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Sewing Machine Maintenance and Repair
How do you manage the maintenance on your sewing machine or serger? Do you wait until it performs poorly or not at all before you think about having it serviced? Or do you seek preventative maintenance on a regular schedule? Having preventative maintenance performed on your sewing machine is just as important as having the oil changed in your car. Good maintenance is the key to trouble free sewing and longer life for your machine.
We are proud of the Blue and Gold service status of our service technician Bobby Ballentine. He has achieved the highest level offered by Husqvarna-Viking for independent service technicians. His attention to your machine is always with an eye toward optimum performance.
Many times people ask how often a sewing machine or serger should be serviced. The frequency for sewing machines is somewhat dependent on the time you spend sewing. If you sew daily, then a yearly check is recommended. For less frequent sewing, the preventative maintenance frequency could be extended to 18 months. The service frequency for sergers is even more critical because they generate more lint and fabric clippings that can soak up lubrication and cause premature failure. A yearly cleaning and regular oiling for sergers is recommended for even average to moderate use.
How many times have you been sewing and you hear a loud clanking noise and all of a sudden everything locks up? You look at the back of your fabric and there is a big clump of thread. Or you have sewn a long seam and you look at the back of your fabric and all you see is loopy top thread. Your immediate reaction is what has happened to my machine. Don't panic. This has happened to most of us at some time or another and it is not usually a major issue. Ninety nine percent of the time the thread has come out of the top or bobbin thread tension or the thread is not in the thread take-up correctly. The best solution is to remove all the thread from the machine and rethread your machine taking care to make sure the bobbin thread is in the tension device and that the top thread has followed the correct path and is in the take up correctly. Now sew off and everything should be back to normal. Hint - don't try and do a research project on what went wrong, just re-thread it and move forward.
How do you know if your tensions are correct? The best test is to set up your machine with a good quality thread like Mettler all-purpose thread. Use a medium color for the top thread and a beige color (I do not like white) for the bobbin. Choose a medium woven fabric with a tear-away or cut-away stabilizer on the back. Now sew off a 4 x 4 zig-zag stitch about 6 inches in length. Turn the fabric over and check to see that the top thread is pulled to the corners of each stitch. If the top thread is obviously pulled away from the corners or you do not see any top thread then you will need to adjust the top tension to achieve the desired results. Just remember that if you have to increase or reduce the top tension outside of the normal operating range it might be time to have your machine serviced.
One last comment - the consumer should not adjust the bobbin case tension. This needs to be set precisely by a qualified service technician. This setting is critical because it is the starting point for any tension adjustments. If this is not set correctly then machine tensions cannot be balanced correctly.
Enjoy hassle-free sewing after giving proper attention to the care of your machine!
The small piece of equipment that has a sharp point, an eye, a scarf, and a guide for the thread is many times the most neglected item on your sewing machine. This little object is the least expensive part of your machine but can inflict extensive damage to your stitch plate, hook, bobbin case, and your fabric. It can cut a groove in a metal stitch plate or put deep nicks in your hook and bobbin case. It also can cause the top thread to shred and break. The damage it causes is many times the cost of this little item called a needle.
Why is it possible for a needle do all of this damage? First of all, the clearance between the needle and the tip of the hook is as thin as a piece of paper. Next, the hole in the stitch plate is very small and then the bobbin case fits in the center of the hook which further complicates the issue. This set up and tolerances leave little room for error so any deflection of the needle or incorrect settings can drive it into any of these parts.
How can these problems be prevented? After making sure your machine is serviced properly we can examine other ways to prevent the needle from damaging your machine and fabric. The first thing is to make sure that you are using the recommended needle for your machine. All needles are not built to the same specifications. The scarf and other parts of the needle can be designed differently. Therefore it is critical to use the correct needle for your specific machine. For example, all Viking machines require Schmetz needles. You must select the correct size and type of needle to use. This is dependent on the type of fabric you will be sewing. For example if you are sewing on denim you should use a heavier needle such as a jeans needle. Heavy fabric can deflect a light or flexible needle and cause problems.
The next most common problem is pushing and pulling fabric as it moves through the machine. This pushing and pulling will cause the needle to deflect thus damaging parts. The machine will feed the fabric "in time" with the movement of the needle if you allow it to do its job.
The one thing to remember is to replace needles after a minimum of 8 hours of sewing and if the needle ever hits the stitch plate or any other part then that needle should be discarded immediately. If you ever hear a pecking sound as the needle penetrates the fabric you can almost be positive that you have a blunt needle.
By following these simple guidelines you can have trouble-free sewing with minimal damage to the critical components on your machine.
(from Scraps, Spring, 2006)
One of the best ways to prevent problems and the potential damage a needle can cause is to select the correct needle for sewing project that you are working on. Now your life has become simpler because of the introduction of a new product called a Needle Genius. This handy wheel allows you to make a selection on the type of fabric you will be sewing on and it conveniently gives you the correct type of needle and size that is recommended. Now no more guess work because you can make a prefect decision every time. And guess what, your sewing machine will be much happier plus your friendly service man will be ecstatic because he will have less knicks, burrs, and grooves to repair. One last thing to remember is to select the correct needle manufacturer that is recommended by your sewing machine manufacturer.
Many times we receive a phone call from a customer in panic because she is in the middle of a project and the sewing machine is breaking thread and/or shredding thread. This is not an uncommon problem but there are some very simple things that the user can check very easily while other things will require a service call.
Here are some very simple things to check and do:
- Remove all thread from the machine and completely rethread it and test the results.
- Check the thread you are using - how old is it? Thread can get old and deteriorate over time, especially cotton.
If the thread is coming off the spool horizontally check the rim of the spool for nicks that can catch the thread. The best solution here is to use a spool cap that has a slightly larger diameter than the spool. Another check point is to make sure the thread is not getting wrapped around the spool pin as it unwinds. This can be controlled with a thread net.
- Needle check: Make sure the needle being used is the proper one for the thread. How old and in what condition is the needle? If the needle has hit the stitch plate it could be blunt or bent. If there are any doubts change the needle, especially if thread is shredding at the needle. This is a quick fix.
- Inspect your stitch plate for grooves and nicks that can cause the thread to catch and/or fray. You can use emery cloth to buff out scratches or small nicks.
- Follow the thread path and check to see if you have any burrs or nicks on any parts the thread travels over.
- Check the top thread tension.
If, after going through the above checklist, the problem still persist then it is time to bring in your machine for service.
Good luck and happy sewing.
In our previous tips from the Service Corner we have covered maintenance schedules, tension problems, needle knowledge, and thread breakage. Now let’s look at some of the routine maintenance tips that you can perform on your sewing machine and serger between your routine service visits.
The first item is lubrication. If you own a Husqvarna-Viking sewing machine then you can forget this step because H-V sewing machines never need oiling. If you own another brand of sewing machine refer to your owner’s manual for specific instructions on frequency and oiling points. For sergers all brands require oiling and this is very critical because of the amount of lint generated in this process. A general rule of thumb is to oil after every project. The owner’s manual is a good guide here also.
Do you realize how much lint is generated in the sewing process? It would surprise you to see how packed machines can become. To clean all the lint out of a machine requires a qualified service technician to remove the covers to reach all the nooks and crevices. However there are some areas that the consumer can clean that will help keep her machine running smoothly between regular maintenance. Of course the first step is to refer to the owner’s manual; but if it is lacking specific steps here are a couple of suggestions. If your machine has a drop-in system the bobbin and probably the bobbin case can be removed. Once removed you can wipe off and clean the bobbin case. However, the most important cleaning point is under the bobbin case in the hook area. Thoroughly clean out any lint that has accumulated. You can use a q-tip, or if you have a mini attachment for your vacuum cleaner you can use it to remove the excess lint. CAUTION: never use compressed air to blow into this area; it can blow lint into bearings and gears and cause additional problems. Another cleaning point is between the feed dog teeth. Lint can pack in here and I have actually seen it so bad that it can raise the stitch plate out of the machine. For front loading bobbins remove the bobbin case to clean and wipe out or vacuum out excess lint.
On some machines the hook can be removed easily, but I would suggest following the user manual guidelines. For sergers it is best to use a vacuum with a mini attachment to clean out lint.
If you have any questions or need more information please come in either shop for assistance.
Did you know that we have the ability at both of our locations to meet your need for scanning photos, or printing from a disk or CD onto Printed Treasures. Contact either store for more information.