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Sewing Machine Tune-Up

Sewing Machine Tune-Up

My longtime friend and fellow sewer, Lisa, e-mailed me recently with a question. Lisa wrote, “I’m wondering with all the sewing you do, do you do your own sewing machine tune-ups? Or is there a good deal around town?”

Short answer:
I do my own now but I’m not allowed to disassemble items that have moving parts. It seems that after taking apart an old dial telephone I found in our garage to clean and not being able to put it back together (yikes!), I lost my privileges. A similar situation happened when I took apart my “new to me” Kitchen Aid Mixer to clean. It had to be taken to a repair shop (double yikes!). I swear there were only a few extra pieces left over when I exclaimed, “Finished!”

Long answer:
For several years, I automatically took my machine into the shop when it started acting up – skipping stitches or making funny noises. Then, I got tired of the expense and picked up a book from the library on servicing sewing machines. It was a bit dry reading (trust me on this!) but inspired me to oil my machine regularly and make small adjustments on my own.

Oiling my machine (with sewing machine oil – don’t use just any old oil on it) has made the biggest difference in keeping my machine running properly. The manual that came with the machine shows the spots to lubricate. Word of caution – don’t let it spill on your table or on fabric you’re about to sew. Please learn from my mishaps!!

Sewing Machine Tune-Up

Here are few books to check out: My daughter liked this one and it’s simple, easy reading.

[amazon_link id=”1607050781″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Me and My Sewing Machine[/amazon_link] It’s meant for a child and is well written. The library has it, too.

This is another book to check out [amazon_link id=”0615592139″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Sewing Machine Repair for the Home Sewer[/amazon_link] but the local  library system has several books by William Ewers (Amazon doesn’t have them) about sewing machine repair. They’re worth checking out (literally, from the library) to see what his professional advice is.

Montavilla Sewing is the local spot to take your machine and the only place I take mine to have it serviced. They also work on my serger machine, too. They usually give a discount if you ask and the local, neighborhood newspaper (Southeast Examiner) sometimes has coupons. Montavilla Sewing also sends out a mailer that lists their classes and any good sales they have on thread or sewing machine attachments.

Sewing can be messy, too!
My sewing gets done on our dining room table sometimes.

Montavilla Sewing replaced the motor on my grandmother’s old sewing machine that my kids sew on (although good luck trying to get my 15-year-old son to admit he’s ever sewn on that machine!). It’s a great old machine from the 1960’s and runs like a tank but had sat unused for many years.

Want to see how a sewing machine works? Check here on Answers.com for a history of sewing machines and the different components that make them work.

Have you taken something apart to “fix” it and been sorry? Do you lubricate things regularly?

Go Gingham related links:

All the sewing projects I’ve done can be found here
Easy steps to remove pesky tags from clothing
Want to learn to sew? Start here with easy cloth napkins
How to take apart a skirt – use your seam ripper on this project!
Mitered cloth napkins made from an old skirt
Sew your own homemade lunch sack
How to sew a Harry Potter cape complete with wand pocket

Go Gingham Affiliate link

4 thoughts on “Sewing Machine Tune-Up

  1. Having been a professional seamstress, production line sewer and owner of a fabric store – I can vouch that you really can save yourself a LOT of money and time by servicing your own machines. A little regular oiling and cleaning out the dust bunnies goes a LONG way to pamper your machine. You can find instruction books for just about any specific make and model of machine online. Using good thread (not the 3 for a $1 junk – I AM serious) is also important. That is not Frugal – that is Criminal….and the extra lint and wear and tear on your machine is not worth the savings on crummy thread! Do NOT sew over pins. That is one of the most likely ways (other than dropping) to injure your machine…and also to get holes in your sewing project. Good sharp sewing machine needles will also take better care of your project and machine. The sewing machine needle manufacturers recommend changing your needle with every project. That IS too often. Remember – they are the sellers of those things and want you to buy more. But – after 10-20 hours of sewing (actual use of the machine and needle) – you really DO need to change your needle. If you sew on a lot of synthetics, metallics or heavy fabrics – you might need to change the needle more often. Or if you hit a pin (but you shouldn’t have those in there in the first place) or if you start to hear a ‘popping’ noise, or if you start to see snags in your fabric (those both mean you waited too long to change your needle). Your sewing machine needle should be nice and sharp (unless it’s a ball-point style). Take it out and lightly ‘scratch’ it over the back of your hand. If you feel any snagging – change the needle. If it gives a nice fine little scratch – it’s most likely still nice and sharp. Use the correct type and size of needle for the project you are doing – it really DOES make a difference in how the machine sews, how the needles wear and how well the project looks. Singer sewing machine needles should be used in Singer machines….and ONLY in Singer machines. I choose Schmetz needles for all of my other machines (yes, I have several machines). One of the kindest things you can do for your sewing machine is to use it regularly – it’s like a car, meant to move and using it will help it to keep lubricated. And – when you are moving your machine from one place to another – carry it carefully. Really Truly – some of the most common repairs needed for machines are from dropping them.


  2. Shenna! Wow! Thank you for all of this excellent information. So true about the needles…I can definitely tell when mine need replacing. I use Schmetz needles as well and it does make a difference if you use the correct needle for the type of fabric you’re sewing. Thank you for all of these tips!


  3. Sara, you never cease to amaze me! I think you are so brave. Great job learning how to do the tune-up – it seems very reasonable once you explain it.


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