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Background and Identification
A sewing machine is a machine used to sew materials together. Typically, sewing machines are used with fabric, canvas, and leather materials and use thread to connect the materials together.
Prior to the invention of the sewing machine, articles like clothing were sewn by hand. Historians typically agree that American Elias Howe and Englishman Thomas Saint invented the first working sewing machine in 1790 during the first Industrial Revolution. This machine was designed to be used on leather and canvas materials. Sewing machines were designed to decrease the amount of time required to make clothing and other fabric articles.
Since the invention of the commercial sewing machine, the fabric, clothing, and needle industries have greatly improved productivity. Early sewing machines were powered either by a foot-operated treadle mechanism or by constantly turning a handle. Home sewing machines are designed for one person to sew individual items. Modern household sewing machines include features like various stitch types. Industrial sewing machines are typically much larger and faster than household machines.
Modern sewing machines can produce a wide range of stitch types including the chain stitch, lockstitch, overlock stitch, cover stitch, and zigzag stitch. Feed mechanisms include drop feeds, differential feeds, needle feeds, walking feet, puller feeds, and manual feeds.
Thread bunching up under your fabric when sewing
If knots of extra thread form on the underside of your project, remove the sewing from the machine and cut through the excess thread. Remove the top thread from the sewing machine and re-thread the machine. Refer to your machine’s threading schematic in the user manual to double-check the threading process. While re-threading the machine, the presser foot should be up. Many sewing machines lock their tension disks when the pressure foot is down, making it difficult to thread the machine properly.
Next, remove and re-thread the machine’s bobbin. Check to make sure that the bobbin is unwinding the correct way (again, check the sewing machine’s user manual). Make sure you are using the same type of thread in the top thread and bobbin. Different thread weights may cause the sewing machine to draw the threads at different rates. This can cause knots and tangles.
Check that the tension settings on the sewing machine are appropriate for your project’s fabric weight. Test the settings on a piece of your project’s scrap fabric before resuming work on your project.
Bent or broken needles
It is generally recommended to use a new needle for a new project to prevent the needles from getting dull or hooked at the tip. Knit fabrics should be sewn with a ballpoint needle or jersey needle while leather, vinyl, or denim requires sharp, sturdy needles. If your needle bends or breaks, stop sewing and carefully remove the broken needle. Replace the needle and install it according to your machine’s user manual. Re-thread the needle and continue your project. If you continue to have issues with needles bending or breaking but are using the correct needle, you may have a mechanical issue with the machine’s timing mechanism, which may require expert repair.
Fabric not feeding
If your sewing machine has a drop-feed setting, make sure that it is not activated and that you do not have an embroidery or darning plate covering the machine’s feed dogs. A set of feed dogs generally resembles two or three short, thin metal bars with crosscut diagonal teeth that move back and forth in slots in the machine’s needle plate. Make sure that your presser foot is down and is set to the correct pressure for your fabric. When starting a seam, make sure that the fabric is underneath the machine’s needle before lowering your presser foot.
Thread keeps breaking
If your sewing machine’s thread keeps breaking, it is likely because the thread type is not correct for the fabric weight. Your top and bottom threads should be of the same weight, and the threads should not be the delicate variants designed for hand sewing. If your thread continues to break after re-threading the top thread, lower the tension settings for the top thread.
The machine is skipping stitches
A skipped stitch occurs when the top thread is not reaching the bobbin and the threads do not lock properly. Check to make sure that your needle is installed correctly, is not bent or damaged, and that you are using the correct needle type for your project. Re-thread the sewing machine and test it with a scrap piece of fabric from your project. If the machine continues to skip stitches, there may be a problem with its timing mechanism, which may require professional help.
Bobbin tension not consistent
If you have to constantly adjust your bobbin’s tension, check that the bobbin itself is not worn down. Worn plastic bobbins can become loose, causing the tension to become inconsistent. Replace the worn bobbin with a new plastic or metal bobbin that is not worn.
Sewing machine seizes up or won’t sew
If your sewing machine becomes stuck, you may need to help it by turning the handwheel, especially when you are just starting a seam. If the handwheel does not turn easily or the machine does not start with some assistance, your fabric might be too tough for your machine. If you are not using a tough fabric, make sure that your needle is properly installed, is not bent, and is the correct needle type. If your machine continues to not move, check your manual for cleaning and maintenance instructions. Built-up fuzz, lint, or dust can make your machine’s mechanisms stop working.
The needle comes unthreaded before sewing
Before threading the sewing machine, make sure that the needle is at the highest point in its path. Wind the handwheel toward yourself to advance the machine while watching the needle. Some machines may have an “up/down” function that allows the user to raise or lower the needle automatically to its highest or lowest point.
Fabric or threads are bunching at the start or end of seams
If your thread is becoming bunched or tangled at the ends of seams, it is likely due to backstitching (back-tacking) over the ends of the fabric. Backstitching can change the tensions and causes tangles. To avoid these tangles, sew about three millimeters into your fabric before backstitching at the beginning and end of each seam. This way, the backstitches will not be over the edge of the fabric. When ending a seam, backstitch before you come to the edge and then sew straight off of the piece for a clean finish.
Thread inconsistently knots, loosens, or tangles
Small bits of lint and dust can build up inside your sewing machine and cause issues like inconsistent tension, knots, or tangles. Avoid these problems by regularly cleaning your sewing machine according to the instructions in your user manual. Unless recommended by your manual, avoid using cans of compressed air, as the air can drive small pieces of lint or dust further into the machine.
Thread fraying, shredding, and breaking
Thread fraying, shredding, and breaking are likely due to a needle problem. Make sure that your needle is large enough for the thread to pass through the eye without pulling or catching.
The machine is making strange noises
If you hear unexpected thumps, clunks, or clangs coming from your machine, stop sewing immediately. The machine may just need a good cleaning, so consult your user manual for the recommended cleaning and maintenance procedure. After cleaning the machine, test it on a piece of scrap fabric. If you continue to hear unusual noises, there is most likely a more complicated problem at play.
The machine is running, but the needle won’t move
If your machine is running but the needle is not moving, check that the lever or winding post for your bobbin is in the correct position, as your machine is likely set in bobbin-winding mode.
Decorative stitch settings aren’t working
If your machine has a variety of decorating stitch settings, check your length and width settings. Most decorative stitch settings require specific settings to work properly. Consult your user manual to check that you are using the correct settings for the desired type of stitch.
Seams are puckered and distorted
If your seams are coming out distorted or puckered, check the weight of the thread you are using. A thick or stiff thread can cause distortion in lightweight fabrics and alter your tension settings. If the thread is sufficiently lightweight for the project, check the machine’s tension settings. An uneven feed can be another culprit for distorted seams, so check that your presser foot pressure is correct and that your feed dogs are working properly. Using a walking foot can help even out the feed for heavyweight or slippery fabrics.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is it important to know the single parts of your sewing machines?
Knowing the basic parts of your sewing machine and how it works enables the user to properly use the machine and make troubleshooting easier when problems arise. Knowing the parts of your sewing machine will also make it easier to follow instructions and perform basic maintenance. It is also important to know how to clean and lubricate the appropriate parts.
How often should I have my sewing machine cleaned and serviced?
When you should have your sewing machine serviced and cleaned depends on how often the sewing machine is used and the type of sewing done on the machine. Cotton fabrics and thread cause more lint to build up in your machine than if you are sewing with nylon or other fabrics. Servicing and cleaning your machine helps it to operate smoothly. If your sewing machine has been in storage for a long time, it will likely require servicing because the lubricants can dry up over time. If you use your sewing machine regularly, it may need to be serviced once a year.
What are the advantages of a sewing machine?
From a repair perspective, sewing machines can be used to repair worn, torn, or unused clothes by yourself. Repairing your own clothing, backpacks, and bags will help you to save money. Sewing machines are also much faster than hand sewing, so they are more convenient for large repairs. When compared to hand sewing, sewing machines produce professional-quality stitches that are hard to achieve with hand sewing.
- Wikipedia: Sewing Machine
- Sewing Machines Plus
- 17 Common Sewing Machine Problems and How to Solve Them
Bernina 830,831,832 Adjustment manual Bernina_830_831_832_adj.pdf