consider buying a 'beginner' sewing machine with a top drop-in bobbin system. Depending on where you live, a beginner Janome with a top drop-in bobbin system will cost you from £50 ($70USD) to £150; a Singer from around £150 to £250 depending on the features.

I teach sewing (and do some sewing machine repair) here in Scotland, and suggest Janome or Singer machines to my students nearly every day. The top drop-in bobbin system means much easier loading, and nearly jam-proof sewing.

I'm sorry, I wish I could tell you something more cheerful.

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