Repairing a Sewing Machine

Unfortunately sometimes your sewing machine requires troubleshooting and repair for a variety of problems, such as jamming. This is a guide about repairing a sewing machine.
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April 5, 2007 Flag
1 found this helpful

My sewing machine keeps jamming, down in the bobbin area. It won't sew even an inch. I look and see extra thread jammed down there by the bobbin, and have to yank it all out and start over, but it keeps jamming. How can I fix this?


Thanks!

DJ_DJ

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May 8, 20070 found this helpful
Best Answer

I had the same problem last week with my Kenmore machine. It's fairly new and I haven't had any problems except what you're talking about. I was working on my prom dress last week and I couldn't sew more than a few inches. I was about ready to take the whole machine apart after a few hours (I love taking things apart anyway, but only three days before prom...), then I watched my needle (without thread) very closely and noticed that it was knocking on some of the interior metal. I finally realized that I was using a needle that was way too weak for the fabric density and it was being bent just a lil' too much. As soon as I got a thicker needle, I never had another problem with it. I went through three brand new needles before I figured this out. So you may just need a thicker needle. Hope this helps.

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July 11, 20111 found this helpful
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November 30, 2016 Flag
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I have a Sears Kenmore 1347 sewing machine and when I turn it on, it runs fast, before I even touch the foot pedal? What causes that? Help?

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November 29, 2016 Flag
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I have a Nelco sam3b-3 machine. When the reverse button is pushed in, it will sew in reverse. However when released, the machine will not return to forward sewing. I can manually fix the problem inside the machine to make it return to forward sewing.

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November 23, 2016 Flag
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My Kenmore electronic sewing machine, model 385.19150090 just stopped in the middle of a project. It was fine one minute and not moving the next. There is power; the lights are on. Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

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March 21, 2015 Flag
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My machine would not sew, so I opened it up dusted and oiled it, now it only moves at a snail pace. Help?

By Pat A

March 23, 20150 found this helpful
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I teach sewing here in Scotland, and do some repair-refurb on vintage machines. Your problem sounds as though it could be in the foot control - a fraying wire, 'gummy' connection or loose wire. But it could also be in the machine where the connection is made between foot control and machine. Only a trained tech will be able to quickly and relatively inexpensively determine the problem and solve it.

This really isn't a home sewer DIY. You could spend a lot of money replacing the foot control only to continue having the same problem. The best thing to do is take your machine (and foot control) to a qualified repair tech. Be sure to get an up-front estimate, and ask what a total servicing would cost, too. You'll be amazed at how well your machine sews after a proper servicing, and a good tech will give you a heads up regarding developing failures.

Word of warning - vintage sewing machine parts can be difficult to source no matter what country your machine is sewing in. Many of us techs use salvage parts we find on jumble and car boot (flea markets in the US) sales. The trouble is these parts wear out quickly, and as we can never be sure of the conditions these parts laboured under with the original machine owner, we can't vouch for the longevity of the part.

Some parts are universal (but not many) and are 'new-milled', making them a lot more reliable and a lot more expensive. Hard to find, too - a good repair tech will know where to find them, and will tell you if the replaced part is new or salvage - if he/she doesn't say, be sure to ask!

I can look at a machine and on the spot be able to advise my students if the machine is worth fixing or should be replaced by a comparable new model machine that comes with the bonus of being under warranty.

The only vintage machines worth keeping forever are the old treadle and hand crank models as those parts last centuries - I have several:)

If the machine is a 'modern vintage' (meaning it was built in the last half of the 20th century or early part of the 21st) and runs on electricity) your gran sewed your christening-graduation-wedding dress on, you may be willing to keep 'er running no matter the cost, but for the most part, after a certain point it's best to make that a display piece and buy a modern machine for reliability.

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October 21, 20160 found this helpful

April 1, 2016 Flag
1 found this helpful

I'm new on here. I just picked up a Montgomery Ward sewing machine model 1917. The motor runs, but the needle doesn't move. I have checked the hand wheel. The belt it is fine and I can turn the hand wheel, but the needle doesn't move. I have worked on machines a little before and depending on the difficulty may try to fix this one. How do I get to the gear that moves the needle arm? And how do I know it's bad?
Any advice would be appreciated.

April 3, 20161 found this helpful

Yes I prematurely posted this question.

I oiled the bobbin armature and it began sewing properly. Amazing what a little oil will do!

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July 23, 2016 Flag
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I have a Husqvarna Emerald 118 sewing machine. The reverse button is stuck. How can I get a diagram for this machine?

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October 2, 20160 found this helpful

March 23, 2016 Flag
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My Kenmore sewing machine 158 14300, selector knob for stitches and also the feed dog lever to lower them is stuck. I just got it at a thrift store. It seems like it is brand new, but from the 1970s? It sews a straight stitch very well now. I don't think the person who had it used it much? I've oiled it in a lot of areas even around the selector knob area. I guess its been sitting too long not being used? What can I do?

March 27, 20160 found this helpful

The only reason home servicing isn't feasible is the need and cost of model/range specific service manuals. Wowser are those eye-wateringly costly! One of mine cost over £700 (insert hugely shocked face here!). At the time I bought it I was a long-divorced empty-nester mum needing a small business on the side to make ends meet (uni fees for the two now grown children), so to me the investment was (cough, gasp) worth it. I will say the manual has paid for itself but it took a few years:)

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September 7, 20160 found this helpful

July 24, 2016 Flag
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My Kenmore 13550 sewing machine is making a screeching sound in the hand wheel. We have cleaned the machine and oiled it, but the screech continues. Any ideas on fixing it?

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July 26, 20160 found this helpful

If there is a belt driving the hand wheel it may be worn, loose or too tight. Perhaps it needs replacing.

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April 10, 2016 Flag
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I have a Brother Project Runway sewing machine. The zigzag stitch is only picking up the bobbin thread on the left side, not the right side, resulting in a straight line. Any suggestions? So far I have changed the needle, used a different bobbin, rethreaded top and bottom multiple times, changed thread, and changed the fabric. Help!

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April 17, 20160 found this helpful

Have you checked that you have the stitch width and length set properly to use with a zig-zag stitch? You'd be amazed to hear how many of us forget that part:)

If that isn't your problem, go through your user manual to be sure everything else is properly set and adjusted.

Here's a link to the Brother support pages - scroll through to find your specific model and then grab a free download of your manual:

http://www.brother-usa.com/homesewing/ProductList.aspx?cat=ProjectRunway

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April 18, 20160 found this helpful

April 15, 2015 Flag
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I have a Nelco Ultra Buttonhole that is frozen. This machine belonged to my mother. She was a seamstress and used this machine for years. I don't know how or what happened to the machine but nothing will move. The motor runs fine when disengaged.

By Jerry from Belfair, WA

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April 16, 20150 found this helpful
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You need to take this machine to a qualified repair tech - don't take it apart any farther than you already have and be sure you get all the parts to the tech or he/she will have to charge you to replace the missing parts.

I do vintage machine repair here in Scotland for my Sewing 101 students. I can't see anything wrong with your mum's machine from the photo you've posted - because the problem is inside, under the head cover.

More than likely the silicone on one of the gears has dried and cracked but without getting the cover off and being able to see the machine up close and in person I can't be sure.

Please. Save this gracious elder stateswoman of sewing and get her to a trained repair tech who has the skills, tools, and access to parts needed to keep your machine sewing.

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February 20, 2014 Flag
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My Kenmore sewing machine model 158.16800 freezes. I will help it along with the hand wheel, and it goes for a little bit, then freezes again in the down position. You can hear it humming when it's stuck. It is stitching fine when it does move. I don't have a manual so, any help is grateful. Thank you.

By Toni H.

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February 24, 20140 found this helpful
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First of all, it sounds as though the belt is worn, or there is a clump of lint/fluff caught up in there somewhere - but your problem could be a worn gear, too.

Best to take it to Sears to have it gone over by a qualified, factory trained repair tech. For under $100USD they will get your machine running smoothly and do a complete servicing with a heads-up to you should there be a looming part fail too.

And they'll be able to hook you up with a new manual as well, either as a free PDF download you can then print at home, or as a hard copy (usually spiral bound, win-win!) at a reasonable price.

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May 5, 20151 found this helpful

October 14, 2016 Flag
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My sewing machine has a loud squeal when sewing. It does not squeal if no fabric is being sewn. It is a Kenmore 158.19461.

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