Sewing Machine Maintenance Made Simple

Some repairs do require the attention of a professional, but don't be intimidated. If you're attentive and careful you can do quite a bit of sewing machine maintenance yourself.

| March/April 1983

  • sewing machine maintenance - bobbin housing
    The bobbin housing.
    Duane Sommerfield
  • 080-110-01
    THE BOBBIN HOUSING
  • sewing machine maintenance - two needles
    Insert the thread into the needle's slotted side.
    Duane Sommerfield
  • sewing machine maintenance - spool of thread
    The spool's slot can catch and break the thread.
    Duane Sommerfield
  • sewing machine maintenance - stitching sample
    Some samples of stitching from good to bad to worst. If you've adjusted the bobbin tension spring, and the stitching on the underside of the material has multiple small, irregular loops as in the top sample, you probably have the machine threaded incorrectly.
    Duane Sommerfield
  • ewing machine maintenance - diagram identifying parts of a sewing machine
    If you're going to attempt sewing machine maintenance, it helps to know the parts of a machine.
    Illustration by MOTHER EARTH NEWS Staff
  • sewing machine maintenance - tensioning spring
    To inspect the area under the tensioning spring, remove the screw and rotate the spring a quarter-turn to the right.
    Duane Sommerfield

  • sewing machine maintenance - bobbin housing
  • 080-110-01
  • sewing machine maintenance - two needles
  • sewing machine maintenance - spool of thread
  • sewing machine maintenance - stitching sample
  • ewing machine maintenance - diagram identifying parts of a sewing machine
  • sewing machine maintenance - tensioning spring

Since its invention more than 100 years ago, the sewing machine has become one of the most popular pieces of do-it-yourself equipment in North America. Unfortunately, this device has probably also generated more frustration than any other tool or appliance.

After all, the money to be saved by doing the family's sewing can be eaten into pretty quickly when a few $25 (on the average) "cleaning and adjusting" bills are allowed to add up. Worse yet, many folks — unable to afford professional repairs and unwilling to face the task of fussing with sewing machine maintenance themselves — end up abandoning projects when their stitchers malfunction; such people often abandon a considerable investment in materials and time, as well.

I've certainly never been trained as a repairman. In fact, I'm not even sure in theory how a sewing machine works, and I have two left hands, to boot. Despite all that, though, with the help of my trusty screwdriver and the patient instruction of Johnny Sweder, a local Viking service representative, I've been able to keep four machines running for the past six years —and one of those units was used daily, often by novice seamsters and seamstresses! Better still, my repair bill for all four machines during those six years totaled $16 for parts. (That figure, of course, doesn't include the thread, bobbins, needles, and light bulbs used during the same period.)

Furthermore, I think that the knowledge Mr. Sweder passed along to me might be of help to other folks concerned with the care and feeding of automatic stitchers. And who knows, the following bits of advice just might reduce the number of four-letter words that fly around your sewing area!



Diagnosing Serious Illnesses

It's been my observation that [1] most sewing machine maladies occur because the operator cuts corners (for example, neglecting regular cleanings, trying to use unfamiliar "bargain" needles and such, or simply not bothering to take a quick "refresher" read through the instruction book after spending a long period without sewing), and [2] nine times out of ten, the resulting malfunctions are nevertheless — miraculously — minor and can be fixed at home.

But still, some problems do occur that are quite severe and beyond the scope of the average do-it-yourselfer. It's a good idea, therefore, to learn how to spot the troubles that will likely require a trip to the sewing machine repair shop. (These same problems are, of course, important ones to look for and avoid in any machine you might consider buying!)

tina_20
5/24/2007 9:23:38 AM

I actually have a question, and wasn't sure if someone could help me. I just bought a sewing machine, it is a dressmaker S2402, and it was working, well i was trying to thread it. with instructions off the internet. anyway, the needle was going up and down like it was supposed to. and then when i went to put the bobbin in, i put back down, and now when you turn the big dial on the back of the machine, it is extemely hard, and the needle will not move now. Do you have any suggestions. Please Please e.mail me asap. I was so happy when i got it. now i am really upset. I dont know what happened. Thanks Tina







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