How to Adjust Sewing Machine Timing

The world of sewing is vast and can be intimidating for a beginner to navigate. But one of the most important parts of sewing, whether you’re a beginner or advanced sewer, is machine timing. This process ensures that the various parts of your sewing machine are working together with precision and accuracy.

The main goal of timing a sewing machine is to ensure that the upper thread wraps around the bobbin at precisely the right time in order to produce even stitches throughout your fabric.

Although the general procedure remains the same for most machines, each model has unique methods for removing, modifying, and installing parts, so consult your owner’s manual as you go through these steps.

What is the problem? 

When you’re trying to figure out why your sewing machine isn’t working the way it should, and you’ve checked all of its basic functions, it’s time to check a few more things.

Make sure that your needle is not broken, bent, or even just loose.

Check that the bobbin is installed correctly—in fact, make sure that the bobbin is actually installed at all if you have not yet used the machine.

Finally, check that your needle size and thread weight are compatible with the type of fabric you’re sewing.

A thinner needle and lighter thread will do better on a silk blouse than on a pair of jeans. To find out what type of needles and threads your machine requires, take a look at its manual.

Check for a timing issue by performing a timing test.

The timing of your machine is the relationship between the shuttle hook and the needle. For a machine to sew smoothly, the hook must follow the needle.

If your machine’s timing is off, it will not be able to sew properly. If you notice that your machine is skipping stitches or that it seems to be working hard to get through thicker fabrics, this could be a sign that your timing needs adjustment.

You can adjust your machine’s timing by following these steps:

1. Remove the switchplate and base cover(s).

2. Turn the handwheel slowly in order to check the timing settings.
Use a ruler to measure the distance from the needle’s eye to where it meets the shuttle hook when it is in its lowest position (2.4mm at its highest). The hook should meet up with the needle just above its eye while it is in this position. If it does not, you may need to adjust your timing.

3. To adjust your timing, loosen the screws on either side of the shuttle hook bobbin case by turning them counterclockwise. Then, turn each screw until it reaches a point where there is no gap between the needle and hook

Get Ready for the Timer Work.

If you’re replacing your machine’s timing, you’ll want to make sure you have everything set up and ready to go. It’s best to move the stitch position to a straight stitch, but most machines allow you to select a very wide zigzag or even a satin stitch. Check your machine’s manual for details—this is crucial since it could make all the difference in how successful your timing adjustment is!

Remove the needle bar cover, switchplate, bobbin, and any other parts that may be in the way. If you’ve got a screwdriver handy, you might need it for loosening the screws that hold some of these components in place.

You’ll also want to get yourself some oil for your machine and a small lamp that will illuminate your work area—if you don’t have one, use an inexpensive flashlight. 

Fix the Timing of Desired

Make it Ok for the Needle bar

If your machine doesn’t have timing marks, it’s still not very complicated to adjust the needle height. First, you’ll need to lower the needle with the handwheel until it is at its lowest point. Then, you’ll raise the needle 2.4mm from that position and align the needle eye with the point of the hook.

The correct height for the needle eye will allow for a smooth motion between the hook and the needle eye as you sew and will also allow your machine to feed the fabric through smoothly—a too-high setting can cause skipped stitches or even damage your machine!

Adjusting your machine is one of those things that can seem intimidating at first glance, but with a little time and patience. This task is really easy and well worth it. If you’ve never done it before, give it a try now!


Set the hook timing. 

Adjusting the hook timing varies between manufacturers and models. The general approach, however, is to adjust the distance between the hook and the needle.

Using the handwheel, lower the needle bar to its lowest position.

Loosen the gears in the base of the machine.

Make adjustments until the hook and needle are an appropriate distance apart, anywhere from 0.04mm to 0.1mm or 0.01-0.16, depending upon the machine.

Rearrange & Test Time

Re-assemble your machine. 

Once the machine is taken apart, re-assemble it in the same order that you took it apart. Tighten all screws securely, and be sure to put any leftover parts back into their correct places.

To make things easier when putting parts back together, separate the screws from all of the other small parts that you removed from each compartment and tape them to the same surface where you took them from (like on top of a piece of cardboard). This makes it easier for you to keep track of which screw goes where, and also makes it less likely that you’ll lose a screw or another small part while reassembling your machine.

Clean and oil any exposed gears while your covers are still off.

While you’re taking off the sewing machine covers to give your machine cleaning and oiling, now is a great time to do a quick once-over of the exposed parts of your machine. If you have an older machine with exposed gears and mechanisms, take a look at them—you might need to remove any lint or other debris that can accumulate in their crevices. If your manual says that it’s safe to oil those gears, you may want to do so. Follow the instructions in your manual for where exactly you should use oil. Again, if you’re not sure what kind of oil to use, refer to your manual.

Test your adjustments.

 Try out your adjustments.  Re-thread your machine and sew a test piece of fabric. The stitches should be even, with no skipped stitches or broken needles. If the problem persists, you may need to make further adjustments or consult a sewing machine repair person.

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