How To Adjust Feed Dogs On Sewing Machine

As a tailor, seamstress, or DIY enthusiast, you understand the importance of a functioning sewing machine. It allows us to bring our creative visions to life with precision and ease. However, one of the most crucial components of a sewing machine is the feed dog. Without proper adjustment, the feed dog can cause issues with fabric movement and stitching quality. This guide will walk you through the process of adjusting the feed dog on your sewing machine, ensuring that you can continue to create beautiful designs with ease.

Understanding the Role of Feed Dogs

The feed dog is a small, pointed mechanism located under the presser foot of your sewing machine. It is responsible for pulling the fabric through the machine as you sew. The feed dog has small teeth that grip the fabric and move it along the machine’s feed path. As the fabric moves, the needle punctures it, creating the desired stitching. Without the feed dog, the fabric would remain stationary, making it impossible to sew.

Reasons for Adjusting Feed Dogs

There are a few reasons why you may need to adjust the feed dog on your sewing machine. The most common reason is that the fabric is not moving smoothly through the machine. This can be caused by a variety of factors, such as a worn or damaged feed dog, improper thread tension, or incorrect presser foot pressure.

Another reason to adjust the feed dog is if you are experiencing issues with the stitching quality. If the feed dog is not properly adjusted, it can cause the fabric to bunch or pucker, resulting in uneven stitching. Additionally, if the feed dog is too high, it can cause the fabric to stretch, resulting in loose or distorted stitching. These issues can be frustrating, and time-consuming, and can cause wasted fabric, so it’s essential to adjust the feed dog for optimal results.

The Process of Adjusting Feed Dogs

  1. Begin by unplugging your sewing machine and removing the needle plate. This will give you access to the feed dog.
  2. Look for the feed dog adjustment screw or lever. This is typically located near the feed dog or on the side of the machine.
  3. Use a small screwdriver or lever to adjust the height of the feed dog. If the fabric is not moving smoothly, lower the feed dog. If the fabric is stretching or distorting, raise the feed dog.
  4. Adjust the presser foot pressure if necessary. Presser foot pressure is what holds the fabric in place as the feed dog moves it through the machine. If the pressure is too high, it can cause the fabric to stretch. If the pressure is too low, it can cause the fabric to bunch or pucker. To test the presser foot pressure, you can place a piece of paper under the presser foot and lower it. If the paper crinkles or tears, the pressure is too high, and if it slips easily, the pressure is too low.
  5. Once you have made the necessary adjustments, reattach the needle plate and test the machine by sewing a few stitches on a scrap piece of fabric.
  6. If everything appears to be working correctly, reattach the presser foot and begin sewing your project.

It is important to note that some sewing machines may have different methods for adjusting the feed dog. Consult your machine’s manual for specific instructions.

Tips for Maintaining Feed Dogs

To ensure that your feed dogs remain in optimal condition, it’s essential to maintain them properly. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Clean your feed dogs regularly. Lint and debris can build up on the feed dog teeth, causing them to wear down more quickly. Use a soft brush or a lint roller to clean them after each use.
  • Oil your feed dogs as needed. Over time, the feed dog mechanism can become dry and stiff, making it harder to adjust. A drop of sewing machine oil applied to the feed dog mechanism can help to keep it moving smoothly.
  • Be mindful of the type of fabric you are sewing. Some fabrics, such as leather or heavy denim, can be more challenging for the feed dogs to grip. If you are working with a particularly difficult fabric, try using a walking foot attachment to help guide the fabric through the machine.
  • Inspect the feed dog teeth for wear and damage. If the teeth are worn or damaged, they will not be able to grip the fabric effectively. Consider replacing the feed dog or taking your machine in for repairs if you notice any issues.
  • Use the correct presser foot. Different presser feet can affect the way the feed dogs interact with the fabric. For example, a walking foot attachment can help guide the fabric more evenly through the machine. Make sure to use the correct presser foot for the type of fabric and stitching you are working on.
  • Check your thread tension. Improper thread tension can cause issues with the fabric movement and stitching quality. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommended thread tension settings for your machine and adjust as needed.
  • Practice using different types of fabrics. As you become more familiar with the different fabrics and their unique properties, you’ll be better equipped to make the necessary adjustments to the feed dogs to achieve the best results. Try experimenting with different types of fabrics and make notes on the adjustments you need to make for each one.


Adjusting the feed dog on your sewing machine is a simple process that can greatly improve the quality of your sewing projects. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure that your fabric is moving smoothly through the machine and that your stitching is precise and even. Remember to consult your machine’s manual for specific instructions and to test your adjustments on a scrap piece of fabric before beginning your project. With proper maintenance and care, you can extend the life of your feed dogs and continue to create beautiful designs with ease. Happy sewing!

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