Sewing Machine Maintenance – Facts To Be Aware Of




Mandy asks…

I have a Dressmaker Model RS-78 sewing machine that I would like a manual for?

I can’t find any information on it. It comes built in a case. I have cleaned it up but would like more information on maintenance and oiling, etc. before I use it to teach young people how to sew on it.

admin answers:

RS-78 sounded like a Riccar number to me — could this be what you’re looking for?

Http://www.riccar.com/ftp/whitepapers/S78-Owners-Manual.pdf

Michael asks…

I have a late 60′s early 70′s Good Housekeeper sewing machine, need to get it running?

It’s E-138 or E-188 (# scratched). It’s attached to a sewing table & folds down/ hides away. Good housekeeper tag is on it, made in Japan/China. I need the manual or instructions how to get it properly running. Hasn’t been used in decades & want to maintenance it before running it.

PLEASE HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!

admin answers:

I’m going to send you to the yahoo group “wefixit”, which is a bunch of knowledgable folks who put old sewing machines back into running condition. The problem is that your machine is what’s called a “badged” machine — generic machines made and then imported and a brand affixed to it. The same machine may have been sold under a dozen or more brand names.

But there’s a fair chance that someone on wefixit will recognize your machine as knockoff of a Singer 15 or a twin of a White model such and such. To do so, you’ll need to provide them with a good photo of the front of the machine and bobbin and bobbin case. Then you can find a manual that will work.

Badged machines are still pretty common. Sears’ Kenmore machines are Janomes in disguise right now, for instance.

Susan asks…

HELP!!! Before I throw my sewing machine out the window!?

I am trying to sew a blanket for my daughter for christmas, but I am having a problem with the machine. It is a brand new singer. I have used a sewing machine before but I am still a beginner. The problem is that the bobbin keeps jamming causing my needle to stop moving in any direction. When I look under where the bobbin is there’s a bunch of thread all tangled up. I have read and reread my manual and tried everything it suggests to fix it, but it keeps jamming. I have tried cleaning it (maintenance) re threading the machine, multiple re threadings of the bobbin (because in order for me to fix the jam I have to take the bobbbin out), new thread, I even test is on scrap before I try on the good material so I don’t wreck it and it still jams on both. The material is probably a cotton/poly blend (not really sure but I know it’s not silk or satin or anything else that could be difficult to sew) and the tension is auto (I haven’t changed it becasue I’m still trying to get the pieces together – it’s a patch work) I am seriously ready to throw the machine out the window. Please help me.

admin answers:

You have to hold onto the upper thread & the bobbin thread for the first 3 or 4 stitches or they will tangle & jam the bobbin

Nancy asks…

What sewing machine do you reccomend?

I have a Janome L-344 that I am having problems with, and I’m not sure how to fix it. My sister in law

has offered to buy me a new machine or get it fixed. The bobbin is really hard for me to get in, though the machine is sturdy. I am a beginner and need something easy to work with, and the Janome is making me frustrated. I’m not sure if it’s just broken or needs a little maintenance or I am doing something wronge. I will be taking a sewing class soon but I need to go to it prepared with a good machine.

Should I pay to have the Janome fixed? Is it worth it as a machine? Or should I sell it and put the money towards getting a better machine? If so what do you recommend?

I’m fairly certain a walmart sewing machine could get the job done. I’ll be sewing no more then 4 layers of cotton or flannel at a time when I am really doing some sewing.

admin answers:

The L344 should do you ok. I doubt it needs fixing; you probably just need some help from someone experienced with sewing machines to learn to thread it properly. Normally, if you buy a machine from a dealer, you’re given at least one “guide class”, which is instruction on how to properly thread and use the machine. If you find the machine is inadequate for your needs after you’ve taken your class, then you’ll be a better informed consumer about what you want when you go to buy a replacement machine.

FWIW, the beginners I’ve worked with who had Janomes have had fewer problems than those with Brother or Singer.

Here’s my standard sewing machine purchase advice for beginners:

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=AtVc8znRrlRdYqlm02KFETbty6IX;_ylv=3?qid=20100423044254AAnGzFy&show=7#profile-info-OKJf8nHFaa

Sharon asks…

I wanna purchase a sewing machine…?

the sewing machine i have now is a brother that my mom bought second-hand about 20-ish years ago and we have never brought it to a shop, or oiled it or any maintenance type stuff. it’s starting to freak out though, and it skips and bunches alot so that’s why i’m looking for a new machine. at first, i was just gunna jump on in and buy the cheapest one with the best reviews on like walmart or jo-anns…then i started researching more. some more experienced people said it’s better to go with pre-owned, second hand machines. there were blogs and blogs about antique retro machines that once belonged to their moms or grandmothers. i poked around a bit more and read other stuff about tune-ups and embroidery and that if it’s only a hobby machine, i need a straight zig-ziag…

so i wanna know, if i’m not quite a beginner but definitely not an intermediate seamstress [?], and sew mainly for hobby, what kind of machine should i get? should i look around in thrift shops or just bag a cheap one offa target? what features should i be looking for if i’m not into embroidery and more advanced projects? and what’s a tune-up and where do you get one?

admin answers:

I agree with the previous answers — the old machines are better than the new ones. They tend to have more steel in the components rather than plastic and are more reliable. Most Joann’s stores can take a machine in for a tune-up. I know the one near me has a repairman who picks them up and services them every week. I own 4 machines — an 1890′s Singer treadle, two electric portables (one from the 1970′s and another only 5 years old) and a 10 year old serger. If I only had to pick one it would be the treadle, hands down. I have attachments to do zigzag and buttonholes on it and I think the thing would sew through a wooden two by four without skipping. I’ve even replaced zippers in heavy leather jackets with it. It makes such a tight straight stitch that my mom used to come over and use it any time she did top stitching or wanted the buttonholes to look extra nice. Only hassles are that you can’t reverse the stitch (you have to lift the presser foot and rotate the fabric to backstitch the end of a stitchline) and moving it due to the heavy cast iron base (so if you live in an apartment, not a good choice.) You can usually find one on Craigslist for $100 or less. Stick with Singer if you do since you can still get parts for them easily.

Most major cities have shops that sell reconditioned older machines and they can be a great value. Both Brother and Husquvarna are supposed to be excellent — I’m sure there are others.

George asks…

sewing machine repair question – needle bar?

I have acquired an older (I think 1960′s) Kenmore sewing machine (model 158.504) that was horribly taken care of. It did not come with a manual, and I have not been able to find a free one online. (I really am hesitant to pay for one when I’m not sure if it will run again, you know?) Anyway, it’s not rusty, but seized up pretty good. I turned it out of it’s case (it’s a portable, no table) and oiled all the gears and moving parts on the bottom, as well as put oil in the oil holes everywhere on the machine. I let all this sit overnight, and everything moves like a dream except one part, which, after searching online is the needle bar (I think.).. the shaft like thing that has the needle clamp thing on it.. Everything around it moves, and it budges ever so slightly, but it doesn’t want to move. I put oil on it to no avail. Is there anything else I can do? Does it take more time than an evening for the oil to ‘work in’? Am I missing something? I wish I had a manual, that’s always a good to have, although this seems like more of a repair job than casual maintenance. I thought I would post on here, maybe someone has had this problem before.

Also if someone knows where I can get a free manual, that would be brill. If I can get it to budge, I wouldn’t mind paying for one, you know? Thanks in advance.

admin answers:

I have a newer Kenmore that we recently oiled and I was wondering if you opened the face cover plate which is the housing above the needle shaft.

It says: Remove needle and put needle bar in full down position.

Oil behind the face cover plate and under the arm cover plate (the area under the thread spool holders). Open face cover plate and/or remove cover plate by loosening top screw to oil points in illustration. The illustrations show: Under arm cover, oil the top two gear arms, inside the face cover, oil at the top of the arm and at the bottom.

Use only a drop of oil, don’t over oil.

Above is quoted from the manual. Hope it helps.

Steven asks…

How can I adjust my sewing machine to not show bobbin thread on top of fabric?

I have a brother ex-660 sewing machine. I have threaded and re-threaded the machine countless times. I have adjusted the thread tension all the way up and all the way down (tried every setting from 9 all the way down to 0) and I can still see the bobbin thread coming to the surface of the fabric. I’ve changed my sewing needles twice. Any ideas what to do to fix this? I don’t know how to take off the top of the case of the machine to see if maybe something is stuck in it. I’ve had it for about a year and am an occasional sewer but I’ve never cleaned it (don’t know how?) and don’t know how often it needs maintenance.

admin answers:

Do you have dressmaking weight thread in both bobbin and on top, or are you perhaps using a skinny thread like embroidery bobbin thread, or a slick thread like monofilament? If so, swap bobbins to matching thread and see if that cures it. Otherwise:

If the bobbin thread is showing on top (more than a small dot), you’ve either got way too much tension on top, or little or no tension on the bobbin thread.

Take all the thread off of/out of the machine. Yes, the spool off the spool pin, too. Sometimes a loop of thread will get caught under the spool around the pin and cause a sudden increase in upper thread tension.

Pull out the bobbin and bobbin case (assuming you’ve got a removeable bobbin case). With the bobbin in the bobbin case, and the bobbin case properly threaded (check the manual!) grab hold of the end of the thread, pay out about 4″, and tick-tock the bobbin case back and forth. It should release about 1/4″ or so of thread with each swing. If the bobbin case instead descends rapidly towards the table, you’ve got a loose bobbin tension screw, no bobbin tension screw, or lint and stuff jammed behind the bobbin tension spring.

Look for the tension screw… If it’s there, I’d floss behind the tension spring with a piece of knotted sewing thread (just tie 3-5 overhand knots about 1/4″ apart and pull those through the spring). I usually douse the thread with a little rubbing alcohol, fwiw.

If the tension screw is missing, you’ll need another — take the bobbin case to the repair shop. If the screw is there, find a screwdriver that fits it and turn the screw to the right about 1/8 turn (standard screw directions — righty-tighty, lefty-looseny). Rethread the machine and bobbin and try again, with the upper tension set to 4.

Still too loose? Remove bobbin case, tighten the screw another 1/8 turn and try again. If you manage to get the bobbin thread too tight, turn the screw to the left. However, bobbin screws are very short and have the habit of jumping out of the bobbin case, so I put bobbin case and screwdriver in a plastic bag when I’m loosening any screws. Even when I’m just taking out the 1/8 turn I just put in They’re fickle creatures, much prone to hopping out and hiding.

There are similar adjustments that can be done to the cases with drop in bobbins, but they tend to be a bit trickier, in my experience, — so I’d suggest taking the machine to a repair shop for a quick adjustment (or a full-fledged COA (clean-oil-adjust) if it’s been a year or so since the last one.

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