Five Troubleshooting Tips for Broken Needles on Sewing Machines

Posted on: 7 July 2016


Does your sewing machine needle keep breaking? That can be frustrating, especially when you're in the midst of an exciting sewing project. Luckily, there are ways to troubleshoot the issue:

1. Is your throat plate properly lined up?

The throat plate is the piece of metal that the needle goes through to reach the thread on the bobbin. If the plate isn't lined up, your needle may hit it and break. Visually assess this part to see if it's correctly lined up with the rest of your machine -- It should be square with the edge. If it's not straight, loosen both of its screws, straighten it and tighten the screws.

2. Are you removing the pins?

Just as your needle may break if it hits the throat plate, it may break if it hits a metal pin in your fabric. If your fabric is pinned, make sure you are removing all of the pins as you move the fabric through the machine. To figure out if a pin may be the culprit, look over the fabric you were sewing before the needle last broke and see if there are any errant pins.

3. Are you using the right size needle?

In some cases, the needle itself may be the issue. Needles come in a range of sizes, and ideally, you want to reserve low numbers for lightweight fabrics such as silk and chiffon and high numbers for heavyweight fabrics like denim. Save the middle of the range of medium-weight fabrics like flannel or linen. If you've been using a needle that is too fine (low number) with heavy weight fabric, the fabric can cause the needle to bend and eventually break.

4. Do you need better quality needles?

If you have ruled about the above three issues, it's time to examine needle quality. Sadly, whilst cheap needles can be easy to find, they are also easy to break in many cases. Try using a needle that is better quality than the ones you have been using, and see if that makes a difference.

5. Is the timing off, or does the machine need servicing?

Unfortunately, there is only so much troubleshooting you can do on your own. If you cannot identify the problem, the machine's timing may be off, it may not be supporting the right thread tension or it may have a more complicated internal problem. To assess the issue, take your machine to a sewing machine repair specialist.