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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November 11, 2015 Flag

This is a guide about sewing machine won't sew in reverse. It can be very frustrating when your sewing machine is not working properly. It may be time to take it in for repair.

Photo of a woman with a broken sewing machine that won't go in reverse.

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May 14, 2013 Flag

This is a guide about when sewing machine thread keeps breaking. It is very frustrating to have the thread on your sewing machine constantly break.

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May 8, 2013 Flag

This is a guide about sewing machine presser foot stuck up. Sewing is impossible if the presser foot on your machine is stuck up.

Sewing Machine Presser Foot

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January 26, 2013 Flag

This is a guide about a sewing machine stuck in reverse. Right in the middle of sewing the machine gets stuck in reverse.

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December 3, 2012 Flag

It can be very frustrating if your machine is not sewing properly. This guide is about sewing machine needle not catching thread.

Sewing Machine Needle Not Catching Thread

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August 1, 2004 Flag

"Little problems with the sewing machine can be very irritating and time consuming. They can happen to even the most experienced seamstress.

Related Content(article continues below)

Link: http://cahe.nmsu.edu/pubs/_c/c-202.html

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

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March 21, 2015 Flag

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

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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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April 10, 2016 Flag

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.brot  at=ProjectRunway

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July 2, 2012 Flag

The fabric will not move, but I can pull it.

By Debbie K.

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July 9, 20120 found this helpful
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Have you checked to make sure you have not accidentally switched off the feed dogs? My machine has a switch that you turn to lower the feed dogs for free motion sewing. Check your manual or on-line manual to find yours if you are not familiar with the switch/dial/button.

Also, I have had feed dogs get clogged with fabric lint to the point they did not grab well. Brush them with a toothbrush or machine brush and vacuum to get all the stray lint out.

Good luck. If it is not one of these simple things, you could check with Brother service on-line for other ideas. They answered a query I had on my Brother serger in less than 48 hours and helped me fix the problem I was having.

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July 23, 2013 Flag

My machine was sewing fine (missing some threads, but I think that is another story!), then it makes a noise and jams a little and the needle stops going up and down. So I take out the fabric, re-thread the machine and bobbin and try again, but the needle isn't going up and down. It isn't a jam, as you can sew manually using the reel on the end of the machine. I am able to sew using the foot if I take out the bobbin and case. So it's like it is somehow getting jammed on bobbin only when being used using the electric foot. The machine is an older Brother. Unsure of model. Please see photo.

By Kaela

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July 24, 20130 found this helpful

I sew primarily on Singers (modern and vintage) but the trouble you are describing is universal to most vintage electric sewing machines - sadly, you are describing a broken (or worn) bobbin gear. A Brother trained and qualified repair tech is the best person to fix your machine, in the US it will cost you around $35, in the UK around £25-30.

But when you take it in, be sure to ask the repair tech to:

A-identify the model name and number so that you can find your user guide/owner manual on the Brother website (usually a free download). Download and print it out so that you will always have it to hand when sewing.

B-give you an estimate on doing a servicing that includes not only the part and repair, but a thorough going over and clean/oiling. Yes, this will bump up the price to something like $100USD or £100GBP but is well worth it especially on a vintage electric machine like yours. An annual servicing will keep your machine running longer and find/replace parts near breaking before actual breakage and you are stopped mid project.

C-save and give you the part he/she replaces, and tell you if the replacement part is newly milled (very much preferred for longevity) or salvage (not so good, who knows the number of sewing hours on that part, and the conditions it was asked to perform under prior to salvage?!).

I used to do a lot of vintage electric Singer repair and refurbishment for my sewing students (I teach total newbies who arrive to my workshop unable to thread a needle to resew a button) but because newly milled parts for a lot of the vintage machines are so hard to come by I have given up completely on repairing and recommending them.

I still repair and refurbish non-electric machines because there is no plastic on them - parts are steel and cast iron and easy to source or refurbish if salvaged. The electric machines (all brands) went with silicone and plastic parts in the mid-60s and do not have the reliability of the metal parts.

Planned obsolence, gotta hate it!

When one of my new sewers needs a new sewing machine (usually because the vintage machine they've brought down from Mum's loft has finally sewn its last) I always urge them to buy an inexpensive but feature packed Singer, Brother, or Janome with the nearly jam-proof top-drop in bobbin system, the one-step buttonhole, and most importantly, a warranty.

Easy to use, easy to repair - important features in sewing with an electric machine. An inexpensive machine with plenty of features to keep you sewing runs from $150-200USD or £140-200GBP.

As you can see, the cost of a new machine is close enough to the cost of repairing the vintage machine to make the thought of having more features and that wonderful warranty a very good idea.

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February 21, 2014 Flag

I just got a vintage Universal sewing machine. I cleaned it very good. It looks great and was sewing great until I removed the inside of the flywheel to clean it. I tried to remove the outside of the flywheel and couldn't. I didn't realize that that would throw it out of line. Please tell me how to fix this problem.

By Dale

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February 24, 20140 found this helpful
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This isn't a repair you can do at home without investing in a service manual (which runs into the high triple digits money wise depending on the model) so the best thing is to take it to a sewing machine repair tech. The cost should be under $100USD/£80GBPs depending on how much needs to be done to put the machine right. The cost will usually include a general servicing too.

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November 13, 2014 Flag

With the bobbin case out, my machine runs. With the bobbin case in, something hits it and knocks it out and knocks the timing out.

By Donald D

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November 15, 20140 found this helpful

You can't fix this at home. I do vintage (and some modern) sewing machine repair for my sewing students and this is not a job I would take on because I'm not a factory trained repair tech.

Re-timing a sewing machine is not an easy job and requires a rather expensive service manual (I paid close to $300USD for my Singer manual, used, and it only covered machines up to the early 70s; I bought it 15 years ago, and have since moved to the UK) plus some specialty tools that only a professional will have (not a self taught like I am - I have some tools but not the ones for the timing since moving to the UK).

As another poster has mentioned, using the wrong type (and size class) of bobbin is a sure fire way to throw the timing out on a machine. For example, some 'modern' machines use a magnetic timing system - use a metal bobbin in those and the timing goes.

But there are so many other ways to throw the timing on a sewing machine that only a professional will be able to tell you how it happened so that it never happens again.

Please, take your machine to a pro. You'll be glad you did. And while it's there, have it serviced - be sure to ask the cost of the repair AND the servicing, not all repair techs will do a servicing at the same time they do a repair.

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February 20, 2014 Flag

I have a Singer sewing machine. The knob on the side that you loosen in order to wind thread on the bobbin won't turn. I've tried and tried. Even my husband can't turn the knob. What could be the problem?

By Maria G.

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February 24, 20140 found this helpful
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Without seeing the actual machine, I can't say definitely, but it sounds as though there is a clump of lint/fluff or a small bit of broken thread in the discs.

Try taking a bit of unwaxed dental floss to the area of the knob where you wind the thread through. Give it a good 'flossing action' and see if your floss comes out of the machine with a bit of grey fluff or a small bit of thread. If it does, keep at it until the floss comes back clean - no smudges, no fluff.

If that doesn't solve your problem you may have a broken or worn bobbin gear and this is a repair for a repair tech. Look for sewing centres adverting 'Singer authorised' repairs to be sure the tech knows Singers and can do the work reliably and relatively inexpensively.

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February 15, 2014 Flag

I have been using a Singer 418 since I found it last year. It is my first and it took me a while to learn to use it, but I finally got there - until I started a project with a stretchy fabric (yesterday). In the last 24 hours I learned lots about needles, puckering, thread breaking, feeding mechanism, presser feet, tension, cleaning, using the right stitches, etc. In the process I solved a few problems, but now I got stuck with one I can't solve on my own: the rotary hook stopped moving.

I opened the base and I can't see any broken gears or belts (see photo).

When I turn the hand wheel, the needle goes up and down normally, the feed dogs move normally, but the hook system stays still. I can move it by hand and it moves smoothly, but it would seem that the part that is supposed to engage the gears in this area is somehow not engaging, and I can't figure out what it is.

I purchased a user manual, but it doesn't cover this. The manual has a picture of the machine with the word 'Stylist' engraved on the front. My machine only has 418 on the front, it doesn't say Stylis (see photo). The bobbin case holder is different from the manual and I could not remove the bobbin case to get to the hook (last photo).

Can you help me with this? I'm not sure which of the screws around the bobbin case holder is the tension screw, but I know I must not 'screw' that! Thank you!

By Laura L.

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February 16, 20140 found this helpful
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More than likely the silicone gears have worn just enough that the rotary hook will no longer engage. That's going to be a fix for the Singer qualified repair tech - check adverts until you find the ones that say 'Singer factory trained' or 'Singer warranty service approved repairs' - no, your vintage machine is no longer under warranty but all warranty approved service techs will have been exposed to vintage AND modern machines:) The repair will cost you around $50USD (around £30 here in the UK because there are so many salvage parts machines floating about) but splash out and have your vintage machine checked over and serviced - the total for repair and service will bring it in around $90USD (£60-£75 UK).

About your user guide...click this link and go through the free downloads until you find the one that looks EXACTLY like yours:

http://www.sing  n-manuals/search **If you get to the search page instead of the 418 page, key in only the numbers and a page with several models will come up - click till you find your machine:)

The '418 Stylist' was sold in Singer Sewing Centres around the world; the '418' was marketed through Sears - NOT branded as a Kenmore btw, but as a Singer 418). Because yours doesn't say Stylist, it is one of several 418 models (there were variations, a new one every year) and the above link will help you find your correct manual.

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January 28, 2014 Flag

I have an old New Home sewing machine (Model 654). I recently turned the pattern selector guide to make an overlock stitch which worked fine. When I switched it back over to a regular straight stitch, I noticed the machine was moving the material up and back twice to make a double stitch.

I switched it to a zig zag stitch to see what would happen and it is also making a double stitch with the zig zags as well. I have no idea how to get it back to just making a simple single stitch and just had it looked at recently so I'm hoping not to have to take it in again.

By Monique P.

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February 3, 20140 found this helpful
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How long ago did you have it looked at? It's entirely possible the tech who worked on your machine made a mistake - something that is VERY easy to do on a 'vintage' (older than 10-20 years) machine.

It's also, sadly, entirely possible that yet another part has failed on your vintage machine (assuming the reason you recently had it looked at was a failed part). I love vintage machines and have repaired many, but have given up on them as once one part fails another isn't far behind, and sourcing newly milled parts is very difficult. Unfortunately newly milled sewing machine parts for vintage machines are few and far between - manufacturers prefer you buy new machines altogether and so stop making many of the parts needed to maintain vintage machines.

Even more unfortunately, this lack of newly milled parts means repair techs have to use 'salvage' parts often with unknown histories - was the machine the part was salvaged from gently or roughly used, how many sewing hours are on that part already before installation to another machine, and the all important question - how much plastic or silicone is the part comprised of?

Sad but true. The only 'vintage' machines I work on now are desperation cases ("I can't afford a new sewing machine!"), non-electrics, or all metal electric machines. Electric vintage machines usually have so much plastic and silicone the parts begin to fail after about 25 years of even the most caring owner, and there is no way those machines are ever reliable again for any length of time once parts begin to fail.

It's heartbreaking if you are an active sewer, but if your machine is vintage and beginning to have repeat part failures, it's time for a modern comparable machine - one with a warranty.

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October 17, 2014 Flag

I have a Brother LS-1217. I have been experiencing some difficulty sewing so I started trouble shooting and messing with the bobbin tension and such, when I found 2 springs on the left side of the bobbin winder. The larger one is attached and the smaller one is attached at the top but not at the bottom. Could this be why I'm having trouble. If so where does this little spring attach to at the bottom?

By Kara S.

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January 27, 20150 found this helpful

I have the same problem. Any luck?

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March 26, 2016 Flag

I have a Euro Pro sewing machine, model 9106. My machine was just serviced and oiled. It has been back 1 day. Now the fly wheel will not advance forward to pull the bobbin thread up. What is wrong?

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March 27, 20161 found this helpful

Do you expect the service shop to warranty their work? If you can't get the machine to work take it back and ask for their expert to fix it. Perhaps an apprentice did the service job? Don't leave the shop until you're sure the machine is working properly.

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March 20, 2016 Flag

I have a Veritas 8014/26. It was the first sewing machine my mother ever got, so I love it really much! It seems that the "zig zag" feature has a problem. When you choose the zig zag stitching, the needle does not seem to cover the right distance (from left to right and backwards). Where should I look to find the problem?

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March 23, 20160 found this helpful

Does your machine have a stitch width dial? If so check that it's a distance that you want or require. Hope this helps!

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June 16, 2015 Flag

After winding my bobbin, I shifted the bobbin winder shaft back to the left, in original position, and took off the bobbin full of thread. Then, I tightened the clutch knob, or at least I thought I did. Now, only the hand wheel turns when I press the foot control.

I can manually turn the clutch knob, and it will turn the bobbin/move the needle, but the hand wheel remains still. It's almost like the clutch knob isn't tightening when I turn it the appropriate direction. Any ideas will be much appreciated!

Thanks!

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June 18, 20150 found this helpful

Is this a 'vintage' machine? Older than 10-15 years from the factory is now considered 'vintage', and it makes a difference in what the problem could be. I teach Sewing 101 in the UK (after 50+years in the US) and do a bit of repair-refurb for my students, mostly Singers and always vintage. A newer machine may still be under warranty - some machine parts are usually warrantied for up to ten years.

That all said, bottom line is it sounds as though one of the gears has failed. It could be age, or simply that the original part was not milled to the highest standards (might be counterfeit and it's happening more and more often these days on new machines when parts manufacture is outsourced by the machine maker!).

The best solution is to take the machine to a qualified repair tech.

I'm sorry, I wish I could say 'Oh, this is your issue - follow my bullet points repair guide to resolve it' but without knowing the maker, age, and actually seeing the machine, I can't do that.

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May 27, 2015 Flag

I have a Designer 1 embroidery sewing machine. I replaced the belt on the motor and now when the sewing machine starts to get warm then a little while later it shuts off. Can anybody give me any ideas?

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