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Thread Coming Loose at Guide

After sewing a few stitches on my Kenmore machine the thread will curl around the thread guide and come loose at the top of my machine at the point of the thread guide. I've had this machine for years and this is the first time I've experienced this problem. Do you have any idea what would cause this?

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By Josephine from Arlington, TX

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September 29, 20130 found this helpful

My first thought as a sewing teacher and self-taught repair tech is that there is a burr in the part the thread is tangling in - it may be an easy repair you can do at home if the part is attached on the outside of the head. Scroll down to the 3*'d paragraph.

You may need to have a qualified repair tech remove it, sand it, or change it out for a new one (he/she will have the speciality knowledge and tools). However, it could also be other issues - use the following to troubleshoot your problem:

Have you got into the habit of threading the machine with the presser foot down? (This bad habit develops over time for even the most conscientious sewer, we've all done it! But it is a really bad habit - threading with the foot down engages the tension discs and so when you start to sew the thread is still clamped in the tension discs, can't move, and will un-thread)

Are you using the correct needle size and thread for your project? (Consult the user guide, the manufacturer's website, or any number of sewing sites - all of these sources have a chart listing correct needle and thread for many types of fabrics)

How old is the thread you are using and is it a high quality thread? (Thread actually does have a 'shelf life' - old thread frays and the frays catch on machine parts; less expensive thread is cheap for a reason and will not perform as well in your machine)

How many sewing hours are on the needle you are using? (The more sewing hours on a needle the duller it becomes, also the eye can become very slightly burred which will cause the thread to catch which will then cause the thread to 'drag' and un-thread. Or break.)

***Speaking of burrs, have you checked the threading path for burrs? (Put your finger into a piece of organza or sheer stocking and run your finger along the thread path; feed a narrow strip of very sheer fabric or stocking along the parts of the thread path you can't feel with your fingers. Any burrs will cause snags which will lead to un-threading, tangling, and breaks - you can either try sanding down the burrs with a piece of fine sandpaper being careful to vacuum the dust before running the machine again, or you can take it to a trained sewing machine repair tech)

When was the last time you cleaned the lint and fluff from the tension discs? (Use dental floss between the discs just as you would for your teeth)

When was the last time you pulled the head cover and cleaned the lint and fluff out? (Be sure to photograph the screws in situ before removing; use a muffin tin to hold the screws while cleaning; brush or carefully vacuum the lint - don't use canned air as that will only drive the lint further into areas of the machine you can't reach at home)

How old is the machine? (Older machines are known as 'vintage', most vintage machines built after the late 60s use silicone or plastic gears which do wear out over a much shorter time than the metal ones. You can try all of the above and still have the problem if one or more of the gears have reached the end of their service life.)

Finally, when was the last time you took it to a qualified repair tech for a complete servicing? (Servicing includes a complete go-over of the machine to see if any parts are failed or about to fail, cleaning of all the parts you can't reach at home, and oiling. Professional servicing of a sewing machine, preferably by a factory trained repair tech, keeps your machine in reliable sewing condition. Yes it can cost as much as $100+ if your machine needs more than just a normal servicing but depending on the features/sentimental value of your machine it is money well spent. The longest a machine should go without a servicing is 2-3 years and that is only if you have been diligent about caring for your machine by using the right needles/threads/sewing habits, and cleaning lint and fluff you can reach at home after every other project. If you aren't diligent your machine should see the repair tech once a year.)

**About vintage electric machines: Many reasons you may be reluctant to splash out on a new machine - it was the machine you learned to sew on/it was your gran's, mum's/you sewed your wedding dress/baby's christening gown/all your children's clothing/your daughter's wedding dress on/the features and quality of stitches on it are amazing and replacing it would cost hundreds of dollars.

But vintage electric machines have a lot of plastic and silicone parts that do wear down and fail. So eventually you will have to take a decision - repair or replace.

If your repair tech can source newly milled parts, great! Have it repaired and enjoy many more hours of sewing!

But if he/she has to use salvaged parts, well, it's time to buy or start saving to buy because those salvaged parts could be off a machine that was abused by the previous owner - you never know how many sewing hours are on a salvaged part and you never know the conditions that poor thing laboured under.

So a salvaged part is unreliable - if your repair tech has to use salvaged parts to get your machine running again, be prepared for the inevitable - part failure resulting in yet another trip to the sewing machine doctor:(

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