Sewing Machine Getting Stuck? (19 Common Issues)

Has this ever happened to you? You are sewing one day, and everything is just fine with your machine, and then all of a sudden, your machine gets stuck out of nowhere, and you can’t figure out why?

There is nothing worse than being in the middle of a project when your machine gets stuck.

It can ruin not only your flow, but it can also make your project look sloppy.

Also, depending on why your machine is getting stuck, it can be dangerous to your machine and can potentially cause damage.

My Sewing Machine is Stuck in Reverse:

Your sewing machine is made to sew backward when you need it to. This can be handy for starting your stitch.

When you start sewing, you can secure your stitch by sewing forward and then backward for a half of an inch. You can also secure your finished seam with the reverse function.

However, just because sewing backward can be useful, doesn’t mean you want your machine stuck only sewing backward. This is not a precise or efficient way to sew anything.

So why is it happening?

Some possibilities for your machine to be stuck sewing in reverse are:

1. Feed Dog Issue:

Feed dogs are the part of the sewing machine below the needle and presser foot that helps to move the fabric back and forth.

The whole point of the feed dogs is to move the fabric back and forth in a smooth and even way.

Sometimes the feed dogs can get stuck in the reverse function. This will make your machine sew backward.

If this is the issue, changing your sewing machine settings is not going to help fix the reverse issue. To fix this, you will want to call the manufacturer of your machine and get their advice or expertise on what to do.

2. Reverse Lever Issue:

The reverse lever is what you use to sew in reverse on purpose. You need this function so that you can secure your stitching and properly run your sewing machine.

The reverse lever is normally either a lever or a button.

If the problem with your machine is this button or lever, you will not be able to fix it yourself. This fix will require a professional if you are not sure exactly how your machine runs and operates in the internal mechanisms.

3. Software Issue:

If you are using a computerized sewing machine, you could be having a software issue. With a computerized sewing machine, the entire machine is run on a computer system.

Everyone knows that technology is not always perfect, and a computerized sewing machine is not any different.

This could be as simple as a problem as the software needing an upgrade, or it could mean that you have a software malfunction.

If you are familiar with the software in your machine, you might be able to troubleshoot it yourself. If you are not, you will need to work with the company that sells your model of machine.

4. Settings Issue:

Some issues are not necessarily your machine’s problem.

The issue of your sewing machine being in reverse could be the settings that you have set.

To make sure that this is not the problem, you can try:

  • Turning the machine off and on again
  • Make sure the reverse lever is not in the reverse position
  • Make sure the bobbin is clean and installed correctly

If none of these things seem to be the problem and you cannot correctly diagnose the issue, you will want to speak with a professional or take your sewing machine into the shop.

My Needle is Stuck in the Fabric:

Eventually, all sewing machines get stuck or jammed. Sometimes this even happens more than once per project.

It can be very frustrating when your thread gets tangled, and your needle will no longer move. Not only is this frustrating, but it can also be harmful to your project.

If you find that you are sewing and your needle gets stuck in the fabric, there could be several reasons this is occurring.

5. Needle/Thread Size:

If you do not use the correct size needle for your thread or fabric, then you could run into a jamming issue.

Make sure you are using the proper thickness when it comes to your needle based on the fabric and thread you are using.

If you are not sure what you need, then you should be able to find a guide to help you.

If you use the wrong needle, the needle can get bent or stuck. Not only is this damaging to the needle, but you could also damage your sewing machine, and it’s parts.

6. Stitch Length:

The stitch length could also be an issue.

If you are having issues, it is possible that you need to lengthen the stitch length you are using.

A stitch length that is too fine can jam up your machine.

7. Tangled Thread:

Another reason that your needle could be jamming up is if there is thread stuck in the area around the bobbin case.

If tangled thread collects under the bottom of the machine near the bobbin, you can have a large tangled mess on your hands.

To fix this issue, you will want to turn off your machine, raise the needle and presser foot, and remove the needle plate. Once you can, you need to clean out everything under the needle plate and put it back in its proper place.

This should fix your tangled thread issue.

My Sewing Machine is Stuck in Bobbin Mode:

Sewing machines are able to wind the thread onto the bobbin, so you don’t have to. Winding your bobbin should only be done on your sewing machine.

If you attempted to do this by hand, then your thread would not be wound at the consistent or proper tension.

But why can’t you get your machine out of bobbin winding mode?

8. Bobbin Mode Stuck:

Most often, there is some sort of lever or switch to put your machine in bobbin winding mode.

If you cannot turn this function off, then something in your machine is jammed or out of place.

This is not something that you can fix on your own. You will have to work with a professional to get this fixed.

9. Bobbin Software Malfunction:

Just like before, if you have a computerized sewing machine and it is not working properly, it could be a software issue.

Your software may need an update, or you may need to troubleshoot it.

If you are not comfortable doing this yourself, you will want to have someone else take a look at it.

My Thread Gets Stuck in the Bobbin:

If your thread is getting stuck in your bobbin, you could have a few different issues going on with your machine.

10. Tension Issue:

If your thread tensions are wrong, then you could have issues with your thread getting stuck in the bobbin.

This could be either from the top thread or the bobbin thread, so to troubleshoot this problem, you will want to look at both threads.

Make sure that your top thread can feed through your machine freely without any obstructions in the process.

This can happen in a few places where you threaded your machine. If you cannot figure it out, you could always re-thread your machine.

If your issue is the bobbin thread, you will want to adjust the bobbin case tension. You can do this by adjusting the screw on the bobbin case.

Tension could also be a problem if you are using a thread that is thinner or thicker than the thread you normally use in your machine.

11. Bobbin Threading Issue:

Besides tension, you could have an issue with the way the bobbin was threaded.

If there are any knots, or the bobbin was not wound properly, you could have some issues getting your bobbin thread to behave properly.

You can check the threading on the bobbin for any tangles or knots, or if you are unsure, you could always re-thread the bobbin or another bobbin to see if that fixes your issues.

The Fabric Keeps Getting Stuck in the Machine:

When your fabric gets stuck in your machine, this can be very annoying.

Not only could this be harmful to your project or your machine, but you could also be wasting expensive fabric, and no one likes to waste money or materials.

If this happens, you will want to troubleshoot and fix the problem right away so that you can get back to sewing smoothly.

Some possible causes of this problem include:

12. Incorrect Stitch Length:

Depending on the type of fabric you are working with, you will need to adjust your stitch length so that your fabric does not get sucked into your sewing machine.

Depending on the weight of the fabric you are using, you might need to shorten or lengthen your stitch.

This issue can be especially bad when you are working with a stretchy knit fabric.

One way to test whether or not your stitch will work is to use a scrap piece of fabric to test that everything goes through properly before you start your project.

13. Incorrect Needle:

The needle you are using can also be the reason for your fabric being sucked into your machine.

Your needle should be sharp when you start your project, but you also need to use the correct needle depending on what fabric you are working with.

A heavier fabric will require a bigger needle to work properly. One of the best examples of this is denim.

14. Dirty Bobbin or Needle Plate:

If you are still having an issue with your fabric getting stuck in the machine, you might need to clean your machine.

The bobbin area and needle plate can get dirty and dusty, and this can cause issues with your fabric. Not only dust and dirt get stuck in this area.

You can also get broken threads and shreds of fabric stuck in your bobbin area.

Removing the needle plate and cleaning it as well as the bobbin area can help prevent your fabric from getting stuck in your machine.

15. My Sewing Machine is Stuck in Zigzag Mode:

Zigzag stitching can be useful in certain situations. You can use it for difficult areas that a straight stitch will not work.

This can include stretchy fabrics, joining two fabrics edge to edge, and reinforcing buttonholes.

However, just because a zigzag stitch is useful, doesn’t mean that you would want to only use a zigzag stitch, so what do you do if your machine is stuck doing a zigzag?

If you cannot get your machine to switch back to a straight stitch, you might want to check your owners manual to determine how to troubleshoot.

If you cannot find anything useful in your manual, and you still can’t figure out how to switch your machine out of zigzag, you might need to contact the manufacturer of your machine.

My Sewing Machine is Stuck on Full Speed:

Sewing at different speeds can be useful, depending on what needs you have.

If your machine will only go at full speed, this is not ideal for more complicated spots.

That is why you need to fix the issue if your machine is stuck only going at full speed.

16. Foot Pedal Stuck:

If your machine is only going at full speed, you could be having issues with your foot pedal. The foot pedal is the only way to control your speed, so if you are having a speed issue, checking your foot pedal is a good place to start.

If you have something lodged in your foot pedal, that is causing it to only be able to go one speed.

Checking your foot pedal for dirt and debris is a good practice to keep your foot pedal in proper working order.

If your foot pedal is clean and clear of debris but is still not functioning, you might want to check your foot pedal’s power cord.

17. Motor Issues:

If your sewing machine is stuck at full speed, one issue you could be facing is a motor issue.

If your motor is bad in your sewing machine, it can affect the speeds of your machine.

If you have a motor issue and you cannot fix it yourself, you will have to get a professional to replace your motor for you.

18. My Handwheel is Stuck:

If your handwheel isn’t turning, you should not force it. Your handwheel should turn easily, and if it doesn’t, you likely have a deeper problem.

Most often, your handwheel gets stuck when your sewing machine is jammed due to another reason.

This can be due to a few different reasons that we spoke about previously. These issues include:

  • You have fabric stuck in the sewing machine
  • Your needle is stuck
  • Your thread is bunched up
  • Your machine is jammed

If you have checked that everything else is working properly on your machine, and your handwheel still won’t work, you should get your machine serviced by a professional, or call the manufacturer of your machine.

19. The Presser Foot is Stuck in the “Down” Position:

If your presser foot only sits in the down position, you won’t be able to place your fabric underneath it.

If this is happening to you, you could have a broken lever for your presser foot. If your lever is broken, you will need to replace it.

This is best done by a professional who specializes in sewing machine repair.

You could also replace the entire presser foot configuration if needed. A presser foot is also meant to be changed out as needed.

Bonus! Check If The Presser Foot is Stuck in the “Up” Position:

As annoying as it is to have your presser foot stuck in a downward position, it is even more impossible to sew with your presser foot stuck in an upward position.

You could be having this issue with your presser foot for a few different reasons. These could include:

  • Dirt and dust being stuck near your presser foot
  • The machine is still in bobbin mode
  • You have a broken gear in your machine
  • The machine has gotten stuck for another reason

If you have checked all these possibilities and your presser foot is still having issues, you should get your machine serviced by a professional.

Taking Care of Your Machine:

Even if your machine is working perfectly, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything that you need to do with your machine.

You should always clean your machine. You should also get your machine serviced by a professional at least once per year.

A professional will be able to clean your machine and check to make sure that everything is in good working order. They may even be able to spot future issues before they happen.

They can find wear on your parts as well as anything that is not working to its full potential.

Taking care of your machine is the best way to avoid damage in the future, and can save you money in the long run.