Last Updated on January 10, 2023

When you’re sewing, the stitches should be catching the thread automatically. Sewing machines are designed to do this. That’s how they’re supposed to work. But if your sewing machine isn’t catching  thread at all, then it needs to be fixed immediately.

It can get confusing and frustrating quite easily when you don’t know what to do or what’s causing this issue.

However, in this guide we’ll explain how to get your machine back up and running in no time so that you can keep on sewing.



How are stitches formed?


Before we dive into the problem and talk about how to fix it, we must understand how stitches are formed.

Stitches are formed by the sewing machine’s needle piercing the fabric and then pulling it through. The needle pulls a small loop of thread from under the presser foot (coming from the bobbin thread) to create one stitch.

So as the needle goes up and down and through the fabric, it’s able to create stitches one after the other to form a seam.

If the needle isn’t catching the thread, then you might think that there is an issue with the needle getting stuck in the fabric. But this isn’t always the case.

It can be difficult for a beginner to notice when they’re not catching enough thread or if their bobbin has run out of thread, so it’s worth checking these things first before making any adjustments.


Photo of a sewing machine in operation


What are the reasons if the sewing machine isn’t catching thread?


When your sewing machine isn’t catching thread as it’s supposed to, there could be a few reasons why this might be happening:

  • The needle could have been damaged and is bent or blunt, preventing it from grabbing the thread as needed. In normal circumstances, you’ll quickly notice a bent needle because there’s a possibility that it might not go down under the presser foot. But if the needle manages to sneak through the presser foot and it’s bent, then chances are that it’s likely not to catch a thread.
  • Sewing machine timing may not be set correctly. This can cause your sewing machine to stop before catching enough thread. When your sewing machine timing is off, it might feel like it’s working against you and starts to make a loud clicking noise. This might be the belt or the gear of the machine getting misaligned. Sewing machine timing is important for stitching evenly, so if your sewing machine isn’t catching thread, then this could potentially be the problem.
  • The needle plate or the surface may need cleaning or oiling because there’s lint on it that’s blocking the holes where the needles go through. Or there might be a dirt and lint buildup that’s getting in the way of the thread which causes it to not run smoothly as it should.
  • There might be an issue with the thread itself. Check if you wound up the bobbin thread correctly. If you didn’t, then the thread will not be properly secured on the bobbin. Loose threads may cause the machine to produce knots or tangles in the thread, and it can interfere with the stitching process.
  • Poor thread quality.
  • It could also be that there’s a problem with the tension of your machine and how it stitches. There is no standard in tension to begin with. The right tension will depend on the fabric that you’re working on.


A close-up photo of the bobbin


What do I do if my sewing machine isn’t catching thread?


Now that we have identified potential problems that’s causing this issue, we can now talk about what we need to do in order to fix it.

  • Bent or broken sewing needle: If your current needle is bent or broken in any way, replace your needle immediately. Make sure that the new needle you’ll insert is the right type and size for the fabric you’re working on. Using the right needle for your project will prevent damages and other common sewing machine problems in the future. Once done, check if your machine now catches the thread.
  • If the sewing machine’s timing is off: The timing might need to be adjusted. Since this is quite a technical issue, it’s best to check the manual for your sewing machine or consult an expert if you don’t know how. Also check if you’re encountering other problems like the sewing machine needle hitting the bobbin case. This problem also happens because the timing of the machine is off.
  • If the bobbin thread isn’t wound properly: Make sure that it’s sitting on a spool pin (or at least not loose) and is level with the needle plate before inserting it into your sewing machine bobbin case. Wind the thread in the right direction. In order to test if it works, sew a couple of stitches on scrap fabric.
  • The machine is threaded incorrectly: The problem might be that your sewing machine is threaded improperly so make sure to double-check your instructions when rethreading to see which way the threads should go in order to work correctly. If there are multiple loops coming out from under the presser foot then this means that they aren’t aligned properly so try rotating them until they line up
  • If there are thread jams in between where you’re putting fabric through: Make sure that every time, no matter what material you work on, that when going back up from under the presser foot to over top of it again, pull out all threads so as not to have any knots buildup. This will also help prevent future problems such as snags and jumps.
  • If it’s a problem with the tension: The tension may be too high or low on the sewing machine. Try loosening it first if it is too tight, but then make sure to tighten it up again so that there are no loose loops of thread coming out from under the fabric after every stitch. Adjusting this can require some time to get right so be patient while adjusting the tension level dials or zippers on your sewing machine until it feels just right for you. You know you have the right tension when the machine is creating perfect stitches.
  • Clean your machine: Perhaps it’s time for you to clean and oil your sewing machine because of the dirt and lint buildup in some vulnerable parts of the machine!


Featured image of sewing machine isn't catching thread


Some Final Words


As you can see, there are quite a number of possible reasons as to why your sewing machine isn’t catching thread when you sew. But there are also a good number of fixes that you can do.

We hope this guide helped you. If you found out another way to solve this sewing machine problem, let us know!

Happy sewing!


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