There are several possible reasons your machine could fail to sew, even though you hear the motor running when you press the foot pedal. There is no universal answer. You may find an easy fix for some machine models. But others will need to go to a professional technician for internal repairs.
Here are some issues to look for and how you may be able to correct them. Hopefully, one of these suggestions will apply to your machine, saving you the necessity of a costly repair shop visit.
Sewing Machine Motor Running But Nothing Moving
1. Bobbin Winder Engaged
Issues with the bobbin winder are probably the most common reason for many sewing machines to stop sewing. If you have ongoing issues with your bobbin winder, you can buy a separate bobbin winder for around $30-$60 from Amazon.
Some older machines have two handwheels, one within the other. The inner wheel, when loosened, enables the bobbin-winding feature to function while the rest of the internal mechanism does not.
It is easy to miss if the inner wheel becomes loosened. The older the machine, the more frequently you need to tighten the inner wheel. Tighten the wheel as much as you can. If the needle still doesn’t move, the handwheel may be malfunctioning. If you don’t have the original manual, you might find some details online, or you may have to call a repair shop for suggestions.
Newer machines usually have a bobbin spindle that is flipped to the right to engage the bobbin winder. If the bobbin winder does not appear to be engaged, but the needle does not move, try pushing the bobbin spindle sharply to the right, then back to the left, to ensure the mechanism is fully disengaged.
If the issue persists, try opening your machine to check the physical switch. You may or may not be able to tell if it’s functioning as it should by just looking. But if the bobbin spindle turns even when the spindle in the off position, you probably need a new switch.
Though the switch is pretty small, it’s often not easy to replace without special tools. Please don’t try unless you’re familiar with these types of repairs.
There are even some machines that require the handwheel to be pushed in to engage the bobbin-winding mechanism. For those models, push the wheel sharply in, then pull it out to reset the clutch to the bobbin winder.
2. Internal “Kill Switch”
Some newer machines have an internal switch that automatically stops the machine from working if it runs out of thread. Check your owner’s manual. If it has this feature, it should give you instructions about doing a reset once you’ve rethreaded the machine.
3. Drive Belt Loose or Off
Although most sewing machines have drive belts, they are not always easily accessible for home replacement. This may be the one area where older models can have an advantage.
Try to open your machine enough to inspect the belt. It may simply have come loose. Belt tension can be adjusted on some older models.
Always unplug your machine before checking internal parts such as the belt, as it often runs close to electrical components. Check for fraying or breakage. You’ll probably need a professional repair person if the belt needs to be replaced.
4. Internal gears and Connections
If you hear a rattling or other strange sound when you press the foot pedal, you may have disconnected or broken parts inside. Once again, if you are not familiar with small mechanical repairs, you will need to take the machine to a repair shop to be fixed.
If you feel confident enough, open the machine and survey for damage. You may have to do a bit of research to determine exactly how your particular model machine fits together. Some problems may be obvious and easily repaired, especially on older models. But if internal electronic circuits may be compromised, or the machine is still under warranty, take it to a repair shop.
5. Foot Pedal Connection
Foot pedals can sometimes behave in mysterious ways. Not all models’ foot pedals are wired the same. A loose connection could cause inexplicable issues. If you have recently dropped the pedal or the cord has been pulled for some reason just before your machine started to malfunction, it’s worth checking it out.
First, try disconnecting the foot pedal at the machine, then re-connecting it. Then try at the pedal itself. You may or may not be able to see the actual foot pedal switch. If you suspect the problem is there, call your local repair shop to see if they have a compatible pedal you can plug into your machine to test your theory.
6. Electronic Settings
An issue with electronic components can manifest with all manner of phantom problems. As you would with your cell phone, try a “restart.” Turn the machine off, unplug it, wait a few seconds, reconnect everything and see what happens.
Advanced electronic circuits are often the most difficult to diagnose for problems at home. Your local repair shop should be equipped to test the components themselves or send them to the manufacturer for repair or replacement. Always ask for an estimate before paying more than the machine is worth for repairs.