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Repairing a Sewing Machine

Unfortunately sometimes your sewing machine requires troubleshooting and repair for a variety of problems, such as jamming. This is a page about repairing a sewing machine.
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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 1 found this helpful
May 7, 2017

I have a Jack 9100b sewing machine which is showing an error E1 on the speed adjustment screen and the needle is not moving with wheel, as well as, pedal. How can I solve this problem?

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March 21, 20150 found this helpful

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.

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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.

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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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February 15, 20141 found this helpful

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.

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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.

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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!

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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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By 2 found this helpful
July 23, 2013

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 2, 20120 found this helpful

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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August 27, 2007

My problem is a new Singer simple sewing machine that binds up in the presser foot when I'm sewing. I have oiled the machine using WD40 because we can't find sewing machine oil around here, but I'm still having the problem. Can anyone help! Thanks.

Denise Warner from McRae, GA

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August 27, 20070 found this helpful

Hancock Habrics has Singer Sewing Machine oil. If you don't have one near you go to their website. I would never use anything but sewing machine oil on my machine and it's old as thunder.
What does your manual have to say about the problem?... It should have a troubleshooting chapter.

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By Mindy J. (Guest Post)
August 27, 20070 found this helpful

WD40 is a solvent, not a lubricant. Your new machine should have come with bottle of sewing machine oil. Do not use household oil--it is not fine enough. I use REEM on my Featherweights--find it in the gun cleaning section of Wal-Mart.
Try starting fresh, unthread machine, clean out bobbin area (always clean bobbin area every time you change bobbins), use good thread--not the 5 for $1 stuff. Coats, Gutterman, Metrosene are all good. I use Maxi-Lock on a cone for the most part (you'd need a special thread stand but their not expensive).
Carefully thread the machine and bobbin. Check tensions--and easy way is to zig-zag a few stitches, you can see if one side is too tight.
What kind of material are you sewing? If it's very sheer, it's easy to jam up. Try sewing across a 3 inch piece of cotton, don't cut thread and then start on your material. Or place a small piece of tissue paper under the first inch of you seam line.
Hope some of this helps!

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By (Guest Post)
August 27, 20070 found this helpful

Mindy's advice was right on. I would also check the size of the needle too. Keep in mind that you use different needles for thin or thick fabrics. They will advise you at any fabric store. And please if you want your machine to last, no more WD40.

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August 27, 20070 found this helpful

I agree with the previous posts. Also, if it binds up when you first start sewing, pull the 2 sewing threads taut to the back as you start to sew. That should do the trick.

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August 27, 20070 found this helpful

When this happens on my machine, it is because the thread is not coming from the bobbin properly.
On my machine the cover over the bobbin shows how the bobbin should be loaded and how the thread should come up. Mine has a little metal tab that the thread must be hooked over before bringing the thread up. If you model does not show you how to thread the bobbin in the machine, check your manual.
Good luck.

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By Ninja. (Guest Post)
August 27, 20070 found this helpful

If the pressure foot is binding up it tells me there is too much pressure forcing the pressure foot down on the material. On my machines which are industrial I have an adjustment to add or relieve tension on the pressure foot. On thick material I relieve the pressure foot tension. For thinner material I add pressure. WD40 should not be used to lubricate a sewing machine. If you wanted to clean off some sewing machine parts one might use WD40. The proper sized needle is in relation to the size of the thread and has nothing to do with the material.

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By (Guest Post)
August 28, 20070 found this helpful

It simply may be that your machine is not heavy enough to handle the bulk of the material. I made chair covers for my friend on a nice , but not too well-made Brother and ended up having $150.00 (half of what is cost!), worth of repairs. The repairman told me some machines have metal under parts and some have plastic. The plastic under parts will not handle the heavy sewing jobs that a heavier made machine will. I now have both.
This might be your problem.
The repairman also said he wishes the companies would stop putting in the little "kits" with the oil and the screw drivers, because the average person just ends up messing up their machines with trying to
"fix" things on their own. WD40...Please! no

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By Sallie (Guest Post)
August 29, 20070 found this helpful

Also be sure the needle is in right -- flat side facing away from you.

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By tilly kat (Guest Post)
November 22, 20080 found this helpful

Kerosene is the best. I've used WD-40, and it works, but the problem is that the chemical smell stays for too long. Anyways, Singer brand machine oil I hate because most of Singer's products are actually only licensed merchandise, so Singer's quality is reduced as a result of most of their merchandise being produced by third parties. The oil is one of these products. I trust Singer, but not other companies using the Singer logo.

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April 19, 20090 found this helpful

If you are sewing thin fabric you might need to put some wax paper under it to help or any paper will help, then remove the paper when done sewing, good luck.

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By 0 found this helpful
February 17, 2018

How do I adjust the take up lever to stop in the highest position?

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February 17, 20180 found this helpful
Best Answer

You may need to tighten a screw in the back.

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February 21, 20140 found this helpful

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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February 20, 20140 found this helpful

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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January 28, 20140 found this helpful

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
Best Answer

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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By 1 found this helpful
August 13, 2018

My Jack sewing machine is showing Eb. What to do?

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October 17, 20140 found this helpful

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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By 0 found this helpful
January 19, 2011

My Singer sewing machine was sewing just fine, when out of the blue, it seized or froze and it won't sew a bit now. What happened? I've done all the "checks" for needles, proper threading, cleaning, etc. Now what?

By Monica from Cortez, CO

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January 19, 20110 found this helpful

Something may have broken on the inside.

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January 20, 20110 found this helpful

The same thing happened to my Singer. I took it in to the repair shop and they told me the clutch had slipped. It was a pretty quick fix and was reasonably priced.

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January 20, 20110 found this helpful

When that happened on your Singer, did you hear a noise that sounded like something came loose and fell?
That is what happened with mine. I checked and couldn't see anything wrong, but I really didn't know what I was looking for! I'm hoping to have it repaired soon. We don't have a local repair shop and I don't know of anyone who repairs them, so we have to drive a distance to take it in. Thanks! Did they happen to tell you what might cause the clutch to slip? I'm wondering if I did something to cause it.

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By 0 found this helpful
October 29, 2018

I have a Frister Rossmann Euro 10 SP sewing machine. It is 30 years old. Sometimes when I start sewing it takes a while to get going as if labouring. Yesterday I had power to the motor, but no drive to the needle mechanism. Is this the belt - although it seems to turn the pulley - if it is where can I get one?

Please could you advise.
Many thanks.

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By 0 found this helpful
July 11, 2018

How do I remove the knob on the front of the machine that controls the stitch length so I can take the front cover off?

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November 13, 20140 found this helpful

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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By 0 found this helpful
October 30, 2018

I have a Kenmore sewing machine and the foot pedal lost it's variable speed. It only has one speed now - slow. Can that be repaired, or could there be something else wrong? The sewing machine lights come on and there is power.

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By 0 found this helpful
July 6, 2018

I have a Brother CS6000I sewing machine. It has a squealing noise. Sometimes it seems to stitch in same place. Thoughts on if there is anything I can do to fix that?

Thank you.

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By 0 found this helpful
May 22, 2017

The bobbin does not spin on my Euro-pro Dressmaker sewing machine. Any guesses why?

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By 0 found this helpful
April 18, 2016

My sewing machine bulb broke and now the machine won't work now. My machine has had no problems in the past so it came as a shock. I didn't mind the bulb breaking because they're easily replaceable, but when the machine wouldn't work, I got worried. I don't want to send it in for repair right away until the bulb comes, but I'm worried. Does anyone have any ideas as to what is wrong with it?

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May 2, 20140 found this helpful

When sewing on my Singer Touch n Sew, I hear a clicking sound every time the needle sews. What is causing this?

By Carol B.

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By 0 found this helpful
March 5, 2018

I feel as though I've looked everywhere for a solution to this problem with no luck. I'm hoping someone here might have an idea. When I set my sewing machine to zigzag stitches, it works like a charm. When I try to sew a regular straight stitch though, the machine will stitch fine for a while then kick a single stitch out like it's part of a zigzag. The odd stitch comes along regularly, not randomly. I've fiddled with settings and I'm sure I have it threaded properly.

Anyone have any idea what might be going on?

Thanks in advance!

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