Why My Sewing Machine Not Making Straight Stitches – How to Adjust

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If you’re anything like me, you’ve been asking yourself this query quite a bit. The temperamental nature of sewing machines makes it difficult when they don’t perform as intended. But fear not, there are solutions to this issue.

Why is My Sewing Machine Not Sewing Straight?

There are a few things you can check to identify the problem if your sewing machine is not sewing straight.

First, inspect the needle. Make sure it’s positioned properly and is the appropriate size and type for the fabric you’re using.

Next, check the tension of the thread. The tension shouldn’t be either too tight or too loose. If it is not properly set, the stitches will be uneven and the fabric may pucker.

Finally, double-check your stitch settings. Verify that you are using the proper stitch length and width for your project. The stitches may not appear straight if they are too small or too closely spaced.

Take your sewing machine to a qualified technician for repair if you have checked all of these possibilities and it is still not sewing straight.

What Are Some Possible Causes?

Your sewing machine may not be sewing straight for a number of reasons. Here are some possible causes:

  • The needle is not properly inserted.
  • The needle has been broken or bent.
  • The fabric is not feeding properly.
  • The presser foot is not set up properly.
  • The tension is not correctly set.

What Are Stitch Quality Problems?

What do we actually mean by stitch quality issues then?

Whether you’re a complete beginner or a super experienced sewist we’re sure you’ve sat there at some point tearing your hair out for one of the following reasons:

  • your sewing machine keeps jamming
  • your machine is skipping stitches
  • the thread is looping on the top or bottom side of the fabric
  • the bobbin thread is pulling through to the top side of the fabric and vice versa
  • the thread is bunching up and ‘nesting’
  • the stitches are uneven
  • your thread keeps breaking

It is extremely annoying, particularly when all you want to do is sew. I am aware that I have repeatedly threatened to throw my computer out the window!

You probably run a few checks, and if you still can’t fix the problem, you start to wonder if you should send your machine in to be fixed, serviced, or checked.

These seven suggestions may end up saving you at this point. They probably include checks you are already familiar with, but even after many years of meticulous sewing, I am constantly surprised by how easily I forget them and how effective they are.

How Can I Fix It?

  1. If your machine is not sewing in a straight line, there are a few things that you can check:
  2. Verify that the needle is properly seated and the appropriate size for the thread and fabric you use.
  3. Verify that the thread tension is set appropriately for the fabric you’re using.
  4. Make sure the feed dogs are positioned correctly in their slots, are not damaged, or are clogged.
  5. Verify the installation and condition of the presser foot.
  6. If your machine has a stitch width lever or knob, ensure it is set to the “straight stitch” position before beginning to sew.
18. Why My Sewing Machine Not Making Straight Stitches2

Check You’re Threading Your Machine Correctly

Make sure your sewing machine is threaded precisely in accordance with the manual. I know this should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. When threading, be careful to keep the presser foot raised. As a result, the thread can freely slide in and out of the tension discs. In the proper direction, feed the thread through the thread guides and take-up lever. Additionally, follow the instructions to ensure the bobbin is inserted correctly and that the trailing thread enters the bobbin tension mechanism.

We frequently hear from novices who mistakenly believe their new machine is broken because of poor stitch quality when, in reality, a threading problem exists. A brand-new sewing machine rarely experiences problems right out of the box.

Having said that, we have helped a lot of very skilled sewers who have upgraded or changed their machines and tried to thread the new ones the same way they threaded the old ones. A minor distinction or difference in the threading technique, however, has resulted in problems like poor stitch quality or malfunctioning thread cutters.

A threading guide can often be found on YouTube by searching for the machine model number if you’re still having trouble figuring it out from the manual. A step-by-step threading tutorial is included in our most recent comprehensive review of the Janome 725S.

Change Your Needle Regularly

The most common cause of subpar stitch quality is a blunt or damaged needle, which can also result in skipped, uneven, and thread-shredding stitches. The needle is almost certainly blunt and needs to be replaced if your machine is producing more of a thumping sound as it pierces the fabric.

Don’t just rely on your eyes; instead, swap it out because a needle could be very slightly bent even though it appears to be straight and sounds straight. You might wonder how frequently the needle needs to be changed. My own usually changes every one to two projects. Because sewing machine needles are generally inexpensive, keep a supply on hand and swap them out frequently.

Because it is perfectly positioned to do just that when you are loosening the needle screw, be careful when changing the needle to avoid letting it fall inside the machine.

It’s a good idea to put some paper under the foot before releasing the needle clamp screw.

Additionally, be sure to push the new needle up as high as it will go and to insert it with the correct orientation (typically with the flat side of the shank facing away from you).

Failure to do so may result in a variety of stitch quality issues as well as the possibility of damaging the bobbin case or bending the needle threader (if your machine has one).

Use the Correct Needle Type

A size 80 universal needle should work fine for everyday sewing. However, you need to use a needle made for the task if you’re trying to sew more complex types of fabric, such as jersey, leather, sheers, or use thicker or thinner threads. This will enable you to stitch difficult fabrics with high-quality results.

There are many different sewing machine needles that are available; too many to list here. Check out our in-depth article on “how to choose the right sewing needle” if you’re interested in learning more.

Use the Right Bobbins

Although it may be alluring to use any old bobbin in your sewing machine, it’s crucial to make sure it’s the right one for your particular machine’s brand and model.

Bobbins made by various manufacturers, as well as bobbins made by the same manufacturer but used with various sewing machine models and generations, differ slightly from one another. Although they may appear identical to the naked eye, there are frequently small differences in the size or design.

In the best case scenario, using the wrong bobbin can result in thread nesting in the bobbin area or improper pick-up of the bobbin thread. Using the incorrect bobbin could, in the worst case scenario, harm your sewing machine. This is particularly true when using a metal bobbin in a machine made to use plastic bobbins. If you’re unsure, you can purchase bobbins specifically for your machine by visiting our page of sewing machine accessories. They will give you peace of mind and are reasonably priced.

Use Good Quality Threads

Threads have a tendency to deteriorate, dry out, and become brittle over time. Refrain from using the box of threads that your grandmother gave you 20 years ago! As these can lead to stitch issues, thread shredding, and lint buildup, I’d also advise avoiding cheap threads from supermarkets and eBay. A high-quality thread makes a huge difference.

At Sew Essential, we only carry high-quality thread from a variety of brands. An industry favorite and excellent choice for a variety of projects is Gutermann sew all thread. We also carry Mettler poly sheen threads and these 120s polyester sewing threads, both of which are excellent all-arounders and excellent quality.

They produce less fluff in your washing machine because they contain less lint.

These aren’t the only threads we sell; you can also find a wide variety of specialty threads here, as well as threads made from natural fibers.

The best advice is to keep your thread out of direct sunlight, which can cause drying, fading, and increased brittleness.

Set Tension Correctly for Different Fabrics

When working with various fabric types, you should never undervalue the significance of adapting your strategy.

Make sure you are using the appropriate type of needle, as mentioned earlier in the article, and then set the needle tension.

The “normal” tension setting on your machine ought to be adequate for the majority of fabrics. You might need a looser top tension and a longer stitch if you’re working with thicker fabrics.

Here, experimentation and testing on fabric scraps are encouraged until you are satisfied with the outcomes. Test on the same number of layers as the finished product, using scraps of the fabric you will actually use for the project.

What Are Some Tips for Preventing This from Happening Again?

First, make sure the needle is inserted properly and is the right size for the fabric. The sewing machine may sew in a curved line if the needle is bent or damaged.

Check the tension levels after that. The fabric’s top and bottom threads should meet in the center, which requires an even distribution of tension. The stitches will be too big if the tension is too loose, and pucker if the tension is too tight.

Your feed dog settings are another thing to check. The tiny teeth under the needle plate that move the fabric through as you sew are called feed dogs. If they are not set properly, they may result in skipped or uneven stitching.

Last but not least, be certain you are standing on the right foot for your project. Skipping or uneven stitching may result from the incorrect foot. For instance, you’ll need a different foot for sewing denim than you would for sewing chiffon because denim is a heavier fabric.

What Common Problems Can Cause a Sewing Machine to Sew Crooked?

A sewing machine can sew unevenly for a variety of reasons. User error, such as starting or stopping the stitching in the middle of a seam, or failing to hold the fabric taut while sewing, is the most frequent cause of this problem.

Other causes include incorrect needle placement, tension issues, and feeding dog issues. If you are having trouble getting your sewing machine to sew straight, here are some things you can check

Needle placement: At a 90-degree angle, the needle should be inserted into the fabric. Its insertion at an angle may result in uneven stitching.

Tension: Crooked stitching can also be the result of incorrect tension. Make sure the tension is set appropriately for the fabric you’re using.

Feed dog: The fabric is fed through the machine by the feed dog. It can make the fabrics bunch up and stitch unevenly if it is not working properly.

What Are Some Other Tips for Sewing Straight?

  1. Verify the placement of your needle. Your stitch will pull to one side if your needle is in either the left- or rightmost tense position.
  2. Verify the needle type you are using. In order to prevent skipped stitches, some fabrics, like denim or leather, call for a special needle with a different point and eye.
  3. Check the presser foot pressure on your machine. If it’s too high, the fabric will pucker as it passes beneath the foot; if it’s too low, the fabric won’t feed evenly and may bunch up. The presser foot pressure on most machines can be adjusted with a screw.
  4. Always use a fresh, sharp needle that is suitable for the fabric you are sewing. Skip stitches and fabric deterioration are the results of a damaged or dull needle.
  5. Use thread that is the appropriate size for your fabric and machine. In general, the thread and needle should be two numbers apart (for example,, use size 50 thread with size 60 needles).
  6. As long as the presser foot is raised and the thread tension discs are open, your machine should be threaded correctly in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Breakage or skipped stitches may result from improper threading.
  7. To avoid stretching and distortion of the fabric during sewing and embroidery, use stabilizers when working with delicate designs or sewing on lightweight fabrics!

Final Words

You could hazard a guess as to how much to turn or lower the dial, but why waste time and material? Instead, cut a scrap of the exact item you need to sew—the same fabric, interfacing, and number of layers—and practice all the stitches you want to use on the scrap first. If your project includes a curve or a bias, stitch on that as well as the length of the grain, the cross grain, and any other patterns that make sense. As you sew your finished project, you will be able to see exactly what your stitches will look like.

Have you ever been stuck in the following problems with sewing machines? Read & Learn more together!