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.
I have kindly been given a Singer 447 machine. I set it up and it was working fine for a while, but now it won't pick up the bottom thread. I have re-threaded and check the bobbin. With the plate off I can see that the bottom bobbin does not seem to be moving. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to fix this? Thanks.
What you are describing is a worn bobbin gear. This is not a 'home-fix' job as it requires specialised tools and knowledge. I do a lot of bobbin gear replacements for my Sewing 101 students over here in Scotland - you should be sure any repair tech you use tells you (and shows you) if he/she is using a salvage part, or was able to find a 'new-milled' replacement. The salvage parts often come from machines with unknown sewing histories and many machine owners are disappointed when the salvage part fails sooner rather than later.
I usually do one replacement, telling the student his/her machine had to be repaired using a salvage part, and advising when it fails, the best thing is to retire the vintage Singer and buy a comparable new one under warranty.
To keep your machine working properly you must always pull out the thread of the bobbin by hand and place it with the upper thread under the foot and behind the foot before you start sewing. To catch the bobbin thread you move the hand wheel by hand to let the needle go down and up again while holding the needle thread and you catch the little loop that comes up with a needle. To solve your problem you could try to change the needle or check that it did not move in the needle holder because if the needle is too short or too long it can't catch the bobbin thread.
I have a very clean Singer 301. I am using 50 wt. cotton thread top and bobbin. I have a new needle, inserted correctly. The bobbin is in correctly. It sews a fine straight stitch, but when the regular presser foot is removed it won't pick up the bobbin thread. It looks like the timing is good. I am remembering to put the presser foot down. The feed dogs are down. The stitch length is set to zero. The tension seems fine on straight stitching. Nothing looks broken. It just won't free motion quilt.
By Alyce L.
Three questions - have you lowered the feed dogs (or covered them with the handy snap-down plate), are you using a specialty foot for free motion quilting (sewing machines recognise the foot and behave accordingly - without the specialty foot you may not be able to do this kind of stitching), and have you tried setting your stitch width and length one notch up from zero?
I know you want to thread paint (quicker than saying free-motion quilting) using a straight stitch but with my Singers (Talent 3321, treadle 66 and handcrank 99) I have to nudge the stitch width and length a hair up from zero. Yours might be the same.
Also, what does your owner manual say about free-motion darning? Are you following the set-up directions for that function (essential for thread painting).
If those two questions are either a yes or don't help, I'm flummoxed! You should be able to do this kind of stitching on your 301, you might want to check with a repair tech or sewing instructor face-to-face who can 'fiddle' with it to see what the problem is.
When you find out, will you please update this? You can't be the only sewer-quilter who's had to figure this one out so your update will help a fellow sewer!
My machine will not catch the bobbin thread. I can feel the gear below moving and it pushes up on the bobbin and when I first pulled the bobbin out the holder seemed to not be in the correct place. Is this something I can fix or do I need to take it to a repairman?
This is a borrowed machine, a Singer Stylist 418. I have a model similar to this but a few years newer. They operate basically the same. My problem is with the bobbin. The needle will not pick up the thread....nothing. The bobbin was almost empty, and the thread caught inside the bobbin area. It would not come out, I pulled it hard and it broke off. I rewound a new bobbin, and the needle, unlike my machine, went up and down during the winding process.
First, here's a link to a free user manual download from the Singer website:
Use the troubleshooting pages at the back of the booklet to see if there is any helpful tips you can use - I don't think you'll find any help there, though, because after years of repairing vintage Singers including Stylists (usually the 513), I can say with near 100% certainty that the problem is a worn bobbin gear. These were made with silicone during the Stylist years (late 60s through mid-late 80s). Replacing one isn't a home fix - you need to take the machine to a repair tech.
I could be wrong - it could be a stubborn piece of thread or fluff has lodged somewhere you can't see, or it could be a couple of other things - the only person who can get this machine back to sewing condition is a repair tech with the machine on his/her bench so it can be properly checked.
Be warned - with the Stylist line, once the bobbin gear goes and needs to be replaced, other parts start to go as well, and it doesn't take very long for the machine to become a 'money pit'. As you've borrowed the machine, you're the unlucky person using it at the time the part 'died' and are therefore honour bound to have it fixed. This part gives no warning, it just goes when it goes, and you were the one on it when it did - nothing you did wrong, it's just Time having its way with the machine. Have it fixed and then never borrow it again because it's only a matter of sooner rather than later before another of the silicone parts fails.
Thanks so much for your response. I agree, a tech/repairman is the way to go. I do feel honor bound to have it repaired as my friend was so generous to loan it to me. It was running great prior to this incident. I was trying to get a seat cushion done on a glider rocker for my daughter who is expecting a baby any time. I put out calls to other friends for a loaner, and ended up with a 1949 Singer Featherweight. You may know it, the little back machine in a cute black case. Apparently, it had not been used in 30-40 years. Well, I love American ingenuity! It was a little musty, but that little wiz came out of the carrier and purred like a kitten. The bulb shown brightly and I finished the cushion. I wish it were mine!! Thanks again!
Bonnepm, thank-you for your update! The Stylist was (is when still operational:) such a great sewing machine, it was one of the few 'domestic' Singers that made as good a straight stitch as a zig-zag - many machines (not just Singers) do one or the other beautifully but not both - on a zig-zag machine the straight stitch is never really-really-really true straight. But the Stylist line could go from straight (true straight!) to z-z and right back to a true straight. Bliss, really, for home sewers. I loved my 513 so much I kept it going yonks past its use-by date! Finally, though, it became a very real money pit. When that bobbin gear goes everything seems to go.
But wow-wow-wow, to be lent a '49 Featherweight is amazing! All metal gears, it's really hard to 'kill' a pre-60s Singer and a Featherweight to most of us vintage enthusiasts is the pinnacle of Singer sewing machine ingenuity. I don't blame you for wishing it could be yours, I wish I could find one myself:)
Best wishes for a safe delivery of a beautiful healthy baby for your daughter!
I have a little Sew and See machine I ordered from Walmart and it's not seeming to catch the bobbin thread. This is my first time ever using a sewing machine so I chose to get a tiny one, but I'm not understanding why it won't catch. I've done everything in these answers and nothing is helping. Can someone help me please?
I bought this Singer 413 recently. It was sewing just fine then the needle broke. I replaced it with an identical needle, but now I can't get the bobbin thread to come up through the plate.
I just recently got a Singer Tradition 2259 to start off. Everything was working fine until my first project got jammed. It took a while to free everything, but now my bobbin thread won't raise and my upper thread is just staying down below. I've changed the needle and cleaned out any dust or anything. Please help!
Make sure you don't have the bobbin in upside down. Because what you are describing is what mine does if its upside down or backwards.
I have a Singer 775 sewing machine. The needle is not catching the thread. How do I fix this?
By Victor A.
It sounds as if the needle is either turned to the wrong position, or possible you have the wrong needle. The hole for each is in a precise location, and if its off any at all, it won't catch the thread.
I have a singer, not sure of model but I threaded my machine as always. I tested it on a piece of brown cotton to make sure all is well. It works perfect, So now I try to sew a dress (made of viscose, polyester, elasticine) and it's not sewing. The thread is not catching. So I re-tried it on the brown cotton. Works fine. Please explain what I am doing wrong and how can I fix it?
Try reading this:
This article seems to know what it's talking about and mentions needing to change tension for different threads and fabrics. Since your machine works fine on one sort of fabric, there's likely nothing wrong with it!
Have a great day!
Could be your needle and threads both upper and bobbin.
You write that you are using viscose (called rayon in the US), polyester, and elasticine...these are most often a somewhat stretchy fabric, and require special needles ('ballpoint', or 'jersey' in the UK) for sewing successfully - if the needle you are using is working for the cotton but not the more stretchy fabrics, odds are very high that you are not using the correct sewing machine needle.
Refer to your sewing machine user guide. If you don't have one, post a picture of your machine and I can probably identify it for you and find you a link to the free download.
The Singer company website is fantastic about making user guides available for free download but you do need to know your machine model. Depending on the age of your machine, the information could be anywhere on the machine, but is usually on the machine front (for example, my Talent 3321, a modern electric, has the words 'Singer Talent' along the upper frame), or on the bottom right near the electrics connection.
If you are sewing on a truly vintage machine, the identification is usually on a small metal plate somewhere on the machine (varies with age and country of manufacture - a lot of our UK late 60s and 70s made machines were imported in from the Italian Singer factory).
May I make a suggestion? Singer puts out an outstanding reference book called Singer Complete Photo Guide to Sewing. Wonderful book, you can find a nice, used copy on Amazon.co.uk or buy it new for around £22 in the UK, or if in the US, for under $30USD. Good investment, I highly recommend it to the new-to-sewing students I teach up here in NE Scotland.
Good luck, please feel free to message me for more info.
I have a Singer Simple sewing machine. When I start sewing with it the top thread won't stay threaded through the needle. I just got it about two weeks ago and it was sewing fine, but now I cannot get the thread to stay.
By Stephanie from Whiteville, NC
Take it back to the dealer. But before you do, read the manual. Are you leaving a long enough thread tail?
Reasons why a new sewing machine needle won't stay threaded are many: too thick thread for the needle being used; too short a thread tail; incorrect tension setting; old, worn, damaged needles; starting the stitching too fast; incorrect stitch width, length, and pattern selected...check the user guide that came with your machine for the troubleshooting pages to see what is suggested.
I have the Singer Talent which is very similar to your Simple. My Talent often does the same thing-throws the thread out and the reason is always one of the above, usually that I start too fast.
Those new electronic foot pedals are really sensitive and it's not easy to control them-lol, I teach home sewing and have to remind my students that it's not their fault when the machine zooms off as they begin a stitching line!
I have a Singer Simple sewing machine and it worked fine. Now when I try to sew, the needle will go into the material, but the thread does not stay. It's like I don't have thread in the needle, but clearly I do. The thread stays in the needle it just doesn't go into the material. I was told it could be out of time? What can I do?
By marra m.
What your describing doesn't sound like a timing problem. A mis-timed machine would make a clunking sound as the needle hit the throat plate or banged against the hook or bobbin case. Just in case, though, here's a link to a great timing fix resource:
And here is a link to the manual for that machine-you want to look at page 54 for the troubleshooting info:
What I think may be the case is an incorrect loading of the bobbin. See page 13 of the manual for more info on correct loading. Those 'front load' bobbins are difficult to seat properly and if not seated properly can cause the trouble you are describing.
Sometimes starting the whole process from the beginning (rethread upper thread through to needle, reload bobbin and case, check feed dogs, etc) can solve a problem. You're left scratching your head most of the time, lol, but you often are able to get back to sewing, too.
Good luck, please update on what ends up being the problem and solution.
First things...change needles frequently and check the bobbin. Are there any threads etc that are caught. Clean it out underneath and get rid of the dust etc.
There are excellent U-TUBE videos about adjusting the timing, or on-line with Singer...may give details specific to your machine.
If your worried about making it worse... take it in for a tune-up. Well worth the money. I found a retired gent near me that did this for a hobby and charged minimal amounts for his work. The shops were using him too, so by going directly, I saved the cost and time of the shop sending it out to him.
Just check local ads and the yellow-pages near you.
Around Thanksgiving I bought a gorgeous Singer 66 treadle machine that I found on Craigslist. I had decided that I wanted to take up sewing. Apart from some very simple hand-sewing repairs I am a complete novice/newbie. I needed a machine. Since I moved from the Netherlands to the USA in May I don't really have anyone that I can ask for an old/unused one, plus I really like the older machines that don't need electricity.
She was totally rusted and dirty, the threadle band was rotten and everything was jammed, but all the original parts are present as far as we can tell and I found the user manual online. My husband and I restored her back to working order, made every part move again, did some major de-rusting and I got myself all excited about finally being able to make my own (almost equally vintage) clothes.
When trying to start to sew, we ran into a problem. The bobbin thread is not picking up. After going through what seemed to be the entire internet to no avail, I let the machine sit for a couple of weeks in the hopes a miracle would happen. Then this weekend I decided to give my search on the web another try. I found a very useful tutorial on how to adjust the timing on my machine, which I did. This is a major step forward, because now the hook finally grabs the upper thread! Running the machine without the bobbin and bobbin case in works very smoothly now!
But when I put the bobbin case and the bobbin (metal Singer-brand type 66 bobbins, 99% sure those are the right type of bobbins for this threadle machine) and try to run the machine, the upper thread gets caught on the top side of the bobbin area. I added two pictures, one with the bobbin case but no bobbin and one with the bobbin case and a (wound and right way around inserted) bobbin, to try to illustrate what happens. Also I believe the bobbin thread is not being picked up by the upper thread when coming back up, but because the machine keeps jamming before that can even happen I am not really sure about that. I just stop turning the wheel and turn it backwards to unstick the machine before I break any needles or actually important (and probably expensive) parts.
I can't find any pictures/videos of this model machine that can show me how the thread is supposed to run, so I have no reference point whatsoever in determining what goes wrong, hence me asking my question here. I'm using brand new Singer-brand needles and have tried re-threading the machine multiple times.
My gratitude will be never-ending for the person who can tell me what I'm doing wrong and how I can fix it, to help me to finally get to sewing!
*Edit* I found a picture of what it's supposed to look like (as well as a bunch of other very useful manuals) on this website that was mentioned with somebody else's question: http://www.tfsr.org/publications/technical_information/sewing_machine_manual/
Judging from that picture I guess what the machine is doing is exactly what it should be doing, still (probably even more so) leaving me baffled by why it jams. The thread does not go all the way over the bobbin case most of the time, thus sliding back to where it came from and then getting stuck on (probably) the hook. Please help!
I have a second hand Singer 478. The needle stem doesn't go down far enough, so it does not pick up the bobbin thread.
I have a Singer Scholastic 5523 machine. It is very simple, very basic, and I have this because I don't sew enough to justify buying an expensive machine. I only use it for crafts.
The other day I was sewing a small piece of stretchy fabric and it got caught not only in the feed dog but down inside of the bobbin case. I removed the feed dog plate and cut off as much material as I could. I then unscrewed the two screws that hold the bobbin case holder on and removed the bobbin case. I was able to then take out the fabric and clean all of the threads and lint out.
I put everything back together and tried to sew another piece of fabric, but nothing happened. The bobbin hook isn't grabbing the thread nor is the needle. I tried to troubleshoot this problem for hours even researching it online, but I can't figure it out. I re-threaded the machine a dozen times, put in new thread, made a new bobbin, put in a brand new needle the same size as the one that was there and still nothing.
I have the feed plate off so that I can watch the bobbin hook mechanism go around and the needle goes up and down, but the bobbin thread just sits there doing nothing. Nothing is grabbing the thread. I know I have the bobbin in correctly.
Even though I have had this machine for about three years I have hardly used it at all so it's like brand new. There shouldn't be an issue with it. The machine cost less than $100.00 and I know that if I take it to a repair shop I will be charged at least $80.00 just to have it looked at so having it repaired is silly. I know that this problem is something simple, but I can't figure it out.
The little metal bobbin case holder with two screws lays on the bobbin case to prevent it from lifting out of the machine and I've even tried loosening the screws a bit thinking that it was too tight. It isn't. It only fits one way.
By Sandie J. from Orlando, FL
I do vintage Singer (and a very little bit of modern) repairs and from your photo it does look as though the case is back in the machine correctly. I looked at your manual online - on page 14 there is a diagram for the bobbin casing area and again, your placement looks right.
On page 57 of your manual there is a troubleshooting guide, but again from checking that it seems to me you've tried everything.
Usually when a sewer has tried everything you have it is unfortunately time to take it to the shop - tbh the machines people bring me with this problem are either loaded with lint where the person can't reach (or has used one of those canned air bombs and thereby driven all the lint deeper into the machine), or has suffered a parts failure (often the bobbin gear).
Your machine might still be covered under a warranty because parts on a machine that 'new' and that well built shouldn't be failing so soon - it's a very good model and worth the cost of repair instead of replacing. For a modern inexpensive Singer machine, the Scholastic line was built very, very well and to get a comparable machine today would cost you closer to $250USD. For example, it's got drop feeds, one-step buttonholing, and a few other features not available on less expensive Singers on the market today.
Here's a link to a free download of the manual in case yours is missing:
I have a Singer 252 (all parts metallic). It is a great machine. Yesterday my top thread stopped picking the bottom bobbin thread. Any idea how to fix it?
It's probably the bobbin gear if you're sure you've got the bobbin seated correctly and it's the proper class bobbin in metal.
This model came out in the early 70s and the bobbin gear is made partly with silicone - it does wear out eventually and needs replacing, the symptom of the problem is the top thread not picking up the bobbin thread.
It MIGHT also be timing - not as hard to throw out as folks think. You're best served by taking your lovely vintage machine to a Singer repair tech for a look-over. He/she will be able to find a replacement bobbin gear to fit your machine - make sure you ask how old the replacement part is (a lot of techs have to use salvage parts as the parts aren't interchangeable, and a lot aren't being new-milled anymore).
Here's a link to a free download of your model user guide in case you've misplaced yours - there is a good trouble shooting guide on page 44 (loads very slowly, be patient:):
I was clearing out a storage room recently and I found an old hand operated Singer sewing machine in excellent condition. The model no is EF765228. When I threaded the machine and wound the handle to pick up the bobbin thread, it did not catch. Can anyone advise me? Should there be a bobbin case cover for this machine or is there anything I might be doing wrong?
If you haven't found the problem yet, check this site out and maybe post a question to hopefully resolve.
I have my mother's vintage Singer and it was worked on by a professional tech within the past 2 years (lubed, timing fixed, etc.). It has not been used much since maintenance.
Tonight, at the start of a project it has stopped picking up the bobbin thread. The needle is new and bobbin is right size, and plastic. It is inserted correctly, and yes, the top switch is to the left for sewing and not bobbin-winding. :)
Is this likely a timing issue? Or am I looking at another trip to the tech?
By Red Queen
Sorry, but you're looking at a trip to the tech - what you're describing is a worn bobbin gear and it's just not a fix to try at home.
Be sure the tech uses a newly milled part (these are now available in the US and UK for Singer machines - all models including the Stylist models), and not a salvage part. Salvage parts are not reliable as the tech will usually have no idea how many sewing hours are on it, and what conditions the part laboured under.