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Brother Sewing Machine Troubleshooting and Repair Guide

Have you ever sat down at your sewing machine, only to find a stuck needle or jammed thread? The good news is that you can learn a few simple tricks of the trade to avoid most issues. Check out a Brother sewing machine troubleshooting and repair guide to get started!

Brother sewing machine repair includes regularly cleaning and rethreading the machine. Checking fabric feed and tension settings can also improve sewing machine function. Correcting bobbin, needle, and electrical issues can also repair the machine.

In this article, you’ll learn basic Brother sewing machine troubleshooting techniques. You’ll discover handy strategies for dealing with lesser-known bobbin problems. Finally, you’ll find out all about the warranty and repair manual for your Brother sewing machine!

How Do I Fix My Brother Sewing Machine: 9 Common Issues

Brother sewing machines have a good reputation, but you will still find yourself facing a tangled thread or broken needle once in a while! Check out this basic guide for troubleshooting the nine most common issues you may encounter while using your Brother sewing machine.

Thread Path

Threading a brothers sewing machine

Tangled thread, skipped stitches, and several other major issues can often be traced to the upper thread path.

It doesn’t matter if you have a fancy sewing machine or a bargain model. It doesn’t even matter if you’re an expert seamstress or a beginner sewer. Nine times out of ten, you can fix any thread issues by removing the thread and rethreading the upper thread path!

How do you rethread your machine?

  1. First, remove the current thread if necessary. Instead of taking the thread spool off the spool pin and pulling the thread free, snip the thread near the spool and then pull the thread down and out through the needle. The thread should not pull back through the thread path, as the machine is not designed to work that way!
  2. Turn the handwheel until you can see the thread take-up lever peeking out from the arm of your sewing machine. Some Brother models have a threading line indicator on the handwheel, which needs to reach the top of the wheel to show you that the take-up lever is correctly positioned.
  3. Raise the presser foot. This may seem odd since it has no direct connection to the thread! This key step releases the tension discs, though, allowing them to encompass the thread properly.
  4. Brother machines do a great job clearly marking the thread path. All you have to do is follow the colored indicators to wrap the loose end of the spool thread through the tension discs and over the thread take-up lever.
  5. Make sure you slot the thread behind the last guide above the needle bar as well. Then use your automatic needle threader or thread the needle yourself. Unless your manual says otherwise, most Brother models thread front-to-back.
  6. Sew a test series of zigzag stitches to make sure this has fixed the thread issue.

Tension

Sewing machine tension feels like a big, confusing issue to many new sewers. The basic concept makes sense, but adjusting the settings may feel quite scary!

So, how does sewing machine tension work? A tension disc mechanism (located in the arm above the needle bar) places more or less pressure on the upper thread. More pressure allows less thread to release into each stitch. Less tension allows more thread, creating looser stitches.

You may need to adjust the tension settings on your machine when you use silkier, thinner, or thicker types of material. Anytime you switch to a different type of needle or thread, you should test a sample line of stitches to see if you need to correct the tension settings.

And, of course, loose or skipped stitches as you work should also give you a head’s up that you need to play with the tension!

To adjust the tension settings:

  1. First, rethread the upper thread path and reinsert the bobbin, just to make sure incorrect threading did not cause the problem.
  2. Next, find a sample scrap of the same fabric you’re using for your real project. This makes sure you will correctly set the settings for the specific material you want to sew on.
  3. Locate the tension dial or knob on the front of your sewing machine. Typically, most Brother models place this toward the front of the sewing machine arm, above the needle bar.
  4. Run a few test stitches and examine the results.
  5. If you can see loose bits of the lower thread poking through, you need to set the dial to a lower number, loosening the tension.
  6. If the upper thread pokes through on the bottom side of the fabric, you need to set the tension to a higher number.
  7. If you have trouble analyzing the test stitches, try setting the tension dial one number lower and run another line of test stitches. Do these stitches look more even?
  8. If that test also looks incorrect, set the tension dial one number higher than its original setting, and repeat the test.
  9. Continue adjusting the tension dial and testing the stitches until you find the perfect setting for your fabric.

Needle Replacement

Needle Replacement

Ideally, you should replace the needle in your sewing machine at the start of every new project or each time you switch to a different type of material. For example, ballpoint needles work best on knit and stretch fabrics. Sharp, narrow needles work best on silky fabrics.

Using a fresh needle helps prevent any snagging on your material. Using the correct type of needle can also mean the difference between runs and skipped stitches in your fabric or neat, even stitching.

If you notice a slight bend or skew to the needle, you need to change it right away! A bent needle may damage your machine when it lands on the wrong spot. It can also easily snap off and fly at you while you sew!

To replace the needle:

  1. Turn off your machine. It’s always best to play it safe when you need to put your fingers next to the needle!
  2. Lower the presser foot lever. This gives you better access to the needle.
  3. Pinch the needle between your fingers to prevent it from falling down into the machine.
  4. Use a small screwdriver to loosen the needle clamp screw, turning it toward you. Most Brother machines come with an appropriate screwdriver for this task.
  5. As the hold on the needle loosens, it will fall away into your left hand. Set aside the old needle for safe disposal.
  6. Look at the new needle and note the flat side of the shank. Insert the needle with the flat side facing the back of the machine until it hits the needle stopper.
  7. Use the screwdriver to tighten the needle clamp screw again, this time turning the screwdriver away from you.

Clean Lint Buildup

Keeping your machine clean and lint-free will prevent possible jamming or refusing to sew down the road. Depending on how much you use your sewing machine, you may need to clean it on a regular schedule, such as once a week or as often as every time you begin a new project.

You should always refer to your sewing machine manual to learn exactly what you need to clean. That said, you can also follow these basic steps to perform a simple cleaning.

On top of that, you should also read the fine print on your warranty if you have a newer machine. Sometimes Brother will void a warranty if you mess with the machine yourself instead of taking it into a certified repair shop!

  1. Turn off and unplug your sewing machine before you begin. Take this chance to inspect the electrical wires and make sure you do not see any lint or grease build-up around the plug outlets.
  2. Use a small screwdriver to remove the needle plate. You will also want to remove the bobbin and bobbin casing.
  3. With a small, clean paintbrush, carefully sweep out any accumulated lint. Do not use a vacuum for this process, as the suction could damage the alignment of movable parts! Also, don’t use a pressurized air can or even blow on the machine to clear out dust and lint, as this could damage the machine, too.
  4. Replace the removable pieces.
  5. Dust the outside of the machine with a soft cloth.
  6. Set up a clean spool of thread and run the thread through the upper thread path, pulling it down gently to the needle to remove any lint that may have caught in the thread path.
  7. Finally, run a few inches of test stitches to make sure everything works!

Fabric Feed

Fabric feed problems can have several different causes.

  • If the machine makes a weird noise and the fabric seems stuck, you might have tangled thread beneath the material. This usually means you need to rethread the machine after removing the tangle with a small pair of scissors.
  • If you have a machine that features a drop feed, check the settings to make sure this is enabled.
  • If you have a mechanical machine, make sure you have lowered the presser foot! If you forgot to put it back down after threading, the fabric will not feed through properly.
  • Feel the feed dogs with your finger. Do they still have raised, triangular teeth? If these have worn down, you may need to replace them.
  • Stitch length can occasionally impact the fabric feed. If you’re using a stitch length or pattern that does not suit the material, such as a long, loose stitch on a silky fabric, the feed may seem off.

Skipped Stitches

Skipped stitches leave gaps of loose thread between the regular stitches as you sew. This looks messy and leaves weak gaps in your seams! The good news is that you can usually perform a few simple fixes to correct the issue.

  • Are you sewing on knit or stretch material? If so, you may need to swap out your needle for a blunt, ballpoint needle. Using stabilizer material or basting your work together before sewing can also help prevent skipped stitches on knit fabric.
  • Do you have a bent needle? A bent needle can also cause skipped stitches, but you can easily check by removing the needle and laying it on a flat surface. If it lies horizontal to the flat surface, you’re good to go!
  • Gently pull on the upper thread to see if it seems caught or if the tension may prevent the thread from smoothly moving to the needle. You may need to adjust the tension on your machine to allow the thread to move freely.
  • If you have not cleaned your machine in a long, long time, clogged lint may have built up somewhere. Try giving everything a good cleaning!
  • If none of these solutions fix the skipped stitches, your Brother machine may have a timing problem. This level of repair usually requires professional intervention. However, if you don’t mind taking apart the inner mechanisms of your machine, you can try looking up a Youtube clip to help you adjust the timing.

Tangled Thread

Most of the time, rethreading your machine will fix tangled thread issues. When the upper thread slips out of the tension discs, it tends to tangle up beneath the fabric. Sometimes you may refer to this as jammed feed or as a bird’s nest tangle. This happens on every sewing machine, but you can easily resolve the issue by rethreading.

You can also try dusting under the needle plate and cleaning the thread path. Sometimes lint can gum up the works, causing the thread to get sticky and tangle.

Alternatively, you may need to check the removable parts of your machine. For example, if you have the wrong size of bobbin in place, it may rattle around and cause the thread to tangle. Replace your needle in case it has dulled and is no longer catching the lower thread properly, too.

Broken Thread

If the upper thread repeatedly breaks as you sew, something has gone wrong. You can try several different solutions to prevent this from happening again.

  • Check the spool size and spool pin you use to keep the thread spool in place. You may need to adjust the sizes.
  • You may also need to check that your machine can handle the type of thread you choose. A very fine thread might not work with your Brother model.
  • As always, rethread the upper thread path. If a thread slipped free of a guide or out of the tension discs, it may catch and tear on another moving part in the machine.
  • Adjust the tension to a lower setting. Too much tension could exert enough pressure to snap the thread.
  • A loose or bent needle might cause the thread to snap, especially if the bent needle strikes the needle plate as you sew.

Electric Issues

First things first, unless you have a background as an electrician, you may want to leave some electronic problems to the experts! That said, you can easily fix a few simple problems by yourself.

For example, if the light on your machine goes out, you can easily order a replacement bulb and install it yourself. Make sure you use your manual as a reference.

If your machine doesn’t turn on, check the wall outlet first! Perhaps the plug got loose. Also, make sure the connection to the machine is snug.

Likewise, make sure the foot pedal cord has not come loose as you sew.

Beyond this, any internal writing issues probably need professional attention. If you have a computerized sewing machine, you should almost certainly take your machine in for a repair if the screen goes dark or you need any kind of computer repair.

How To Unjam a Brother Sewing Machine?

Brother sewing machine jammed

The most important thing to know about a jam is that you must stop sewing as soon as you hear a strange noise or feel extra tension in the fabric feed. Carrying on even for a few seconds can make the jam much worse!

To remove the jam:

  1. Turn off your sewing machine. You will need to work closely around the needle and to do this safely, you must turn off your machine.
  2. If the machine will let you, use the handwheel to raise the needle. Don’t panic if you can’t turn the wheel, and certainly don’t try to force it!
  3. Lift the presser foot to give you access to the jammed fabric.
  4. If you have enough wiggle room, pry up the jammed fabric just a bit and use a pair of embroidery scissors to snip the threads holding the fabric to the machine.
  5. Open up the bobbin casing and remove the bobbin. Cut free any threads you may find tangled with this lower thread.
  6. Remove the needle plate and use tweezers to pick out any remaining thread bits.
  7. Use your lint cleaning brush around this whole area for good measure.
  8. Finally, replace the bobbin and rethread the machine. Use a scrap of fabric for a few inches of test stitches to make sure you have everything working correctly again.

Brother Sewing Machine Bobbin Problems

Brother sewing machine bobbin issues

Bobbin thread issues don’t occur as often as upper thread problems, but you may come across one once in a while! When that happens, try these simple solutions to solve the problem.

  • If your bobbin thread (the lower thread) keeps bunching up, you need to check your tension settings. Too-tight tension can cause this to happen.
  • Short thread tails may get sucked back into the machine and cause tangles, too.
  • Bobbin tangles may also occur if you use two different kinds of thread, one for the upper thread and a different kind for the bobbin. Make sure you use the same thread in both places!
  • If you have the wrong size of bobbin or have not inserted the bobbin in its case properly, it could rattle around loosely and cause lots of tangles.
  • More commonly, your bobbin may have gotten chipped or bent at some point. This will also cause it to catch while spinning. A chip could even break the bobbin thread as it unwinds!

How Do I Fix My Brother Sewing Machine That Won’t Sew?

Depending on the severity of the issue, you may find a quick fix like rethreading your machine, or you may need to take it into the shop if the motor is damaged.

Check the easiest solution first: is your machine plugged in? Did you remember to turn it on, and is the foot pedal plugged in securely? Any of these simple issues will keep your machine from sewing!

Usually, a sewing machine that won’t sew is caused by a jam or incorrect threading. After removing the jam, make sure you follow the threading instructions in your manual to rethread the machine. This essentially resets everything, giving you a fresh start!

You should also rewind the bobbin and read your manual to make sure you have inserted the bobbin correctly into the machine.

Look at your presser foot and make sure you have it down as you begin to sew.

If none of these simple fixes helped, you might have a problem with the motor or something mechanical inside the machine. This level of fix usually needs a certified repair technician!

Brother Sewing Machine Repair Manual

Every Brother sewing machine comes with a special owner’s manual that will tell you how to complete basic maintenance and repairs. Even if you consider yourself an experienced sewer, you should read through this before using your machine for the first time!

What if you bought your machine second-hand and it didn’t come with the manual? No worries! Brother kindly provides digital access to all its recent manuals through the company website.

Now, if you have a vintage Brother model, you may have to put on your detective hat to find the manual! You can usually purchase old manuals on eBay or Etsy. If you want a free option, you can reach out to fellow sewers on online forums and ask for help.

Brother Sewing Machine Repair Near Me

Your average mom-and-pop repair shop may well have a certified Brother technician on staff because Brother sewing machines are so popular. That said, your best bet is to check the company website to locate an authorized dealer.

A technician trained specifically on Brother models has the best chance of fixing your machine quickly and effectively. For this reason, just Googling “sewing machine repair near me” might not do the trick! Try Brother’s website first, and see if you have a certified repair shop nearby.

On top of that, if you have a warranty, you will have to follow Brother’s rules and go to one of their people!

Do Brother Sewing Machines Have a Warranty?

Some Brother sewing machines do have a warranty. This depends on whether or not you bought your machine brand-new and when you bought it. Brother currently offers a three-year warranty for parts and labor.

Machines used professionally may have different warranty options. Embroidery machines, quilting machines, and sergers may also have some differences.

This warranty does come with some conditions, though. Typically, you will void the warranty by making your own unauthorized repairs instead of going to a professional. To find out if your machine qualifies and see what you have to do to keep that warranty intact, visit the company website.

Conclusion

Brother sewing machines jams or tangles often have simple solutions that you can easily learn to save time and money. Learning how to rethread the machine, replace the needle, and rewind the bobbin will make your sewing much smoother! Using the correct type of needle and thread will also prevent many problems.

Any time you run into a problem with your machine, check your owner’s manual first to see if it offers a solution. You should also make sure you do not attem[t any fixes that could void your warranty!

What Brother model do you have? What do you like most about it, and have you ever tried to repair it? Leave a comment below to let us know!

Mats Wolff

Sunday 7th of November 2021

I didn't know that we need to replace the needle in your sewing machine at the start of every new project or each time you switch to a different type of material. My mother has a brother sewing machine and it is broken so she wants to repair it. Thanks for the tips on how to repair and broken sewing machine and I will talk to a professional further on how to get it repaired. http://www.singerfactorydistributor.com/services.htm