How to Fix Sewing Machine Handwheel Problems (6 Common Issues)

Sewing is fun unless you see a crucial component of the sewing machine; the handwheel is stuck or not working. But how to fix sewing machine handwheel problems? You will learn about it shortly.

How to Fix Sewing Machine Handwheel Problems
How to Fix Sewing Machine Handwheel Problems

While both manual and electric sewing machines have this handwheel, it is known as the balancing wheel in automatic machines. You use the handwheel to progress your sewing as it moves the needle up and down. However, the handwheel also helps you to wind the bobbin. In fact, a problematic handwheel can be a nightmare for any sewing enthusiast.

We discuss six common problems with handwheels and how to fix sewing machine handwheel. So by the end of this, you will be able to repair the sewing machine handle. (I also have a tutorial about how to use Brother sewing machine and how to operate mini sewing machine)

6 Common Issues: How to Fix Sewing Machine Handwheel?

Understanding the reason behind your problematic handwheel can let you easily solve the issues, even before they arise. You can also take some actions to avoid handwheel issues in the future. So below, we are discussing some of the reasons why your machine handwheel has problems and how to fix them:

1. Unintentionally Using Your Sewing Machine Handwheel Backwards

If your sewing machine’s handwheel is in good condition, it can turn effortlessly and readily without your assistance. You should notice the needle up and down as it spins. However, always rotate your sewing machine’s handwheel in your or anticlockwise direction when operating it. The device working may have issues if you turn it in a manner that is counterclockwise or opposite towards you.

The abrupt turn in the mechanics’ direction may produce a knot if you are midway through a stitch. When this occurs, the thread can easily become stuck, resulting in a twisted mess inside your system.

Unintentionally Using Your Sewing Machine Handwheel Backwards
Unintentionally Using Your Sewing Machine Handwheel Backwards

How to Fix it?

First, you must stop your sewing endeavor from fixing this issue. If you try to push your machine to continue sewing, it could sustain more harm. After halting operation, access your bobbin section and completely remove your bobbin. And can any tangled threads below the bobbin section. Now insert the bobbin again.

Higher-end devices might have additional features installed to prevent these kinds of hiccups. However, because a basic machine is more likely to snag the thread, the direction of the handwheel is particularly crucial.

2. Upper Thread Without Adequate Tension

The upper thread can occasionally have no tension, leading to knots underneath the cloth. You will see several lines in that. Most folks are prone to think this might be because of a bobbin issue.

However, it’s not. The problem of sewing machine handwheel stuck results from a top thread that is not uptight. The thread can’t be pulled through the fabric by the needle with sufficient tension.

(Learn more! how to change needle position on Janome sewing machine)

Upper Thread Without Adequate Tension

How to Fix it?

By rethreading the needle, you can correct the condition. For this, kindly lift the presser foot. Thoroughly read the instructions for threading your machine.

3. Dust and Lint

You will see a lot of lint and dust built up on the sewing machine since it is a typical by-product of stitching. When you stitch continually, lint can build up in enormous amounts. And since you lubricate the sewing machine regularly with oil and grease, it can create problems for you. You put the oil, grease, lint, and dust on the oil, making your handwheel and machine stuck.

Because all of these things together will create a stiff, sticky mixture that will keep the components from moving. And worst of all, your handwheel will not rotate as a result.

Dust and Lint

How to Fix it?

Therefore, removing the bobbin casing and using a little brush to remove the lint is an easy cure for releasing tension in your gear mechanism.

Before reinstalling the bobbin case after properly cleaning it, ensure the handwheel is once again easy to turn. If not, lint can still be present inside the bobbin casing and needs to be cleared out.

4. Loosen The Inner Knob to Free The Handwheel

If you use an old manual sewing machine, you will see an inner knob, a tiny wheel attached in the middle of the handwheel. No modern sewing machine has it, but it can be seen on vintage sewing machines.

Most often, the handwheel may not be able to turn freely if this inner knob is locked. If you unlock the internal know or loosen it, it will let the handwheel move freely.

Loosen The Inner Knob to Free The Handwheel

How to Fix it?                               

The inner knob will become unlocked as you wind the bobbin and turn the handwheel. Similarly, you have to unlock it to release the handwheel. The first thing you must do to open it turns it. However, you can do it using an earlier model sewing machine.

5. Your Sewing Machine isn’t Threaded Correctly

The threads may tangle, making it plausible that the handwheel won’t turn freely. Thread pressure might rise due to tangling and making the handwheel stuck. However, you shouldn’t turn the handwheel firmly in such a case. 

Even experienced sewers occasionally wrongly thread their sewing machines, leading to stuck handwheels. Moreover, it is the first thing you check if your handwheel is having a problem.

Your Sewing Machine is not Threaded Correctly

How to Fix it?                                                                            

The best way of stroke is to completely remove the thread and rethread. Rethread your sewing machine starting at the beginning after taking it apart. Attach your thread spool and check that your threading carries lever is at the topmost level before pulling your thread through your tension plates and thread guides, following the directions of the user manual. After removing the thread through the needle’s eye, allow a four-inch strand of thread.

6. Your handwheel Belt is Broken

Another common issue with and wheel is broken belt. If you are overworking your sewing machine, your old handwheel belt will snap apart. Your sewing machine’s handwheel will probably rotate if the belt breaks; however, the needle won’t go up and down anymore.

Your handwheel Belt is Broken

How to Fix it?

You can visit a maintenance specialist with your sewing machine to get the belt changed. This service is often covered if the warranty currently covers your sewing machine. If you don’t know what you’re doing, never attempt to disassemble your sewing machine yourself since this could void your warranty.

Still, we are mentioning a method to remove and replace the sewing machine belt

  • First, remove the inner knob by removing the screw and loosening it.
  • Now remove the handwheel and then the broken belt.
  • Next, put the new belt into the belt holder. Make sure the belt is properly fixed and place.
  • Adjust the belt to the motor as well.
  • Now put the handwheel back and the inner knob. Your sewing machine belt is ready to serve the handwheel. 

If you have Brother sewing machine you can follow these steps.


Your handwheel might begin turning freely when you do the aforementioned corrective measures. However, you must take it to the technician if it still won’t turn after trying the previous fixes.

You must not attempt to fix the sewing machine, particularly an electric sewing machine. Without a thorough understanding of the system, you risk further harming the equipment when you try anything.

Consequently, you could have to pay more to fix the machine. There is always the option to phone the service centers and request a visit if you are unsure about performing any of the actions mentioned above.

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