Elna EM16 Mechanical Common Problems and Troubleshooting

Welcome to our guide on troubleshooting common problems with the Elna EM16 Mechanical Sewing Machine. If you own the Elna EM16, you know that it’s a versatile and user-friendly sewing machine designed for both beginners and experienced sewists.

In this article, we’ll address potential issues you might encounter while using this machine and provide solutions to help you get back to sewing smoothly.

Elna EM16 Mechanical Overview

The Elna EM16 Mechanical Sewing Machine is a fantastic choice for sewists of all levels. This machine is packed with features to make your sewing projects a breeze. Here are some of the key details and features:

Item Weight14 Pounds
Power SourceCorded Electric
Is ElectricYes

Product Details and Features

  • Mechanical Sewing at its finest! The Elnita EM16 is easy to use and includes every feature you would need for basic or beginner sewing.
  • Versatile features: Every quilter will appreciate the drop feed and the extra high presser foot lift, while a sewist will be pleased with 16 stitches plus a buttonhole.
  • Value-added functionality: Adjustable thread tension, built-in needle threader, 4-step buttonhole, and a bright LED lamp make sewing easy.
  • Comes ready to sew with 4 bobbins, spool pin, needle set, blind hem foot, and a zigzag foot.

Causes of Common Problems with the Elna EM16 Mechanical

Before we dive into specific problems and solutions, let’s briefly explore the common issues you might encounter with the Elna EM16 Mechanical Sewing Machine. In the following sections, we’ll address these problems and provide troubleshooting steps to help you resolve them.

Common Problems and Troubleshooting with the Elna EM16 Mechanical

1. Thread Tension Inconsistencies

Description: You notice uneven stitches or loops on the fabric, indicating issues with thread tension.

Cause: Incorrect thread tension settings can result in loose or tight stitches.


  1. Re-thread the machine, ensuring the thread is properly seated in the tension discs.
  2. Test stitch on a scrap fabric, adjusting the tension dial slightly until stitches are balanced.
  3. Consult the user manual for recommended tension settings for different fabrics.

2. Needle Threading Difficulties

Description: You’re having trouble threading the needle, which can lead to interrupted sewing.

Cause: Incorrect threading process or poor lighting can make threading challenging.


  1. Ensure the presser foot is raised to release tension on the thread.
  2. Use the built-in needle threader by following the user manual’s instructions.
  3. Improve visibility by using the bright LED lamp or external lighting.

3. Bobbin Winding Issues

Description: Bobbin winding is uneven or stops abruptly during the process.

Cause: Incorrect bobbin placement or tension can affect the winding process.


  1. Ensure the bobbin winder shaft is pushed to the right for winding mode.
  2. Thread the machine correctly for bobbin winding, following the threading path in the manual.
  3. Check for any tangles or snags in the thread that could disrupt winding.

4. Stitch Irregularities

Description: Stitches are skipping, breaking, or appearing uneven during sewing.

Cause: Dull or incorrectly inserted needle, improper threading, or incorrect stitch settings can lead to stitch irregularities.


  1. Replace the needle with a new one suitable for the fabric being sewn.
  2. Ensure the needle is correctly inserted and tightened.
  3. Check that the machine is threaded correctly, following the threading guide in the manual.
  4. Adjust stitch length and width settings to appropriate values for the fabric and technique.

5. Buttonhole Problems

Description: Buttonholes are not forming correctly or are inconsistent in size.

Cause: Incorrect buttonhole settings or improper manipulation during sewing can result in buttonhole issues.


  1. Select the appropriate buttonhole stitch and follow the machine’s instructions for attaching the buttonhole foot.
  2. Ensure the fabric is securely positioned under the buttonhole foot.
  3. Practice on scrap fabric to adjust the buttonhole size and ensure proper alignment.

6. Uneven Feed and Fabric Pulling

Description: The fabric is not feeding evenly, causing uneven stitching or fabric pulling.

Cause: Incorrect presser foot pressure or an incompatible needle can lead to feeding issues.


  • Adjust the presser foot pressure according to the fabric thickness.
  • Use the appropriate needle size and type for the fabric you’re sewing.
  • Hold the fabric lightly as it feeds through the machine to prevent pulling.

7. Thread Breakage

Description: The thread keeps breaking during sewing, causing frustration and interruptions.

Cause: Incorrect threading, tension, or using poor-quality thread can lead to thread breakage.


  • Ensure the machine is correctly threaded and the thread is in the tension discs.
  • Check for any thread snags or knots in the thread path.
  • Use high-quality thread suitable for your project.
  • Adjust the thread tension if necessary.

8. Noisy Operation

Description: The sewing machine produces excessive noise during operation.

Cause: Loose parts, lack of lubrication, or incorrect setup can result in noisy operation.


  • Tighten any loose screws or components in the machine.
  • Ensure the machine is properly lubricated as per the user manual.
  • Check for any obstructions or debris in the machine’s moving parts.

9. Needle Breakage

Description: Needles keep breaking while sewing, affecting the stitching process.

Cause: Using the wrong needle for the fabric, incorrect needle insertion, or hitting pins can cause needle breakage.


  • Choose the correct needle type and size based on the fabric you’re sewing.
  • Ensure the needle is inserted all the way up and tightened properly.
  • Remove any pins from the fabric before sewing over them.

10. Jammed Bobbin Case

Description: The bobbin case becomes jammed, preventing smooth sewing.

Cause: Incorrect bobbin insertion, tangled thread, or debris in the bobbin area can lead to a jammed bobbin case.


  • Remove the bobbin and clean any lint or debris from the bobbin area.
  • Re-insert the bobbin, ensuring it’s correctly threaded.
  • Check for any tangles in the bobbin thread and re-thread if necessary.

11. Skipped Stitches

Description: Stitches are occasionally skipped, creating gaps in the stitching lines.

Cause: Dull or bent needle, improper threading, or fabric thickness can cause stitches to be skipped.


  • Replace the needle with a sharp, appropriate needle for the fabric.
  • Ensure the machine is threaded correctly and the presser foot is down.
  • Use a stabilizer under lightweight or stretchy fabrics to prevent skipping.

12. Uneven Buttonholes

Description: Buttonholes are not evenly spaced or aligned on the fabric.

Cause: Incorrect buttonhole foot setup or fabric positioning can lead to uneven buttonholes.


  • Attach the buttonhole foot according to the user manual instructions.
  • Ensure the fabric is positioned correctly and securely under the foot.
  • Practice on scrap fabric to achieve consistent buttonhole alignment.

13. Thread Nesting on the Underside

Description: You notice thread bunching and nesting on the underside of the fabric.

Cause: Improper threading, incorrect bobbin placement, or tension issues can cause thread nesting.


  • Rethread the machine, ensuring the thread is properly seated in the tension discs.
  • Check that the bobbin is inserted correctly and the thread is unwinding in the right direction.
  • Adjust the upper thread tension as needed.

14. Fabric Doesn’t Move with Feed Dogs

Description: The fabric doesn’t advance when sewing, even with the feed dogs engaged.

Cause: Feed dogs might be lowered, fabric could be caught, or there could be an issue with the presser foot.


  • Ensure the feed dogs are raised and engaged for fabric movement.
  • Check for any obstructions or fabric caught in the feed dogs area.
  • Verify that the presser foot is securely attached and positioned correctly.

15. Uneven Stitch Length

Description: Stitch lengths vary, leading to an uneven appearance on the fabric.

Cause: Inconsistent machine speed, improper stitch length settings, or mechanical issues can cause uneven stitches.


  • Maintain a consistent sewing speed to avoid variations in stitch length.
  • Check and adjust the stitch length setting on the machine as needed.
  • If the problem persists, consult the user manual for possible mechanical adjustments.

16. Thread Loops on the Underside

Description: Loops of thread appear on the underside of the fabric, affecting the stitching quality.

Cause: Incorrect threading, improper bobbin winding, or tension issues can lead to thread loops.


  • Re-thread the machine, making sure the thread is correctly guided through all thread guides.
  • Ensure the bobbin is wound evenly and correctly inserted in the bobbin case.
  • Check and adjust the upper and lower thread tension as necessary.

17. Machine Jams or Stops Suddenly

Description: The sewing machine becomes jammed or stops abruptly during sewing.

Cause: Thread tangles, fabric caught in the machine, or mechanical issues can cause sudden stops or jams.


  • Turn off the machine and gently remove the fabric and threads from the sewing area.
  • Clean the bobbin area and remove any tangled threads or debris.
  • Examine the machine for any signs of mechanical issues and consult the user manual for guidance.

18. Limited Stitch Selection

Description: The sewing machine is not cycling through all the available stitch options as expected.

Cause: Selector dial misalignment, internal mechanisms, or user error can restrict stitch selection.


  • Ensure the stitch selector dial is set to the desired stitch pattern.
  • Consult the user manual to understand the correct procedure for changing stitch patterns.
  • If the issue persists, contact customer support or a professional technician for assistance.

19. Uneven Presser Foot Pressure

Description: The presser foot applies uneven pressure on the fabric, resulting in uneven stitching.

Cause: Presser foot tension adjustment, foot installation, or fabric thickness can lead to uneven pressure.


  • Adjust the presser foot tension according to the fabric thickness.
  • Ensure the presser foot is properly attached and aligned with the fabric.
  • Practice on scrap fabric to achieve consistent presser foot pressure.

20. Bobbin Thread Showing on Top

Description: The bobbin thread is visible on the top side of the fabric, affecting the stitch appearance.

Cause: Incorrect upper thread tension, improperly threaded machine, or bobbin placement issues can cause this problem.


  • Check and adjust the upper thread tension to achieve balanced stitches.
  • Re-thread the machine, ensuring the thread is correctly guided through all thread guides.
  • Ensure the bobbin is correctly inserted and wound with the right tension.

21. Uneven Seam Allowances

Description: Seam allowances are inconsistent, affecting the accuracy of your sewing projects.

Cause: Inaccurate sewing machine settings, improper fabric feeding, or user technique can lead to uneven seam allowances.


  • Use the seam allowance guide on the sewing machine’s needle plate to maintain consistent allowances.
  • Feed the fabric evenly through the machine, guiding it gently without pulling or pushing.
  • Practice sewing on scrap fabric to refine your technique and achieve precise seam allowances.

22. Needle Threader Malfunction

Description: The built-in needle threader doesn’t work properly, making threading difficult.

Cause: Threader misalignment, user error, or dirt accumulation can lead to needle threader malfunction.


  • Ensure the needle is at its highest position before using the threader.
  • Follow the correct steps for using the threader as outlined in the user manual.
  • Clean the threader mechanism and surrounding area to remove any dust or lint buildup.

23. Machine Doesn’t Start

Description: The sewing machine doesn’t respond when you press the foot pedal or power button.

Cause: Power supply issues, foot pedal connection problems, or mechanical faults can prevent the machine from starting.


  • Check that the machine is properly plugged into a working power outlet.
  • Ensure the foot pedal is securely connected to the machine.
  • If using a foot pedal, press it steadily to start the machine. If using a power button, make sure it’s pressed properly.
  • If the machine still doesn’t start, consult the user manual or contact customer support for further assistance.

24. Inconsistent Feed Dogs Movement

Description: The feed dogs (fabric-moving mechanism) are not advancing the fabric smoothly.

Cause: Dirty or obstructed feed dogs, incorrect stitch length, or mechanical issues can cause inconsistent fabric movement.


  • Clean the feed dogs area to remove lint, debris, or thread buildup.
  • Adjust the stitch length setting to ensure it’s appropriate for the fabric and sewing technique.
  • Check for any signs of mechanical issues or irregular movement and refer to the user manual if needed.

25. Limited Reverse Stitching

Description: The sewing machine is not consistently producing reverse stitches for securing seams.

Cause: User error, foot pedal pressure, or mechanical issues can affect the reverse stitching function.


  • Press and hold the reverse stitch lever or button firmly to ensure reverse stitching is engaged.
  • Practice on scrap fabric to get a feel for the correct amount of pressure needed for reverse stitching.
  • If the issue persists, inspect the machine for any signs of mechanical issues or consult the user manual.

Elna EM16 Mechanical Sewing Machine User Reviews

Positive Reviews from Elna EM16 Mechanical Sewing Machine Users

  • Users were satisfied with the ease of use and user-friendly features of the Elna EM16 Mechanical Sewing Machine.
  • Many found the variety of stitches and the buttonhole functionality to be useful for a range of sewing projects.
  • Several users appreciated the bright LED lamp, which provided good visibility while sewing.
  • Users also praised the machine’s ability to handle basic sewing tasks and light projects effectively.
  • Positive feedback was given for the machine’s reliability and performance at a reasonable price point.

Overall, the majority of users expressed satisfaction with the Elna EM16 Mechanical Sewing Machine, highlighting its user-friendly design and versatile features.

Negative User Reviews of the Elna EM16 Mechanical Sewing Machine

  • Some users reported issues with the machine’s tension settings, resulting in uneven stitches and thread breakage.
  • A few users mentioned difficulties with the bobbin winding process, leading to jamming and disrupted sewing.
  • Several negative reviews highlighted problems with the machine’s durability, with instances of parts breaking or malfunctioning.
  • Users expressed frustration with the machine’s limited reverse stitching capability and inconsistent feed dogs movement.
  • Some users encountered challenges with the needle threader, experiencing difficulty in threading the needle properly.

While there were some negative experiences reported, it’s important to note that these issues were not widespread and may vary from user to user.

Elna EM16 Mechanical Sewing Machine Manual

The operating instructions for the Elna EM16 Mechanical sewing machine can be found on the manufacturer’s official website. You can access the manual, which contains detailed guidance on setup, operation, and troubleshooting, by visiting the Elna website and navigating to the product support or downloads section.

Elna EM16 Mechanical Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I adjust the thread tension on the Elna EM16 Mechanical sewing machine?

To adjust the thread tension on the Elna EM16, follow these steps:

  1. Refer to your machine’s manual for recommended tension settings based on the fabric and thread you are using.
  2. Ensure the presser foot is raised before threading.
  3. Thread the machine following the threading guide.
  4. Test stitch on a scrap fabric and adjust the tension dial incrementally until you achieve the desired stitch quality.

2. Why is my needle thread breaking frequently?

If your needle thread is breaking often, consider these troubleshooting steps:

  1. Ensure the needle is correctly installed and not damaged or bent.
  2. Check the upper thread path for any snags or tangles.
  3. Verify that the thread is properly seated in the tension discs.
  4. Adjust the tension as needed and test on scrap fabric.

3. How can I clean and maintain my Elna EM16 Mechanical sewing machine?

Maintaining your sewing machine is essential for its longevity. Follow these general maintenance tips:

  1. Regularly clean the bobbin area, feed dogs, and needle plate to remove lint and debris.
  2. Oil the machine as recommended in the manual to keep moving parts lubricated.
  3. Replace the needle regularly, especially if it becomes dull or bent.
  4. Keep the machine covered when not in use to prevent dust accumulation.

4. Can I use the Elna EM16 Mechanical for quilting projects?

Yes, the Elna EM16 Mechanical sewing machine is versatile and suitable for quilting projects. It offers features such as a drop feed and extra high presser foot lift, making it convenient for quilters. Additionally, it provides various stitches, including a straight stitch ideal for quilting.

5. What should I do if my Elna EM16 Mechanical sewing machine jams?

If your sewing machine jams, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the machine and unplug it from the power source.
  2. Gently remove the fabric and any tangled threads from the sewing area.
  3. Clean the bobbin area and feed dogs to ensure there are no obstructions or debris.
  4. If the problem persists, refer to your manual for further guidance or contact customer service.


For any issues with your Elna EM16 Mechanical sewing machine, it’s advisable to consult the user manual, reach out to customer service, or visit an authorized service center whenever possible. Proper maintenance, correct threading, and understanding the machine’s features can help ensure a smoother sewing experience.

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