Rick Tomlinson Sr | kabable

Sewing Machine Repair Maybe this will help someone.

Mar 12th 2011 at 11:52 AM


My name is Rick Tomlinson. I have been a sewing machine repair person since 1972. I am going to create a series on how to maintain a sewing machine in general terms. I will not break it down into model numbers, or who manufactured it. I will give a few cleaning techniques and expand a bit on what to do next. When I finish you should be able to follow my instructions. I have done this for many years and now will share it with anyone who wants to learn. We will start with the older Black machines that were made in the early 1900's. Hope to see you later. My fingers do not work very well any more but someone has to share this knowledge, and what a better way than to put it on paper.
First the basics; most of the complaints that I have heard over the years is "my machine skips stitches".

Take a look at the needle. Make sure you have the correct numbered needle for your machine and thickness of material. There are a lot needle system needle numbers, every manufacturer has to have their own system. But it all boils down that 15x1x? Is the standard needle for home sewing machines? The higher the thickness 15x1x18 means you want to use a thick fabric. All sewing machine needles are what I call serialized with a system number. Most home of home sewing needles are numbered 15X1. Now 15x1x11 means you are using a small needle and thin fabric. The higher the thickness 15x1x18 means you want to use for thick fabric. Some people know what I am saying and some are new at it. So this must be done.

To install the needle into the machine, take a look at the needle. Almost all home sewing machine needles have a flat side on the upper part or shank of the needle. The part that goes into the machine. Depending on the machine you have it the flat could be positioned side side or front to back. The needle also has what they call a scarf just above the needle’s eye. Watching the scarf is what determines which way the needle is inserted. Let's look into the place where the bobbin is. The part that bobbin goes into is the bobbin case. The part that rotates around the bobbin case is the hook. The hook has a fine point on one side and is positioned close to the needle when the needle is in the down position. This seems like this is going nowhere but we are going to put it together now. The scarf, that little indent above the eye should face towards the bobbin case. When the machine turns over, the thread is picked up from the scarf of the needle. Make note of where the flat on the top part is at this and you will always know which way to put the needle in next time. Make sure it is not bent. Check to make sure there is no burr on the point that penetrates the fabric. If there is, it could cause thread breaks fabric tear, skipping stitches and more.

Now we are going to thread the machine. There are so many different machines out there, they all are a little different, but in general the thread has to be guided from the spool, through guides, to the tension assembly back up through the take-up arm and back down through more guides to the needle. If any of these stages is not correct, you will create many problems for yourself. The thread has to come off the spool whether the spool is horizontal or vertical straight into a thread guide. Most home machines have at 2 guides before you get to the tension assembly. You cannot thread from the spool right to the tensioner. It must be guided. The thread must be installed between the 2 metal tension disks behind the tension spring. It is guided through the disks and back out after passing through thread take- up arm which keeps an even draw on the thread when sewing. It must go up to the take-up arm, which moves with the needle up & down. Again, the thread has to go  through the tension and up to the take-up arm. This is a must. Tension settings depend on the thread used and fabric thickness. In other words the thicker the thread the bigger the needle. Now after the going through the take-up arm the thread has to come down through more guides to the needle. Always thread the needle to the scarf. The thread end should come out of needle just below the scarf. The scarf and thread end should be together. Don't thread it to the flat side of the needle. The end of the thread has to come out by the scarf. Most tensions are set between 3&6 on the tensioner, but will vary on fabric and thread size. Turn the machine over by hand to see if the thread is picked up. If it is, we will proceed another day.

If you have been following this, I will get into setting the bobbin. This can be applied to almost all sewing machines try to follow. Once you wind the bobbin which I will get to later, the bobbin must put into the bobbin case correctly If the thread takes a direct line out it creates a backlash in the thread in the bobbin case. Thread must have a little tension to sew. The bobbin goes into the bobbin case with the thread pulling off the bobbin opposite the way the bobbin turns, then into the little tension spring and out. You do not need a lot of tension on thread. The reason for this way of setting it up is to keep the backlash of thread to be as minimal as possible as the machine sews. There are many different ways to wind a bobbin which we will cover next.
Most home sewing machines have bobbin winders on top. We will concentrate on those. Some are wind in place which is a bit trickier. The old standard bobbin (class15) is still used across the world, so here it goes. Put the bobbin on the post that holds the bobbin .It is near the hand wheel which could be on top or sides. After that is done you must free the hand wheel to go free motion without running the machine while winding the bobbin. Loosen the center knob to make the hand wheel turn free. Now put the thread on the thread post put the cap on if needed. Pull the thread off the spool away from the spool through several guides and cross over itself back towards bobbin post. Put the thread through one of side holes from the inside out. Hang on to the thread end and install the bobbin onto the post with you hanging onto the thread end. Start the machine after pushing the post towards the hand wheel, which should now start winding the bobbin. Put on as much as needed and stop. Put the bobbin into the bobbin case as explained earlier. Engage the hand wheel again. Next time I will try to explain how the process works and make it all come together.
Now  put the bobbin post back in position. If things are correct you should be able to turn the machine over, after engaging the hand wheel. But first we must turn the hand wheel in most cases counterclockwise as you are looking straight it from the hand wheel side. That was confusing. In most cases turn the hand wheel toward you from top down. Turn hand wheel one turn while holding on to the end of thread in the needle, this is when the bobbin thread is picked up by the needle thread. In order for the machine to sew, the fabric has to feed under the presser foot and pass toward the rear of the machine as it sews. The threads have to twist and lock together and pull up into the fabric and lock there. This is why it is called a LOCK STITCH MACHINE. 
Always keep in mind that the hook goes around twice as the needle goes up and down once. This is so the take up arm can pull the slack thread off the bobbin case. As the take up arm goes up the thread is drawn up from the underside. The fabric is moved by the presser foot and a perfect stitch is made, if the tensions are set correctly. A little about cleaning is coming up soon.

Most major cleaning should be done professionally but here are a few tricks to keeping the machine clean.

Slide the slide plate over that is over the bobbin back towards the operator. If possible take the cover off the bottom so you can get on the shaft and hook area. Open up where the needle bar is located. Clean and blow out the lint from that area and put a couple drops of oil on the needle bar and linkage. Get some canned air and blow the dust out of the machine. Be careful not to breathe that dust. It is not good for you.

You see as you sew, the needle, as it penetrates the fabric, is actually cutting the fabric a little each time. That is what creates the lint build up. Using a ball point needle helps here because the fabric will be pushed aside instead of being cut by the regular needle. This area must remain clean to form a good stitch. A drop of oil can also be placed on the hook and bobbin case at least once a day. It keeps the machine freed up. Do not over oil or you will wind up with oil on your fabric.

There are many different sides to sewing and fabric ideas. I prefer to stick with the mechanics and let others handle the sewing and fabric part.

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