Needle Bar Damage From Over-tightening

Sewing Machine Needle Bar with Clamp and NeedleHaving serviced a few sewing machines with needle bar damage, I thought it would be a good idea to give our blog readers a little tip that will save them some money. Don’t over-tighten the needle bar clamp screw, especially when there isn’t a needle in the clamp.

Do you know what a needle bar clamp is? A needle bar clamp is the part of the needle bar that holds the sewing machine needle in place. In the image on the right, the needle bar clamp has been colored orange. There are essentially two parts to the needle bar clamp; the clamp body, and the clamp screw. The clamp body wraps around the needle bar, and the clamp screw tightens the clamp to hold the needle.

On Janome sewing machines, if the needle bar clamp is over-tightened, the metal “wall” that is on the right side of the needle can actually bend. If you have a needle in the needle clamp when this happens, it will be really hard to change the needle. If you didn’t have a needle in the needle bar clamp when the bar was damaged, you’ll never get another needle in that bar again.

On Bernina sewing machines, if you over-tighten the needle clamp, the tip of the clamp screw can break and/or the clamp body can break. I’ve seen this happen many times, but Bernina machines no longer come with needle clamp screws that can be tightened with a screwdriver, so it’s not as big of a problem as it used to be.

If your needle bar or needle clamp needs to be replaced, I can replace it easily, but depending on the specific machine, it could cost upwards of $100.00. I know you’d rather be spending your money on fabric or something else! Be gentle when tightening the needle bar clamp, and please avoid using a screwdriver. No matter what it says in your owner’s manual, a screwdriver makes it much easier to over-tighten the needle bar clamp.

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Reader Comments (24)

Linnea Lester on 1/30/13 @ 3:42am

Help! My whole needle clamp along with the needle came off the rod on my sewing machine along with a little piece of metal and I have no idea how to put it back together.

b.gottier on 1/30/13 @ 11:46am

Linnea, you're probably going to need to go to your local sewing machine repair shop. It's very difficult to help you with the information you have provided.

Celena on 12/7/15 @ 3:12pm

This just happened to me too! Is it possible to superglue it back on?It appears that maybe there was a really small hex screw or something attaching it to the rod originally?

b.gottier on 12/8/15 @ 11:14am

No, you're going to need to have the needle bar replaced.

Joyce Abrams on 11/24/13 @ 12:17pm

Is it possible to reset the needle clamp so that the screw is on the LEFT side of the shaft of a Bernina 730 record? Thanks for your help.

b.gottier on 11/27/13 @ 11:44pm

Sorry Joyce, you're out of luck. Besides not being possible, if you did somehow manage to find a way to do it, some of the attachments would no longer work.

Kathy on 4/21/14 @ 2:41pm

I have a Bernina 1020. The needle clamp screw has broken twice in about a year. I have had this machine 20 years without a problem and don't feel I have just started to over tighten the screw. When I brought it in To a local shop I was told there may be something wrong with the whole shaft causing the screw to break in which case I should by a whole new machine because it would be so expensive to fix. Does that sound likely to you? I really don't want a new machine because this has all metal parts and works beautifully.

b.gottier on 4/22/14 @ 12:52pm

It sounds like somebody either doesn't know how to work on Bernina machines, or just wants to sell you a machine.

Lobita on 5/20/14 @ 10:30am

Thank you for this article! This seems like exactly what happened to my machine.

Michael on 10/3/14 @ 10:49pm

I have a very weird problem, that doesn't seem to be effecting my sewing.

I noticed after getting my automatic needle threader fixed (the hook was bent...) that when i tried to put the needle threader through, the needle was actually down about maybe..... 2.5 millimeters. (it looked like an average stitch length) maybe 3mm. So I took the needle out and put in a new one, but it was still down too low. To make sure the machine would still operate fine, I turned the hand wheel to make sure it wouldn't hit any metal parts. It seemed to be fine, so to do another test I set it to the widest stitch length and turned it again, and it didn't seem to hit anything. I've been using my machine with care and it still forms the stitches correctly. And after inspection, it doesn't seem like the needle bar has anything stuck inside of it as I can fit the needle all the way in. I am really confused, and would like some help! I don't know if the problem is in the needle bar, or the needle threader, or some other part completely! Thank you for reading this, and helping me in advance!

b.gottier on 10/8/14 @ 5:23pm

It sounds like the needle threader needs to be adjusted. Most threaders have an up-down adjustment, and some even have a left-right adjustment.

Becky on 12/10/14 @ 7:42pm

I cannot get a needle into my euro pro. I had to use pliers to remove the last needle. It almost looks like there is something in there, such as a broken off needle maybe? Can I remove that needle clamp and get it to stay back on afterwards? There's no easy way to do it on this machine. The screw only holds the needle

Mona Tormala on 12/14/14 @ 5:41am

The needle clamp screw on my Bernina Artista 730 e does not have a groove for a screwdriver on it. The first time I changed the needle, the screw was so tight I had to use pliers to unscrew it. Now I'm worried that the next time I sew or embroider I won't tighten it enough by hand and the needle will fall off and break.
I think a repairman tightened it last and I don't have the same strength. Do I need a special tool?

b.gottier on 12/17/14 @ 6:43pm

Mona, you shouldn't need a tool. If your needle won't stay in without being tightened by tool, then the clamp is probably damaged.

ashely on 2/26/16 @ 3:12pm

Something is stuck up my needle and when I try to replace my needle it won't go all the way up because something is stuck up there help!!

b.gottier on 2/27/16 @ 9:48pm

If you can remove the needle clamp, you may be able to see what is blocking the needle from being inserted. Most likely you are going to need to bring your sewing machine in for a repair. This is usually not something that a person can fix without technical knowledge of sewing machine repair.

else cole on 8/8/16 @ 9:39pm

I think this might be what's wrong with mine .. I have a singer, I had a needle in and was sewing just fine, then the needle broke and I couldn't get the needle out of the clamp. screw compleatly out but the needle wouldn't come out, had to use pliers. Now it won't let me put a new needle in, it's like, closed, screw still out. is it the clamp? does it need to be taken to a shop or does it just need to be jiggled and oiled the right way?

b.gottier on 8/9/16 @ 2:03pm

I think you should visit your local sewing machine technician. Based on what your describing, that's about all you can do.

Livia on 9/14/17 @ 9:38pm

I had the same problem, there is a screw inside the clamp shaft that you need to open up, I have a Singer 9960

Knm on 9/2/16 @ 9:14pm

I bent my needle and when I took it out to put a new one in, the screw refused to tighten again. I tried putting the old screw back in to see if it was simply a needle that didn't fit but the old one wouldn't do either.

beata ferreira on 10/16/16 @ 12:23am

I broken needle bar clamp in Bernina sewing machine 707 I can't get new , help what to do

b.gottier on 10/16/16 @ 10:54am

This machine is too old to get new parts, at least using our parts suppliers. Your best option will be to try to find somebody that sells used sewing machine parts online. Expect to pay a lot of money for such a rare part.

Gino on 11/24/16 @ 9:32pm

I have a singer and i was replacing my needle but when i put the needle in and screwed it up it did not tighten i tried multiple times with different needles but it just does not want to tighten .I do not know what to do please help

b.gottier on 11/25/16 @ 9:46am

It sounds like your problem is similar to what this blog post describes. I think you're going to need to bring your machine to a sewing machine technician.

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