Thread Take-Up Lever Problems (6 Common Issues)

You can find the take-up lever above the presser foot in a sewing machine. It is the part of the machine that lifts the thread back out of the fabric and feeds it back into the spool.

The thread take-up lever is an important part of your sewing machine and raises and lowers the needle.

However, if you have problems with the thread take-up lever or want to know more about it, then read on:

1. The Take-up Lever is Missing

Some of the newer sewing machines are designed to only come out slightly with the take-up lever.

Check your sewing machine’s manual to diagram where the take-up lever is located. Some may emerge slightly on top of the machine, others on the left side, and others will not.

Regardless of where it is, you should be able to see through the area where the take-up lever should be to ensure that it isn’t missing.

If the lever is present, you can try the following to make it more visible:

  • Turn the handwheel towards you.
  • The take-up lever should gradually extend or become more visible.

2. The Take-up Lever is Stuck

The take-up lever could be stuck for a variety of reasons.

First, check if anything is jamming it. Then, clean it thoroughly and remove anything that could cause it to jam.

You can use a brush or tweezer to help you remove any dirt and bits of fabric and thread.

If it is still stuck after cleaning it up, make sure the tension pulley is properly adjusted. If it is, and the machine is computerized, restore it to factory settings. Then, double-check that the needle is properly seated.

Check the Bobbin Case:

Examine the bobbin case as well. Sometimes the take-up lever becomes stuck due to loose threads inside.

Reattach the bobbin once the bobbin case has been cleaned up.

Finally, check to see if the thread tension needs to be adjusted. For example, it might be too tight or too loose.

If your upper and bobbin threads are different, try using the same thread for both.

3. The Thread Keeps Coming Out of the Take-up Lever

It is impossible to sew even stitches if the top thread comes out of the take-up lever when the machine is running.

In addition, the thread will eventually come undone as well. The first thing you should do is rethread the machine to correct the problem whenever this occurs.

The problem may be simply due to incorrect threading.

If you are still experiencing the same problem, you may want to try changing the needle size that is currently installed in your machine. Unfortunately, you cannot use all needle threads in all machines.

Therefore, the incorrect size may pull on the thread, causing it to come out of the take-up lever.

4. Neither the Take-up Lever nor the Needle Will Move

If you know that the sewing machine is powered on, but the take-up lever and the needle won’t move, then the first thing you want to do is rethread the machine.

The machine is probably stuck due to the thread being jammed. Cut off any knots and remove any bits of fabric and thread that might cause the machine to be stuck.

In addition to the thread getting stuck, there might also be fabric stuck in the machine.

To remove the jammed fabric:

  1. Sewing machines should be turned off before you begin.
  2. Remove the needle from the machine if possible. If you can’t manually raise the needle by turning the handwheel, proceed to the next step.
  3. Remove both the presser foot and holder.
  4. Remove the fabric; if the thread causes the fabric to get tangled and stops the fabric from being removed, cut off the thread. You can also try cutting the thread underneath the fabric.
  5. Remove any debris on the race.
  6. Slide the needle plate cover to remove it.
  7. Remove the bobbin case and remove any tangled threads and debris.
  8. Replace the bobbin case, needle plate cover, presser foot, presser foot holder, and needle.
  9. Rethread the machine and power it back on to continue sewing.

The sewing machine can become clogged by more than just fabric and thread.

Occasionally, broken needles can fall into the hook assembly and cause the take-up lever and needle to get stuck.

Check if a broken piece has fallen into the machine and remove it using a tweezer. If you have a computerized machine, check if the machine displays any error codes on the display screen.

Then, refer to the sewing machine manual to decode what the error code means and take the appropriate steps to resolve the error.

5. The Take-up Lever Broke Off

If the take-up lever has snapped off and needs to be replaced, keep in mind that replacing the take-up lever may be challenging, especially if you are pretty unfamiliar with sewing machines.

If you consider yourself a novice, it might be best to bring to take it to an expert to replace the take-up lever.

Nevertheless, if you are comfortable opening up the machine and know your way around a sewing machine, replacing a take-up machine is doable.

Before opening up the machine and removing the parts, ensure that you have the proper tools and take-up lever for the same make and model. Additionally, this guide may only work for some sewing machines.

Finally, refer to your sewing machine’s manual for additional guidance:

  1. Remove the faceplate.
  2. Take out the screws holding the take-up lever and set them aside. These screws are likely to be found on the side of the lever. Pulling the lever up and down by hand will reveal that one of the screws holds the lever in place. The other screw moves in response to the movement of the lever.
  3. To unscrew one of the screws, turn it clockwise, and to unscrew the other, turn it counterclockwise.
  4. Remove the take-up lever after the screws have been removed. You may turn the handwheel, adjust the position of the lever and make it easier to remove it.
  5. Before replacing the lever, make sure all of the machine’s parts are thoroughly cleaned and oiled.
  6. After the machine has been thoroughly cleaned, the lever should be replaced. Place the new lever in the same location as the previous one.
  7. Replace the screws with the correct ones. Remember that one of the screws will need to be turned counterclockwise, and the other will be turned clockwise.
  8. Replace the faceplate.

6. The Take-up Lever Isn’t Moving, but the Handwheel Is

If the take-up lever does not move up and down even when you manually turn the handwheel, the hand clutch may be loose.

Tighten and adjust the inner portion of the wheel on the right side of your machine and the hand clutch. If you don’t know where to look for the hand clutch, consult your sewing machine’s manual for a diagram.

If tightening the hand clutch does not solve the problem, it could be that the drive belt is broken.

First, check the sewing machine’s cover to see if this is the problem. Then, replace the drive belt to see if the problem is resolved.

Additionally, the problem could be caused by broken cam gears.

It is best to bring the sewing machine to a repair shop if the cam gears are broken. Finding replacement parts can be challenging and expensive.

Additionally, removing and installing the replacement parts can be difficult if you have never done it before.


How to remove fabric that is jammed/stuck in the machine

Problem: The thread take-up lever looks broken.