Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Centering The Needle To Repair Your Sewing Machine

Does your needle penetrate the needleplate properly?

This is an often overlooked element that can create loads of problems.

If the needle is even slightly out of proper position in any direction, it will adversely affect the stitch formation and tension of the stitching.

More specifically, the needle must be positioned so that it centers in the needle plate front to back, side to side, default prositioning, and needle bar height. Setting these positions is a major part of any sewing machine repair.

Lets look at these in reverse order: The needle bar height is set by a set screw on the needle bar clamp. The point of the needle must move down through the needle plate hole, into the bobbin carrier area, and begin rising as the point of the hook passes behind the scarf of the needle. If the point of the needle passes too high or too low, poor stitches, irregular stitches, intermitten stitches, or no stitches may result.

To properly set the needle bar height, visually trace from the needle up the bar until the bar passes through the hole in the head and then up until you see a clamp with a set screw in the center. This is the adjusting screw.

Rotate the hand wheel toward you until the needle moves to its lowest position. It must not strike anything. Rotate just slightly until the point of the hook is ready to pass behind the needle. The point of the hook must pass behind the scarf or cut out in the back of the needle and above the eye. If this is not happening, loosen the set screw mentioned previously. Adjsut the bar up or down without turing it. Retighten the set screw.

Next set the machine to its default needle position. Some machines default to a center position, while others use a left needle position. In either case, make sure the needle is properly positioned. If center positioning is used, the needle must enter the needle plate in the exact center of the needle hole. If left position is used, the needle should clear the left side of the hole but match the left most position. In some machines multiple position is used. In these cases, make sure the center position matches properly.

To adjust this positioning, visually trace the needle bar up to the bracket you referenced to adjust height. Note an arm connects to the right of this bracket and goes to another connection. This connection has an eccentric screw to adjust the left to right positioning. A set screw may or may not hold this eccentric in position. Loosen the set screw and adjust the eccentric until the needle is properly positiioned. Test by rotating the hand wheel through one complete needle bar action up and down.

Next note that there is another arm running from this connection and reachinging back to the cam tracker. In the center of this arm is another set screw or eccentric to control how far left or right the needle moves. Adjust so that the needle penetrates the needle plate inside the edges of the hole on the right and left.

Finally, the needle must be positioned properly front to back. This is called the hook-needle clearance. The needle should penetrate the needle hole in the center front to back, but it must also cause the needle to be positioned as close to the point of the hook as possible without actually touching.

To adjust the hook needle clearance. trace the needle bar all the way to the top sleeve or connection with the sewing machine head. Note usually there is a set screw from the front and an eccentric or adjusting screw running through the needle bar assembly clamp. Loosen the set screw and position the needle bar assembly properly.

A major part of sewing machine repair consists of knowing what screws to turn and being able to identify these adjusting points from one model to the next. With training and experience you can be confident if properly setting the needle bar for optimum performance and repair sewing machines of any brand.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Upper Shaft And Sewing Machines Repair

One might think that fixing sewing machines is all about turning the right screw, and they would be at least partly right.

When you remove the covers of your sewing machine, you might be amazed at all the little parts and all the different screws. It can look pretty complicated.

Yet, if you take a second look and begin to trace the shafts and levers with your eyes, it gradually starts to make sense. Start your gaze at the hand wheel and move across the top of the sewing machine from right to left. You will notice a turning shaft running the length of the machine with some pulleys, belts, gears, and levers connected here and there. You might notice buttons or levers from the front of the machine reaching back to adjust stitch length, stitch width, or even select different stitches.

Relax and allow yourself to process what you see. From the hand wheel, you can see where the belt from the motor drives the whole upper shaft. You will also see a shaft or belt directing the action of the upper shaft down into the bottom of the machine. As your eyes move to the left, you might see a round gismo with bumps or grooves all around it and little fingers that follow along against them. This is the cam or device that controls the movement of the zig zag arm. This enables the machine to make many different stitches just by altering which groove the finger follows.

To the far left you will see the needle bar and presser bar. Check out how they are connected. See how the movement of the upper shaft transfers movement to the needle bar making it move up and down as well as right and left.

All of these parts and those on the bottom must work in harmony and perfect time. Unfortunately, they sometimes get jolted out of position. Then the machine will not perform as expected. Adjustment or repair is needed.

For example, the needlebar must be adjusted properly for height, hook-needle clearance, centering front to back and left to right. Plus the swing of the needlebar known as parabola must be set.

These settings require expert knowledge of the sewing machine repair technician, who is trained to adjust the various settings.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sewing Machine Answers To Ten Key Questions

Frequently I get questions from customers and others about sewing machines. Here are some of the top questions and answers.

Question 1: How do you define a sewing machine?

Since the first sewing machine was patented in 1846, it has essentially been a mechanical appliance used to connect materials together using needle and thread. Today, we think of the sewing machine largely as an appliance to join fabrics.

Q2: What are the typical types of sewing machines today?

While many people think of sewing machines only in terms of their standard home sewing machine, there are hundreds of sewing machines intended for specific applications at home and in factories. Since sewing machine are either used in a home or factory setting we might say there are two broad kinds: Home and Commercial or Home and Industrial.

At home you will find the typical home sewing machine, a serger, an embroidery machine, an embellishing machine, quilting machines, a blind hemming machine, and sometimes a light industrial straight stitch or zig zag machine.

In industry, you will find much more rugged and faster sewing specialty machines often used for a single application. Here you can find walking foot machines, blind stitch machines, upholstery machines, leather machines, button machines, machines to make shoes, saddles, sails, and more.

Question Three: What different categories of home sewing machines are there?

When you think of the standard home sewing machines, you might think they are all pretty much alike. Wrong.

There are Mechanical sewing machines; Electronic sewing machines; And Computerized sewing machines.

Mechanicals use gears and levers driven by an AC motor.

Electronics use electronics to control the power and selection of stitches.

Computerized sewing machines use pulse motors, and advanced computer circuits to supply the user unrivaled control, convenience, and dependability.

A mechanical sewing machine is limited to a hand full of stitches and suffers from power issues including an annoying motor hum.

Computerized machines offer hundreds of stitches and loads of convenience features.

Question Four: Why do sewing machines span so much in price tag?

Prices vary greatly depending on the quality and features of the machines.

Under three hundred dollars, you usually have a rough operating, mechanical sewing machine, with very limited stitches and features.

At about $500, you can find a good solid machine with about 20 stitches.

Around a thousand, you get good quality, good features, good computer control, and dependability.

Over a thousand you find fully computerized sewing machine with hundreds of stitches, advanced convenience features, and built in embroidery.

Question 5: Why do you need a sewing machine?

The modern creativity machine is known as a sewing machine. This device opens up endless possibilities for turning inspiration into reality.

You can make your own fashions; embellish and embroider; decorate your home, make wall hangings and quilts; perform great crafts; literally transform your world. The sewing machine empowers you in ways no other device ever could.

Q6: How do you choose the best sewing machine for you?

When you think about getting a new home sewing machine, it is fundamental to explore your possibilities. What kind of projects would you like to do? What convenience features and machine capabilities do you want? How much can you afford?

Two things are important to keep in mind: One, go for quality and save yourself frustration. Two, make sure the machine will do what you want it to do.

Question Seven: What is the difference between a regular sewing machine, a serger, and an embroidery machine?

For general sewing you need your home sewing machine. For increased speed and improved quality, the home serger is a must. It overcasts the edge of the fabric, sews a seam, and trims the fabric all at one time at twice the speed of your home sewing machine. Beautiful pre-programmed designs can also be sewn if you have a home embroidery machine.

Question Eight: Where is the best place to get a sewing machine?

While you can buy sewing machines over the internet and in department stores, these merchants offer no support, instruction, or service. You may not need these with a simple microwave oven, but to get the most from your sewing machine, you need all three: support, instruction, and service.

Better quality sewing machines are only sold through authorized sewing machine dealers.

When you purchase a machine from one of these dealers, you receive much more than a machine in a box. You get expert advice and assistance. You get professional repair and maintenance service. And you get very helpful sewing machine instruction. To get the most from your sewing machine investment, find your trusted local sewing machine dealer.

Question 9: Where can I get my sewing machine fixed when needed.

With about ninety million sewing machines in America alone you can imaging how much demand there is for sewing machine repair. It is huge. Unfortunately, the average Joe is not a good bet to entrust your expensive sewing machine. You need a well trained sewing machine repair technician. You can find a capable technician through the yellow pages under sewing machine repair, through your local quilt guild, or by talking to other sewers.

Question 10: How can I learn to repair sewing machines myself?

You can buy a $60,000 sewing machine dealership and get trained on that current line of sewing machines. Or you can check out all of great resources and ecourses available at www.FixSewingMachines.com. Yes, Dr. Trumble will teach you the secrets of sewing machine repair through his extensive sewing machine manuals and training videos.

Find out more about sewing machine repair with Dr. David Trumble's complete Sewing Machine Manuals. Check out his free beginner's course.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sewing Machines Repair

If you are reading this post, you are either interested in doing your own sewing machines repair or possibly in a hobby or business.

Sewing Machines Repair is a fun and satisfying hobby, and it can be a great part time or even full time business.

Sewing Machine Repair does require specialized knowledge. This knowledge is easy to learn, and there are loads of supports, resources, and help available. It is however not something you can master in half an hour.

You can get started faster than you may think. A solid week end of reading, studying, plus basic mechanical skills will get you going, but practice always makes perfect.

Some specialize in a single brand or even a limited series of sewing machines.

One fellow specialized in the Singer Featherweight series. He worked on dozens of these machines, but limited himself to this one line of machines. It was a great hobby for him. He had a great time at quilt guild and even enjoyed demonstrating what the machine could do.

Some enjoy doing antique sewing machine repair, and get all excited when they restore an old sewing machine.

Personally, I enjoy working on all types of sewing machines.

If you plan to become a master sewing machine technician, expect it to take at least three to five years of steady work on a variety of models.

Use of sewing machine manuals can make working on unfamiliar models much faster and easier. Some models have specific issues that may not occur on any other sewing machine. If you know which screw to turn, or the recommended procedure; the repair is easy. If you do not have access to reference materials, you may never find the answer.

You need to do three things to learn how to repair sewing machines.

First, get and study a good basic sewing machine repair course. The more comprehensive and the more resources you can get the better.

Second, practice on your own. Repair as many as you can get your hands on - just for fun. Learn by doing.

Third, get help. Find a mentor to help you when you get stuck.

Sewing machines repair is a fun and satisfying hobby, and it can be a great part time or even full time business. To learn more, check out http://www.fixsewingmachines.com/. There you will find hundreds of helpful articles, tips, tricks, and even a free users beginner course on Sewing Machine Repair.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Sewing Machine Motors

You set up your sewing machine and are ready to sew, but when you press down on the foot pedal the machine barely moves at all. It is as though the machine is tired from a long hard summer. No matter how hard you press down on that foot control; no matter how much power you put in; the sewing machine just drags along.

There may be several different problems, but the most common are a motor issue or a binding issue. To repair sewing machines with this difficulty determine which is the major culpritt, turn the hand wheel toward you several times. Feel for any resistence, drag, or binding. Listen for any strange sounds. If the machine moves freely without significant drag or noise, the problem is most likely in the motor.

Sewing machines today have two kinds of motors. The traditional AC motor and the more modern DC Pulse motor operate differently, but can both be causes of difficulty. More commonly, however, we deal with problem AC motors.

Very simply, AC motors are composed of an armature, coil windings, and motor brushes.
While sewing at slower speeds, carbon deposits develop inside the motor. Wear can eventually ruin the motor brushes. As a result, the motors can gradually lose power and even stop working.

A quick and easy solution to this problem is what is known as a motor burn. Since the carbon has developed over a long time of slower sewing, it is sometimes possible to burn off the carbon by running the motor at top speed for several minutes. The carbon heats up and melts away.

Release the hand wheel break so that hand wheel will spin without turning the machine itself. The procedure is very easy, use a "c" clamp to press down on the foot control drive mechanism and hold it in place at its highest speed. Let the motor spin for about five minutes at full speed. Then test the motor operation at typical speeds. Test with the hand wheel break on to drive the machine and make sure the motor is working properly.

Caution: avoid excessive heat or potential sparking. Do not leave the motor unattended.

In some cases, the motor burn does not work. The damage is too extensive.

In these situations, you will need to remove the motor and service it.

For more details on servicing the AC motor look for my next article coming soon.

For the finest sewing machine manuals and sewing machine repair instruction check out Fix Sewing Machines .Com.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Stop Breaking Threads

Sewing is fun. Sewing is creative. Sewing is actually pretty easy when all goes well, but when threads keep breaking; it can get frustrating.

As a technician, I understand the frustration. It even happens for me, when threads keep breaking. It is especially upsetting when I miss the cause and fail to find a solution. Usually sewing machine manuals fail even to mention the problem or steps to resolve the problem of breaking threads.

You can encounter thread breakage on cheap and on expensive machines. When the situation is right, threads break. The make, model, design, and purpose do not seem to matter. It seems that anyone who sews eventually faces thread that break.

The challenge is to figure out the causes and solutions to thread breakage so you can sew care free. Even a beginner sewing student can master their sewing machine. Now you can learn to sew without this frustration. By understanding how to sew and the causes of breaking threads, you will be able to prevent and sew like a pro.

There are two basic situations where threads will keep breaking: excessive stretch and pinching.

When you sew along and the threads snag on something or get caught, the threads pull apart. Tension issues, burrs, and other snags cause threads to break.

Sharp edges, tight spots, burrs, and other mechanical irregularities can pinch or cut threads.

Solutions come quickly when the causes are understood and identified. Whether the thread breakage comes from pinching or pressure, it is important to find out.

You can take action step by step to fix the problem of breaking threads. Here are ten steps you can take.

To begin with, take out the old needle and put a new one in its place. Be sure to match the needle to the fabric for best performance.

Second, thoroughly inspect the upper thread line. Look for rough spots, rust spots, or any surface that might snag the thread. Better quality threads tend to perform better than poorer quality, older, or linty threads. Long fiber threads do better than spun fiber threads. Polyester does better than natural fibers.

Next, check the needle plate for abrasions, sharp edges, and needle pricks. Smooth or fix the needle plate or replace it.

Fourth, inspect the bobbin for sharp edges, improper thread wrappings, and proper selection. Never wind more than one thread on a bobbin. Loose ends can interfere and cause thread breakage. Often we find that the user is trying to use the wrong bobbin for the machine. It is essential that the bobbin match the make and model of the machine.

A damaged bobbin carrier can cause all manner of problems. Look for breaks, cracks, thread scores, sharp edges, and any other potential problem.

Unlike needles which are easy to replace frequently, the hook is seldom replaced. However, it often develops burrs, scars, or other damage. Make sure the hook does not catch or pinch the thread.

Seventh, inspect the race for potential snags and lubricant. Occasionally, the race becomes overly dry and requires a drop of pure clean sewing machine oil. Sometimes, neglect leads to stickiness that must be cleaned away and relubricated.

When tensions are too tight, threads can snap. When the tensions are too loose, the thread can get caught on other parts and end up breaking as well. Therefore it is vital that the bobbin tension and upper tension both be checked and adjusted.

Ninth, check the hook needle timing and clearance. When the timing is inappropriate, it puts stress on the thread or the thread breaks altogether. If the timing out, you will find skipped stitches or none at all. The distance between the needle and the hook needs to be very small without actually touching. If they touch you will hear a ping and it may pinch or cut the thread. If the distance is too great, the hook will fail to pick up the threads and stitches may not form.

Feed dogs may pull the fabric and thread in problematic ways unless properly set for timing, movement, and feed dog height.

Test and retest until the thread movement is smooth and without thread breakage.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ways To Improve Stitch Quality

The closet door opens. Your sewing machine is there neatly tucked away in its case. You pick it up and carry it to the kitchen table. You remove the case cover and take out your sewing machine. You are ready to sew. Unfortunately, it does not work. Suddenly, the creative excitement and anticipation turn to outrageous frustration.

This is the single most common cause of discouragement for sewers. Sewing machines that are not working properly; are like a car that will not run. Why not just quit and forget it?

Sewing consistency includes regular sewing machine maintenance and care. Infrequent sewing, tends to increase basic sewing machine problems due in part to neglect. For both the occasional sewer and the more active sewers, it is important to identify sewing machine problems and resolve them. Your sewing machine manuals will offer many tips and helps, but here is a simple sewing test that can make a big difference.

Problems have causes, and the mission of the sewing machine user is to figure out those causes and find answers to those difficulties.

When you sew, you come to expect certain things. Most of all you expect a properly formed stitch. When a good quality stitch fails to appear, it is a sewing crisis requiring immediate remedy.

Here is a simple but effective test every sewer needs to know in order to keep your machine operating properly. To perform this simple sewing test, set up a medium straight stitch and sew a seam four to five inches long. Using a zig zag stitch, repeat the test. Then examine the quality of stitches you just sewed.

Inspect your test seams. How do the stitches look? Ideally, the threads along the top of fabric snugly lay on top of the fabric separated by small puncture points. It should look the same when you inspect the bottom of the fabric.

Unfortunately, your test sew may expose some flaws. You may see skipped stitches, loose threads, balls or bunches of thread on top or beneath the fabric. You may even find that your sewing machine is not sewing.

When you see messed up stitches, begin your search for causes. Check three things: threading issues, needle, and hook-needle settings.

When you see problem stitches, the first step is to replace your needle. It is the most important and least expensive part on your sewing machine. It can get dull, develop burrs, or even be the wrong needle for your application.

Needles have different sizes and types of points. If the needle is too large or small for your fabric and/or thread; you will see distortions in your stitch quality. Sharp and universal points work well with woven fabrics, but will skip on knit or stretch fabrics. Ball point needles work well on stretchy fabrics, but will skip on woven fabrics. Bottom line: install a new needle that is right for the job, fabric, and thread.

Rethread using good quality thread. Avoid cotton covered polyester threads. Avoid snags and smooth rough spots. Follow the thread guides. Seat the tension discs. Make sure to connect with the take up lever and tension spring.

When the tensions are unbalanced; excess threads will collect under the fabric or on top of the fabric. While feed timing may, distort tensions causing threads to collect under the fabric due to faulty feeding. This, however, is much less common than the more frequent offset by either the upper or lower tension assemblies. The solution is to adjust the upper tension. If excess appears under the fabric, increase the tension. If excess threads appear on top of the fabric, decrease the upper tension.

If changing the needle and adjusting the tensions just does not work, you may have a problem with hook-needle settings. Most sewing machine users will need to take their machine to the shop for professional assistance to repair sewing machines.

From the sewing test, the user can identify and resolve most stitch quality problems. It is important not to become frustrated or upset. Instead, relax and process this simple test and double check the three major causes of faulty stitch quality.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Understanding The Sewing Machine User

So, you consider yourself a sewing machine technician.

What exactly does that mean?

Does that mean you are a mechanic who gets his hands all greasy when you fix sewing machines? Maybe.

Does that mean you are a detective pursuing each clue until you diagnose the causes of sewing machine problems and then fix them? Maybe so.

Does that mean you are a specialist who helps sewing machine users by repairing their sewing machine, guiding the user to avoid future problems, and being ready to demonstrate how to get the most out of a given sewing machine? Ideally, yes.

To me the real difference here is one of understanding the sewing machine from the perspective of the sewing machine user. I believe a sewing machine technician needs to learn how to sew too. Many sewing machine technicians have never learned to sew anything. If you asked them to sew a basting stitch and then top stitch a seam; they might look at you and say, "I just fix 'em."

Here is my personal encouragement. Before you begin attempting to repair sewing machines, learn at least the basics of how to use them. Learn to sew. Sew out a few projects of your own. Understand how to sew. Master the basics of sewing, quilting, and the more common applications. Then you will be in a position to understand what is happening in a sewing machine from the perspective of the sewing machine user.

Why do sewers get so frustrated when the thread bunches up? If you sew even a little, you will understand.

Why do seweres get so upset when their seams wabble or they look at their finished project only to see a dozen skipped stitches? The better you understand the use of the sewing machine, the more effective you will be in empathizing, advising, and helping your customers.

Now that does not mean you have to make pretty frilly dresses, or feel weird because you are sewing. One of the projects I did was a wall hanging. It was simple, easy, and it look good when it was done. I admit, I got help from my wife. But when it comes to sewing she is definitely the main user.

Yet,when you have experienced the challenges and thrills of sewing as a user; you can better understand what is happening for the user. This can be a big help in diagnosing problems and providing solutions.

As you set out to learn sewing machine repair; besure to include learning how to sew as well.

Understanding the sewing machine user and appreciating their perspective with regard to their sewing machine will go a long way toward making your sewing machine repair more customer friendly.