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Can a Sewing Machine Overheat?

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Devices or machines that have moving parts generally tend to become hot whenever they are used. This is caused by friction. As the parts rub against each other, heat is generated. Getting hot is considered normal, but when these devices become excessively hot, there’s a problem.

Can a sewing machine overheat?

Sewing machines have a number of moving parts that can become hot when in use and can overheat if overworked or poorly maintained. If a sewing machine overheats, it will malfunction and could injure you or damage your project.

fashion designer sewing

If you do not correct the source of excessive heat, the sewing machine can become damaged and require extensive repair or replacement.

Why Do Sewing Machines Overheat?

In machines, heat is generated when the moving parts rub against each other. The longer they create friction, the more heat they generate. In other words, the longer you use your sewing machine, the higher the chances of overheating.

It’s no coincidence that overheating can occur when you have used your machine for an extended amount of time. But that’s not all that can cause your machine to overheat.

Sewing machines work with threads, and while you sew, pieces of the threads can get into different parts of the machine. With thread in its motorized parts, there’s increased friction in the machine.

This means the machine has to do more work than it normally should for it to move. Some of the extra work it does is converted to heat that causes the sewing machine to overheat.

Besides threads and prolonged use, your machine can overheat due to a lack of lubrication. Normally, the moving parts need lubricants to reduce friction and ease movement.

As you sew, the thickness of the lubricant diminishes over time which makes it less effective. This creates more friction and harder movement for the machine and can lead to overheating.

man sewing clothing

Signs Your Sewing Machine Is Getting Hot

How can you tell that your sewing machine is starting to get hot before it critically overheats? Sewing machines will give several, not-so-subtle signs that they are heating up.


One of the easiest ways to recognize that your sewing machine is getting hot is through the sound. As friction increases, the parts rub against each other, and as they do, you may hear clanking or grinding sounds. If a sewing machine is getting hot, you should easily notice new, awkward sounds.


Another way to detect a hot sewing machine is through smell. As the sewing machine gets hotter, you may detect a slight burnt or charred odor. This can be caused by residual oil, residual thread, or motor parts heating up.

Hot Motor Area

You can also verify how hot your sewing machine is through touch. When you place your hand around the motor area, you will feel some heat.


You may also notice skipped, inconsistent, bunched, knotted, or dragged seams when your sewing machine starts to heat up.

5 Ways to Prevent Your Sewing Machine From Overheating

Your sewing machine will normally become warm or slightly hot as you sew with it. The more you use your sewing machine, the more you will be come familiar with what normal smells, temperatures, and sounds to expect. When a sewing machine starts to overheat, this is usually a sign that there’s a problem. Fortunately, you can take precautions to stop the sewing machine from overheating in the first place.

Some sewing machines come with a feature that allows them to shut off automatically if they start to overheat. If your sewing machine does not include this option or you start to notice warning signs before it kicks in, you should do the following:

woman turning sewing machine off to rest

Let It Rest

Your sewing machine is not tireless. After using it for a while and noticing the sewing machine is heating up, you should let it rest. Take a break from your project for a few hours. Then get back to work when the sewing machine is cool.

Lubricate It Regularly

To prevent overheating, you have to keep your sewing machine lubricated. The parts of a well-oiled sewing machine will not rub against each other, and there will be no excessive heating.

Clean It

Your sewing machine only likes threads when it’s in the right places. Thread in the wrong places can affect the movement of the motor-powered parts in your machine.

To keep your sewing machine from overheating, clean the loose threads from inside the machine. This can especially accumulate in the bobbin casing and surrounding area.

Besides threads, look out for dust. If your sewing machine collects enough dust in the motorized parts, the dust build up can affect your machine the same way threads do.

Tighten Loose Parts

As you use your sewing machine, the vibration may cause certain parts of the machine to become loose. When this happens, the motor function of the machine may become compromised and it can overheat. Regularly check your sewing machine and tighten loose parts as you notice them.

However, only make adjustments if you are sure of how the machine works. You can also have a technical tighten (and clean) your sewing machine for you.

Replace Old Parts

If you’ve been using your machine for a long time, you may have to change some old parts, especially motor parts.

Such parts might be damaged or less effective, and they may affect the dynamics of the machine. This, in turn, can cause the sewing machine to do more work and overheat.

sewing machine maintenance

Sewing Machine Maintenance

A new sewing machine probably won’t need maintenance to start with. But as it gets older, regular maintenance becomes necessary. By checking your machine regularly, you reduce the chance that the machine will have major faults.

The things you do to prevent overheating are the same things you should do when carrying out maintenance on your sewing machine.

  • Oil the movable parts
  • Tighten loose parts
  • Clean out dust and pieces of thread
  • Replace old parts

You should also check your sewing machine’s manual. Some manufacturers include specific instructions on maintenance practices.


Sewing machines can overheat when their motor functions are overworked or compromised. When they do overheat, it can lead to major damages that can cost you a lot to repair. It is cheaper (and safer) to check and maintain your machine regularly instead.


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