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How to Troubleshoot a Kenmore 12-Stitch Sewing Machine

Ruth O'Neil

If you are having problems with your Kenmore 12-stitch sewing machine, do not immediately take it to an expensive repair shop. By troubleshooting it yourself, you could potentially save both time and money. Many of the problems you might encounter with a Kenmore sewing machine are simple to fix, such as giving it a cleaning or oiling some of the mechanical parts. Problems with your sewing machine could include breaking threads, improper stitching, stitching that bunches up or skipped stitches. Use scrap fabric to test your sewing machine after troubleshooting.

  1. Start by rethreading your Kenmore sewing machine. Pull out the spool thread and the bobbin thread and redo it all. Test the stitching on a piece of scrap fabric.

  2. Clean your sewing machine. Use a flat-head screwdriver, which should have come with your Kenmore, to remove the needle plate, and then lift out the bobbin case. Use the lint brush, which also should have come with your Kenmore, or tweezers to remove all of the lint trapped under the bobbin casing. Replace everything and test the sewing machine again.

  3. Oil the mechanical portions of the sewing machine, which on a Kenmore are located behind the face cover on the left side of the machine. Open the face cover and drop oil on the needle bar while you raise and lower it, using only the hand wheel. Check to see if the needle bar moves more smoothly.

  4. Replace the needle if necessary, especially if the needle is broken or bent. Raise the needle to the highest possible position and loosen the screw clamp by turning it toward you. Pull out the old needle, replace it with a new needle and then tighten the screw clamp.

  5. Adjust the tension if the thread seems to be sewing too tightly. Locate the tension dial to the right of your Kenmore sewing machine. Set the tension at "3" or "4," which is average for a Kenmore sewing machine. Test the stitching on a scrap piece of fabric, and adjust the tension a little more if necessary.

  6. Check the feed dogs if the fabric is not being automatically pulled through when you are sewing. Remove the free arm to find the feed dog adjustment lever. Raise the feed dogs by moving the lever to the right, or lower the feed dogs by moving the lever to the left.