Author Topic: Is sewing machine repair worthwhile?  (Read 7450 times)

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Is sewing machine repair worthwhile?
« on: January 05, 2015, 09:21:54 PM »
I have what is probably a low-end Brother (Christmas present circa 2006-2008) that is malfunctioning. Every time I try to sew, it just makes a horrible knot instead. (It reminds me of this Dilbert: http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1994-04-25/)

I'm wondering whether it's worthwhile to (a) take it to a repair shop (there is one near me that, according to Yelp, charged $45 in 2011) or (b) try to do something myself, although I wouldn't even know where to start, or whether I should just replace it.

I'm leaning toward (a) because I have a huge stack of mending (Big Brother is nearly out of intact pants) and absolutely no time to teach myself sewing machine repair. Just wanted to see if anyone had any experience to share before I commit.

deborah

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Re: Is sewing machine repair worthwhile?
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2015, 10:04:20 PM »
Step 1. Use the manual instructions to give it a clean and oil.

Step 2. Check whether it is having the same problem. If it is, check the manual that you are threading it correctly (both top thread and bottom thread, and the bobbin is in the right way round), and sewing with the foot down. Sometimes, even the most experienced of us do some of these things wrongly.

Step 3. Check whether the thread or the material is causing problems (old thread, some fabrics just don't work sometimes). Change both (including bobbin thread).

Step 3. If it is still having problems, the timing is probably out (this is normal). Take it to get serviced. Ask the service person whether it is worth getting serviced (sometimes low end machines are worth about the same as a service.

goatmom

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Re: Is sewing machine repair worthwhile?
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2015, 06:04:56 AM »
You might look on craigslist for an older machine - one that has been in use and recently serviced.  Don't break as often, easier to fix, better stitches. I have an old singer work horse from around 1940 - she is nothing fancy but never gives me trouble.  They look so much cooler too.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Is sewing machine repair worthwhile?
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2015, 10:13:47 AM »
For a low end Brother, i'd go buy a new one (if I couldn't fix it myself) before taking it to a repair shop.
Shops in my area charge $100 for basic servicing and cleaning. That doesn't include any part repair!  CS6000i is $140 on Amazon.  You can get even cheaper ones than that.

For my high end machine, I go and get a service when the light comes on (apparently it's 3 million stitches? They say to do annual, but I trust the light, since it knows how often it is being used. For me that is about 1 3/4 years.)- but when the cost of service is 50% (or even 100%) of a new machine, no way.



But before you do anything- clean, oil, change needle, rethread.  That solves a lot of problems.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2015, 10:15:31 AM by iowajes »

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Is sewing machine repair worthwhile?
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2015, 02:47:54 PM »
I did clean and lube recently, but did not use the right oil. So have ordered correct oil (figure I should have it anyway) and after I give that a try, I will also try with new thread and needle. Come to think of it, I'm not sure I have ever had this problem with any thread besides the khakhi. Could be coincidence... And also it happens after I have been using the #3 zigzag, which I do a lot, so again could be a coincidence.

If that doesn't work, I will probably pay for service if it's in the $50 range. It's not just a matter of cost--it would take me time to choose/hunt for/learn to use a new machine.

deborah

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Re: Is sewing machine repair worthwhile?
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2015, 03:02:04 PM »
Ah yes, sorry I forgot about changing the needle - should have been in step 1 - or even step 0. Manufacturers recommend changing the needle every few hours of sewing, and cleaning and oiling every few days. Your problems sound a bit like old needle problems - that thread might be one that shreds more easily than others, and the big zig-zag might also exacerbate shreding.

Wasn't sure whether you were a complete beginner or an experienced person. Don't know that the oil should matter, but I haven't heard of anyone using the wrong oil before. In the US some people have taken to squirting their bobbin area with canned air to "clean" it. This puts the lint further into the machine, and makes it worse!
« Last Edit: January 06, 2015, 03:07:49 PM by deborah »

TrMama

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Re: Is sewing machine repair worthwhile?
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2015, 04:19:13 PM »
Ditto the advice to change your needle, clean (especially around the bobbin case), oil and rethread. That fixes nearly all problems for me.

Does the problem happen with all fabrics, or just a specific one?

If you do end up taking it in, ask about replacing it with a reconditioned older machine. I have an old Bernina Record 830 from the 70's and that thing is an indestructible workhorse. I'll never, ever get rid of it. Older machines are simple to use, so the learning curve should also be pretty short.

deborah

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Re: Is sewing machine repair worthwhile?
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2015, 04:55:36 PM »
I have an old Bernina Record 830 from the 70's and that thing is an indestructible workhorse. I'll never, ever get rid of it.
YES! That is THE BEST machine out! I have an old 801, but a knee lifter can't be fitted to it, so a few years ago I finally found an old 830 (actually an 831) - a few more stitches (but why bother), knee lifter... I am currently decluttering, so the 801 may need to go - I only use it when I am teaching my twin nieces on both machines. I could probably get more than I paid for it when it was new!

TrMama

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Re: Is sewing machine repair worthwhile?
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2015, 11:30:39 AM »
I know. My mom sewed on it when I was a kid, I learned to sew on it as a teen and I'm teaching my kids to use it now. It still works fantastically, even with all the abuse it's taken. My grandma also has one and I really hope it stays "in the family" when she passes.

The only thing I wish it had was a modern automatic buttonhole feature. My buttonholes always look a bit "homemade".

deborah

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Re: Is sewing machine repair worthwhile?
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2015, 01:43:23 PM »
YOu could always get a buttonholer (they do make them, and they are smaller than a normal sewing machine).

Spondulix

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Re: Is sewing machine repair worthwhile?
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2015, 10:06:54 PM »
You might look on craigslist for an older machine - one that has been in use and recently serviced.  Don't break as often, easier to fix, better stitches. I have an old singer work horse from around 1940 - she is nothing fancy but never gives me trouble.  They look so much cooler too.
I would steer clear of used machines unless you're buying from a sewing/repair shop that will guarantee repairs for a period. I bought a "working" older machine at a garage sale, had to drop $100 to repair, and basically had it in and out of repair for about 3 months.

To the OP - if you're looking to do more than just hem pants and fix buttons, I would seriously consider a new machine. It's been a night and day experience having a machine that's well made (should be somewhat heavy) AND easy to use. I ended up buying a Brother Innov-is 40 (I think around $375) and it has been a workhorse. My mom liked it so much she even upgraded her 30 year old Singer for one.

The key for me was finding a sewing shop (not just vaccuum/sewing repair) - somewhere that did repairs, sales, and classes. I was sold on the Brother when I saw it go over 7 layers of folded DENIM at regular speed. The people who work there are all interested in sewing and have been a huge help with questions (about the machine and sewing).

NV Teacher

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Re: Is sewing machine repair worthwhile?
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2015, 09:44:16 AM »
I have an old Bernina Record 830 from the 70's and that thing is an indestructible workhorse. I'll never, ever get rid of it.
YES! That is THE BEST machine out! I have an old 801, but a knee lifter can't be fitted to it, so a few years ago I finally found an old 830 (actually an 831) - a few more stitches (but why bother), knee lifter... I am currently decluttering, so the 801 may need to go - I only use it when I am teaching my twin nieces on both machines. I could probably get more than I paid for it when it was new!

I have two old Berninas, a 705 that is in my sewing room and a 701 stored in the garage.  The 701 is my back up just in case my 705 dies and is beyond repair.  I bought them both used probably 30 years ago and paid under $300 for the two.  I don't think you can go wrong with an older Bernina. 

PMG

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Re: Is sewing machine repair worthwhile?
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2015, 10:46:29 AM »
I second all the advice to replace the needle, clean and rethread.  Try new thread and make sure top and bobbin match. Check the bobbin casing.  Is the thread seated properly in it and feeding through it?  There's a tiny tension screw on the bobbin casing that could work loose and cause trouble.  Minute adjustments to that screw create huge change.  Test on scrap fabric.  Hand crank your first couple stitches. 

I learned on my moms new Bernina and loved it.  On my own I have a phaff from the 50s.  Workhorse.  Love that machine. The foot petal stopped working, I took it apart and discovered that a spring had broken, I tried a dozen springs from the plumbing department and its been working great for 5 or 6 years with a faucet valve spring!   The belt between the motor and flywheel disintegrated, I couldn't find a replacement but I found a vacuum cleaner belt that I trimmed to fit. 

I also  have a Necchi that my friend purchased at yard sale.  The own sold it for just a couple dollars because it "didn't work and everything tangled". It was still preloaded with thread from the factory and the manual had never been opened.  I adjusted tension and Its seen heavy use for 7 years now.   

The point!  For me, Closest sewing shop is 2 hours away.  I invested very little in the machines so had little to lose by working on them myself.  I've had great results and learned a lot.  Hopefully you will too.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Is sewing machine repair worthwhile?
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2015, 09:35:08 PM »
Cleaned and oiled machine and changed needle and am cautiously optimistic. Thread did not seem to be the problem; I was able to fix one pair of Big Brother's pants, which is good because he was down to his last 3 and that is not enough for an almost four-year-old! Fingers crossed...

Dicey

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Re: Is sewing machine repair worthwhile?
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2019, 12:32:32 PM »
Last year my machine crapped out in the middle of a big project, complete with deadline. YouTube saved my ass and I'm proud to say I fixed it for nothing but time and patience.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Is sewing machine repair worthwhile?
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2019, 12:33:30 PM »
Ugh, spam post reviving zombie thread. But if anyone remembers this thread and is curious, I re-read the manual and turned out I was threading the bobbin backwards. I still have this machine.

Last year my machine crapped out in the middle of a big project, complete with deadline. YouTube saved my ass and I'm proud to say I fixed it for nothing but time and patience.

Good for you! I didn't even need YouTube :-).

Dicey

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Re: Is sewing machine repair worthwhile?
« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2019, 12:42:35 PM »
And I didn't even notice this thread was ancient. However, I loves me a good update, so it was a cheap thrill.