Diy Sewing Machine Repair: Common Problems And Fixes

Before you take your sewing machine to an expensive repair shop, try fixing it yourself with these trouble-shooting tips.

Understanding your machine and how it works is helpful in doing your own repairs, but even if you have no knowledge of the mechanics, you can learn to spot problems that can be fixed quickly and easily, sometimes by just making a minor adjustment.

The machine itself: Most machines have small holes in various places for oiling purposes. Always keep your machine oiled and dust-free. If the machine has been unused for some time, clean and oil it well before beginning, then sew on scrap fabric until you are sure there is no oil leakage.

The needle: Your needle must be the proper size for each fabric type used. Choose a size 10 to 12 needle for lightweight fabrics such as lace and nylon. A size 14 needle is appropriate for most cottons and jerseys, but choose a size 16 for lightweight denim or thick fabrics. If you are experiencing needles which break during stitching, try going up a size with your needle. If your fabric pulls up as the needle goes up, switch to a needle which is a size smaller. If a change in needle size does not help the problem, take a moment to assure that the needle is as far up as possible before tightening the screw which holds the needle in place. Also, on most machines, the needle threads from left to right, so make sure of proper needle placement.

The thread: Thread should also be selected depending upon the type of fabric which will be sewn. Don't skimp when it comes to purchasing your thread, it's wise to select a good quality thread rather than experiencing difficulties with a less expensive choice. If, while sewing, you are experiencing thread which breaks, it's possible that you'll need a heavier weight of thread to continue.

The bobbin: Never hand-wind bobbins. Instead, use the accompanying bobbin winder which is attached to most machines. Winding bobbins by hand can cause a multitude of problems during sewing. In addition, bobbin casings must be oiled regularly to prevent problems with the bobbin turning properly. The bobbin, when inserted properly into the bobbin casing, should spin counter-clockwise when thread is pulled.

The tension: Your machine has a tension setting which must be adjusted for each fabric type that you sew. If you are experiencing fabric that "wads up" while sewing, loosen your tension, but only slightly, and then try sewing again. If it continues, loosen tension a little bit more. If you see stitches that rise up from the fabric, tighten the tension slightly. On most machines, loosening the tension is done by turning the tension knob to the left; tighten by turning slightly to the right.



Before beginning any sewing project, use a scrap piece of the same fabric that you will be sewing. To test the tension, needle and thread, sew a few stitches one way, turn and come back. Now, remove the scrap fabric and look at the stitches. If you can see holes which are larger than the thread, your needle is too large. If your stitches look pulled, lessen the tension. If your stitches seem loose, tighten the tension before beginning the sewing project. If the bottom stitches are all wadded up, it's likely that you don't have the machine threaded correctly.

A general rule of thumb is to adjust the top tension when having problems with the bottom thread and adjust the bobbin tension when experiencing problems with your top stitch. To adjust the bobbin tension, most machines have a small screw on the side of the bobbin casing. Turn slightly to the left to loosen bobbin thread, turn to the right to tighten.

When beginning to sew, hold the needle thread and the bobbin thread in one hand while guiding with the other. Don't pull, but hold taut. After a couple of good stitches, you can let go of the threads. Holding these threads during take-off prevents the thread from tangling and hanging up in the machine.

If the thread tangles in the bobbin casing during stitching, clip threads to remove fabric from under the needle. Open bobbin area and remove any loose or tangled threads. Even the tiniest piece of thread which has remained stuck in the bobbin casing can cause the machine to sew improperly. Check to see that the machine is threaded correctly and that the bobbin is inserted properly in the casing.

Following these few trouble-shooting tips, you should be able to make most minor repairs on the machine without professional assistance.

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