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Why Does My Sewing Machine Keep Jamming

Why Does My Sewing Machine Keep Jamming?

There’s nothing more frustrating than having your sewing machine jam. You gather all the fabric, thread, needles and other items you need to make a great project. You are excited to sit down at the sewing machine and this happens…

And the moment you press down on the foot pedal, nothing happens but a whirling sound. You may also see the sewing machine do a few stitches before the thread becomes tangled up on the other side of the fabric. Before you throw it out the window, grab a cup of coffee, and read along. I promise you will gain your sanity back.

Here are several reasons why you may have a jammed sewing machine on your hands.

1. Sewing Machine is Stuck in Reverse

The reverse lever in your sewing machine is to allow you to sew backwards, and it can be important when you want to start a stitch. Before you start sewing, it’s normal to hold your stitch in place by sewing forward and then backward as well for half an inch. This technique isn’t anything new, and I use it all the time, and I can bet other professionals do as well, just to make sure their stitching doesn’t unravel. Even after you have finished sewing, you can use the reverse function to hold your seam in place.

I understand that sewing backwards is important, but it doesn’t mean we want the sewing machine stuck that way. You do not want your machine to be on reverse, because that way, you cannot effectively sew anything.

The big question is “why does this keep happening?” Let’s look at some potential reasons why your sewing machine could be stuck in reverse:

  •  Feed Dog Issues

The major purpose of the feed dog is for the smooth back and forth movement of the fabric. But the feed dog can also be stuck in reverse, causing your machine only to sew backwards.

If this is the case, tweaking your machine settings won’t fix the issue; you would need professional expertise.

Lint or debris in the feed dog area can jam the mechanisms preventing them to move. Cleaning out the lint and dirt can free the jam. Then make sure the feed dog is in the raised position so that it can grip the fabric.

  • Settings Issues

Some faults might not come from your sewing machine, and the problem might just be that you left the machine in reverse settings.

To be sure this is not the problem:

  • Turn the machine off and on
  • Ensure the reverse lever is not in use
  • Keep your bobbin clean and be sure it’s installed properly

If none of these happens to be the issue, and you cannot exactly tell what it is, you should speak to a professional.

  • Software-Related Issues

If your sewing machine keeps jamming and you are using a computerized sewing machine, it might just be a software issue. That’s because the entire sewing machine is handled on a computer system. Technology isn’t always certain, same with a computerized sewing machine.

So, the problem may be a software malfunction, or your sewing machine is due for a system upgrade. If you understand the software of your machine perfectly well, you should be able to troubleshoot it yourself, but if not, you would need the help of the company that sells the exact model of your machine. And that’s why I believe that you should always buy your sewing machine from a reputable brand.

  • Reverse Lever Issue

The reverse level is for sewing in reverse so that you can secure your stitches tightly. It is usually a lever or button, and if the problem is with the lever or button, unfortunately, you might not be able to fix it yourself.

You will need professional help if you aren’t familiar with the internal mechanism of your sewing machine.

2. The Sewing Machine is Stuck in the Maximum Speed

Okay, I know that it can be fun while sewing at full speed of your sewing machine when you get to certain spots, but your machine going at the highest speed won’t be ideal for complicated spots. This is why you should be able to control the pace at which your machine sews, so you need to get it fixed if it just moves at full speed. Some of the possible issues that can cause this include:

  • Motor Issues

It’s possible that you can be experiencing problems with the speed of your sewing machine because there is already an issue with the motor. A damaged motor can affect the speed of any sewing machine. So, if this is the case and you can’t fix it yourself, then you might need to see a professional.

  • Foot Pedal Stuck

If your machine is going at the fastest speed, it can be as a result of issues with the foot pedal. The foot pedal controls the speed of your sewing machine, so you best check it out first. It could be that you have something lodged to the foot pedal, causing it to be stuck at a particular speed, so you should check for dirt and debris to ensure it’s in proper working condition.

If the foot pedal is all cleaned up, and it’s still having the same issues, you should take a look at the foot pedal’s power cord.

3. The Sewing Machine is Stuck in Bobbin Mode

The winding of your bobbin is the job of your machine, and not yours. If you attempt to handle it yourself, your thread won’t be tangled at the proper tension.

However, there are reasons why you can’t opt your machine out of bobbin winding mode:

  • Bobbin Software Malfunction

Like mentioned earlier, if you are using a computerized machine and your sewing machine needs an upgrade, it can be a reason why your machine is stuck in bobbin mode.

Your machine might either need an upgrade or troubleshooting. And if you feel you can handle it yourself, and then do, but if not, have a professional look at it.

  • Bobbin Mode Stuck

For most sewing machines, there is a lever or switch that sets your sewing machine to bobbin winding mode. But if you are unable to turn this off by yourself, then you will have to work with a professional.

4. The Handwheel is Stuck

Your handwheel should be able to move without any difficulty, so, if you aren’t finding it easy, then there is a problem. The handwheel becomes hard to move when your sewing machine is stuck as a result of other reasons, as we previously mentioned, such as:

  • The needle is stuck
  • The fabric is stuck in the machine
  • The thread is in a tangled mess

If you have checked and fixed all of this, and the handwheel still won’t budge, then you should get it serviced by a professional.

5. The Needle is Stuck in The Fabric

Nothing is more frustrating than when your sewing machine gets stuck more than once when sewing a project. It’s very annoying to see your needle stick, causing your needle to become immobile. This cannot only be frustrating, but also ruin your project, and that’s much worse. Even as a professional, the feeling of exhaustion would creep in slowly.

There are a couple of reasons why your needle keeps getting stuck in the fabric frequently, let’s have a look:

  • Needle and Thread Size

When you do not use the right size of needle for your fabric, you would most likely experience a jamming issue every few minutes.

Make sure that the needle and thread in use are correct in thickness. So choose your needle/thread according to the type of fabric you are using.

  • Tangled Thread

When there is a rope of thread stuck in the bobbin case, your needle will keep jamming until you rectify the issue.

To correct this problem, turn off the sewing machine and lift the needle and presser foot so that you can take off the needle plate. Thoroughly clean out the needle plate and put it back in place, this should get your fix the issue.

  • Poor Thread Quality

You get what you pay for when it comes to sewing thread. Buying bargain basement thread may seem like a smart idea for your budget, but the thread can cause a range of different problems with your sewing machine. Poor quality thread sheds a lot of lint that can get into the working parts of your machine and cause it to jam. The thread may also have tiny knots that can cause jamming when trying to be forced through the fabric. Poor quality thread can also break more often.

Get better quality thread if you have checked the machine, needle, feed dogs, presser foot, and thread tension and can’t find any problems. You will see a world of difference with your sewing machine as it will run better and your projects will look fantastic because you used quality thread.

  • Stitch Length

The length of your stitch could be an issue. So, if your stitch length is too fine, it can cause your machine to jam.

  • The Needle is Broken/Bent

Sewing machines can also jam if there is a problem with the needle. It could be bent or broken, preventing the thread from going through the fabric. Check your sewing machine needle to see if there are any problems with it. If the needle looks fine but it still continues to cause problems, you could be using the wrong type or size needle for the stitch pattern. Also check to make sure you are inserting it the right way.

6. The Presser Foot is Stuck in Up/Down Position

If your presser foot is stuck downward, it would be impossible to place your fabric underneath, and it can happen as a result of a broken lever. If the lever of your presser foot is broken, you would need to fix it, and it’s best done by a professional. You can even replace the whole presser foot because after all, it’s supposed to be changed as needed.

Your presser foot being stuck upwards is even more frustrating, and it’s extremely impossible to sew this way. There are several issues why this may happen:

  • There is a broken gear in the machine
  • There is a pile of debris stuck near the presser foot
  • The machine is in bobbin mode

But, if you have checked all of these and still nothing, then you need to get it serviced by a professional.

7. The Sewing Machine is Stuck in Zig-Zag Mode

You can use zig-zag stitching for areas where you can’t use a straight stitch line, such as when you are sewing stretchy fabrics or reinforcing buttonholes. Once again, because you need to use a zig-zag stitching for a few areas, doesn’t mean you want your sewing machine in a permanent zig-zag mode. But what happens if you can’t switch it out of the zig-zag mode?

You should check your owner’s manual to see if you can find something helpful, and if you can’t, then you need to contact your sewing machine’s manufacturer.

8. The Thread Gets Stuck in the Bobbin

There are a couple of reasons why your thread keeps getting stuck in the bobbin. Keep reading.

  • Bobbin Threading Issue

If your bobbin is threaded wrongly, it could cause jamming issues to your sewing machine.

Your bobbin thread won’t move properly if there are knots or if the bobbin isn’t properly wound.

Check to see if the threading on your bobbin is all tangled, and fix it if you can. But if you cannot, then re-thread another bobbin to see if it fixes the issue.

  •  Tension Issue

If the threading tensions are wrong, it can cause your thread to get stuck in the bobbin. And this can be from the top or bobbin thread, so have a look at both threads and fix the issue.

Ensure that the top thread can feed through the sewing machine without any obstruction. But if you still don’t understand this, simply re-thread your machine.

If the problem is with the bobbin thread, try adjusting the bobbin case tension, by shifting the screw positioned on the bobbin case.

When using a thicker or thinner thread than use, it can cause tension problems.

  • No Tension in The Upper Thread

The bobbin isn’t to blame! This is a common misconception when seeing a bunch of thread in a tangled mess underneath the fabric. The problem actually has to do with the tension of the upper thread. Basically, the sewing machine doesn’t have enough upper tension to pull the thread up through the fabric.

When this situation occurs, it is best to re-thread the needle according to the manufacturer’s instructions for your sewing machine with the presser foot lifted up.

9. Your Fabric Keeps Getting Stuck in The Machine

This can also be very frustrating, and a number of issues can cause this. When your fabric continuously gets stuck in your machine, it can cause some serious damages to your project, and it’s more annoying if you are using an expensive fabric. Obviously, no one likes to waste money in such a manner, so we wouldn’t want this. Several issues can cause this:

  • Incorrect Needle

The first thing you need to make sure about your needle before starting any project is to ensure that it is sharp. But the sharpness won’t matter if you aren’t using the correct needle, according to the fabric you are sewing. For you to properly sew a heavy fabric, you would need a bigger needle, and vice versa.

  • Dirty Bobbin/Needle Plate

If you are experiencing jamming of your fabric when sewing, you might just need to clean your machine. The bobbin and needle plate attract dirt and dust, so you should clean it on a regular to avoid your fabric getting stuck. Also, broken threads and shreds of fabric can get into the bobbin area, so a regular clean up is in order.

  • Incorrect Stitch Length

You should adjust your stitch depending on the fabric you are using, so it doesn’t get sucked into the machine. The length of your stitch would depend on the weight of your fabric, and you have to be conscious about this, especially when sewing stretchy knit fabrics.

To be sure, you know the right stitch, do a test run with just a small piece of the fabric, so you can know if everything goes well.

Brother CS6000i Keeps Jamming: Help!

Brother CS6000i has been my favorite budget friendly machine and I have been recommending this great starter model to beginner seamstress that I teach in class.

However, any good machine has its slight bugbears so if you have the Brother CS6000i and experiencing thread jams, this is how to fix it. Please watch the video below.


You can check out my Troubleshooting page for more sewing hacks and quick guides.

24 thoughts on “Why Does My Sewing Machine Keep Jamming?”

  1. Avatar

    When I’m sewing the back of the material where all the thread is keeps knotting . I tried re-threading the whole machine including the bobbin.
    HELP! ITS A BRAND NEW MACHINE…..

  2. Avatar
    Josephine mulenga

    Thankyou so much
    Do you have second handmachines to donate.l make facial masks for free to give to the poor to wear during this covid.

  3. Avatar

    I am having trouble with my thread getting stuck in the bobbin area. Everything is threaded properly, the needle comes down, the hook catches the thread but then can only move forward about 1/4 of the way. The thread is getting stuck at this point somewhere. Sometimes, the hook continues for it’s full rotation but the thread stops at the bottom of the bobbin and doesnt complete the rotation. I’ve disassembled, cleaned and oiled the machine which is brand new (was a Christmas gift and I only started using it this week) I have absolutely no idea what may be causing this. It’s a singer machine. Thank you for your time.

  4. Avatar

    Hello pls help me with this problem: The feed dogs went low, the bobbin holder is jammed, the wheel wont nove. There were thread messed up in the bobbin, but I removed them already.

  5. Avatar

    My sewing machine is brand new, just arrived and got it out the box today. Which of these is most likely to be the issue?

  6. Avatar

    my needle won’t budge. I’ve removed the bobbin turned power off an on, still won’t budge
    cleaned out some lint in the bobbin area, no luck

  7. Avatar

    Oh my goodness, your advice was the light at the end of my tunnel! Your advice worked! Thank you sooooo much! I’m so looking forward to a sewing project during our shelter in place staycation. XO

  8. Avatar
    Mohinder K Dhami

    I have a singer sewing machine 6180 and it keeps getting jammed and not picking up the bobbin thread. I have cleaned it and oiled it changed the needle and thread.could you please help me.my email is mohinderdhami1950@icloud.com waiting for your reply thanks

  9. Avatar
    Jeanette McCormack

    My Singer 7470 just keeps jamming up the moment I turn it on. It will only show in the window the stich type and etc when the needle is actually in the fabric but the minute I try to sew it jams again ?? I am at my wits end. Have made sure threaded correctly and bobbin is running smoothly just won’t sew?

  10. Avatar

    Hello. What is going on when my machine isn’t cutting the thread and when I pull my sewing (I have to pull) out from under the foot, there are 3 threads attached to my sewing (2 from the upper spool — one that gets pulled down and wrapped on itself for some reason — and one from the bobbin). Any idea what’s going on and how to fix this?

    Thank you!

  11. Avatar

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  12. Avatar

    I have noticed you don’t monetize sewingmadesimple.net, don’t waste your traffic, you
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  13. Avatar

    I have a Singer Confidence sewing machine. It gets jammed up . I have checked all the options of why it would do that and they all come out nothing. What is wrong with it? I had it serviced a few months ago for this problem and it seemed to have fixed it, but after using it a couple of times it started to do it again.

  14. Avatar

    With your help, I figured out why my machine was jamming! Your step by step instructions and calmness helped me hem four pants of pants tonight. I haven’t touched my Brother machine in over a year. I’m glad I didn’t throw it out and pay the dry cleaners!

    Thank you!!!

  15. Avatar

    Hi, my thread isn’t jamming – it’s coming out of the top needle. So it appears that the top thread is too tight. I’ve rethreaded several times and I see that after running it a bit, it gets stuck in the channel of the thread tension module. Changing the tension nob makes no difference. The only thing I can do is pull it out and rethread the top every time. Any idea what’s going on? Is the thread just bad quality? It’s a brand new machine.

    1. Avatar

      I’m having the same exact problem but I made my sister get me the quality thread….. I don’t know what to do : (

    2. Avatar

      If the thread is getting stuck in the thread tension module, and you are using a Brother CS6000i, I would begin by making sure that your thread is entering this module correctly— I know it sounds obvious, but I have occasionally run my thread through the wrong plastic slot of the machine when threading it, and that might cause this problem. On the other hand, there is also the possibility that your tensioner is jamming the thread for some reason. It might have become bent somehow, for example. If this is the case, you probably won’t be able to figure out the problem without taking the machine apart or bringing it in for servicing. Changing the thread tension knob should make SOME difference in how the machine operates! If it does not, then there is a disconnect between the knob and the tensioner itself. My guess, anyway, three years too late, sorry.

  16. Avatar

    Thank you so much for this video. I was certain something was wrong with my Brother sewing machine until I found this video and followed your instruction. This is my first experience with a computerized sewing machine. Obviously everything has to be set up perfectly. My problem was not having my needle in the correct position while threading it! All is perfect now. I did as you suggested as well… and made a note in my book to go through these steps if it happens again. Again… thank you!!

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