The Hunger Games: How to Stop Your Sewing Machine From Eating Fabric!

Here's an everyday nightmare: You're sewing along, making great progress, when suddenly your fabric disappears into the abyss. The underbelly (or maybe the bobbin or throat plate) of your sewing machine ate your fabric!

We've all been there. But there are a few things you can do to starve that hungry sewing machine and never lose another inch of precious yardage.

1. Test the Stitch Length

Stitch length can definitely be part of the problem, especially when it comes to stretchy knits that can easily get sucked into the machine. Depending on the weight of the fabric, you may need to shorten or lengthen the stitch.

2. Stabilize Your Fabric

Stabilizers provide traction, which makes it harder for the machine to swallow your material. You can stabilize fabric in many ways, like with tissue paper or a spray stabilizer from your local craft store. None of these are permanent options either, so you can easily rip or wash them away once you're finished.

3. Try a Stitch Starter

A stitch starter gives your sewing machine a little run-and-go warm-up before you start sewing. Among the dozens of benefits to using a stitch starter is that it discourages the sewing machine from eating fabric.

4. Use Scrap Fabric

Simply cut a little square of the fabric you're sewing with and butt it right up against the fabric you're getting ready to seam. Start the seam on the scrap fabric and let that seam sew right onto the working fabric. If the machine has any issues, it will let you know on the scrap fabric, sparing your precious pattern pieces.

5. Make Sure You've Got the Right Needle

You probably already know that your sewing needles should be in tip-top shape when you start a project, but sharpness isn't the only criteria. The fabric and needle need to work together to make sure everything goes smoothly; when the machine eats your fabric, it's a sign trouble is brewing between the two. Picking the right needle isn't hard, you just need to know the basics .

6. Buy a Straight Stitch Needle Plate

Many machines are equipped with a needle plate that's designed for all kinds of stitches, from straight to zigzag. If you look, these plates have a wider opening. But straight stitch plates have a very small opening that make it hard for the machine to eat the fabric. You can check your sewing machine manufacturer's website to find the exact plate that fits your machine, but remember: you can only use the straight stitch plates with straight stitches. Trying to use a straight stitch plate with zigzag stitches will break your needle.

7. Re-Thread Your Machine

Sometimes a problem — like having your fabric eaten — can seem like a big deal, but the solution could be super simple. Try removing the bobbin and thread from your machine and re-threading everything once more. Sometimes a thread can get caught somewhere and cause all kinds of issues, and this is a simple fix.

8. Clean the Bobbin and Needle Plate

When I first started sewing, I had no idea what kind of maintenance went into owning a sewing machine . After one particularly frustrating day of fabric eating, my mom showed me how to remove the needle plate and clean the bobbin area. Yikes: There were all kinds of fuzzies down there, and even scraps of other fabric. I cleaned it all out and re-threaded the machine. Problem solved.

February 20, 2019
More to Explore
Now Reading
The Hunger Games: How to Stop Your Sewing Machine From Eating Fabric!