Why Does My Sewing Machine Needle Keep Unthreading?

This is a very common problem. Let’s take a look at the most common reasons why the needle keeps unthreading, and what we can do to resolve the problem and sure the thread will stay in place.

Why does my sewing machine needle keep unthreading? The most common reason the thread will jump out of the needle is thread tension. Make sure you have the right thread tension and check the needles for burrs. Finally, make sure to use a quality thread.

Now that we have looked at the short answer, let’s take a closer look at what might be the problem. There can be several issues and we will go over them one by one.

Here’s a series of troubleshooting tips you can try out.

Make sure you try them one at the time. If you tighten the thread while changing the thread at the same time you won’t know what fixed the problem.

You can try our suggestions in the order we mention them below starting from the top.

Start by checking the thread tension

Let’s get the most common mistakes out of the way first.

If the tension on the top thread is too high or low the machine can often keep unthreading.

Make sure the thread has the correct tension and if your stitches are loose you should probably try to tighten the thread a bit. Try to experiment a little with the tension, and see if that will fix the problem.

It is probably the most common reason for the thread to jump out of the needle.

If you are using a wrong size spool the thread might jump out of the needle continuously. Check that the spool is installed correctly and that it can spin like it should without shaking and messing things up.

Did you thread the machine correctly?

After you check the tension of the thread make sure to check how the machine is threaded. You need to pay careful attention here and make sure you forward the thread through all the right loops and holes.

Here’s a video about how to thread the machine correctly:

When does the thread fall out?

If the thread pulls out immediately when you start to sew it might be because you haven’t pulled out enough thread, to begin with. Be sure to pull at least 10-15 cm thread from both the upper thread and the bobbin before hitting the pedal.

Even if you have a long tail of thread you could experience unthreading if you do not start out with the needle at the highest position. If you start with the needle in a medium or low position the thread will pull out as you start. So be sure to check that as well.

If you have a problem with this you can also start slowly with the speed while you hold the excess thread in your one hand. That way you make sure the thread stays inside the needle as you start.

If the thread just pulls falls out at random during sewing this will not be the problem.

Check the needle

The needles might be bent or have a burr.

Make sure to check the tip as well as the groove. You should also check that it is installed incorrectly. Here’s a guide to check that you have used the right type of needle for your machine.

If the needle is bent you should expect the thread to make knots and jump out of the hole in the needle. This can easily happen if you have been using the same needle for a thick fabric like denim or canvas. These types of fabric need a special set of needles.

The best thing here is to use a needle from the same brand as your machine. Or you can check the manual for a list of brands you can use with the machine.

If you cannot find the information you can contact the dealer. They can quickly guide you to the correct type and size of needle for your project.

Check the thread for little bumps, knots, and irregularities

This can cause the thread to get tangled up in the needles which can result in the thread getting out of the needle. If this is the case you need to find a new type of thread of a higher quality or just a size that fits better.

You should generally avoid thread mounted on a foam spool. They are no good and can cause problems like unthreading. You should also avoid old threads. Your grandmother’s old shoebox with thread might not be your best choice 😉

It may also be that the needle has too small a hole. You could try a topstitch needle which has a bigger hole.

Insert the thread from the front

When you insert the thread through the hole of the needle make sure you insert it from the front and toward the back.

If you are inserting the thread from the back you are doing it wrong. This is important for the machine to work and for the thread to stay inside the needle eye. If you have trouble threading the needle correctly you can try a topstitch needle (has a bigger hole) or you can try the self-threading needles.

The self-threading needles are a great way of getting it right even if you are visually impaired or maybe you have a tremble on your hand. Check this post for more tips on sewing machines for the elderly.

Need help threading?
Most newer machines from bigger brands like Janome, Bernina, Brother, Singer etc. has a threading system to do the job for you. Some will thread the machine automatically and others have a little arm you can press down to force the thread correctly through the hole in the needle.

Check the footer

The footer can also be the root of the problem. The metal around the hole for the needle might cause the thread to fall out if it’s damaged or scratched.

If it has scratches and can touch/hit the needle on it’s way up and down. This is probably what will happen if the footer is broken in that area. Especially when you are using a zigzag stitch or if you are doing embroidery.

If you suspect the footer to be the problem you can try and change it. It’s not easy to fix a broken footer but you could try and give it a smoother surface with a file.

Make sure you use the universal standard footer for regular sewing jobs. When you move the needle up and down slowly (manually), you can inspect the area around the footer and make sure it does pass freely inside the footer. If you want to try out the other footers from the machine be sure to check with the manual because the might not look alike across different brands.

Check the bobbin case

The same goes for the bobbin. Make sure there are nothing that touches the needle and look out for dust and things that shouldn’t be there.

A broken needle may have left a small part of the needle in the area, so you need to make sure everything is cleaned and as it should be. If you find anything out of the ordinary you need to take action immediately.

Loose parts and lint inside the bobbin case or around it can cause bigger problems if you do not get it fixed before sewing.

If you are using the wrong bobbin or have inserted an unoriginal bobbin you can also experience things like unthreading. Always use the bobbins that came with the machine and if it gets broken you need to get a new one exactly like the one you had.

If none of this works…

If you have tried all our suggestions above you should probably take the machine to the store or a repair shop. Let them test the machine and see if they can solve your problem.

They will know the brand and your specific model so it’s probably easy for them to locate the problem you have. Be sure to get a quote before they start working on the machine because if they will have to spend a lot of time troubleshooting it can end up costing you too much (especially if the machine is old).

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