Sewing Machine Will Only Sew in Reverse? Here’s Why (Solved)

If your machine gets stuck in reverse and can only backstitch, you will want to solve this problem right away. 

Sewing machines can get stuck sewing in reverse when there is a problem with the reverse lever or the settings. The reverse lever requires periodic lubrication and can get stuck when not cared for regularly.

Machines can also be accidentally set to a backstitching setting and need to be reset:

Why Won’t My Sewing Machine Go Forward?

Standard sewing machines are designed to sew in both directions: forward and backward.

The movement of the feed dogs controls this motion. The movement of these little metal teeth that guide the fabric through the machine will determine if your sewing machine is sewing forward or reverse. 

Several factors might be controlling your feed dogs without your knowledge.

Settings on your sewing machine can control feed dogs. Many machines will have a lever that, when pulled down, puts your machine into reverse.

If this lever starts having problems and gets stuck in one position, it won’t be able to tell your machine to go forward. 

You might have also set your machine to a reverse stitch in another way and not realized that it is still on that setting. 

Let’s look at each of these problems more closely and find out how to solve each of them. 

Your Reverse Lever Has Gotten Stuck

When your machine is working normally, you can press down a lever to get your machine to sew in reverse.

You release the lever when you wish to return to sewing normally. When your machine is operating properly, this lever should quickly switch on and off without causing any trouble.

However, your sewing machine requires lubrication over time, just like any machine.

When the parts start to dry out and seize up, they are in danger of getting stuck and not working smoothly, which can happen with the mechanical components of your reverse lever.

When the reverse lever can no longer pop back up, as usual, it likely means that it cannot give the signal to your machine to switch directions. 

If you notice your reverse lever isn’t moving like it usually does or is returning to its position very slowly, it is a sign that it requires some maintenance. 

How to Fix Your Reverse Lever

If you want to get your machine back on track and sew in both directions, you will have to address the problem with this lever. 

To solve your reverse lever problem, you will have to remove the back casing of your sewing machine. This will give you full access to the inner workings of your reverse lever.

You will want to look at how your reverse lever is attached to the rest of your machine. If you look behind the lever, you will find a long spring set up vertically in the machine.

This spring helps the lever switch on and off. 

When the spring is elongated, and there is tension in the coil, your machine is in reverse. When the lever is released, and the spring contracts and is no longer under tension, your machine is moving forward. 

Sometimes the parts connecting this lever to the spring to the rest of the mechanics of your machine can dry up and fail to function. Lubricating these areas can help your machine run smoothly and allow it to get out of reverse. 

Gently wiggle your reverse lever up and down to allow the lubrication to access all the relevant components. The lubrication has done its job once you notice the lever popping back up naturally.

Your machine should no longer be stuck in reverse. 

If you’re not feeling confident in your ability to lubricate the machine yourself, you can bring it to your local mechanic for maintenance.

Keeping your machine on a regular maintenance schedule will help prevent this problem from occurring in the first place. 

Your Machine is Set to a Reverse Stitch

If you have a machine with lots of knobs and settings, you might not even realize that your machine is currently set to sew in reverse. 

For example, if your machine has a knob for sewing buttonholes, you can turn this to a reverse stitch setting. If this was done by accident and you aren’t familiar with this knob, you might not realize where the problem lies. 

Even if you are careful with your sewing settings, another family member might have accidentally changed the settings without your knowledge.

This is particularly possible if you have mischievous and playful family members– kids or spouses alike. 

How to Fix Your Machine Settings

Luckily, it is quite simple to fix a simple settings issue. The biggest part is identifying the mistake. 

If you don’t know all the ins and outs of your machine’s settings, take some time with your instruction manual to get more familiar with your machine. 

Pay special attention to any settings that would cause your machine to sew in reverse. If you find it has been sent to a special reverse setting, turn it back to its default mode, where it can stitch normally. 

If you have a computerized machine, there may be a technological malfunction. Use your instruction manual to help you reset the machine.

If the problem persists, you can bring it to your local repair shop for professional help. 

How Do I Get My Sewing Machine Out of Reverse?

If your machine is stuck sewing only in reverse, you will want first to identify the problem. Is your reverse lever behaving as it usually does?

If it is not snapping back into place on command, that’s a sign of where the problem is.

If your reverse lever seems just fine, turn your attention to the other setting options. Is everything set to default mode and set to sew forward?

If you catch any setting that has accidentally been set for reverse, you will want to reset it immediately.

While going through these steps should solve most of your reverse problems, you can always bring your sewing machine to a local repair professional for additional help.

Can Sewing Machines Get Locked in Reverse?

Sewing machines can periodically get locked in reverse.

However, it is usually an easy problem to solve and one that you can likely take care of.

To avoid getting locked in reverse, make sure your machine receives regular maintenance and lubrication. If your machine receives regular attention to keep running smoothly, you lower your chances that it will get locked in reverse. 

The more you know your machine, the more you can avoid setting issues.

If you get a new sewing machine, take preventative measures and understand all the knobs and settings before diving into your first sewing project. 

Final Thoughts

If your sewing machine seems to be stuck in reverse, don’t panic.

This can happen from time to time and can be fixed so it can sew easily in both directions.

Your machine can get stuck in reverse if it hasn’t been properly lubricated or if it has been accidentally set to a reverse stitch.

By lubricating the relevant parts and checking your settings, you should be sewing forward again in no time. 


Hunker: What Is Wrong With a Sewing Machine That Will Only Sew Backwards?

Sewing Machine Club: Why Does My Sewing Machine Sew Backwards?

Youtube: Sewing Machine Stuck in Reverse