The pattern selector dial is a cool feature on sewing machines, but it can be fickle and troublesome.
If you recently started having trouble using it, read this article before contacting customer service.
Using information from sewing machine discussion boards, I’ve compiled a list of issues you may encounter and how to fix them:
Table of Contents
1. Pattern Selector is Stuck and Won’t Turn
The most common issue with the pattern selector on sewing machines is that it becomes stuck and will not turn, and there are a variety of possible causes for this.
Fortunately, you can attempt to resolve the issues in various ways, all of which are quite simple.
Here are some possible causes for your pattern selector becoming stuck or refusing to turn:
Debris and Build-Up:
It is most likely that dust, debris, and accumulation have jammed the pattern selector dial, and old oil and dirt have hardened in many cases.
Mechanical sewing machines, in particular, necessitate more frequent cleaning and lubrication. If the sewing machine is left unused for an extended period or frequently used but not oiled or cleaned, the oil in the machine will harden and become like glue.
Clean and lubricate your sewing machine by following these simple steps:
To begin, remove all dust, dirt, lint, and stray threads by opening the top and bottom of the machine. You can use a brush with soft bristles, a lint brush, tweezers, an anti-static cloth, and an air duster.
Once you have finished cleaning the sewing machine, you will need to lubricate it next.
Check the maintenance section of your owner’s manual for instructions on lubricating your machine. Most mechanical parts have numerous oil holes that need to be oiled regularly, on the top and the bottom, which you will see on your machine Manual.
Use sewing machine oil, which can be purchased from a hardware store, and apply it to any frozen metal parts as instructed in your owner’s manual. Rubber, plastic gears, belts, or metal Cams should never be oiled. Avoid using 3-in-1 oil or WD-40 on the machine.
Keep in mind that while putting oil on the machine is crucial, it is also important not to put too much as this can also damage the machine. Do not add more than 1 or two drops of oil.
Slowly turn the handwheel and apply 1-2 drops of oil to any metal-to-metal contact when applying the oil.
Then, using a hairdryer, blow hot air into the machine’s interior from top to bottom. With the handwheel and selector levers still in place, make light rotations.
Allow the sewing machine to sit for at least eight hours before use. Retest the following day and repeat the procedure if necessary.
As a general rule, it’s a good idea to oil your machine regularly whether you are using it.
Buttonhole Adjusting Screw Needs Adjustment:
Another reason the stitch selector dial is not turning is that they may have installed the buttonhole adjusting screw incorrectly.
If you can’t change the pattern selector dial to zigzag stitching, the buttonhole adjustment screw may need to be adjusted. If this is the case, locate your sewing machine’s fine adjustment screw for the buttonhole.
After that, turn it gently to the right, in the direction of the plus sign.
The Needle Needs to be Raised Up:
If the needle is down, the pattern selector will not move on some machines.
Before using the pattern selector, try raising the needle by turning the handwheel until it reaches its highest point.
Broken Knob Inside:
Finally, sometimes the knob won’t work because it could break from the inside due to wear and tear or constant jamming.
If you’re familiar with your machine, you can open it up, see which part is broken, and try replacing it yourself. Otherwise, you should bring it to get serviced.
2. The Pattern Selector Dial Keeps Turning
If the pattern selector dial keeps turning, you can look at the cam gear.
Stitching machines use cams to tell them how to perform a particular stitch. There is only one pattern designated for each cam.
Some cams can be removed, such as those from Singer and Kenmore.
You can try opening up the sewing machine to check the cams. They could have cracks or be split completely. If there is a crack, you should replace the cam stack.
Keep in mind that the parts are hard to get and are quite difficult to replace.
Unless you are an expert and are comfortable replacing the cams yourself, you might need to take it to get serviced.
3. The Pattern Selector Dial is Only Partially Turning
If the pattern selector only turns partially or only selects some of the stitches but not all, you might need to turn the stitch width and length to zero.
Some machines won’t let you select some of the stitches unless the stitch width and length have been reset to 0.
Another reason why the pattern selector is only turning partially is it might be jammed due to dirt or debris. Additionally, it might need to be lubricated.
If this is the case, remove any debris causing the dial only partially to turn. Make sure to lubricate the dial well so it can turn more easily.
4. The Patterns aren’t Changing
If your pattern selector dial is turning, but the stitches aren’t changing to the selected stitches, it could be because the part of the dial inside the machine is jammed.
The hardened oil, dirt, and dust are causing the dial to be stuck. You will need to the machine and remove any debris and build-up, stopping the component inside the machine to select the correct stitch.
Once the build-up has been removed, ensure it is well oiled, as lubrication can help the dial turn more smoothly. Also, make sure you clean the machine regularly to keep it from jamming in the future.
Additionally, there is a cam with different groves under the top of the unit. The selector that runs along it is most likely stuck and needs to be oiled. If you move the dial, you should see the internal selector move.
Four screws hold that mechanism in place. The shaft can be removed and oiled, and the sping should also be present and working.
5. Only Getting Straight Stitches
If your machine is only straight sewing stitches regardless of the pattern that has been selected, the selector knob might be jammed.
If you oil it up, it should release the knob. The machines also tend to get stuck if they haven’t been used for a long time.
Make sure the parts are cleaned and moving well, and use oil to help the parts move much smoother.
6. Patterns are Distorted
If the stitch patterns are uneven or distorted when you sew on a particular fabric, you might need to adjust the balancing dial.
However, it is possible to make the stitch patterns more even when sewing on a particular fabric and correct the distorted patterns by doing the following:
- If stitch patterns are larger than intended or drawn out, correct them by turning the dial in the direction of the “-” sign.
- If patterns are compressed, you can correct them by turning the dial in the direction of the “+” sign.
General Pros and Cons of a Pattern Selector:
Unlike older mechanical sewing machines, most modern sewing machines have a pattern selector feature with a wider range of simple to complex stitches.
This feature of sewing machines has both advantages and disadvantages, which are discussed further below:
- The stitches provide convenience to sewists as some stitches that are frequently used are automatic such as sewing buttons and buttonholes.
- You can be more creative and elaborate designs on your sewing project.
- It helps cut back on the need to hand sew some stitches for certain fabrics, such as zigzag stitch for knit fabric.
- The majority of the stitches are unnecessary for a beginner sewist.
- Even for expert sewists, some stitches may be completely useless, depending on what the sewists usually create.
- You may be paying more because of the number of patterns in the sewing machine, but you may not necessarily need them.