Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Practical Sewing Dictionary

If you are going to do sewing machine repair, you really need to understand sewing terms that are commonly used by your customers. It is their special language. You may not get a practical sewing dictionary in typical sewing machine repair courses, but you may still need a good sewing dictionary. Here is why.

What is a “1/4 foot”? “A Clapper”? or “In The Ditch”?

Recently a woman came into my store, and overheard some people in the classroom. She got this puzzled look on her face. Finally, she asked, “What language are they talking? It kind of sounds like English, but strange?”

Have you ever overheard a group of people using words you didn’t understand? You might think they are talking a strange language. It sure did not “seam” like English, but it did not sound much like it.

There are many fields of endeavor, hobbies, and interest with their own special terms.
Over the years, the language of sewing has become a bit easier, but every once in a while somebody says something that just leaves me bewildered. If you are new to sewing or quilting, you probably understand.

There is a whole unique vocabulary used by people who enjoy sewing and quilting. There hare hundres of specific sewing terms. It can take years to learn all the ins and outs of this language. While the words themselves may sound familiar, they often have very specific meanings only understood by avid sewers.
You might hear the word “Clapper” and think someone is referring to applause. When the word is used in sewing, it refers to a special tool used to press a crease.

When you hear the word “Yoke”, you might think the person said “joke”. But it is no joking matter. To a seamstress the word “yoke” means the part of a garment running horizontally across it. It includes panels such as garment pieces covering shoulder, waist, midriff, or back.
If you overheard older ladies talking about how important it is to use a “scant quarter” or “1/4 foot”, you might imagine they were quite fugal, penny pinching, concerned about quarters, maybe even skinflints. Instead, they would be talking about using a special part of a sewing machine to insure exact quarter inch seam allowances.

If your sewing teacher told to sew “in the ditch”, she would not be talking about the gutter, or even the drain along side of the road. She would be talking about a sewing technique in which the sewer sews a seam in the well or crack formed when another seam has already been sewn on the opposite side of the fabric. The result is a seam that is all but invisible.

Years ago, my husband heard a salesman use the word “serged edge”. He was embarrassed to say anything, but he had no clue. It made no sense. Later, he came to me and asked. I explained that this was simply a way to overcast the edge of a fabric so that it would not ravel under use.

Without help sewing words like, “CB Hook”, “Chapel Train”, “Cheater Panel”, and “Cut Work”; may have no meaning whatsoever. And that is just a few out of the c’s.

There are literally thousands of sewing terms just like these. The learning process can be tedious and frustrating, but with a little help all these terms will make sense.

There are three ways to find out what these sewing terms mean. First, you can ask your sewing teacher or other experienced sewing what a term means. Second, you can read sewing books which may include a limited glossary. Third, you can find the definitions in a good sewing dictionary.

If this still “seams” strange to you, maybe you need to follow my mother’s old adage: “If you really want to know look it up in the dictionary.” A generic dictionary may not explain the terms in a way that relates clearly to your sewing, but a sewing dictionary will do a good job making sense of these special terms.

Dr. David Trumble has produced such a practical sewing dictionary entitled My Sewing Dictionary.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sewing Machine Repair Books And Videos

Where can you find quality sewing machine repair books and videos?

Where can you learn how to do sewing machine repair?

Where can you get help when you get stumped with a sewing machine repair?

These are some pretty heafty questions. The answers are fairly simple, however.

You can find sewing machine repair books and videos at several places. First, you can find them online. The largest collection and most indepth resources are available at Fix Sewing Machines. Com. This website offers over 18 different sewing machine books and videos. This wide range of how to repair sewing machines ebooks includes:
Sewing Machine Repair TNT
Your Own Sewing Machine Repair Business
How To Sell Sewing Machines
My Own Sewing Machine Store
This website is also full of free tips and tricks to make your sewing machine repair efforts highly successful.
From this site you can learn how to do your own sewing machine repair. You can also learn how to launch your own profitable sewing machine repair business. These resources are practical and based on over 30 years of experience.
Where can you get help when you get stumped with a sewing machine repair?
The support program for students of Fix Sewing Machines. Com includes the assistance of professional sewing machine repair at our local repair center in Killeen, Texas. So if you get stumped, you have a solution at wholesale rates to enable you to make a profit even if we do the work for you.
You can find quality sewing machine repair books and videos and learn how to do your own sewing machine repair.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sewing Machine Repair - Hook Burrs

A quality sewing machine repair course will cover these kinds of repair in detail, but the basics of repairing a flawed hook are as follows.

A flawed hook is a common problem that affects tensions, stitch quality, and even timing. The development of burrs on the hook's point can make sewing very frustrating. Flaws on the hook require sewing machine repair immediately.

While the hook does not look like a needle, it functions in much the same way as the needle.

The needle draws the upper thread down through the hole in the needle plate. It accomplishes this by having the upper thread threaded through the eye of the needle. The thread slides tightly into the groove on the front of the needle so prevent it from snagging. As the needle reaches its lowest position it begins moving back up. The thread it is drawing is now loose and forms a loop on the back of the needle. The needle has a cut out on its back called a scarf. The scarf accentuates this loop.

The hook has no eye, but it does have a point.

At just the right time the point of the hook slides behind the needle in the middle of the scarf. The point enters the thread loop. It slides between the needle and the thread. The needle continues to move upward and out of the bobbin area. The hook continues to move drawing the thread around the bobbin. The upper thread and bobbin thread wrap together to form a stitch.

The point of the hook, however, must be sharp and free of nicks, scratches, and burrs. If the hook develops rough spots, scratches, or nicks in its surface, it can snag the thread and mess up the stitch. The most common issue is the development of burrs on the tip of the hook point. A burr is an irregularly formed flaw in the surface of the point.

You can identify these flaws by gently drawing your finger over the surface of the hook near the point. Feel for irregularities. If it has a burr, you may feel like there is little ball on the end of the point. There may a chip, or other distortion. You may also see these by use of a light and magnifier.

These flaws must be removed. Use of emery cloth, sandpaper, or a small file are commonly necessary. In extreme cases you may need to use a dremel tool. In all cases, the surface and point of the hook must be smooth.

If the damage to the hook is so extreme that it can not be buffed our smoothed, replace it.

To replace the hook assembly, will require the services of a professional sewing machine repair technician or completion of a sewing machine repair course.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tension Snags Part 2

In the previous post, we examined the overall issues of snags that can affect tensions.

In this post, lets take a step by step sewing machine repair course approach.

Our goal is to identify anything that might cause the sewing machine tensions to mess up.

Our tools for this exercise consist of our eyes and our fingers. Isn't it nice to know you do not have to buy a $75 dollar tool for this?

Begin at the thread spool. Look closely at the thread spool itself. Is there any roughness, groove, or irregularity in the top of the spool itself that might snag the thread. Use your finger to gently slide over any questionable spots.

If you find a potential problem, solve it before you proceed. As mentioned in the previous post, you may be able to use a spool cap or alternate (horizontal or vertical) spool pin. You may need to use a file to smooth a rough spot. Be careful that you do not create a flat surface that looks smooth but may catch thread on the end of the flat area. Maintain the curves while you smooth out the rough spots.

Using the same technique follow the entire upper thread line looking for potential snag spots. Examine the thread guides for rust, burrs, old lint, bends or twists that might be problems. Remove rust, burrs, and lint using a small brush or file as needed.

Examine the upper tension assembly. Lint often catches in the tension disc causing snags for new thread passing through. Rust is often a problem on older machines. Make sure there are no obstructions to the flow of the thread.

Change the needle regularly (ever 3 hours of sewing or so). Needles are notorious for developing sticky surfaces, burrs, dull points, and bending. The solution is replacement. If you are having tension problems, the first thing to do is rethread. The second is to replace the needle. You can often save frustration by making this just one quick step.

The bobbin are is very similar to the top thread path, but it is more hidden. You know the problem, "Out of site, out of mind.". Begin by cleaning out the bobbin area using compressed air and a brush. It must be clear of debris before you can properly diagnose it.

Examine the surface of the bobbin itself. Is there rust on that old metal bobbin? Throw it out. Is the edge of the bobbin got a rough spot on it? Throw it out.

Examine the surface of the bobbin carrier. In many cases, you will need to remove the carrier and check all of its surfaces. Metal carrier are more prone to rust, while plastic carriers are more prone to thread scoring and rough spots. Rusty carriers can sometimes be buffed to remove the rust, but usually it is best to replace the carrier. Plastic carriers can sometimes be smoothed with a gentle filing, but again may need to be replaced.

Examine the race. This is the track or groove in which the carrier sits and around which the hook moves. Use your fingers to check for rough spots. Remove the rought spots with emery cloth, file, or sandpaper.

Examine the hook itself. This is a common place to find burrs. The tip of the hook may strike the needle or debris during the course of sewing. Remove the burr and make sure the tip is sharp but smooth.

Sewing machine repair often involves great attention to tension issues. The user must be careful to use good sewing practices to avoid many of these problems. A good sewing machine repair course can help you prevent these problems as well as solve them.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tension Snags Part 1

Over the last several posts, we have examined sewing machine tension and sewing machine repair as it relates to tensions. We have defined, explained, illustrated, and described proper sewing machine tensions. We have discussed how to adjust the bobbin tension and the upper tensions.

In this post, we will begin our discussion of tension snags.

Often the thread will snag on thread spools, rusty spots, or other surface distortions.

One of the easiest ways to fix tension snags is to rethread the machine. Double check for smooth thread flow while you rethread. Especially notice how the thread flows off the thread spool. It is quite common for the thread to snag on the edge of the spool itself. Use of a spool cap or flipping the spool up the opposite way can usually eliminate this problem. If you are using specialty thread on an oddly shaped spool, check to see if a vertical spool pin or horizontal one works best in your situation.

When you thread your sewing machine, always lift the presser foot until your reach the eye of the needle. Then drop the presser foot. This technique will go a long way in preventing problems.

During the normal sewing process, wear and tear on the sewing machine are common. When you consider that the average home sewing machine sews 650 stitches per minute, it is easy to see how little surface abrasions can occur.

As we have described before, to form a stitch upper thread is drawn through several thread guides. It is pinched between tension discs. It is tugged and pulled by springs and levers. Finally it is threaded through the eye of the needle. There are literally dozens of spots where problems can happen along this path.

And this is only the beginning. Under the needle plate, thread is wound on a bobbin. It is then drawn up through a lower tension and twisted around the upper thread to draw it up through the needle plate.

Once you begin sewing at 650 stitches per minute, dozens of sewing machine parts begin moving. They pull, tug, rotate, and twist in harmoneously coordinated action.

The result of all of this are the eventual snags that affect the quality of stitch and tensions. As the thread moves back and forth it can often score or cut into the surface of sewing machine parts.

The sewing machine repair technician needs to take time to examine all the surfaces of the sewing machine along the thread path to identify and repair problems.

In our next post, I will detail specific locations to check and how to repair most tension snags. If you want more detailed instruction on this, check out my free ebook 7 Steps To Peak Performance For Sewing Machines. You might also consider one of my extensive sewing machine repair courses.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sewing Machine Tensions Part 5

A large number of sewing machine repairs are related to sewing machine tension issues. In previous posts, we have discussed the basics of tension, threading, and adjusting the bobbin tensions.

In this post, we will quickly review the adjustment of the upper tension. As we do so, keep in mind that balancing tensions requires the pull from the bobbin be equal with the pull from the top thread. Whenever top or bottom is greater, the thread will pile up on that side of the fabric.

You can also learn these vital skills by taking a sewing machine repair course or a series of sewing machine repair courses.

The upper sewing machine tension assembly consists of a set of tension discs that press from opposite sided against the upper thread to create resistance. The assembly also includes an internal tension spring, a pin to relieve pressure when you lift the presser foot, an adjusting knob, and a tensioning spring to maintain consistent thread position. The tensions assembly is usually held in place by a set screw. The screw may be reached through the opened needle bar cover or by removing the top cover.

The tension assembly on older sewing machines is prone to rust and surface deterioration. This may require parts or the entire assembly to be replaced.

Sometimes grit and grim gum up the pressure release pin. This is solved by disassembling the tension assembly and thoroughly cleaning it. When you reassemble the upper tension assembly, a drop of oil on the pressure release pin is advisable, but do not get oil on the tension discs.

Also look for burrs, knicks, or thread scores that may snag the thread or alter the tension. These will need to be removed, buffed, or otherwise eliminated.

A vital key to sewing machine repair is remembering how things go back together. In some cases, it is easy to take things apart, but if you get careless... It might never go back together the way it should. Therefore, when you are repairing sewing machines, always take the parts you remove and place them neatly in their proper order in a safe place. When you are ready to reassemble the parts, just reverse the disassembly process and you will get it right every time.

To adjust the upper tension, simply turn the tension adjust knob. Turn it to the right to increase tension. Turn it to the left to decrease the tension. "Righty tighty, lefty loosy."

When you finish adjusting the tensions, adjust the knob so that it looks right to the user. Many users believe a certain number (3 or 5) is essential. Actually, this is only for cosmetic purposes. But often you can not convince the user otherwise.

In our next post, we will examine several trouble spots affecting tensions and sewing machine repair.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sewing Machine Tensions Part 4

How do you adjust the bobbin tension?

How do you Sewing Adjust Bobbin Tension?

Tensions can be a common cause of problems. In extreme cases this may require the assistance of a professional sewing machine repair technician. It may be helpful to take a sewing machine repair course or maybe even several sewing machine repair courses to master tensions adjustments.

Understanding how tensions work is essential for every sewing machine user. Sewing Adjust Bobbin Tension affects every stitch.

Some users dread dealing with tensions all together and just pray the stitch will look OK. Adjusting tensions, however, is easier than you might think.

As we have seen, tension is the amount of drag or resistance on the thread as it moves through the sewing machine. The tension on top and on bottom should balance properly. Perfect tensions will produce threads joined in the middle of the fabric with no excess thread on top or the bottom of the fabric.

There are two critical adjustments required to achieve this perfect tensions. First, is the bobbin tension. Second, is the upper thread tension.

Lets take a look at the Bobbin Tension System.

Antique sewing machines often used shuttles mounted underneath the machine. While there are a variety of different designs, the essentials are the same. Today, Bobbin Tension may involve top loading bobbins, front loading bobbins, or even side loading bobbins.

Thread is wound on a bobbin The bobbin is placed into a case or holder. (For more information on bobbin tension with shuttles check out Antique Sewing Machine Repair). The thread in the bobbin is drawn through a tension device or spring and up to the top of the sewing platform.

Important for Sewing Adjust Bobbin Tension.

1. Be sure you have the right bobbin. This is vital for Sewing Adjust Bobbin Tension.

2. Be sure the bobbin thread is properly wound with no loops or loose threads and not too tight either. The thread should be smoothly wound around the bobbin.

3. Be sure to place the bobbin in the bobbin carrier exactly the way your sewing machine manual says. Follow your instruction manual for Sewing Adjust Bobbin Tension. The bobbin thread usually moves from left to right or clockwise around the bobbin as it turns. However, there are models that are exactly the reverse. The key is to observe how the thread enters the bobbin carrier tension assembly. The thread should trail back under the tension so that it does not slip out during use.

4. Thread through the lower tension. Usually, this means the bobbin thread will peal back through the bobbin tension rather than follow along or just flop in the wind. Notice the piece of metal on top right of the carrier. A small metal spring usually built into the bobbin carrier applies pressure or resistance to the bobbin thread. This is the bobbin tension spring. A tiny screw holds the tension spring in place. Turning this screw to the right will tighten the lower tension. Turning it to the left will loosen the bobbin tension. (“Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey”).

5. Some bobbin carriers are built into the machine or fasten in place to receive the bobbin. Other bobbin carriers are made as bobbin cases which detach from the machine to receive the bobbin and then are reinserted after loading the bobbin.

Test the tension of removable bobbin carriers by doing the following.

Pull off about six inches of bobbin thread through the tension.

Dangle the bobbin carrier with the bobbin in it while holding the thread above it. The lower tension should hold the carrier so that it does not drop. If it does, just turn the screw a quarter turn to the right. If it does not drop, try bouncing the carrier a little. If the tension is properly set, the carrier will drop a little and stop. If it does drop a couple of inches and stops, all is good.

If the carrier does not drop at all even after pretty good bounce, the tension is too tight. Turn the screw a quarter turn to the left. Try again.

Many machines have a drop in bobbin that fits into a bobbin carrier below the needle plate. Once the bobbin is placed in the carrier, the thread is drawn under a tension spring. The same gentle pull test used in the front loading bobbin can be used with the drop in bobbin, but it is a bit less precise. If you continue to experience difficulties with the bobbin tension, it may be adjusted by turning the small tension screw on the spring of the bobbin carrier.

You may also seek the expert assistance of your local sewing machine repair technician if needed. You may also consider a number of sewing machine repair courses. A special spring loaded gauge may be used to measure the actual tension on the string, but in most cases it is not required.

Double check to identify any worn parts that might snag the thread. If you find a rough spot, burr, or other such spot, correct the problem before bringing the thread up through the needle plate hole and preparing to sew.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sewing Machine Tensions Part 3

Sewing machine performance is often measured by the quality of stitches it produces. If the tension are messed up, the quality will be poor. In this case, it does not matter whether the sewing machine was a $99 special or a $12,000 Bernina. Perfect tension is a must.

If extreme cases, you may need to see your professional sewing machine repair technician. You may even want to take a sewing machine repair course or a series of sewing machine repair courses. The more you understand sewing machine tensions, the easier sewing will be.

Like two teams playing tug of war, rope is stretched across a stream (or line). Each team pulls on their end of the rope. One team pulls harder than the other. Them the other team pulls harder. Back and forth the teams pull against each other. Eventually, the reach a stalemate. The pull of each team is offset by the pull of the other team.

Like a playground teetertaughter, one person straddles the board on each end. First one pushes off and up they go. The other comes down, and pushes off. Up they go. Up and down. Down and up. Then the two kids work to position them self just right. They push off so gently and easily that the board comes to balance with the two kids both half way up.

Sewing machine tensions are just like these two examples. Tension is by definition the amount of pull, drag, or resistance the thread has as it flows through the sewing motion.

Along the top of the sewing machine, is the upper thread that passes through the tension discs, the tension spring, the take up lever, and eventually the eye of the needle.

On the bottom is the bobbin. It rides secluded inside its bobbin carrier, with its thread neatly flowing under the bobbin tension spring.

The top thread is drawn down into the sewing machine as the needle drops through the needle plate. However, the thread has resistance on it as it moves. The thread tightens as it moves down, and then looses as it moves back up. The sewing machine take up lever lists the thread to maintain drag even as the needle rises.

The thread from the bobbin is also under resistance. It is draw up by a overlapping loop with the upper thread. As the needle rises, the bobbin thread rises. However, the bobbin tension also pull back creating drag on the thread.

As we saw in our two illustrations, there is a tendancy for upper and lower threads to pull against the other. If the upper thread pulls harder than the lower thread, you will see puckers of excess thread collect across the top of the seam. If the lower thread pulls harder, you will see a nice looking top seam. But when you look under the fabric, you will see gobs of excess theads collected.

Perfect sewing machine tensions are achieved when the upper and lower thread drag is equalized. The thread knot forms in the center of the fabric. You see no excess on top of the seam or under the fabric.

In our next post, we will explore how to insure perfect tensions every time. If you would like a free sewing machine repair course, check out our 7 Steps To Peak Performance For Your Sewing Machine at

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Adjusting Tensions Part 2

A free sewing machine repair course is available at my sewing machine repair website. The course is entitled "7 Steps To Peak Performance For Your Sewing Machine". This sewing machine repair course is actually designed for the sewing machine user. It reveals essential step by step proceedures for adjusting and maintaining good tensions. Go there now to download your free sewing machine repair course.

In my last post, I introduced tensions. I discussed the frustrations and problems that many sewing machine users endure over tensions. The basic technique for adjusting tensions on the bobbin and upper tensions were explored.

Education is the solution to tension problems. Understanding how tensions work, why they work, and how to manage them is vital.

First let us define sewing machine tension. It has nothing to do with headaches, neckaches, or backaches, although faulty sewing machine tension may well cause all three. Tension simply means resistance, drag, or pull.

On a sewing machine there is thread drawn from a thread spool on top of the machine. It flows through thread guides, over and around tension discs, through a tension spring and a take up lever. It finally flows through the eye of the needle. At each point where the thread touches a guide, disc, spring, lever, or even the needle, the thread rubs against the surface creating drag or resistance. This drag is tension.

When most users think of sewing machine tensions, however, they think only of a dial they may turn to adjust tensions. The dial or knob turns a shaft increasing or decreasing the pressure on the thread as it passes through the tension discs.

The same is true with the bobbin tension. The thread from the bobbin draws under a tension spring that may be adjusted by slightly turning its tension screw. The only time this is usually needed, however, is when the user changes the size of thread being used. The tension may be increased of decreased as needed.

In our next post on tensions, we will discuss how to identify and solve problems with sewing machine tensions.

When you fully understand sewing machine tensions, you will save much frustration, professional sewing machine repair, money, and time.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How To Adjust Tensions Part 1

Tensions are a common source of frustrations for sewing machine users. To hear some talk about this issue, you might get the idea that you need a complete sewing machine repair course just properly adjust sewing machine tensions.

This may be why years ago, users were instructed never to touch their tension adjustments. Just let the professional sewing machine repair technician set the tensions, and leave them alone. If they get out of skew, take the machine back to the sewing machine repair guy.

You might be surprised how many thousands of new sewing machine owners were told precisely the above sentiments.

Personally, I believe the sewing machine user needs to understand tensions and tension adjustments on their sewing machine. If you change the size of thread, your tensions will change too. Unfortunately, the tensions on most sewing machines are not automatically going to measure the size of your thread and loosed or tighted for perfect tension.

Instead, it is up to the user to adjust the tensions. This should not require dozens of sewing machine repair courses, although there is a great deal to learn about your sewing machine.

What you need to understand, is that your sewing machine tensions are designed for you to easily adjust them.

There is a small screw on you bobbin carrier that adjusts the bobbin tension spring. A slight turn to the right will tighten or increase tension. A slight turn to the left will loosen or decrease tension. In the next post, I will explain the basics of bobbin tension.

The upper tension is also easily adjusted and even more convenient. On the front or top of your machine close to the needle take up lever, is a dial. It usually has numbers on it. Increase the number to increase tensions. Decrease the number to decrease the tension.

Faulty tension adjustment makes a great excuse for professional sewing machine repair, but it can also be expensive to get a tune up everytime your tensions mess up.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Try To Use The Right Needle

Today there are many different kinds of needles. New techniques demand new tools. New applications create demand for specialty items.

Sewing today is far different from the textile production of the 1930's and 40's. The introduction of the home zig zag sewing machine in the 1950's and the home serger in the 1960's caused a revolution in how sewing was done. The results are spectacular. The introduction of computerized sewing machines in the late 1980's and 90's expanded the possibilities even further. Sewing machine repair has also changed.

The variety and potential of sewing machines has been expanded a thousand fold. Consider that during the 1940's the top of the line sewing machine boasted a straight stitch with a few gadgets. Today a top of the line sewing machine will have literally thousands of stitch combinations. The sewing machine repair technician needs to learn all the ins and outs of the new mechanical and computerized parts in the sewing machine.

Along with the revolution in sewing machines, has come a huge expansion in the variety of specialty needles available. There are many sizes of home sewing needles 8, 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18... There are sharp point needles, ball point needles, universal point needles, winged needles, twin needles, triple needles, quilting needles, embroidery needles, leather needles, denim needles, big eye needles, long scarf needles, stainless steel needle, titanium needles, and more.
Singer sewing machines use to use a color banded system. Today needle packages are usually marked simply based on their size and specialty application.

Using the right needle will make your project go smoother and easier. Matching the fabric, thread, and needle is almost an art in itself. However, when you use the wrong needle, expect problems.

As I indicated in my last blog, it is important to differentiate between the user error and true mechanical problems. Education is often the solution to the first. Sewing machine repair is the solution to the second.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Needles Are Not All The Same

As a sewing machine repair technician, it is essential to be able to tell the difference between real sewing machine or mechanical problems, and user error.

While it is probably not a good idea to tell a sewer they made a mistake, often what they see as a mechanical problem is simply a case of user error.

This is especially true when a customer attempts to use knit or stretchy fabrics without changing their needle. Even the best sewing machine will produce skipped stitches and poor quality stitching when the user fails to use the proper thread, needle, and fabric combination.

Needles today are made with very specific applications in mind. Some have very sharp points to penetrate tightly woven fabrics. Some needles have rounded or ball point tips to slide through knit fabrics without pricking or catching the knit fibers. It is essential that you use the right needle for the application at hand.

Recently, I had a customer bring her sewing machine in for sewing machine tune up. She complained that all of sudden it just started skipping stitches. I asked her about her project. While she had sewn for many years, she did not realize that a special needle was needed for knit fabrics. Most of her sewing had been on woven cottons, but she just wanted to do this one project using a very stretchy fabric. The result was frustration.

As a sewing machine repair technician, I believe it is our duty to explain to our customers the simple solutions to their frustrations. Simply stated, if you sew woven fabrics use a sharp or universal needle. If you sew on stretchy fabric, use a ball point of stretch needle. It saves loads of frustration and possibly even a sewing machine repair bill.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Most Important Part

The most important part on your sewing machine is the needle.

The needle is often overlooked, forgotten, abused, and troublesome.

I remember this old black cast iron Singer a customer brought in. She was bragging about how much sewing she had done on the sewing machine. She listed at least a dozen projects she had completed over the years. She said the machine just stopped making a good stitch. The tensions seemed all messed up. The fabric kept getting stuck. The threads would break. It just was a mess.

I set the machine up on the sewing machine repair bench. As usual, I reached over and took hold of the hand wheel. It seemed to turn freely.

Then I glanced down at the needle. "Oh, my gosh!" The needle was covered with red flakes of powdery dust.

I asked the customer, "How often do you change the needle?"

The customer proudly reponded, "I have never changed the needle. That is the original needle. It was there when I bought this machine forty years ago."

I did not say anything, but I was thinking pretty loudly.

The needle is the one part on a sewing machine that costs only a few pennies, but is worth big dollars in terms of quality stitching and satisfying sewing experiences.

Needles are the most common cause of sewing machine repair problems after faulty threading. Needle often get dull. They develop burrs. They bend and wear. They can even rust.

Solution: Change the needle every three to four hours of sewing. Change the needle after every second project. Change the needle when you change types of fabric. Change the needle whenever you are dissatisfied with the quality of your stitch. Change the needle before you begin sewing machine repair.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The First Step of Sewing Machine Servicing

When you receive a sewing machine for service, the very first thing you must do is get the low down.

Not only do you need all the contact information. Yes, you need name, address, phone, and email address. But you need something more.

You need to find out what the sewing machine user thinks, feels, and observes about their sewing machine. Sewing Machine Repair begins with addressing the concerns and needs of the customer.

You may hear things like, "It just won't sew."

You might hear, "The threads just bunch up under the fabric."

You might hear, "I just can not wind a bobbin."

You might hear, "When I press down on my foot pedal, nothing happens."

You might hear, "It just doen't make a descent stitch anymore."

Satisfying the customer means, listening and hearing their frustrations. Understanding the customer's problems, means you can go directly to the solutions.

In most cases, the diagnosis is fairly quick and easy once you understand how the sewing machine works. Sewing Machine Repair begins with this diagnosis. Let your customer help you.

If you complete a sewing machine repair, and fail to resolve the original complaint; you have failed. It is essential to fix the sewing machine problems experienced by the user.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

What is Good Thread?

Good thread is thread that compliments the project you are sewing.

If you are doing a quick craft project that you do not care about, then the thread you use probably does not matter too much. If, however, you are working on a special project that you want to looks just right, the thread does matter.

This morning, I was explaining to one of my sewing machine repair customers, that her forty year old five for a dollar thread was not going to sew they way she wanted.

She responded, "I know I have sewing around the world with that thread on this machine."

Sometimes, a new spool of thread is needed. Sometimes, a quality thread is needed. Sometimes, the old, deteriorated, rotten, cheap thread should be thrown out.

So how to you choose a good thread?

First, look for quality. Look for long fiber threads. If you are using natural fiber fabrics, you may want to use natural fiber threads like cotton or silk. If you need strength, you may want polyester. If you are quilting, use machine quilting threads.

Never use hand sewing or hand quilting threads on your sewing machine. Avoid fuzzy threads like cotton covered polyester threads.

Match your threads to your project.

Finally, consider that if you use quality threads they will cause your sewing machine much less trouble. Junk threads can mess up any sewing machine.

When an average sewing machine repair today costs around one hundred dollars, an ounce of prevention can be a big investment.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Problem With Thread

The problem with thread is that many sewers do not understand it.

There are many kinds of thread. Some threads are made of natural fibers like cotton. Some threads are made of synthetic fibers like polyester. As long as you use high quality long fiber threads, you will get a good result. It is best to match the fiber to the fabric. It is also good to consider the special characteristics of the threads.

Unfortunately, many sewers buy the cheapest threads they can find. They are all excited to find special deals like 4 spools for a dollar. The quality is expressed in the price. If it has a cheap price, expect it to be a lousy thread.

Thread and especially natural fiber threads deteriorate over time. They lose their strength, color, and stability.

Recently, a customer brought a Singer 403A for sewing machine repair. She said the threads kept breaking. There was nothing wrong with the machine. It was her thread. She was trying to use twenty year old super cheap thread. It broke without any significant tension.

Using bad threads will often lead to unnecessary sewing machine repairs.

Suggestion: Always use good quality threads that are fresh and not old. Avoid old threads. Avoid cheap threads.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

How to thread a sewing machine?

How to thread a sewing machine?

Without thread there is no sewing. Thread is an essential.
The sewing machine uses thread to join fabrics together. One thread fills a bobbin and is inserted under the fabric flow. One thread is drawn through the eye of the needle from above. The sewing machine moves the needle down through the fabric and beyond. The thread from above is caught by the sewing machine hook and pulled around the bobbin thread. As the needle withdraws and moves up, it tightens the threads into a locked stitch inside the fabric.
Unfortunately, when a sewing machine is not properly threaded, the stitching is distorted or possibly ruined completely.
When threading is faulty, sewers often resort to seeking professional sewing machine repair. While this is an easy fix for those experienced and skilled in sewing machine repair, it is also a frustrating problem for the user.
There are many ways to improperly thread a sewing machine, but only one right way to thread a sewing machine.
How Do You Thread the Elna Sewing Machine?
How do you thread a Singer sewing machine?
How do you thread a Bernina, Brother, Juki, Janome, or any other sewing machine?
While there are thousands of different models of sewing machines, and each one has its own unique way to accommodate the threading process; they are all essentially the same.
The upper thread comes wound on a spool. The spools come in a variety of different shapes and designs, but they all work the same. The spool of thread is placed over a spool pin which may be horizontally or vertically mounted to the sewing machine.
A simple and easy way to thread a sewing machine is to draw the thread through, around, and over the various thread guides to the needle. Sound easy? It is.
Then, why are there so many mistakes made threading a sewing machine?
It must be done perfectly every time. No mistakes.
Here are the key instructions, threading a sewing machine begin at the thread spool. It must be properly placed on the spool. Draw the thread from right to left. Draw the thread from the spool pin to the first guide.
Caution: threads often snag on rough spots on the spool, therefore, double check that the thread flows freely off the spool. If the spool pin is horizon, a spool cap just slightly larger than the end of the thread spool is required to lift the thread off the edge of the spool where it might snag. On some rear mounted vertical spool pins, a spool net ( a net material used to guide the thread) may be needed to keep the thread from getting snarled as it flows off the spool pin.
Draw the thread through the first thread guide. Look to the left for another thread guide. Depending on the machine there may be up to four thread guides from across the top, back, and toward the front of the sewing machine.
Many newer machines make this easier by numbering the threading steps so you can just follow the numbers. From the thread guides, the thread must be drawn through the tension discs. Older machines have front mounted tension assemblies that are obvious, but often the tension assemblies are hidden under the covers.
Threading through the tensions is a common source of problems. If the presser foot is down, the thread will ride along the ridge of the tension discs instead of flowing through them properly.
The solution is: raise the presser foot lever when you begin threading and keep it up until you reach the needle.The thread must follow through the upper thread guides and through the tension discs. These discs consist of two or more flat round discs that press against the thread during sewing to provide “tension”. After flowing through the tension discs, the thread must flow through the tension spring which helps keep the tension on the thread stable during sewing. Next the thread must flow through the sewing machine take up lever, and back down through any remaining tension guides to the eye of the needle.
Finally, the thread must flow through the eye of the needle, however, before finally threading the needle. Test the tension by slightly tugging on the end of the thread. You should feel very little resistance. Now drop the presser foot and test again. (Remember it has been up until now.) You should feel resistance now.
Finish the threading by threading the needle.
Avoid costly sewing machine repairs by making sure the sewing machine is properly threaded. If you are having problems with stitching, rethread. This is often the sewing machine repair solution.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Learn To Do Sewing Machine Repair

This blog will share current articles about sewing machine repair.
These posts aim to provide practical information for sewers who want to maintain their own sewing machines.
They also aim to provide support for professional sewing machine repair technicians.
From these posts, tips and tricks for sewing machine repair and sewing machine repair business will be promoted.