If your sewing machine’s needle is stuck suspended above the fabric, the reason could be with your fabric, thread, or even the needle itself. The reason could also be machine related, i.e., mechanical or programming issues. We’ll begin by checking the issues that will be most easy to address. Hopefully, you won’t have to make an expensive trip to a repair shop to resume your sewing project.
Why Won’t My Sewing Machine Needle Go All The Way Down?
The reason your sewing machine needle won’t go all the way down is because something is jammed in the machine. The jam is most likely located in the bobbin area.
However, there could also be a mechanical issue with the machine. But don’t panic! Not all mechanical issues are difficult to find or fix. But first, let’s start with the easy stuff.
When your machine stops in the middle of sewing, look for a jam.
Look for thread bunched up or caught in the bobbin area or fabric that has become jammed into the faceplate. These issues may be caused by a damaged needle or the wrong needle for the job. There could also be a build-up of debris below the faceplate or broken threads entangling the upper mechanism.
You can also try rethreading the machine. Check the edges of your thread spool to ensure the thread is not getting caught there. Also, make sure your bobbin case is securely fitted into place. If it’s loose, the needle may not be able to descend into the bobbin area. The needle and bobbin case could be damaged if the case is loose and wobbling around under the faceplate.
Is your machine set correctly?
I have spent, especially when fairly new to sewing, a ridiculous amount of time trying to figure out why my machine wasn’t working–only to discover some small operator error. Here are a few things easily overlooked:
- Bobbin winder engaged–On some machines, it may be easy to bump the bobbin refill mechanism while changing the thread. The machine will not sew if the bobbin winder is engaged.
- Presser foot up–If you are sewing thick or fuzzy fabric, it may appear the presser foot is down when it is not. Some new sewing machines will make a small beep to let you know the foot is still up.
- Buttonhole function–Some machines have a lever to the left of the needle for setting the buttonhole function. If this lever becomes engaged, the machine may not sew normally.
- Electronic programming–if you have a programmable machine, check that a program is set for regular sewing.
- Foot pedal unplugged–if your handwheel turns okay, but nothing happens when you step on the foot pedal, try unplugging and replugging the foot pedal to ensure a good connection. Sometimes the footswitch does go bad. Be thankful for such an easy fix.
Mechanical and computer issues can be tricky.
If your machine has an actual mechanical problem, you may very well have to seek a professional for repairs. All the possible problems cannot be universally stated here. They vary with brand and machine models.
Always try turning the machine off and on again to reset any electronic issues. Some specific hangups to watch for are:
- Brother machines–tension knob issues; try adjusting the knob to fix the problem.
- Bernina–baste stitch finger gummed up; clutch fell off the shaft; linkages on the upper crankshaft. Any of these will require a repair shop visit.
- Singer–Push the reverse button several times to reset the machine; make sure needle is in highest position before you try to sew
Stay in your comfort zone.
If you’re a natural-born tinkerer like me, you’ll have no problem taking your machine apart as far as you can get it. If not, don’t dive in too deep before you consult a professional, especially on high-tech machines.
Before you begin removing any panels to access the innards of your machine, make sure the power cord is unplugged. By removing the top panel, you should be able to see if any linkage is loose or broken. You’ll also be able to see if there is lint or thread caught in the mechanism somewhere. If your machine is older, look for broken or slipped belts.
Cleaning and oiling the moving parts is fairly straightforward. However, I don’t recommend meddling with electronic circuits. If you suspect the problem lies there, contact customer assistance for your machine or a local repair shop.
Nothing lasts forever, but most well-maintained sewing machines do last for decades. Some machines, such as Husqvarna, seem to need a periodic, professional “tune-up.” This may be true of many modern, computerized models. You’ll want to keep these machines in good working order, as their parts tend to become obsolete more quickly. And the more you sew, the more attentive you must be to your machine’s maintenance needs for the long haul.