There are always simple things that seem to stump one as they start a project. Use this very simple guide to help you answer some of the common questions or problems one encounters in their sewing adventures.
1. Uneven stitching – Could be a tension problem. Do a tension test by running a row of stitching on the bias of the fabric. Now, pull on the fabric until the thread breaks. If the needle thread breaks, loosen the top tension. If the bobbin thread breaks, tighten the top tension.
2. Skipped Stitches – Check the needle. Is it inserted correctly? Try a different size needle – one that may work better for your fabric.
3. Slanted Stitching – If your stiches seem to lean in one direction, try stitching in different directions on a fabric scrap. Does the fabric’s grain affect the look of the stitch?
4. When begining a seam, the fabric is being sucked down into the machine’s needle plate – Loosely woven, lightweight, and silky fabrics tend to do this. Try increasing the presser foot pressure and use a smaller needle size. If your machine has a straight stitch needle plate (one with a single hole for the needle), use it. If necessary, hold the thread tails slightly taut and to the side of the foot when beginning to stitch so the feed dogs can do their job. Or, use a scrap of tear-away stabilizer to give your seam a place to start. Begin stitching through the stabilizer and then onto your fabric.
5. Wavy seams – This will happen when the stitches are too small for the fabric. Correct this by lengthening the stitch.
6. Puckered seams – Check the tension again. A seam will pucker if the tensions are too tight. If this doesn’t help, try decreasing the presser foot pressure, using a finer needle, a different presser foot, and/or a shorter stitch length.
7. Thread loops form on the underside – Tighten the needle tension. Check the needle. Make sure the thread in the needle and bobbin are the same weight.
8. Thread jams – Is the presser foot lowered? Make sure the presser foot screw that holds it in place is securely tightened. Before lowering the foot, bring the thread tails under the foot and to the back or side of the machine.
9. Top thread breaks – Try rethreading the machine, adjust the tension and check the needle. Are the top and bottom threads compatible? Another possible cause is a burr on the needle plate. This can happen after a needle has been deflected off the plate and broken while stitching. To remove the burr, use an emery cloth (not sand paper) to gently file the rough spot.
10. Bottom thread breaks – Clean the bobbin case and rethread the bobbin.
11. Needle breaks – Check to be sure the needle is inserted correctly and the needle clamp is screwed on tight. Check the top tension and needle size. A too fine needle for your fabric will cause the needle to break. Are you pulling or pushing the fabric through the machine as it is stitching with your hands, causing strain on the needle? Let the machine’s feed dogs do the work.