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Simple sewing machine repairs

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DIY sewing machine repairs save you money
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Here are a few simple sewing machine repairs to save you money

If you sew, you have undoubtedly experienced that moment of panic when the machine stops for no apparent reason. Next time this happens, take a breath and follow a few simple steps. With some easy-to-perform sewing machine repairs, your machine will be working without a trip to the repair shop.

The first step in diagnosing a problem is to check the cord and the plug end connections. Make certain that the power is on to the outlet. If there is nothing wrong with the cord, unplug it. Do not attempt to repair your machine while it is plugged into an electric source.

Use light from another fixture to illuminate the bobbin compartment and the sewing machine needle. A small flashlight is helpful in locating a broken needle or jammed thread. Sewing machine parts from a variety of sewing machine makers are available a specialty stores. Often, a bent or broken part that is obvious to the observer, can be easily replaced with the same piece from your sewing machine manufacturer.

Bobbin problems: Check your bobbin making sure it is not over-wound. Bobbins that have been over-wound can lead to broken threads and jamming gears. Most machines have an automatic shutoff that senses when you have too much thread in your bobbin. This shutoff sensor causes the winding process to stop when the bobbin is full of thread. 

Make sure your bobbin is inserted in the machine correctly. Many times the bobbin simply needs to be re-inserted in the correct direction. Do not mix threads of different weights, add one thread over an existing thread or wind your threads unevenly. Starting with an empty bobbin and winding your thread evenly will ensure that your bobbin will work properly.

Needle problems: Make sure your needle is attached correctly. This may seem like an obvious matter, but many simple sewing machine repairs involve making sure your needle has been installed correctly. All machines are different, so make sure you read your sewing machine manual before inserting your needle.

If you see that the tip of your needle is broken, locate the missing piece and dispose of it. Clear away broken or twisted thread. A small piece of broken needle can jam the bobbin or the bobbin compartment cover. Dislodge it carefully with a small, stiff dressmakers brush.

Tension problems: Thread tension is another important consideration when sewing. You would not want to ruin a delicate fabric such as silk simply because you did not check the thread tension before beginning your project. This is easily done by sewing an inch or two on a scrap piece of fabric of similar weight to the fabric you will be working with. Incorrectly set tension can also cause thread to break, which results in bobbin jams, or even a broken sewing machine needle.

Reuben O. Doyle of suggests this tension test: Using two different colored threads for your bobbin and on top, sew two or three inches on the bias. Now gently pull either side of your fabric. If both threads break at the same time, your tension is fine. If one thread breaks, the tension on the side is too tight. 

Lubrication: A small bottle of sewing machine oil, purchased from a sewing machine accessories supplier can cost upwards of $2.50 per bottle. Many sewers wonder if the price is worth it if you only use it one or two times a year, but it is. A well-lubricated sewing machine helps extend the life of the machine and keep you out of the repair shop. Make sure you use the correct oil specifically created for sewing machines or you can damage your machine. Unplug and open your machine, then remove lint from any parts you can reach using the small brush that most likely came with your machine for this purpose. Now lubricate any moving parts.

By making a few of these simple sewing machine repairs yourself, you may avoid bigger problems with your sewing machine. A trip to the sewing machine repair shop can be expensive. Simple sewing machine repairs can save you money and time. Some sewing machine and serger parts retailers feature instructions and videos to assist the DIYer.

When you are not using your sewing machine, loosen the thread and pull a long tail from both the bobbin and the needle. Place a sturdy square of fabric under the needle and turn the needle so that the tip stops through the fabric. This protects the needle from breaking. Store your machine with a cover.


Doyle, Reuben O., 2004. Do It Yourself Sewing Machine Repair. Fabricsnet. (accessed March 8, 2010).

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