There are few things worse than when your sewing machine suddenly quits working in the middle of a project. If it stops feeding fabric, you can do some of your own troubleshooting before rushing to the repair shop. By checking for the following issues first, you may be able to save yourself time and get your project back on track sooner.

Why Won’t Your Sewing Machine Feed Fabric?

1. The Stitch Length Is at 0

Did you recently use your sewing machine to make buttonholes? If so, you may have forgotten to change the stitch length back from 0 to 2 or 3. When it’s set at 0, fabric won’t move forward or backward, so adjusting this may solve the problem.

2. The Feed Dogs Are Down

If your last project involved quilting with your sewing machine or similar work that required the feed dogs to be down, you may have forgotten to raise them back up. Lift them about a quarter-inch above the plate, and try feeding the fabric again.

3. The Presser Foot Is Up

sewing machineSewing machine newbies often forget to put the presser foot down. As a result, the feed dogs have nothing to hold the fabric in place. Make a habit of always putting this component down before you begin, and you’ll never have to worry about your fabric not feeding because of it.

4. The Thread Tension Is Too Tight

When your thread tension is too tight, it can’t move easily through the sewing machine, and the fabric won’t feed properly. Loosening the upper thread tension should enable it to move freely. 

5. You’re Sewing Too Many Layers

Trying to sew too many layers of fabric is a common issue. Most sewing machines aren’t built to handle thick layers, particularly with fabrics like vinyl and faux leather. Sewing fewer at a time is the best solution, but if that’s not an option, you may simply have to go slower.

6. There’s a Knotted Thread

A knot anywhere in your thread can prevent your sewing machine from feeding fabric. Check your bobbin, and rethread your machine. Once you’ve eliminated any knots, it should start feeding fabric again.


If you’ve gone through this checklist and the sewing machine still won’t feed the fabric, take it to the experts at Hamden Sew and Vac in North Haven, CT. As a family-owned repair shop in business for more than 65 years, you can rely on them for all your sewing machine and vacuum repair needs. Give them a call at (203) 234-0893 for additional help with troubleshooting, or visit their website today.