Sewing Machine Troubleshooting

Why Does My Sewing Machine Needle Keep Breaking?

You’re probably reading this article because you are tired of your needle breaking on your sewing machine, and you can’t figure out why it is happening. There are several possible reasons; consider the following.

Your Sewing Machine Is Threaded Incorrectly

If your thread does not line up through the tension and thread guides properly, it can tighten up as you sew. This can pull on the eye of the needle and cause it to break. A poorly threaded sewing machine is one of the most common reason for breaking a needle.

Your Thread Is Not on the Spool Pin Securely

You can’t just stick the thread on the spool pin and start sewing — you have to attach the stopper securely, but with enough give for the thread to spin freely. Some sewing machines are very sensitive to this set up, and the spool pin can throw off the tension. Your sewing machine needle can break if the thread tension is off because it cannot be pulled through the eye of the needle properly.

You’re Using the Wrong Type of Needle

Certain fabrics require certain types of needles. For instance, ball point needles may break if you try to sew on a thick material like corduroy. If you don’t usually have an issue with your needle breaking, consider using a different type of needle to solve the problem. You’re supposed to change your needle often anyway.

Your Needle Is Not Inserted Correctly

There is a little screw that holds the needle in place as you sew. If the needle is not inserted all the way, it can break while you sew because it goes down too deep into the bobbin case. On my Singer sewing machine, the needle occasionally falls out because the screw that holds it in place gets bumped by my finger sometimes when I sew. So, make sure your needle is always held tightly in place.

Your Needle Is Bent or Damaged

Over time, your sewing machine needle can bend and get damaged. Some sewing machine needles also have natural flaws that happen during manufacturing. This means that you will occasionally come across a needle that is bent or damaged before you insert it in your machine. Bent and damaged needles will break when they hit the sole plate or catch in the bobbin case.

There is Lint Accumulation in Your Bobbin

If you haven’t taken your bobbin casing out of your machine in a while, there may be a build-up of lint. If you have too much lint in there, the needle may jam into it and break. Simply clear out the lint with some compressed air in a can.

You’ve Been Sewing Over Pins

If you leave the pins in your sewing project, you might hit a pin when you sew. A lot of the time this will result in a broken needle, or simply damage it over time. You should always remove the pins as you sew anyway, because it’s dangerous (think needle in the eye).

Your Needle Is Out of Position

If your needle breaks every time you insert a new one, use the hand wheel to slowly bring the needle down to see if it is hitting the sole plate or the presser foot. You can manually adjust the position of the needle by changing the width setting so that it is not hitting anything. most machines also have a needle position lever. This is a common problem when using a presser foot other than the standard one.

If you have checked for all of the problems listed above, it may be time to take your sewing machine into the repair shop. You may need to have the alignment manually reset, especially if your machine has been dropped, jostled, etc.
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  1. After having cleaned the bobbin case and feed area my sewing machine needle is hitting the sole plate and breaking, and you suggest, it is probably out of position.The guide says to adjust the needle by using the width setting, where is this located? My machine is a Singer 359.
    Many thanks,

    1. The width setting is the one that you adjust to make a zig-zag stitch. I couldn’t find a manual for the Singer 359, but since it is an older machine, the width setting is probably on the top.

  2. My Singer 1732 keeps breaking the needle, I noticed that the needle is frequently hitting the base foot in the back, I can also move the needle shaft back and fore with my hand, but I don’t know if this is supposed to be that way. Any suggestions?

    1. Your sewing machine should have a setting to adjust the position of the needle. It definitely should not hit your presser foot or base plate. It’s possible that your needle is not pushed in all the way. Try unscrewing the screw that holds the needle in place and then pushing the needle up and tightening the screw.

  3. Another reason may be pulling on the material when sewing, thus pulling the needle so that it hits the base plate. Found this out the hard way. I am by no means a seamstress but sew occasionally for my grandkids. I let the machine sew on its own and my needle is still occasionally breaking. It is usually when trying to sew over a double seam. Is there any way to make the seams not so bulky. Could I sew both of the seams up to the edge but stop short of where the cross seam will be?

    1. When I sew over double seams, I go really slow to avoid breaking the needle. If the seem is really thick, I use the handwheel for better control. Nancy, you could stop short, but make sure to backstitch on both sides.

      1. Thank you so much. I tried going over the really thick parts using hand wheel method and was able to finish my project with my very last needle. lol We live out in the boonies so going for more needles isn’t an option all of the time. I think my problem is “hey, I made it over a few thick seams so I’ll just keep going”. Instead of stopping to do by hand when my mind says to. I’m a little impatient/stubborn that way.

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