Why Sewing Machine Locks Up Doesn’t Have To Be Hard. Read These 10 Tips

Fact Checked By:Aithley Balder

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Keep reading if you’re aware of the most typical causes of sewing machine locks up.

Nothing is more annoying than having your sewing machine malfunction when you’re attempting to sew, if you’re like most people. It’s even worse if the issue isn’t as obvious as bobbin winding or threading your sewing machine.

A typical source of annoyance with sewing machines is a lock-up, which occurs when the motor and gears cease to operate for no apparent reason. We’ve put up a list of the most common reasons of sewing machine lock-ups, as well as some useful troubleshooting methods, to help you narrow down your search.

Keep in mind that discovering the source of your individual issue may need some trial and error, but it is preferable to make one modification at a time rather than trying everything at the same time!

A Sewing Machine’s Most Common Problems

my singer sewing machine is locked up

Not Raising the Presser Foot

As simple as it may seem, we frequently find ourselves in this situation when we speed through the setup phase of a stitching session. Before beginning any new job or work, make sure to elevate and lower your presser foot appropriately.

The time saved in the long run will also avoid those bothersome threads from becoming twisted beneath your sewing machine!

Threads that have been improperly tensioned

Your thread gets trapped beneath the presser foot, and what happens next? In an attempt to draw it through, the machine twists and knots the thread, causing it to become stuck.

You may avoid this by making sure the tension of each thread is appropriately set before you begin stitching; relax or tighten your top and bobbin threads until you get a “happy middle” of smooth stitching. Thread tangling beneath your sewing machine may be avoided by properly regulating the tension on your sewing machine.

Spool pin tangles with bobbin thread

Another typical cause of sewing machine jams is thread becoming tangled around or beneath the spool pin. Before adding a new bobbin to your machine, double-check that your bobbin casing is properly attached.

The spool pin should also be thoroughly cleaned before placing a fresh bobbin into your sewing machine.

Tangled Presser Foot Bobbin Thread

A jammed sewing machine may also be caused by thread being caught in the presser foot or below it. Before connecting the presser foot to the shank, make sure you’ve correctly threaded both the top and bobbin threads. When the rest of the work is done, this is typically an afterthought.

Stitching Is Defective

It’s possible that the thread has become twisted under your presser foot, resulting in skipped stitches. Your presser foot’s shank is either looped around beneath or above the top thread, depending on how your machine is set up.

Your Thread Is Tie-Down

Use a bobbin with an in-built needle threader to prevent this from happening and you may accidently catch part of the top thread’s ends in the hook when it grabs your bobbin thread.

Pulling the top thread down through the needle hole without cutting it first, then sewing with that one long strand of top and bottom thread may also lead to this problem.

Stitching stops working at a certain point

This isn’t only an issue for sewing machines; it may occur on a serger as well. While this isn’t always a problem, it’s a common one. The friction between the two threads might cause the top thread to freeze up. Either one or both of them are greasy, or they’ve become twisted and are causing the problem.

Broken Needle In Your Sewing Machine

Even though it still seems bright, a worn or bent needle will not function properly. If your top and bottom threads aren’t meshing properly, this might potentially be the issue. In other words, the hook is clogged with thread. Check with another needle to see if this helps.

Stitch Is not Forming Properly

Top thread will either gather up on the bottom of your fabric or slide out from beneath your presser foot if a stitch is not formed properly. The most common causes of this are a malfunctioning bobbin or incorrect threading techniques while threading the top and bobbin threads.

A Clogged or Incorrectly Installed Bobbin

In certain cases, if your bobbin is broken or you’ve loaded it the incorrect way (reversed), or if it’s not placed properly, your sewing machine may stop working. You may fix this problem by removing your bobbin, making sure that the thread runs through the hole from left to right and reinstalling it, with a strong pull. Restart your sewing machine and try again.

Sewing Machine Lock-Up Prevention Techniques

brother sewing machine locked up

If you maintain your sewing machine in good working order, you may avoid many common sewing machine difficulties. To eliminate lint and dust, slide a piece of wax paper through the feed dogs. Vacuum any lint that has collected in the bobbin region, as well, after opening it up. Here are a few suggestions to keep your computer from locking up in the future.

Replace your needle on a regular basis to keep it sharp

Using a dull needle will cause your machine to jam, and using a new sewing machine needle will not prevent your machine from jamming again. If you discover that your stitching is skipping stitches or that the bottom is not catching properly, it’s time to change your needle.

More significantly, since there are so many different kinds of needles available, it may be difficult to determine what size to use. However, this does not have to be the case. Always refer to your machine’s instruction manual to determine which needle to use (you may need to use a different size depending on the fabric).

Maintain the Tension Disks on a regular basis

Tension disks that are clogged with lint and thread can prevent your tension from operating properly, resulting in poor stitch quality, machine freezing up, and stitches skipping between stitches. Extra thread on the surface of your cloth might result in a much greater mess than you originally intended!

However, it is always a good idea to check that the tension disks are clean and free of debris on your machine.

Thoroughly clean the bobbin case before racing

Lint and fuzz may accumulate in the bobbin region of your sewing machine, causing your machine to lock up when you are adjusting the tension.

Always inspect the race (the plastic piece that guides your needle), any apertures on the top of your sewing machine where thread or fuzz could gather, and clear out any lint, fragments of thread, and many other things that may accumulate.

Make the necessary adjustments to your tensions

Stitching issues are often caused by incorrect stitch length and tension settings, which is one of the most typical causes. Take the time to learn how to alter skipped stitches or poor quality stitching if you detect them when changing thread tensions. This will ensure that you can replace the pieces correctly.

Most machines have two principal tension disks, one at the top and one at the bottom, which impact both the upper and understitching of the fabric.

A tiny screwdriver may be used to get access to most tension disks, and always remember that the appropriate adjustment is the one that results in an equal upper and lower stitch length on both sides of your work when the presser foot is engaged!

Make Use of Two Spools

When topstitching, be sure you use two spools of thread to prevent creating too much bulk in one spot. Not only is it more visually appealing, but it also makes the end stitching stronger, which is something you always want when working with garments!

Make use of a variety of threads

Keep the ornamental stitching and normal embroidery-style work on separate threads to avoid confusion. When stitching decorative stitches, choose a thin thread that contrasts with your background cloth, or an invisible monofilament thread to make them seem more professional.

If you prefer to use normal thread, be sure that the needle you select is suitable for both sorts of work, or use two separate needles. In addition, it will make your stitching seem more smooth and professional as a result of the process.

Keep your threads safe

You should not just clip the thread near to the cloth once you have done sewing it. You must secure it so that it does not unravel or come undone while you are working on anything. There are a lot of approaches that may be used to accomplish this:

  • Before beginning a new section, you may tie the thread at either end to keep it from unraveling.
  • Twist a few stitches together in the same spot when sewing them together to make a larger stitch.
  • When finishing a line of decorative stitching, backstitch a few stitches and then snip off the ends or use fray-check to prevent fraying.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

What Causes the Sewing Machine to Lock Up?

A sewing machine is considered to have jammed when it becomes immobile and unable to stitch in the usual manner. There are a number of potential reasons for this, including a strand of thread becoming entangled, an uneven feed of the fabric, or an accumulation of lint or dust in the machine.

What is the best way to fix a sewing machine that keeps getting jammed?

It is possible that the issue is caused by debris, such as lint, dust, or other particles, being lodged in their mechanism. The remedy is to halt all current work, elevate the presser foot, and carefully remove any debris from the feed dogs. In addition to this, you need to make sure that they are elevated up into a raised position so that they can have a good hold on the cloth.

Why is the wheel on my sewing machine so difficult to turn?

It is possible that the bobbin casing might be misaligned, in which case the handwheel would be unable to revolve. It is possible for the handwheel to get stuck if a broken needle were to fall into the shuttle region after it was dropped there. 5. In the event that the problem continues, your device will need to be serviced.

What may be causing my sewing machine to lock up so frequently?

During the process of completing a job, your sewing machine could jam up if the bobbin was not put in properly or if it has been damaged. In the event that this occurs, you will need to halt your stitching in order to remove the bobbin and check that the thread is passing through the hole in the bobbin from left to right.

What’s wrong with my sewing machine that it won’t move?

It’s possible that the needle won’t move if the clutch isn’t engaged, the drive belt is damaged, or there’s a problem with the internal drive gear. If you have the hand wheel clutch disengaged for the bobbin winding process, you need to activate it. If you engage the clutch but the needle still won’t move, disconnect the sewing machine and look at the drive belt.


Once in a while, we hope you will refer to this guide when you are experiencing one of the most common sewing machine problems in order to make the proper diagnosis prior to seeking professional assistance.

Consequently, you will not have to take your equipment in for maintenance on a regular basis, which will save both money and time for you. Furthermore, since you now have a greater grasp of the mechanics of your equipment, you will feel more confident in your ability to fix it yourself in the future if you encounter similar difficulties.

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Aithley Balder

Hello there, my name is Aithley Balder from Texas. I am a cookware, sewing, toilet, technology enthusiast and I have been sharing my passion with my friends and likeminded folks for close to 4 years now. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me via the contact page.

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