Help! Sewing Machine Buttonhole Troubleshooting(All Sewing Machine)

One of the most daunting tasks in sewing is sewing buttons on clothes and fabrics, and this buttoning process heavily depends on the buttonholes of the sewing machines. But if the buttonhole size is tiny, big, or is jammed, then your entire workflow will be stomped.

You might find that your buttonhole foot is not moving, or the buttonhole stitch is jammed for some reason. Don’t worry, to get through this matter and answer the question ‘why is my sewing machine’s buttonhole foot not moving?’, you need to do some sewing machine buttonhole troubleshooting.

And we will guide you through every possible troubleshooting step by step. This will take 5 min or less to read it out. So let’s start.

How Do You Make Buttonholes?

how do you make buttonholes

Before diving into troubleshooting, we need to have a good idea of how a sewing machine makes buttonholes in the first place. This will give you an argument over what to look out for if you face problems regarding your sewing machine’s buttonhole not moving.

The most crucial part of sewing for buttonholes lies with your buttonhole feet. The process is usually simple. You take out your buttonhole feet and put your button in the correct position so that the sewing machine will know about the buttonhole size it is working with, and then attach the button foot to your device and start sewing.

The sewing machine will do a quick zigzag stitch, and you’ll have a perfect buttonhole on your cloth or fabric.

Figuring Out the Issues

If we look closely at the process, we can identify some sectors where problems can occur, leading to your buttonhole not moving. The first place you should look for is, of course, the buttonhole foot. Does it fit properly? Is there any dust or dirt clogging it up? Make sure that the buttonhole foot is working correctly.

Next comes the presser foot and the needle. If the needle, needle bar or needle plate is off-balanced, it won’t work as fine or won’t work, so make sure that it is appropriately set. The same goes for the pressure foot.

Also, another factor to look out for is your stitching. Swap out the buttonhole foot and add the standard or any other foot and check if your sewing machine is sewing correctly or not. If not, then you can be sure that the problem is not in your buttonhole foot.

If you are using an older generation machine, the most reasonable solution would be to oil and clean every part of the machine including the bobbin thread and upper thread compartment. In most cases, some features get rusty & clunky with clog and dirt after simultaneous usages.

On the other hand, if you’re using a computerized sewing machine, malfunction in software or wrong input command can also be why your buttonhole foot is not moving.


Now that we know where the troubles can occur let’s dive into some basic troubleshooting.

First, begin with checking the needle and whether or not it is in shape, correctly placed, and not bent or broken. Please make sure the lever is in its destined position.

Next, proceed to inspect your buttonhole. Is there any object blocking the way? Also, ensure that the buttonhole is touching the layers of fabric. Ensuring that the feed dogs are handling the fabric is something that we should be sure of.

In the meantime, If you think you mess up with your setting then press the reverse button to get the settings back. 

Finally, check if the machine is being clogged up with dirt or not because a dirty machine can stop working at any given moment.

Troubleshooting Based on Brands

troubleshooting based on brands

Some buttonhole issues are exclusive to certain brands due to their unique designs. If the standard troubleshooting technique didn’t produce optimal results, you should follow this part for sewing machine buttonhole troubleshooting.

SINGER Buttonhole Foot Not Working

SINGER is one of the most renowned sewing machine brands in the industry, and they have some unique solutions towards buttonhole foot, not working problems.

To begin with, first, check if the feed dogs are lowered than their standard position as this will make the buttonhole footwork. 

Also, you need to check up on the sewing machine lever; as for SINGER sewing machines, you need to pull down the lever after you swap out a foot, and if the lever isn’t pulled down, then the device won’t function.

Also, if you are using an older SINGER model, you should clean and oil it if the mentioned solutions didn’t work as the older models stop working if they aren’t properly maintained.

SINGER Buttonhole Setup 

If you are using a computerized SINGER model, then the troubleshooting process is relatively easy. A simple system analysis check will give you the answer.

Improper settings of the buttonhole can also cause problems. To start with, set up where you want the button to go and then go to the button selector and pick your choice of button style, stitch type & length-width, and you are done.

Now lower the pressure foot, align it with the fabric, set the button in the proper place, and pull down the lever, and you should have the perfect buttonhole settings for SINGER devices or most automated devices in general.

And one more check up for all sewing machines is sewing mode. Sometimes you may select by mistake the wrong mood! 

Brother Buttonhole Troubleshooting

Another big name in the sewing industry is the Brother sewing machine. Every lineup of Brother’s sewing machines has different buttonhole troubleshooting. But there are a few common steps that can quickly solve the problem.

First, locate the buttonhole lever, pull it down, and push the lever in the proper position. You must ensure that the lever is connected to the buttonhole device; otherwise, it won’t switch sides.

Brother’s sewing machines have a common complaint about losing screw connection, which might be here. Tight the lever’s screws from left to right, and what can solve the problem.

Software malfunction can also lead to the buttonhole foot not working; in this case, contact support or if you can then update the software, and you might be able to fix the issue. But this is a sporadic incident to begin with.

Janome Buttonhole Troubleshooting

Most of the time, Janome sewing machines have a notorious record with their buttonhole feet, and they are the reasons behind buttonholes not working correctly. It is pretty ironic that instead of providing benefits, it creates a hindrance for the sewers.

So, the solution to this problem is to change the buttonhole foot and get a new one to replace the previous one, and you should be able to work perfectly.

You should also check the lever positioning, needle balance, and bobbin position, as these are also some common problems that stop the buttonhole foot from functioning correctly.

Janome sewing machines tend to get clogged up and dirty very quickly, and we’ve already established that if a sewing machine gets clogged up, it will most certainly stop working.

If you find that your Janome sewing machine is dirty and clogged to the core, first clean it up correctly, and what may fix your problem.


Suppose your buttonhole foot is not working even after all these steps. In that case, you need to call customer support or visit a professional with your sewing machine as there might be some internal damage preventing your sewing machine from functioning properly. No worries. Check up your machine first.

Bottom Line: Sewing Machine Buttonhole Troubleshooting

Finding a solution to your buttonhole’s trouble might seem like a drag and frustrating, to be the least, because there are so many small details that can go wrong, and it is hard to keep up. 

But we believe that if you have come this far with our sewing machine buttonhole troubleshooting guide, you know the important stuff you need to keep an eye out for when attempting to fix your sewing machine’s buttonhole foot issues. 

And now you can take a look at your sewing machine’s instruction manual to find out all the parts with their name and start fixing the problem.

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