Sewing Machine Stitches Not Catching - Find Out Why & A Solution!

Written By 

Kirsten

Last Updated on 16 January, 2021 by Danica

Why Are My Sewing Machine Stitches Not Catching?

As frustrating as it can be, even the best sewing machine can run into some stitching problems. One of the most common issues in sewing machines is when your needle can't catch thread from your bobbin,

Well, not to worry, we've got your covered with our guide below that will explain how this issue happens and what you can do to fix it.

There are many reasons as to why your sewing machine might not be catching, some of the most common ones can be that your bobbin spindle is in the wrong position or that your needle has become dull.

To rule out bad tension, it could be best to rethread your top thread just in case and see if this fixes the problem. If your sewing machine is still not catching then don't give up, this problem could even be blamed on a dirty shuttle case or the position of the thread itself.

We have gone into some further detail below so as you can figure out why your sewing machine is not catching and a solution to the problem.

Common Causes Of Stitches Not Catching & How To Fix Them

Above we have listed out a few of the common issues as to why your stitches are not catching, however, we have gone into some more detail below so as you can troubleshoot your machine and get to the root of the issue.

You've Got Thread Issues

If your needle is installed in the wrong way and the bobbin spindle on top is in the wrong the position it can cause the thread to not catch, resulting in breakage.

You can fix this issue by following these steps listed out below -

  • Make sure your needle is positioned with its flat side facing its holder back.
  • Keep your shuttle cover open as you thread your needle and take out the bobbin to see if its in the right position.
  • Find where your thread runs underneath the tension control and make sure it can pass freely through the guide and tension disk.
  • After following these troubleshooting steps above you can thread your bobbin around 2 inches long and turn the handwheel towards you with your presser foot upon the machine.
  • Take hold of your needle thread and allow it to catch the bobbin while raising it above the throat plate.
  • Ensure both threads are above the throat plate before you begin sewing.

Check The Thread Tension

If your thread tension is too tight then this could potentially cause your upper threads and lower threads to snap before they can join together and stitch. This issue can be easily fixed with the following steps below.

  • Check if your thread is snapping due to high tension by looking to see if the inverted teeth of the bobbin case is not pulling the stitches in and locking, yet snapping instead.
  • Stop helping your feed dog pass fabric through your machine as this can mess with the thread tension.
  • Most tension on the bobbin case can be set via it's small screw which can be turned clockwise to tighten and anti-clockwise to loosen. Check your manual to be sure on how to adjust your machines tension.

Is Your Shuttle Case Dirty?

A dirty shuttle case can be a common reason for why your stitches are not catching, over time as you use your machine, it will likely build up with loose bits of lint and fabric that can get stuck under the throat plate of your machine or feed dog.

These blockages could cause the thread in your machine to run uneven, resulting in the thread not catching.

Not to worry though, you can solve this issue easily.

  • Disassemble the bobbin from your sewing machine, which can be done pretty easily according to your sewing machines manual.
  • Check the bobbin case and bobbin shuttle for any blockage or loose pieces of lint and fabric lying around, remove this debris.
  • Have a look under the back of your feed dogs (teeth on throat plate) and remove any fabric or lint that could be stuck behind there.
  • Put your bobbin back into your shuttle case and reassemble it into the machine, after you have done this try re-threading it to see if your stitches are catching.

Check The Machine Timing

One of the last reasons why your stitches might not be catching on your sewing machine is down to its timing.

This issue can be caused if you make the mistake of turning the handwheel away from you rather than towards you when stitching, meaning it can then change the position of the gears and belt on your device.

  • If this issue occurs in your machine then its best to get it fixed professionally rather than attempt to try and solve the issue yourself.

Try Another Fabric

Some fabrics can be very difficult to sew, with different finishes and shines, this can make it hard for your needle to catch on to the fabric, resulting in no stitches or your material being sewn unevenly.

  • Take a non-stretch piece of fabric like cotton or linen and try to stitch it on your machine, if it catches then it means that your sewing machine probably has some difficulty trying to sew that particular piece of fabric you were using beforehand.
  • If you want to use that particular fabric and your stitches are not catching then you might have to try some various sewing techniques to solve the issue.

Is It Your Thread?

Some thread can additionally be harder to stitch with such as; coat and singer, a low-priced spare thread will often not stitch well too and could be the reason as to why your stitches are not catching.

  • You should also ensure your bobbin thread matches the top as this can cause problems when stitching.

Other Common Stitching Problems & Solutions

If you have a sewing machine then it's likely you will run into some other common stitching issues along the way.

"Basic stitching issues can be solved quick and easy and don't require professional repair."

We have put together a list of some stitching problems and how to solve them so as you can refer to this guide in the future if need be.

Stuck Needle

Nearly every sewer will have a stuck needle issue at some point, this usually occurs when your needle, fabric, and thread all get caught together.

This can result in a grinding noise and could even damage the machine, so you should turn off your machine immediately as soon as you suspect you have a stuck needle.

Common Causes

  • If your bobbin thread has been wound unevenly it can get tangled up and cause a thread jam in the machine.
  • Also, if your bobbin thread reaches the end with the tail still secured to the bobbin it can cause a jam by not coming loose.
  • The top thread has been wound around the spool pin causing a jam.

Solutions

  • Turn off the machine as soon as you hear any unusual noises and cut the tangled thread that you can see, avoiding the fabric. After cutting you can gently pull on your fabric till it releases from the machine.
  • If your needle becomes stuck in some fabric then you should turn the handwheel of your machine until the needle starts to move again.
  • After you have got to the root cause of your thread jam you should unpick any leftover thread and check the top thread and bobbin, you can rethread the machine too and make sure it works.

Sewing Sheers

Sheer and silky fabrics can be very difficult to sew on a machine, some common stitching problems you can run into are seams under the needle of your machine or folds getting caught in the feed dog, this can cause frays and tears in your sheer fabric.

"Having to unpick stitches from your sheer and silky fabric can leave visible holes if done wrong."

Solutions

  • Try using thinner threads and an unused needle on your fabric, make sure to also use the shortest stitch length possible.
  • Place some tissue paper underneath your fabric to stop it from tearing, stitch both together then tear the tissue paper away after stitching for extra stability.
  • Adjust your tension on a spare piece of fabric so as you can make sure you are using the right sewing technique for your sheer fabric.

High/Low Tension

Too high tension when stitching can mean your fabric puckers up or has uneven stitches, resulting in an unprofessional finish. This is due to the small amount of thread being sewn into the fabric from the high tension.

Solutions

  • Test the tension of your sewing machine on a spare piece of fabric and lower the number of the pressure regulator on your machine by turning.
  • Lower the tension of your stitches until they appear even and professional.

Too low tension when stitching can result in linked loops of thread on the fabric you are sewing, as well as weak and uneven stitches. You may also notice that the fabric is pulled towards the feed dog, this is all due to too much thread being stitched into the fabric (low tension).

Solutions

  • Turn the pressure regulator on your machine to a higher number.
  • Watch for your stitches to become more even, adjust tension accordingly for new fabrics.

Uneven Stitches & Big Holes

Using an old needle can result in messy stitches and effect the overall finish of your sewn fabric.

Sewing over pins can ruin your needle and the stability of your stitches too.

Solutions

  • Change your needle to a new one according to your machines manual.
  • Use the correct type of needle according to your fabric chosen, some fabrics require bigger needles and some smaller for a stable stitch.

Inconsistent Fabric Feed

If your machine is not drawing your fabric consistently it could be due to the feed dogs on your machine being worn down, making it hard to stitch neatly and causing issues with your fabric.

Solutions

  • Firstly, if your feed dogs on your sewing machine are looking worn down then you should replace them with some newer parts.
  • For newer feed dogs you could try cleaning around them and removing any stuck lint which could cause the fabric to be drawn unevenly.
  • Increase the pressure of your presser foot if the steps above don't seem to work so as you can ensure your fabric has maintained contact with the feed dogs.

Unthreading Of The Needle

Another common stitching problem that many sewers run into is the unthreading of the needle when starting the machine.

This can become a huge annoyance and time waster if you don't know how to fix the problem, lucky however, there is a simple solution.

Solutions

  • Make sure the needle on your machine is set at the highest point possible by winding the handwheel towards you.
  • If your machine has the up/down function you can use this instead to higher your needle and avoid it unthreading.

Our Round Up - So How Do I Avoid My Stitches From Not Catching? 

Overall, to conclude our little guide, your stitches might not be catching due to; the tension of your thread, the position of your thread, your machines timing and the cleanliness of your shuttle case.

Some other problems to troubleshoot could be the type of fabric and thread you are using as this can sometimes make it hard for your machine to stitch.

You should also make sure you are turning the handwheel the correct way to avoid making the thread in the machine stuck.

Luckily for you, most of these issues can be resolved pretty easily at home, and can normally be avoided with practice and by getting to know your machine and its settings.

We hope you can also refer to this post as a guide for other stitching issues you might come across in the future.

If you have time, let us know below what you do when your stitches aren't catching and why this occurs, so as we can solve more of these issues together.

Happy Sewing!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kirsten

Kirsten Carter is a freelance content writer who specialises in writing about travel, technology and health. When she's not traveling between her home of Tanzania and England, she writes for her blog Rightminded Travelling and features on a variety of different travel and technology sites.
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