Sewing Machine Making Holes But Not Sewing? (6 Reasons Solved)

Sometimes when you sit down to sew, your sewing machine might be running just fine. However, you might quickly realize that it makes holes in the fabric without making any stitches.

Problems with your thread, the machine’s tension, or your needle can lead to this sewing machine issue.

Let’s look at these common reasons behind a sewing machine making holes without sewing and how to solve the problem:

1. Your Thread Breaks While Sewing

If your thread breaks while you’re sewing, your machine won’t be able to complete the stitches it is currently attempting to make. This will leave you with plenty of holes but not a stitch in sight.

Your thread can break for a few different reasons. First, the age, exposure, and quality of the thread you’re using will directly impact its strength and performance.

Many people have many spools of thread in their sewing supplies of unknown source, age, or quality.

Old thread exposed to direct sunlight or cheap, low-quality thread can break easily under pressure.

Spools of thread are often thrown in as freebies when purchasing a sewing machine or larger sewing supplies. Because of this trend, many sewers have plenty of low-quality, old spools of thread in their collection.

If you’re not careful when selecting the thread for your sewing project, you might become frustrated as your thread breaks in the middle of your sewing session.

When a thread breaks, your machine will keep running, but it won’t be sewing anything at all. When this happens, you will have holes in your fabric but no stitches.

If you feel confident that your thread is breaking due to the quality of the thread itself, this is valuable information for you and your sewing project. You wouldn’t want to use a weak thread anyway since it won’t be very strong or durable in holding your final project together.

Remember that black thread tends to break more easily than any other color. This seems to be true across brands. If possible, spend a little extra on a high-quality black thread from a respected manufacturer to avoid breakage.

If you are struggling with black thread breaking, consider using another color if it’s possible.

2. Your Machine is Incorrectly Threaded

If your thread itself isn’t the problem, it might be how you’re using it. If you’ve made a mistake while threading your machine, you might end up without a single stitch when you begin sewing.

When the machine is threaded incorrectly, this might lead to a buildup of knots that cause the thread to then break.

Luckily, threading problems can be easily remedied. You can check if you made a mistake or missed a step when you thread the machine.

You might also choose to start from scratch and thread the machine again, starting with the spool.

Consult your instruction manual to ensure you are threading your machine exactly as required. Sewing machine models might have slight variations in how they need to be threaded.

If you are working with a new machine or aren’t confident with each step of the threading process, it’s a good time to take a look at the manual and double-check your work.

Getting the hang of your specific machine’s threading needs is essential to great sewing performance.

3. There’s a Problem with Your Bobbin

Your sewing machine needs the top thread and bobbin thread to both be working to complete a stitch. If you’re confident that your top thread is properly threaded and not about to break, it’s time to check with your bobbin.

Your bobbin can suffer from the same quality issues as your top thread. If you have created a bobbin from low-quality, ready-to-break thread, this can lead you directly to a machine that can’t complete its stitches.

Additionally, the installation and threading of your bobbin are essential for the thread to catch the needle. Check to make sure your bobbin has been properly installed and the thread is ready to be caught and used in the stitch.

If you’re not feeling confident about how to install and thread your bobbin correctly, you can always consult your instruction manual. Your manual should provide clear, step-by-step instructions on how to load your bobbin and thread it correctly.

If you have recently changed sewing machines, you might need to get used to a new loading style for your bobbin. Some machines are top-loading while others are front-loading.

Take some time to learn the needs of your specific machine to avoid any bobbin issues.

4. There’s a Problem with Your Needle

Sometimes the needle that you are using won’t be compatible with your chosen fabric or thread. Needles come in different sizes and systems. Different fabrics, threads, and machines will have different needle needs.

If you are changing the type of thread you usually use, you will want to make sure you are using a needle compatible with that kind of thread. If you use a new thread that is too thick for your needle, it will likely break as you try to sew with it.

If you’re confident that the needle you are using is right for your chosen thread and fabric, it is possible that replacing this current needle with an identical new one will solve your issue.

Changing and replacing your needle periodically is a good way of preventing a variety of sewing machine issues. Needles don’t last forever and making a habit of changing them regularly will help you avoid some mechanical headaches.

If you can’t remember the last time you changed your needle, go ahead and install a new one as soon as possible. Installing a new needle every time you begin a new sewing project is a good rule.

When you install a new needle, you are doing a few positive, preventative things for your machine. Installing a sharp, straight needle will be the most effective in completing your stitches accurately.

When you install a new needle, you have a chance to make sure it is perfectly in place. When inserting your needle, make sure it is positioned as deeply and securely as possible in the needle bar.

When your needle is correctly and securely installed, it has the maximum amount of support from the machine. This will help it stay aligned and allow all of the other functions of the machine to work properly in conjunction with the needle.

5. There’s a Problem with the Machine’s Tension

Another easy way for your thread to break is when your machine’s tension is set too high.

Your machine comes with several different tension settings for different tasks and materials. Usually, your tension dial will start at zero and go up to 8 or 9.

The lower the number, the lower the tension. When your tension is too low, the thread will be loose and sagging as it goes through the machine.

The higher the number, the higher your tension will be. When the tension is too high on your top thread, it will force the bobbin thread to come all the way up to complete the stitch.

A tension setting that is too high or too low will create undesirable and uneven stitching. It can cause the fabric to pucker around the stitches or for the stitches to fail to stay in place.

Additionally, there can be too much pressure for your thread to handle when your tension is too high. When this happens, your thread will break, causing your machine to make holes in vain.

6. How Tight Should the Thread Tension Be?

Correct tension helps you create ideal stitches that are smooth and even. Your tension dial lets you control exactly how much tension is applied and allows you to make adjustments as necessary.

Start with your tension right in the middle of its possible range. Test this tension by sewing a straight line on a scrap of fabric. Using different colors for the top thread and bobbin will help you see your stitches more clearly.

Your ideal tension will create stitches even with the top thread on the top surface of the fabric and the bobbin thread on the underside. When your stitches deviate from this ideal, you have a problem with your tension.

To get a sense of the correct tension for you and your machine, do a few of these trials, slowly turning your tension dial to see the results. You might find that the stitches look more even and smooth on a slightly higher or lower tension setting.

As a general rule of thumb, you will want to avoid extreme ends of the tension dial for most sewing tasks.

You can tell that your tension is getting too high when the bobbin thread is coming up through the top layer of fabric. If you’re using two different color threads, this will be easy to spot.

Your tension is too low when the back of your thread is full of messy loops of top thread. When the tension is too low, the bobbin thread won’t catch as it needs to, and the stitches won’t be finished and secure.

Final Thoughts

If you notice that your machine is sewing right along but not leaving any stitches behind, you might have a broken thread on your hands.

Check the quality of your thread and how you have threaded it through the machine. Using the wrong thread and needle combination can also cause breaks.

Check to make sure you are using a compatible combination.

Finally, too much tension can cause your threads to break. Take some time to check your machine’s tension settings to find the perfect balance.


Sewing Society: Why Does My Upper Thread Keep Breaking While I Sew?

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The Quilt Show: What is Machine Tensions?

Youtube: Why is My Thread Breaking?