Why Your Needle Keeps Bending On Your Sewing Machine (11 Troubleshooting Tips)

bent sewing machine needle

Why Your Sewing Machine Needle Is Bending or Breaking

You have been attempting to finish that beautiful sewing project, and the needle keeps bending or breaking. It is so frustrating, but before you end your project, let’s look at eleven common reasons for a needle bending or breaking while sewing.

1.  Your Bobbin is Inserted Incorrectly

This is the number one cause of needle breaking. A bobbin not fully inserted or inserted upside down will cause the needle to hit the case and bend or break. Make sure you have the correct bobbin for your machine, and it is inserted correctly. The store you bought the sewing machine from or the owner’s manual can show you how to insert the bobbin correctly.

2.  Lint Accumulated in the Bobbin Case

Lint accumulation in your bobbin case is natural after many hours of sewing or sewing with a fabric such as wool. A dirty bobbin case can cause bending and breaking of your needle.

A good rule of thumb is to clean your sewing machine after about 8 hours of sewing. There are many ways to clean your sewing machine. The easiest is to use the small lint brush that comes with your sewing machine.

They also sell small attachments for your vacuum to get the lint out of those hard-to-reach places on your machine. It is not recommended to use compressed air to clean your bobbin. The force of the compressed air can push the lint into your sewing machine, causing increased problems.

3. Your Thread Tension is too Tight

Sewing tension is controlled at the needle thread and the bobbin thread. When these tensions are correct, you have a nice running stitch. If they are not, you will have fabric or stitch bunching, and you can have needle bending or breaking.

How to Troubleshoot the Tension

  • Look at the fabric you are sewing on. Is bobbin thread visible on top of the material? If so, then either the tension that controls the thread coming through the needle is too strong, or the tension controlling the bobbin is too weak, which allows the needle’s thread tension to take over.
  • If you see the needle thread on the bottom of the fabric, it is the opposite; the needle thread is too weak, and the bobbin tension is too strong.

To fix these problems, you want to make sure you are using the same weight thread in both your upper threading and your bobbin case. Also, make sure each area is threaded correctly. Your user manual will tell you how to do this task. Use a piece of test fabric and manually put the needle up and down to see if this corrects the problem.

The last step is actually adjusting your tension;  you will need to refer to your user manual for how to do this. On most sewing machines, the bobbin case will have a small screw to adjust; if you turn it slightly counterclockwise it will loosen the bobbin tension, and turning it clockwise will tighten the tension.

broken sewing machine needle

4.  Using The Wrong Sewing Needle

 Different fabrics need different needles and using the wrong needle can make it difficult for your needle to go through the fabric, causing breakage or bending of the needle. So again, looking at your sewing machine manual, look to see if you are using the correct needle for your project. There are also lists online that will tell you which type of needle is best for a particular fabric or your local sewing store can help you pick the correct needle.

5.  Using the Wrong Stitch Plate or Pressure Foot

As you switch fabrics and stitches, your foot and switch plate have to be changed to allow the needle to go through. For example, a sizeable Zigzag stitch would hit the foot’s edge of a straight foot and cause the needle to bend or break. So, the straight pressure foot would need to be removed for some of those fancy stitches, and changing to a specialty pressure foot would be needed. 

The stitch plate will also need to be changed to allow the needle to pass through for sewing machines with multiple capabilities. So, my advice is that every time you sit down to your sewing machine, set the stitch you would like and check the settings to ensure you have the correct pressure foot and stitch plate.

6.  Your Needle is out of Position 

This could be the culprit if your needle is frequently bending or breaking. To check this manually, bring the needle down with the handwheel and look at the needle. If it is hitting the pressure foot or the stitch plate and after verifying that you are using the correct foot and plate, try slightly adjusting the needle. The problem should be fixed once the needle is in the correct position.

7.  Threading the Sewing Machine Incorrectly

If you are threading your machine incorrectly, the tension will be off, and it could cause your needle to bend or break. Refer to your owner’s manual to correctly thread your sewing machine. Check to make sure both the upper thread and the bobbin case are threaded correctly.

8.  Not Inserting your Needle Correctly

A tiny screw holds your needle in, and typically the flat part is what the screw is hitting. Ensure that you insert the needle correctly and tighten the screw to keep the needle held securely so it does not bend or break.

9.  Sewing over Pins or Zippers

This is a frequent culprit, and everyone occasionally tries to miss that pin holding their fabric securely or doesn’t even realize that it is there. So, make sure you remove this needle breaker before you start sewing.

The other culprit is the zipper; when running closely next to the zipper, you can accidentally hit the zipper, causing a bent needle. So proceed carefully as you sew in your zippers.

10. Your Needle is Old

The recommendation is to switch your needle after every eight hours of sewing or at the start of a new project. Old needles can cause many problems, such as shredded thread, tearing through the fabric, or a bent, broken needle. You will also want to change your needle if you see that it has a bend, is dull, or develops a burr.

Read More: How to Tell if Your Sewing Machine Needle Is Dull

11.  The User is Pulling too Tightly on the Fabric While Sewing

You’re in a hurry to get that project completed, and you are slightly pulling the project through the guides. Well, stop!  It will take twice as long to finish that lovely handmade item if you have to stop and put a new needle in every time it breaks. The sewing machine is designed to push the fabric through as it sews and your hands should only be gently guiding, not pulling the fabric.

Once you have troubleshot all of the items listed and are still bending and breaking needles, the only other choice is to bring it to a professional. There are many moving parts in a sewing machine, and most of them need lubrication.

Also, by getting to know your sewing machine’s sounds, it can help you know that something is going wrong. If it is suddenly clunky or clanky, you know it is probably time to have a professional look at your sewing machine.

It is recommended to bring your sewing machine in about once a year to be fine-tuned, especially if you use it frequently.

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