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sewing machine trouble

HelenFWW | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

I’m hoping someone can help me… I’m having some trouble with my new John Lewis machine and I don’t have the expertise to distinguish if it’s something I’ve done wrong or if it’s a problem with the machine. But I suspect it’s the former.

It’s stiching in random stitches. I’ll get 5 very shirt tight stiches followed by 3 very long loose ones. I think it’s might be a problem with tension but I’ve rethreaded the machine and bobbin several times and everything seems to be in order. I just don’t know what to try next.

Any suggestions?

Much appreciated,


  1. beo | | #1

    Helen, it may well be the tension, but something else might be going on.  I assume because the maching is new that it is clear of lint build up.  It might be that you are not using a thread compatible with the fabric you are sewing.  For example, not long ago I was using Metler's Poly Sheen of on a polyester fabric and had the same problem.  I switched to a cotton thread and had perfect results.  Also, a different thread weight in the bobbin may affect the stitching.  Good luck.  (By the way, what is a John Lewis machine?)

    1. MaryinColorado | | #4

      Isn't that strange?  And the "rules" say to always match the thread to the fabric...another example of stretching the rules with success.  I always get a kick out of that.  Mary

      1. beo | | #5

        I just wish I had a list of rules you can break and rules you can't.  I get myself into more trouble than not breaking or keeping the wrong ones!

        1. MaryinColorado | | #6

          It's a fine line between "mistakes" and "creative opportunity" but I think we need both to grow and learn.  We need "experiences" to become "experienced"?  Nothing new would ever happen if we just did things the way we are taught to do them it seems.  An old cliche says "live and learn"  and I sure have had to "learn the hard way" in my lifetime so far.  Just don't give up, keep stretching your boundaries and see where they lead you.  Mary 

        2. decoratrice | | #8

          The rules are defined by the outcomes:  Success=breakable, Disaster=unbreakable.

      2. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #9

        Sigh, rules are meant to be bent and broken Mary! Start with thread and needle size to match your fabric, and test, test, test, to see what works best for your particular fabric, machine, and project. Sometimes you have to go up a needle size, or down. Or use a different needle type, or different thread type. Then keep a fabric swatch with this info on it somewhere in a card or 3 ring binder for future reference. Mind you, a similar fabric will not sew the same way...Murphy's Law. tee hee hee. But it does give you a starting point. Cathy

        1. MaryinColorado | | #11

          From one rulestretcher/bender to another: you have really given some exellent well thought out advice on this topic, as allways, great info!  Mary

  2. stillsuesew | | #2

    Is it possible that you have the machine set to do some decorative stitch. I have been fixing a few old machines lately and have found that when people say things aren't working, they have often dropped the feed dogs, have the needle in backwards, have it set for some strange stitch that takes specific width and stitch lengths to make it look good. Make sure you have all the dials set for a straight stitch. I'm guessing that a John Lewis machine was purchased at a John Lewis store in the UK and is actually made by another company.

  3. ohiostar | | #3

    Are you "helping" the machine by pulling the fabric through the machine from the back? It sounds as though the feed teeth are not moving properly. Is this a computerized, electronic, or mechanical machine?

  4. Betakin | | #7

    If your machine has an adjustable foot pressure on it you might need to adjust it to more pressure.

  5. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #10

    Helen, you did not say what fabric you are stitching on.
    There are a couple other reasons for stitches skipping, that could be ruled out as well.
    Was your fabric pre washed? Did you use a fabric softener? If your fabric was not pretreated, or a fabric softener was used, there is a finish on the fabric that is preventing the stitches from forming properly.
    Are you using a universal needle? Try either a sharp or ball point instead. One or the other may be better. The type of needle does make a difference on different fabrics. Schmetz has a great site on choosing the right needle and explanations on all the different types of sewing machine needles. You can print off a handy chart for your own reference as well.
    As dumb as it sounds, try rethreading your machine. Sometimes the thread wraps or kinks around something, and we just do not see it. It can wrap around the thread spindle, and suddenly jump loose, giving us odd stitches. Worth a try. Even having the thread spool unwind off the other side can make a difference. Don't know why, just with some spools, it does.
    Make sure your bobbin is unwinding in the proper direction as well. Most need to unwind in a clockwise direction. Check for this in your manual. It does make a difference in the stitching. Some machines don't care, others really do. Good Luck!!! Cathy

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