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What Is a Needle Bar?

You’ve probably worked with sewing machines that had constant ticking sounds, thread breaks, and a seeming inability to penetrate the thinnest material. If you’re currently dealing with these issues, there might be something wrong with your needle bar. It may need adjustment or repair.

Check the Needle Bar First

The needle bar is the part of the sewing machine that holds the needle in place. It looks like a long cylinder. If your needle isn’t seated properly, this can cause the needle to be too high, too low, or even rotated the wrong way. This can occur either because the needle was just put in wrong, but it can also happen because the needle isn’t designed to work with a particular machine and is the incorrect size. Before you sew, make sure the needle isn’t damaged, is the right one for the machine, and is set properly.

Setting Your Needle

Assuming the needle bar is fine, you should be able to set your needle with no problem. Let’s go through the steps.

Get a New Needle

    Starting fresh can eliminate many problems. Seat the needle and use an alignment magnet to ensure it’s straight up and down.

    Check Lowest Position

      Take off the bobbin case and grab a flashlight. The flashlight will be necessary as you look into the bobbin area. Lower the needle to its lowest possible position and put your eyes level with the eye of the needle. Now, use your flashlight to confirm the height by checking for the reflection in the metal at the top of the eye. You should see 95% of the eye of the needle. If it’s any less visible, it’s too high. If it’s any more visible than 95%, especially if you can see the top of the eye, it’s too low.


        Find the access hole for the needle bar holding screw. Depending on the type of sewing machine you have, it might be behind a plug or a removable housing. While holding the bar in place with one hand, use a screwdriver to loosen the screw. Now, either hold the flashlight in your mouth or ask your friend in the room to hold the flashlight. You’re going to need to look back down in the bobbin to check the height of the needle as you adjust the needle bar. Once you’re sure that it’s in the correct spot, tighten down on the screw. You might need to do this a couple of times, so save your final tightening for when you’re positive you got the adjustment right.

        Replace Everything

          Put your sewing machine back together. Replace all of the covers, parts, etc.


            First, do a test stitch by hand. If by turning the wheel you see that it’s stitching properly, double-check your needle bar screw to make absolutely sure it’s tight.

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