Friday, August 31, 2012

Sewing Machine Repair And Serger Threading

Threading a serger can be a challenge. 

While some people have difficulty threading regular serging machines, the serger expands threading issues if for no other reason than it adds multiple threads instead of just one.  Without thread there can be no serging.   Thread is an essential.  The serging machine uses thread to attach fabrics together. 

Some say it looks weird. It certainly does not look like sewing machines.  Since the introduction of the home serger, users have complained about just how hard it is to thread.  With multiple threads, needles, and strange looking gismos, it not only looks complicated, it is.  It not only feels like you have to twist and turn just to thread it, it does.

The other threads are drawn up through the thread rack, down through thread guides, through the tension assemblies, and then through either the lower looper or upper looper.  Caution: avoid tangling threads.  Often the user thinks the machines requires professional help like sewing machine repair.

The ordinary  sewing machine makes locked stitches by drawing the upper thread down while the hook wraps it around the bobbin thread.  In a serger, however, the hook and bobbin are replaced with a lower and upper looper.  The needles pull the threads from above through the fabric.  The lower looper picks up the needle threads and draws  the to the right.  Then the upper looper picks up the needle and lower looper threads and moves them back to the left around the stitch finger.  This produces a wrap around or over locking stitch.

Learn to sew and serge like a pro with the help of where you find detailed instructions on how to sew, serge, quilt, and more.

Improper threading creates calamity.  Slight variations in threading occur from one serger to another, but the basics are essentially the same.  Always read and follow the user manuals instructions precisely. 

Elna, Brother, Viking, Bernette, Necchi, and many other brands of sergers are available today.  There are many configurations and models, but generally there is strong similarity in their threading.

So, how do you thread a serger?  Begin by lifting the presser foot.  This releases the pressure on the tension assemblies and make it much easier to thread them.  Find the thread that will be used by the upper looper. Bring it up through and over the thread rack.  Bring it down and through the thread guides on the machine.  Some machines have the thread woven through a couple of guides. 

Make sure the thread slips between the tension discs.  Some sergers will have surface mounted tensions that are easy to tell when they are properly threaded.  Others encase the tension in the front cover.  Just make sure the thread is properly seated in between the tension discs.  Of course, this cannot happen unless the presser foot is up.

Serger tension is a common source of problems.  Not only is it essential to properly seat the thread between the two round tension discs, the tension must balance with multiple threads.

Lifting the presser foot  before you start thread, releases the pressure on the tension assemblies making it easy to thread them.  Make sure each thread is drawn through the tension discs and held firmly in position.  If the presser foot is down, the thread (can|may|will ride along the edgeof the tension discs instead of flowing through them properly.  The solution is: lift the presser foot lever when you begin threading, and keep it up until  you thread the needle.

Proceed with threading the remaining thread guides and thread the upper looper.  This can be a bit of challenge requiring tweezers and the ability to stand on your head in some cases.  Then thread the lower looper followed by the needles.

When you reach the needles, draw  the thread through the serging machine take up lever, and back down through any remaining tension guides to the eye of the needle. 

Double check the tension  with the presser foot still up by slightly tugging on the end of the thread.  You should feel very little friction.  Now release the presser foot and try again.  You should find significant friction now.  You can double check each thread the same way just to make sure that the thread is properly seated in their appropriate tension assembly.

If a needle breaks, unthread the entire machine, and rethread in proper order.  If you need to change colors or thread spools, cut the thread just above the thread cone.  After setting the cone in place, tie the new thread to the original thread using a very small knot.  Gently advance the set of threads by slowly serging or by rotating the hand wheel until the tie off has passed beyond the thread finger.  Take special care when the knot reaches it guide hole.  This technique may be used for all or any one of the threads including needles and loopers. 

Rethreading is the first course of action when serger stitches mess up.  There are many possible reasons that threads break and stitches jam up. Examine the thread line for anything that might cause the problems, but essentially your first step is to rethread.

There is an exception to this threading system in the advanced jet air threading system of the Baby Lock sewing machine.  Baby Lock originated the home serger in 1964 and has led the market with advances and features unparalleled by any other brand.  The Baby Lock Imagine and Evolve sergers use an advanced devices that thread the serger by a simple press of a lever.  They use an advance thread management system that makes traditional tensions obsolete.  They may also be threaded in any order.  If a thread breaks, it is unnecessary to rethread the machine.

Discover how to repair sewing machines with the comprehensive training program on sewing machine repair available at

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tips For Fixing Brother Sewing Machines

Have you ever used  a brother sewing machine?

These sewing machines  are known  for being the easiest to use sewing machines in the world. Unlike many of their competitors, these machines offer great features while being highly  convenient to  use and easy to learn.

Two groups  of sewing machines are made by the Japanese Brother International company. The Brother(R) brand is used for the low end line , and the Brother Pacesetter(R) brand is used for the mid to high end group . The company also  produces  machines for Tacony Corporation to their specifications and with their quality control coordination. This line  of machines is sold under the Baby Lock(R) brand name.

Where can  customers buy  these sewing machines?

Walmart, Kmart, and other mass merchandisers  market  the low end group . These sewing machines can also be purchased over the internet. The better  series of machines are only available through the authorized dealer network.

How do you decide which sewing machine to get when there are so many options? My mother had a Singer and my mother-in-law has a Viking. There are so many choices . Some are better than others. Some offer features unavailable on others.  Adding features like machine embroidery can add huge value and require the use of professionally created embroidery designs.

The ease of use and the  capabilities of the sewing machine far exceeds those of other sewing machines.

When you consider buying a new sewing machine or need to deal with one you already have, there are some important consideration over customer service ,  product training , and service .

Even these fine machines require periodic   maintenance . Lint, dirt, and debris collect inside the machine when it is used. Problems do happen. Lubricants dry out and decay. Things break.

You will love your machine. Keep in mind they require highly skilled and specialized technical taining and skills for proper sewing machine repair. The subtle complexities make it difficult for the ordinary  handyman  to do a proper job of servicing. Therefore,  maintenance  are not something you want to leave to just anyone. Demand a fully certified technician, and check out their experience and reputation.

The only place to find repair services is with an independent sewing machine technician, at an authorized dealer, or a regional service center. Check your  local phone directory .

You will find mid to high end sewing machines sold and serviced at your local authorized dealer. Over six hundred independent dealers serve the United States, mostly from larger cities. They can also be serviced at regional service centers. Mass merchandisers, department stores, and internet sites sell low end machines, but do not provide service or support. These are offered through the local or regional group.

If you live in an area where no local service centers are available, you can package your sewing machine. Ship it to a regional repair center. Here certified technicians provide you the skilled technical fixes  you want and need. Unfortunately, this choice  does get expensive and often takes longer than your local shop when available.

How can I do my own fixing ?

You can learn to  repair sewing machines your self. To do so you will need three things. First, you will need a good general sewing machine repair knowledge. Second, you will need access to parts. Third, you will need technical support. A professional tehnician can also  assist you when you get in over your head.

To learn service, you will need to learn the general skills of sewing machine  repair . You can do this through courses, books, and videos. You may be able to take an introductory class at a local dealership. Buy you can repair sewing machines yourself when you know how.

As a consumer, you would purchase any repair parts directly from your retail dealership or corporate store. If you became an authorized dealer yourself, you could then purchase at wholesale.

If you are interested in owning your own dealership, contact the company to see in your area is available. Brother does maintain restrictive territories for each of its dealers. You will be required to submit a detailed business plan, purchase the dealership for around $40,000, and complete their new dealer training program.

Finally, to maintenance  machines yourself, you will need expert assistance from a certified technician. Use the technician as a mentor, teacher, and friend; but be ready to pay for his services.

You will need help with diagnosis, complex repairs, and subtle adjustments from time to time.
Explore more about servicing your sewing machine, check into the extensive training resources for sewing machine repair  and learn to repair sewing machines yourself for fun or profit. Even get your own free beginner users ecourse.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tension Snags Part 2

In the previous post, we discovered that equalizing the drag  of the upper and lower thread systems produced balanced tensions. Unless the  pull equalized; tensions are faulty.

Thread systems on a sewing machine are much like a tug of war contest. The system that pulls the hardest gets the excess threads. If the top pulls harder than the bobbin, thread will pucker on top of the fabric. If the bobbin pulls harder, threads will collect under the fabric.

Problems may be from improper threading, improper adjustments, or snags in the thread line.

If you have problems with the tension on your sewing machine, first identify which thread system is pulling harder.  Is it the upper thread or lower thread.  Again this is a matter of looking for the excess threads on your test seam.  If the excess appears on the top, the pull up is greater than the pull down.  If excess appears under the fabric or on the bottowm, the pull down is greater than the pull up. 

Sewing machine repair is often the result of the user making a mistake.  It is important for ever user to learn to sew and master these basic fixes.  Understanding how to sew will reduce frustration and insure a technician will not be needed to repair sewing machines for you at every turn.

Check or rethread upper thread and lower thread. Test the upper tension at the needle and the bobbin tension at the carrier. Sew a test seam. Check and adjust. If thread collect under the fabric, tighten upper tension. If thread puckers on top of the fabric, loosen the upper tension.

If the problem is with improper threading, careful rethreading should solve the problem.  Rethreading upper thread and bobbin thread can make a big difference. 

If the problem is with improper adjustment, adjusting the upper tension will help.  However, sometimes the bobbin tension gets out of whack.  This is especially true if you change the size of thead in your bobbin.  Going from a larger thread to a smaller thread will cause a decrease in bobbin tension.  Going from smaller to larger thread will causse increased tension.  To adjust this, simply turn the tension adjusting screw to tighen or loosen.

The third problem source is a bit more troublesome.  Snags can distort tensions.  Often a slight burr or rough spot will intermittendly grab the thread increasing the tension, only to release it and leave a drop in tension balance.  To fix this problem, you must find the snags and eliminate them. 

Excess lint in the tension mechanisma is common.  Clean out the tension assemblies for upper and lower tensions. 

Burrs on the point of the hook are also common and must be smoothed. 

Before you begin sewing on your project, it is a good idea to test your tensions by performing a quick sewing test on test cloth or scrap fabric. Simply sew a four to five inch seam using a medium straight stitch and a medium zig zag stitch. Adjust the tensions until they properly balance.

You may see   irregularities on one side of a zig zag stitch and not on the other. Test and Set  until it looks the best you can make it. Some machines have design issues that make a precise  zig zag stitch almost impossible. Test  using a medium stitch width and length setting on the zig zag for better  results. If you want a perfect zig zag stitch on one of these older machines, think about  getting a newer  machine.

If adjusting the tension dials fails to balance the tensions, look for lint or dirt collected in the bobbin tension or upper tension assembly. Clean these out regularly. Lint can alter tensions and cause poor stitch quality. Also look for anything that might snag the thread. Burrs on the point of the needle or hook are common. Eliminate anything that might snag.

When you properly adjust tensions, sewing is fun.

Monday, May 7, 2012

What Is An Overlocking Serger?

Many sewing machine technicians are a bit threatened by sergers.  They do not see as many sergers as standard sewing machines, and sergers are very different from regular sewing machines.  After working for a while on sergers, however, they become far less intimidating and much easier to service.

Frequently, I find  active sewers who are unfamiliar with sergers.   Sometimes we get the idea that everybody already knows what we know, but when it comes to sergers they appear to be a bit of a mystery to a lot of people.

Have you ever wondered what people think about something?

I do?  When it comes to sergers I decided to find out.  I set out on a mission to ask complete strangers what a serger was.  The responses I got were amazing.

At the department store, people are busy looking for stuff themselves.  They usually, look past you and ignore your presence.  When you ask them a question, some people appear shocked or they just look past you in a blank stare.  Fortunately, a few people were friendly and really tried to help me figure out what a serger is.   People had some truly creative opinions.  A young boy thought it might be a team logo or a new video game.  A lady thought it was a new type of fruit.  One of the workers pointed me to hardware and said what I needed was a special kind of electrical fuse.

Now, your question remains.  What is a serger?

Unlike the ordinary  home sewing machine, the serger  is a  particular type of machine that sews a hem, overcasts the edge of the fabric, and trims the fabric all at one time.  Almost any sewing project can be accelerated by use of a serger whether the application is for utility (hidden away) or decorative to  embellish the project.  Note the serger does not do embroidery and does not follow embroidery designs.

In 1846, Elias Howe patented the first practical sewing machine, but it was not until 1881 that the first serger was introduced by the Merrow Sewing Machine Company.  This machine produced a two or three thread overlocking stitch often called a Merrow stitch.  This provided a huge advancement over the typical straight stitch machine.  The Merrow was able to sew a hem or seam while overcastting the edge of the fabric.  In some cases this was done without trimming, but usually it included blades that trimmed the fabric leaving a beautifully finished edge.  

It is interesting how words evolve over time.   The Merrow became the overlock and is most commonly referred to today as the serger.   The terms overedging, overcastting, overlocking, and serging are often used interchangeably.

Sergers were the domain of industry and factories until 1964, when the Baby Lock brand of home sergers launched.  Several engineers  at Juki had envisioned a scaled down version of the heavy industrial serger, but the Juki company was not interested.  So the designers  formed their own new company and launched Baby Lock home sergers.

Unlike the standard  sewing machine that uses needle and hook assemblies to create interlocking stitches, the serger uses devices called loopers.   A lower looper and an upper looper assist interact with the needle to create the overlocking stitches.   Instead of using a shuttle or bobbin, the serger uses multiple cones of thread guided through tension assemblies to the loopers and needle.   Sergers also use special needle plates with stitch fingers or horizontal needle fingers to help form the stitches. 

Sergers double the speed of ordinary  home sewing machines, but are far slower than their big sister industrial sergers.  Home sergers are designed to for convenience and creativity.  They are much lighter, smaller, sleeker, and more user friendly than the heavy duty industrial models.  Industrials commonly sew up to 9,500 stitches per minute, but only produce one overlocking  stitch.  Home sergers sew between 1,500 and 3,000 stitches per minute and may produce a dozen or two different overcastting  stitches.

Sewing machine repair and serger repair are very similar.  Although the serger replaces the hook with loopers, it is essentially an oscillating hook sewing machine.  With experience it is as easily repaired as other sewing machines.

Today Baby Lock offers a serger that uses up to eight cones of thread to produce as many as 86 different overlocking  stitches.  Sergers of many different brands today come in a variety of configurations, but generally you will find sergers that can sew using 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8 different threads. 

Today the home serger has become an integral part of a quality sewing room set up.  It is capable of streamlining sewing projects producing far better quality while cutting sewing time in half.  Yet, it does not replace the regular  sewing machine.

So, how do you reply to the question, What is a serger?  Is it your super sewing machine that seams, overcasts, and trim at the speed of light?  Is it your creative finishing machine?  Is it your overcastting, overedging, overlocking, serging machine?  Of course it is your serger.

To learn to sew and how to sew with a serger check out
To learn about sewing machine repair see 
To find quality sewing machines online see
To find quality embroidery designs see

Friday, April 20, 2012

Top Sewing Machine Questions

Question 1: What makes 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.

Question 2: Are there different types of sewing machines?

While many people think of sewing machines only in terms of their standard home sewing machine, there are hundreds of sewing machines designed 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.

Q3: What are the typical kinds of home sewing machines today?

All home sewing machines look about the same, but the insides have big differences. We can group them into three categories: mechanical, electronic, and computerized.  You can learn to sew and master the techniques of how to sew on even any of these, but there are specialized techniques that might require specialized sewing classes to master.

Inside a mechanical machine you discover an AC motor, gears, levers, and shafts. In electronic machines, you see electronic devices controlling power distribution and stitch selection.

Computerized sewing machines incorporate advanced technologies to provide power control, stitch formation, stitch information, and numerous convenience features.

Mechanicals are the most limited in features, stitches, and capabilities, while computerized machines offer the most features, stitches, and capabilities.

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

Sewing machines sell for between $100 and $12,000 dollars. The price clearly reflects a combination of considerations: dependability, durability, features, convenience, and capabilities. The more you pay the less frustration you get. The less you pay the less capability and performance you have.

Over $1,000 you find super quality sewing machines some with hundreds of stitches and even embroidery capabilities.

Around $500, you find a good solid machine with a limited stitch set.

Under $100, you get junk hardly worth taking home.

Question 5:  Why do we need a sewing machine?

The sewing machine is an amazingly versatile device that unleashes almost unlimited creative potential. You can use a sewing machine for garment construction, wearable art, embellishment, embroidery, endless home decorating projects, heirloom creations, quilting, crafting, and so much more. When you add all the specialty machine applications common in industry, sewing machines are vital for so many different tasks.

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

Your best sewing machine or the right one for me will do two essential things: Empower me to create and reduce your frustrations in the process. You can find your machine by making sure it has the capabilities and features you want and need. If you buy value instead of just price, you benefit every time you sew.

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

At the center of every home sewing center is the home sewing machine. This is the versatile machine used for so many different applications involving seams. Still, if you enjoy sewing, you will treasure the benefits of the home serger. It actually seams, overcasts, and trims all in one high speed step saving time and energy. You may also enjoy the embroidery machine which is a single purpose machine designed to sew beautiful preprogrammed designs.

Question 8: Where can I get a new 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 sewing machine 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.Get more about sewing machine repair with Dr. David Trumble's complete Sewing Machine Repair Manuals. Check out his free beginner's course. Also check out his other sewing resources learn to sew, how to sew, and other sewing sights including,,, and

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Embroidery Machine Repair Procedures

What is a repair? 

Does it require replacing parts?  In many cases, when you are working to repair sewing machines and embroidery machines, a good cleaning and a few adjustments are all that are needed to make a machine work like new.  However, is that really a repair?

In a sense, it is just a matter of words.  A customer might think a quick fix is better than a complete job.  It might save dollars.  However, if we forget about words like cleaning, servicing, and adjusting and just call it all repair; the customer gets what they really want.  The technician stops mixing words.

Embroidery machines like other sewing machines are vulnerable to debris, lint, dust, grease, grime, gunk, dried out lubricants, encrusted lubricants, and gummy stuff.  It is essential that these be removed. 

The goal of embroidery machine repair is to restore a machine to like new operating contition.  The machine should be capable of sewing out embroidery designs without mechanical difficulties.

A common temptation for technicians is to just make a quick adjustment or even replace a part and leave the insides of the machine full of crap.  This is a no no.  Always do a thorough cleaning and proper lubrication job.  This will make the machine last much longer, work better, and cause far less frustration.
Think back to the initial test on the machine.  What clues did you get?  Have a good cleaning and adjusting done the trick? Or, were there problems that require replacing parts?  Trace down the issues.  Inspect each possible source of the problems.  Check for wear, chips, breakage, burn spots, loose connections, etc.

In those rare instances when a part must be replaced, be sure to fix only what is broken.  The most common items to replace are belts, gears, and circuit boards.  The first two of these are straight forward mechanical tasks.  Remove and replace the part.

Circuit boards and electrical components are often a bit threatening to the novice technician.  They require a bit more caution than a mechanical fix.  First, be sure to unplug the power cord before working on the electronics of a machine.  Indeed, always unplug the machine before removing covers.

Careful inspection of electrical, electronic, and computer parts is essential.  Look for burn spots, misconnections, pinched or twisted wires.  Often a little wiggle or press down on a loose connection is all that is really needed.

Make every connection right.  Unless the connection is true, the proper electrical flow is impossible.  A loose connection may cause intermittent problems, but when everything is working the way it should, the electronics make life really good.

Static electricity is a technicians enemy.  A single discharge can ruin a circuit board.  Some manufacturers require elaborate static prevention measures to protect their circuitry.  In the sewing machine repair shop, a static free mat is vital.  Bernina requires the addition of a wrist band protector.
When you are working on delicate electronic parts, special tools are often needed.  Non-metallic probes, screw drivers, and other tools can be a big help.  Your electronics supply house should have an ample supply of specialty tools, mats, and devices to make your work with electronics easier.
More advanced embroidery equipment and sewing machines will use plug n play components.  These are easily removed and replaced.

Diagnosis is an art, but a variety of resources can be helpful.  An official service manual, an authorized technician specializing in you brand, or the manufacturers technical support line may offer invaluable help.

Once you identify the problem component, carefully remove it and replace it with a new part.  In some cases, manufacturers will offer refurbished parts.  Once installed, thoroughly test out the machine to insure its proper performance.

Dr. David Trumble's Free 7 Steps To Peak Performance is yours now for sewing machine repair.
To purchase your next sewing machine or embroidery machine online go to  .