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Repairing a Kenmore Ultra Stitch Sewing Machine

It is truly frustrating when your sewing machine malfunctions; determining the cause may be elusive. This is a guide about repairing a Kenmore Ultra Stitch sewing machine.


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.

By 0 found this helpful
February 17, 2016

I have a Kenmore Ultra Stitch 10 and I am unable to release the clutch to wind a bobbin. There is no problem with the hand wheel, but I am unable to turn the clutch toward me. Does anyone know why this could be happening?


February 21, 20160 found this helpful

I think you could try first to read the oiling the machine paragraph of the user manual and once you have oiled the machine you could ask someone else to try to hold the hand wheel while turning the clutch because maybe you do not put enough strength being afraid to brake something but it does require quite a lot.

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February 23, 20160 found this helpful

Thanks so much, Catherine! I'm going to give it a try tonight.


I was afraid that I would break it so it's good to know that it requires a lot of strength.

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March 23, 20170 found this helpful

i have oiled mine and tried someone else holding but it will not move.... the machine has not been used for several years.... I am loving this machine the more I use it.... but would love to know why this isn't moving...

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July 8, 20180 found this helpful

Hi - just wondering if you were able to fix it - mine won't loosen/disengage either and I would love to fix it to wind bookings! Thanks Theresa

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By 0 found this helpful
July 21, 2007

My drive wheel on my Kenmore ultra 12 stitch has jammed. I can not turn the wheel anymore than a quarter or a turn. What would cause this to happen? How do I fix it so the sewing machine will sew again?


Rhonda from Manhattan, KS


July 21, 20070 found this helpful

My Kenmore is over 30 years old and I have no idea what model it is, but it used to jam all the time and it was in the bobbin housing. Can't tell you how many times I've had to take that thing apart in the middle of a project. It seems to be very sensitive until you get the bobbin adjusted to the type of fabric and thread you're using. I eventually learned to practice on a scrap piece of the fabric first. This may or may not be the problem you're describing, but hope it helps.

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July 25, 20070 found this helpful

Do you have an owner's manual? Check it out! There is usually a diagram with all the parts labelled. Many machines especially older ones, are belt driven.


The belt could be stretched or worn. Have u tried contacting Kenmore(Sears) service department by email or check for a website.

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By chiefrangerett99 (Guest Post)
July 25, 20070 found this helpful

Thank You for your help
I have taken the machine apart and have finally determined that I will have to take it to Sears for repair. I almost took the entire machine apart to check each component and still did not get the wheel to turn....I am baffled


Once again thanks

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By siris. (Guest Post)
July 25, 20070 found this helpful

There is probably something jammed in the bobbin case . Take it apart and clean out the lint, loose threads and broken needle pieces, etc.

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November 27, 20140 found this helpful

My pink Kenmore 1951 model won't turn over, even when turned by hand it is very hard.

By Bob


November 29, 20140 found this helpful

There are many possible reasons why the machine wheel will not turn, especially in very old machines. It is very difficult to assess your machine's problems from afar. Suggest you take the machine to a repair shop for help.

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December 4, 20140 found this helpful

As other posters have mentioned, there could be several reasons why this is happening.


On a vintage machine, however, it's almost always the belt drive worn or even broken. If you're handy and feeling brave, you can try the following to see if it is your belt - it's an easy fix because the only thing you have to take off is the head cover, the belt is on the right end of the machine closest to where the handwheel is on the outside. You can't miss it, and you can't miss if it's worn (it will sag on the shaft and gear) or broken (you'll see the snapped belt first thing).

First, examine your machine to see where and what type head screws are holding the cover down, then get the right tool and a muffin tin to hold the screws as you remove them.

*Important* Take several clear pictures FIRST of where all the screws go! And once you have the cover off, take photos of the internal workings BEFORE you do another thing. The photos will help you replace the cover correctly, and can be emailed (internal snaps) to Sears for email diagnosis (yes, they do this, they'd rather you brought it in but if you email the snaps and ask what part you need to purchase from their extensive catalogue, they're ok with that:).

After you have all the screws out and are looking at the insides of the machine you should see the belt either on and sagging from the drive shaft, or bits of it hanging and scattered in that area. (You'll see what I mean the minute you get the cover off if I'm right)

Contact Sears parts for the correct belt, the package usually has replacement instructions but it's an easy do, like you would on your vacuum, for example.

*If you get the cover off and can't see anything wrong with the belt, replace the cover and take the machine to the Sears repair centre. Their techs are factory trained and have the tools and knowledge to fix anything more complicated than a belt. Be sure to check that the cost of the repair includes a complete servicing of your vintage Kenmore - you have to ask as they no longer do this routinely.

I teach sewing and do self-taught repair over here in the UK to a number of my students vintage machines. Hope this helps!

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April 7, 20130 found this helpful

I am half way through a quilt and the needle just stopped sewing. The foot pedal still works and the belt is still intact and the hand wheel and clutch knob still turn, but the needle just won't move. When I use the hand wheel it will go up and down just not when I use the foot control. I opened up the top and it seems there is some connection lost somewhere between the belt and the needle. Help! This problem is not listed in the manual either.

By Ashley from Alberta, Canada


April 16, 20130 found this helpful

I sew antique, vintage, and modern Singers-a completely different machine from the Sears Kenmore machines. If one of my modern (post '95) Singers was giving me the same trouble I would have it to the Singer repair tech in a heart beat, some things are beyond my skills! Now a treadle, lol, or a hand crank, no problem, but a modern electric has all kinds of new-fangled (computerised, electronic, silicone) parts that baffle me.

I'd say the best thing for you to do is contact Sears Canada and find a repairman close to you. Their sewing machine techs train on the Sears Kenmore sewing machines and have genuine Kenmore parts available to them at a fairly reasonable cost:

https://secure.  customer-support

You can telephone to any sewing centre that adverts servicing all brands, too, which might save you some money but will usually void any warranty (if existent) and may not carry 'genuine Kenmore' parts-important for machine performance if your machine is newer built than 1995 or so.

Good luck, I hope you'll update us!

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July 19, 20170 found this helpful

Hey Ashley.. I know it's four years later, but I have the same problem on my ultra stitch 6... Did you find a solution?


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July 21, 20130 found this helpful

What is possible cause of the mounting bolt for the needle thread tension assembly breaking off at base of split?

By Larry


July 29, 20130 found this helpful

The answer could range from forcing an incorrect threading path to a broken gear or tension disc, and includes mistakes like running the machine too fast, using the wrong size needle and then forcing the fabric through (by pulling-pushing, thus putting too much strain on the feed dogs and needle areas).

The answer could also depend on the age of the machine - a vintage machine built in the late 60s and onwards could have silicone or plastic gears that have seized OR given way. The resulting stress to the machine could cause a breakage like you're asking about.

No matter what brought the machine to the breaking point, the problem took time to develop. Whatever the age of your machine, it would be best to take it to a qualified repair tech for repair, servicing, and an explanation as to the cause.

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