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Sewing machine repair training class click here

Learn how to service sewing machines through hands on training and open a profitable business or save money on your own repairs.

This is not a book, video or home study course.

This course is the same type of "hands on" training offered to authorized sewing machine dealers

Tools of the trade click here

A selection of special tools for the sewing machine service technician.

We buy new and used Bernina and Elna Sewing Machines, books, parts and accessories.

Please state price, including shiping, with your offer to sell.


Is your sewing machine in pain?
The doctor is in.

Copyright © 2002-2021 Raymond F. White. All Rights Reserved.
Amy's first commercial artwork (My grandaughter)

Repair Room

Most repair shops charge an average of $100.00 for cleaning, oiling and
adjusting tensions, (COA). Many times the problem can be simple,
such as the needle in backwards or threaded wrong. An honest repairman won't charge you $100.00
to turn the needle around, and send you home.
That same repairman also won't change the needle, charge 5 bucks,
and send you home when he knows your machine needs serviced for
other problems that will soon become expensive, major repairs.
Did he really do you a $5.00 favor? Most repair shops are honest. They will
thoroughly service your machine,charge a fair price, and it will last longer and sew better than
new because it was serviced. About 40% of sewing machines brought in for repair
have the needle inserted wrong or are threaded wrong. In my experience, Most people won't have
their machine serviced until it quits sewing. By then, it may need expensive,
major repairs due to lack of adequate maintainance.

The secrets of the sewing machine repair trade are closely
guarded. The only way to get training is spend thousands of dollars, become a
franchised dealer, then the training is free.

Or you may now register for our new low cost "hands on" sewing machine service technician class.
Sewing machine repair training class click here

Step 1 to successful repair on your own sewing machine.
Lock the tool box and hide the key.

As the economy slows, I see an increasing number of people who choose to do their own repairs. I'm here to help you avoid turning that simple problem into a major expense that must be corrected by a trained technician, who will charge for every hour of of extra work you created. Since we started our mail order repair service, I've noticed an increase in major repairs created by machine owners acting first, then thinking about what they did wrong AFTER the damage is done. Regardless of any well intentioned advice you may receive, NEVER make any adjustment until you know why you are making that adjustment and how to make that adjustment. There are many qualified service technicians willing to offer advice if you ask first. Most are reluctant to spend hours giving advice AFTER you've created major problems.

Step 2 to successful repair on your own sewing machine.
Clean and lubricate properly.

You wiped the dirt off the top of the machine and used the lint brush to remove the loose visible lint. But, did you thoroughly clean the working parts? Did you lubricate properly, or did you dump in a quart of oil, assuming more oil solves every problem? Does the machine run freely or does it need more cleaning until everything does move freely?

Step 3 to successful repair on your own sewing machine.

Do you know the correct needle system? Did you insert the NEW needle correctly? Did you thread the machine correctly with a good quality thread?

Step 4 to successful repair on your own sewing machine.
Study first, then think again.

Step 5 to successful repair on your own sewing machine.
Remember where you hid the tool box key and open the tool box.

Rule A. Make adjustments only when you're confident as to why and how you're making that adjustment.
Rule B. Never get in over your head.
Rule C. If you didn't follow rules A and B, open your checkbook and fill in many extra $$$.$$ for the trained technician at the sewing machine repair center to set everything back where it was before you "fixed" it.

Attempted repair of complicated machines, such as sergers and modern embroidery machines should be limited to cleaning and lubrication, unless you thoroughly understand basic repair procedures and have received advanced service training from the factory. Mistakes on these models may become very expensive.

The percentage of sewing machine problems are as follows.

1. 20% Needle problems. Bent, dull, incorrect or inserted

2. 20% cleaning problems. Packed in lint, dirt or tangled thread.

3. 20% thread or threading problems. Old or cheap thread. Incorrect threading.

4. 10% lubrication problems. Too much, too little or incorrect lubricant.

5. 10% minor adjustment problems. Tensions, etc.

6. 5% minor parts problems. Bobbin case, hook, needle plate, etc.

7. 5% electrical problems: control, motor, cord.

8. 10% major repairs, parts or adjustments needed.

I will address the first seven problems and I will advise
when to quit and take it to the repair shop. I will be using
terminology common to the repair trade as follows.

Hook-also known as shuttle. This part located under the
machine and picks up the thread from the needle.

Take-up lever- this part is above the needle and moves about 3
inches vertically when the machine is in motion.

Needle plate- the part the needle penetrates under the foot.

Feed dogs- the part with teeth under the presser foot that moves the

Pressor foot- holds the fabric down while sewing.

Bobbin case-the part the bobbin goes in. Also known as
shuttle. In old long
bobbin machines, the hook and the shuttle were one part. Round
bobbin machines use a separate hook and a bobbin case.

I will cover the complete basic repair step by step.
First lesson: All sewing machines work on the same principle. All sewing
machines thread the same way. All needles are inserted the same
way. Yes, it sounds crazy, but read on, I'll prove it. When you
apply these rules, you can correctly thread any sewing machine
without the instruction book.

1. Tools: Assortment of good screwdrivers, sewing machine
oil, toothpick,old needle or pin, lint brush, optional: compressed air or (canned
air), high quality, white or pastel colored thread (do not use
black or a dark color) I will explain later, piece of medium weight
fabric and a NEW needle.

2. Remove the top cover, bottom cover, needle plate,pressor foot, bobbin case
and hook (if it snaps out) note: if you must remove screws to take
these items out, leave them in.

3. Clean: Lift the pressor foot lever and remove the pressor foot. We want to remove the packed in
lint and dirt. Use a toothpick to remove the packed in lint
from between the feed dog teeth and in the hook area.Use the old needle or pin
to Check for and remove any lint or thread from under the bobbin case
tension spring and between the upper tension discs. This is where the "canned air or
compressed air will help. Look closely and remove all of it.
Now use the lint brush or compressed air to blow out the loose lint.
( at this point the professional repairman will check And adjust if
major adjustments are needed)

4. Lubricate: Use Tri-Flow lubricant, or second best, high quality sewing machine oil.
All purpose oil makes repair shops a lot of money. If you don't have HIGH QUALITY SEWING
, find some gun oil.
Now pour in a quart or two, this will fix any problem.

GOT YOUR ATTENTION? Most sewing machines are damaged
by too much oil rather than too little oil. When oil gets in to the motor or on rubber
belts, get the check book, it could get rather expensive. Nothing can turn a $50.00
repair in to a $200.00 repair faster than a can of oil. Turn the
handwheel, look for moving parts and use only a tiny drop of oil
any place where two pieces of metal are rubbing together. A
hypodermic syringe or a tube type oiler is best for this. An oil can is a poor
substitute, as you usually get several drops or can't reach into tight places.

5. Re-assemble everything except the needle plate.

6. Insert a NEW needle. All sewing machines (not sergers), less
than 50 years old may safely use the 130/705H (15X1) needle
system. If you have a choice use 130/705H (I recommend Schmetz
brand) as some modern machines may be damaged by the 15X1 system. Also certain popular brands of needles may cause serious damage in machines they were not designed for. Schmetz 130/705 H needles are safe to use in ALL machines manufactured since the 1950's.
Older machines may use a different needle system check your
instruction book. NOW, all needles are inserted the same way (in
relation to the hook). Examine the NEW needle. Notice it has a long
groove on one side, the other side has a short groove or no groove
at all. Insert the needle in the machine the way the old one came
out or the way you think it should go. Now turn the handwheel in
the normal sewing direction until the hook point is at the
needle. The long groove should be opposite (away) from the hook
point. If not, turn the needle as needed. NOTE: The hook cannot pick
up thread from the long groove side of the needle. The hook should
also pass the needle about 1/32 inch above the eye of the
needle, If you have the correct needle system and the timing, needle bar height is
correct. The needle is now inserted the correct way for this

7. Replace the needle plate.

8. Thread the machine: (IMPORTANT) RAISE THE PRESSOR FOOT. Choose a high
quality, light colored, thread. Dark thread makes it hard to see
where the stitch is locking. Be sure to use the same thread for
the top and the bobbin. The dye used in dark colored thread offers
more resistance to tension. Don’t believe it? Try using black on
the top and white on the bobbin. If you insist on using cheap (3
for $1.00) or old thread, close the machine now and use it as a
door stop. Buy your thread from a fabric shop or sewing machine
dealer. The big super centers are a poor place to buy good thread and needles.
Most, (not all), low priced threads have thick and thin areas, thus
making it impossible to regulate thread tension. Remember, I said
ALL sewing machines thread the same. RULE: All sewing machines
thread in the following sequence.
A. Tension
B. Takeup lever
C. Needle

Thread guides do exactly what the name implies. They guide
the thread from the spool to the tension, up to the takeup lever,
then down to the needle. Start with the spool
of thread. Use the thread guides to direct the
thread to the tension discs. Go up to thread through the eye of the takeup lever. The thread must ALWAYS go UP to the take up lever. Some machines have the tension at the top of the machine. On these machines the thread MUST go through the tension, down to a guide, then UP to the take up lever. The thread Must always go UP to the take up.
Use guides to go down, then thread the needle. The
needle will ALWAYS thread FROM the side with the LONG groove. If
it's a toy machine or a large factory machine it will
ALWAYS thread the same.

9. Bobbin tension adjustment: Fill a bobbin with thread (same
as top thread). Insert the bobbin into the bobbin case. Pull the
thread under the tension spring, making sure it snaps in to
place. What way should the bobbin turn? This is a tough one to
explain. The bobbin thread should always make a 180 degree bend
before coming through the tension spring. If the thread pulls out
to the left, the bobbin will turn clockwise.It will turn counterclockwise if
the thread pulls right. Not real important, but can cause some
problems. Pull out about 6 inches of thread. Holding the end of
this thread, give a small jerk. Think like a yo-yo. The bobbin case
should fall a short distance then stop. If it falls to the
floor, tighten the tension spring screw. Doesn't fall any, loosen
the tension screw. Now insert the bobbin case into the
machine. Turn the handwheel (in the normal sewing direction) to pick
up the bobbin thread and keep turning until the takeup lever has
reached the top position. Place the fabric under the
foot, pull both threads back at a 45 degree angle and lower the
pressor foot.

10. Set the upper tension at middle tension range (usually at
#4 or 5)

11. Sew in test: Insert fabric. Lower pressor foot.Adjust the upper
tension until the stitch locks in the center of the fabric.
Always stop and start your machine with the takeup lever at the top position (forget the
needle), it will always be up when the takeup is at the top). Always turn the handwheel in
the normal sewing direction. (Never turn it backwards unless you enjoy
rethreading the machine and picking out thread jams). The fabric will always
pull out easily,and most thread jams at the start of the seam
will be eliminated. If the tension cannot be adjusted, (thread
loops or pulls through to one side of fabric) check to see if the
thread pulled to the top or underside of the fabric.

A. Thread is pulled to top side of fabric: Check the bobbin case
for lint under the tension spring, correct threading, correct
tension spring adjustment, thread catching on spool, upper tension
set too tight.
B. Thread is pulled to lower side of fabric: Check for correct threading
(is the thread between the tension discs), lint or thread caught in the
upper tension discs and correct threading, bobbin tension set too
tight. Is the pressor foot lowered? Do you feel tension when the needle thread is pulled?

12. Still won't work? Relax, get a cup of coffee. It's time to look up the number of your
local sewing machine expert or consider attending one of my repair training classes.
Sewing machine repair training class click here

Recommendation: Don't call the shop with the big yellow page ad unless you want to buy a new
machine. Try the little guy, his income depends on offering quality repair
work. Big isn't always best. If you are told (The machine can't be
fixed.), it’s time to look for a new repairman. If he says it's a $200.00 repair, it's time for a
second opinion. Don't get me wrong, sometimes expensive repairs are necessary but a second
or third opinion may be a good idea unless you know your repairman from a friends referal or
your past experience.


Troubleshooting Guide


Thread breaks:

Cheap or old thread
Incorrect threading
Needle inserted wrong
Needle threaded wrong
Wrong needle system used
Bent or damaged needle
Damaged hook or needle plate

Incorrect tension:

Different thread on top and bobbin
Wrong size needle
Incorrect threading
Tensions set wrong

Skipped stitches:

Wrong needle
Damaged or bent needle
Needle in backwards
Hook timing
Worn parts
Needle bar height

Fabric won't feed:

Clean packed in lint from feed dogs
Too little pressure on pressor foot.
Feed dog drop lever or knob set in down or darn position
Fabric catching on damaged needle plate or pressor foot
Worn parts

Needle breaks:

Damaged needle
Too small needle for fabric
Wrong needle
Hook/needle bar not adjusted correctly
Wrong bobbin
worn parts

Machine jams:

Cheap thread
Bent or damaged needle
Handwheel has been turned backwards
Machine started with takeup lever not in top position
Worn parts

Machine runs slow or won't turn:

Thread jam
Incorrect oil
Not lubricated correctly
Machine unused for a long period
Belt too tight or too loose

Machine needs cleaned

Damaged or bent parts


Did I forget anything?


If my site helped you save money and repair your own sewing machine, donations are always welcome. If it didn't help, please advise me what wasn't clear and I will try to clarify it.

I wish to thank those who mailed a donation for my service. Their generous contribution made this page available to you.

White Sewing Center
3972 Highway O
Middle Brook, Mo. 63656

We are unable to provide consultation service by postal mail or e-mail. Sorry

Phone consultation service: 573-697-5841
Please call only if you plan to mail a donation.

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Copyright © 2000-2021 Raymond F. White. All Rights Reserved.

Updated 06/15/21