The Top 10 Things People Do to Screw Up Their Sewing Machines and How to Fix Them

By Renee Larson

  1. If you have a big messy knot of thread underneath your fabric when you are sewing this is called “nesting.”  Nesting of thread on the bottom of your sewing is most often caused by mis-threading.  Check your thread and make sure everything is in the correct order. It never hurts to re-thread your machine and start again.
  2. If your bobbin thread  is “mushy” rather than tightly wound, it is likely wound incorrectly.  Also, check to make sure your bobbin is put in correctly, and the thread is going in the right direction.
  3. Make sure you use the correct needle for the project/thread you are using.  An example of using the wrong needle is using heavy duty thread with a regular needle, which will shred the thread.  Try a topstitch needle instead.
  4. Change your needle every 15 hours of sewing, otherwise you can wind up with skipped stitches, a bent needle, etc.
  5. Use the correct bobbin for your machine.  Check your owner’s manual for the right size.  Never assume that a generic one will work.  Very bad things can happen to your machinery if you do not follow this.
  6. Know your machine’s limitations – don’t force your machine to do something it is not meant to do, like sew through multiple layers of leather with a dull needle.
  7. Make life easier on yourself by using the right foot for your machine.  Your regular foot does not always work best for everything.  A ruffler will cut your sewing time in half.  A walking foot will give you a second set of feed dogs to help move everything along more evenly.
  8. DO NOT use canned air on your machine’s insides.  Use your vacuum instead.  It is better to suck it out than blow it in.
  9. Match your threads top to bottom.  For most sewing the weights of threads should match.  Some exemptions include using elastic thread in your bobbin and using embroidery thread which actually requires different weight threads.
  10. Take the time to clean out your machine on a regular basis.  Lint collected under your bobbin case can actually hold moisture in, causing rust.  Also, it is a good idea to have a professional clean out your machine once a year.  If your machine zigs but does not zag, it may require the use of a professional.

Renee Larson is MNSOC’s Resident Sewing Pro.  If you have a question for Renee you can send it to MNSOC, or you can find Renee in person – selling, fixing and teaching about various sewing machines at the Husquavarna Viking dealer in Joann Fabrics in Woodbury.


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