Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Conversational Threads

sewing machine blues!

Nanatoboys | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

I have been sewing since I was a teen, and currently own a Brother PC6000 – which I loved until recently.  I’m having trouble with the needle jumping up and down when I first start sewing, without the material advancing.  I have to manually move the material just a bit and try again – sometimes the machine will engage and sometimes I have to do this several times.  VERY FRUSTRATING.  I have done everything the manual instructs, to no avail.  This mainly happens on thinner material.  And then, to make matters even worse, when the machine actually engages, it literally gathers the thin fabric.  And sometimes the upper thread will break for no apparent reason.

Can anyone tell me what is wrong – is there anything I can do to correct this? 


  1. fabricmaven | | #1

    It sounds like the "timing" is out of whack. I don't think that is something you can fix. A professional would have to see to that. Or alternatively, Does your machine have an even feed foot or device and are you using it? Lastly, I have a Pfaff and sometimes when trying to sew thin fabrics in a straight stitch I have to change the plate that the needle goes through to reach the bobbin from the all purpose or zig-zag stitch to the straight stitch plate. Hope this helps.

    1. Nanatoboys | | #3

      I'll have to check about the plate - but believe I do have a different plate - had not thought of changing it. 

      I was hoping that it might be something very simple that could be fixed quickly and inexpensively, but the "timing" doesn't sound like either. 

      Thank you so much for your suggestions!

  2. rekha | | #2

    I have no knowledge of the modern electronic machines, but the problem you describe occurs on my machine when the thread is not guided via the guide on the needle bar (just above the needle).

    1. Nanatoboys | | #4

      I know that the manual says that the thread isn't threaded correctly, or you have the wrong needle for the fabric/thread, or the tension isn't correct if the thread breaks.  Each time that it has happened, it appears to have been threaded correctly.  This machine has "automatic" thread tension, and a list of needle/thread size for various types of fabric.  I've been changing the needle; however, I use "general purpose" brand name thread.   Could that be a part of the problem? 

      Thank you for your suggestion - will definitely check that!

  3. GailAnn | | #5

    Every so often, depending on the number of hours of actual sewing work, and the nap of the fabric I've used, I find I need to have my sewing machines professionally cleaned. 

    I try to use only one machine for fluffy or nappy fabrics.


    1. Nanatoboys | | #6

      I only have the one machine - and I know that I don't clean it often enough! :(  but I did clean it the other day and that didn't seem to help. 

      1. Ralphetta | | #7

        Repair isn't my thing but I'm curious as to why no one has mentioned pressure. I sometimes forget to readjust the feed dogs or the pressure.

        1. Nanatoboys | | #8

          I did check that and that does not "appear" to be a problem.  I have cleaned the machine again today and turned off the "auto tension" and was able to finish up a Jon Jon suit for my grandson, with only the button holes to finish by machine.  The thread was pulling a gather in the seam of a cotton lining I was using, so after I loosened the top thread tension at least that part worked out fine. 

          It almost acts like it is automatically sewing "anchoring" stitches as you start off but maybe gets too much thread in one spot and can't seem to move on ... or "forgets' to change to regular stitches.  I'm not sure I'm making any sense.  Sometimes it sews 3-4 regular stitches before it stands still and sometimes it stands still at the very beginning.  Today with seersucker, lining and interfacing, it never did this the first time.  but yesterday it was standing still every time I started a new seam with the seersucker and the lining.

          Thank you for your suggestion!

          1. Gloriasews | | #9

            With thin fabrics, often they don't want to move when you begin & the thread bunches up underneath into a lump & the fabric won't move except to get stuck into the needle hole.  Do you hang onto the top & bottom threads firmly when start sewing on thin fabrics?  That helps it to move along.  Once the first few stitches have gotten going, the rest go fine.  You could also try a piece of tissue paper under the thin fabric, take the first stitches into the paper & continue on - this prevents the jam-up & you just tear the paper off when you are done.  Or is this not the problem?


          2. Nanatoboys | | #10

            Yes that seems to be the problem (plus some, maybe).  I was working with a sheer fabric earlier and apparently didn't loosen the top tension as much as I did today and had to add paper underneath the entire length of all the seams to keep them from "gathering."  A REAL PAIN  I guess I was counting on that "auto" sensor thingy to give me the correct tensions in every situation and I'm finding that it just isn't going to happen?!?

            I've been playing with various things - I can't hold onto the threads as I begin to sew the way my machine is threaded.  The bottom thread never comes to the top.  I tried holding onto the fabric in front of and behind the pressure foot, after getting it started, and the top thread was breaking a good bit.  I could start my seam with a heavier piece of fabric and then sew onto the thinner fabric - haven't tried that. 

            Thank you!

          3. Gloriasews | | #11

            I thought all machines had to have the bobbin thread come to the top - usually that's done at the very beginning.  You just hand-crank the machine down for one stitch, holding onto the top thread &, when the needle comes back up, the bottom thread is attached & you pull it out.  Then you have 2 threads behind the work before you begin - or does your machine work differently?  If I don't pull the bobbin thread through to the top, my thread always jams, no matter what thickness of fabric I'm working on, hence the top thread breaking.  And yes, working with the paper (I've even used toilet paper!) does stop the fabric from gathering.


          4. Nanatoboys | | #12

            On this particular machine, the bottom thread stays out of reach, and sight.  You place the bobbin in and wind the tail around to the left and thru a "slot" (for lack of a better term) and then place a cover over the bobbin.  I use the machine to clip the threads at the end of the seam and it leaves about 1/4" or less of a tail there. 

            On my older machines, I always had to pull the lower thread up prior to sewing. 

            Never used toilet paper.  Will have to keep that in mind in an emergency :). 

          5. Gloriasews | | #13

            Yah - I had to use the toilet paper once, as I was out of tissue paper.  It worked really well & was easy to pull off.  I was using it for the decorative angel wings stitch on an angel fabric cushion as a Christmas gift - all the stitches were even & not puckered.  The toilet paper is certainly cheap enough & you usually have that around the house if you run out of anything else :)


          6. User avater
            VKStitcher | | #17

            I'm coming in late to this discussion, so I hope you've already figured out and resolved the problem with your machine.  If not, it may be that the machine's automatic thread cutter is to blame.  I had a machine with that feature, and whenever I used it to cut threads at the end of a seam, the threads would tangle on the underside when I started to sew the next seam.  I figured the bobbin thread wasn't long enough to make a good stitch.  I went back to using my scissors/snips to cut the thread, and holding onto both thread tails when I started the next seam.  Maybe your machine needs to have the thread cutter adjusted?

          7. Nanatoboys | | #18

            Oh man - that would be one feature that I really love.  Hadn't thought about that causing any problems, but I use it exclusively, so will have to see what not using it at all does.  I guess the only way I can hold onto both threads is to pull the bottom thread up, like I used to have to do on my older machines.  Worth a shot.  Still have grands around, so haven't been sewing much the last couple of weeks, but really need to get back in there. 



          8. busybee | | #19

            I 've been following along with all your problems and I dont think I can offer any advice other than already given. I would be very interested to know which machine you have - it sounds unusual.Theres nothing more frustrating than problems like this and i do hope you get it sorted soon. I have had grandchildren around too - they're so lovely but I'm so glad when they're gone!Tiredness just cracks you up doesn't it.

          9. Nanatoboys | | #20

            Thanks for checking on me.  Seems like I've had grandchildren more than I've been doing anything else recently; however, school starts very soon.  We've had other projects going around the house and with parents also. 

            In the meantime, haven't done too much sewing.  However, the problem has not gone away.  I've been working on a Jon Jon suit for the 3 month old using a seersucker and have gotten frustrated all over again.  I tried pulling the bottom thread up b4 starting my seams and holding onto bottom and upper threads while not using the auto cutting tool on the machine.  Didn't help.  I have almost no problem when sewing a thicker material (when sewing thru several layers along with the lining).  Once the machine decides to "kick in" I can stop and start (like stopping to remove pins) as I continue down a seam, no matter whether short or long.  I tried running seams together (like lining up several seams and placing them in one right after the other) and don't know how the machine figured out what I had done, but it stood still and did it's thing at the beginning of each seam.  I had to lift the needle out of the material and move it ever so slightly and try sewing again b4 it would kick in and sew normally.  Most of the time I only have to move the needle once - several times it took at least twice and once I didn't think it was going to move at all.  Sounds as though I may have to take it to a repairman.  My aunt just gave me a box full of material and there were several pieces of very lightweight silk (am assuming that I can use the paper trick with that - but I would have thought I wouldn't have to use paper with seersucker).   My machine is a "Pacesetter by Brother"  PC-6000  When I ran across this group I was trying to check online to see if others had had anything similar happen with their machines but haven't run into anyone else with similar problems thus far.

            Thanks again!

          10. damascusannie | | #21

            Is there a way to adjust your presser foot pressure (how hard it pushes down on the fabric)? It almost sounds like it's set too light so that when the foot isn't completely on the fabric, it's not getting a good enough grab on it to advance it. Another thing could be that if you have droppable feed dogs, that they have somehow gotten lowered just a smidge which would result in the same problem.

  4. Teaf5 | | #14

    Does your machine have a setting for "darning" or "mending"?  Mine does, and it drops the feed dogs completely, preventing them from grasping the fabric.  If your feed dogs have any adjustment possibilities, they may be just a shade lower than necessary to grab the underside of the fabric, which is what pulls it back.

    Another possibility is that your pressure foot tension is too loose.  In that case, the presser foot isn't pushing against the feed dogs hard enough to make the thin fabric move, but thicker fabric would be alright.

    While testing stitches, feeddogs, and pressure foot tension, I like to use folded paper toweling.  If the stitching jams, it's easy to tear away the toweling, but otherwise, it acts just like fabric.  When I've finished the testing, I use a little water on the toweling and clean off all the dust from the outside of the machine.

    Let us know if you discover the solution.

    1. Nanatoboys | | #15

      Sorry I haven't responded to your comments (and thanks!).  We were out of town for several days and then had two young grandsons for several days.  Boy am I tired!!!  Wouldn't trade it for the world though.  However, can't sew with them running around - they take all my attention. 

      Never tried using paper towels.  I certainly will in the future though.

      When I loosened the upper thread tension all the way, and added a thin strip of soft interfacing when I was hemming shear fabric, I had no trouble at all with the fabric feeding or the thread "gathering" the fabric. 

      Whenever the fabric hasn't feed and the needle goes up and down in one spot, generally I could lift the needle, move the fabric just a fraction and start sewing again and I can actually hear a noise and know that the fabric will then feed.  It's like a gear clicks into place, or something - very difficult for me to describe.  I will have to sit down with the machine and see what can be adjusted.  I don't believe that I can adjust the pressure foot at all though.

      Thanks again for all your comments. 

    2. katina | | #16

      That paper towelling idea is great - thanks!

This post is archived.

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Conversational Threads

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All