sewing machine repair

Wow! Where do I start?  I guess I have to go back about 13 or 14 years ago, when I purchased a vintage Kenmore 148 Sewing Machine out of the want ads.  It needed a tune up, as it had been sitting for a number of years.  But I promptly lost the foot pedal/cord during a move.  Well, over the course of the years, I’ve tried to find a replacement foot control for this machine, as it’s in really good condition ( other than needing the tune up).  At some point in the last month it dawned on me to start looking for whole machines of the same model, just in non-working condition, and then steal the foot pedal from the dead machine.

So — off to ebay I went.  I found another Kenmore 148 and promptly bid on it.  It was advertised as “locked up” and “non-working,” but crucially it had the foot control/cord. Yay! We won the auction for $19.00!! Now, shipping was 25.00 :( So, about $44 in all, and the foot controls new (if they fit, which they don’t) are about $39.95.  So, still a deal as Far as I could tell.

Well, lo and behold, the same night the machine shipped, I find the stupid pedal/cord.  Don’t you just love Murphy and his silly laws?

Now to back up a bit, the first time I took the sewing machine repair course, when I got home, this was one of the first machines I used as a guinea pig. Now unfortunately, I couldn’t tell if my efforts were successfully, not having a foot pedal!

The first thing I did was test out the stitching and man, did that machine purr like a kitten! I was so happy!

Then I promptly forgot about the broken machine on the slow boat from California or Texas, or wherever.

It arrived two nights ago! The first thing I did was take it out of the box and try to turn the hand wheel.  Sure enough, it was COMPLETELY LOCKED UP.  It wouldn’t move at all.  Thinking it was a lost cause, I put it away for the time being.


Today I was at Harbor Freight, and I picked up a small 100PSI air compressor for $59.00.  Our repair course instructor, Mr. White, suggested getting an air compressor and blow gun, as compressed air A) isn’t strong enough pressure to properly blow out all the dust and fuzz from the cracks and crevices of a sewing machine and B) can get ridiculously expensive.  I own a big air compressor, but it’s currently residing at my Dad’s house and to be honest, it’s quite large to bring inside into my sewing room.

So – I decided to put the air compressor together, and then I needed to play with it, so I decided to give the busted Kenmore 148 a once over.

First I laid down a layer of paper towels (in hindsight, I’ll probably use newspaper or even a layer of plastic first).

All Ready


I generally clean the outside last, but this thing was so filthy I felt like I couldn’t touch it without cleaning it first.

Here’s the inside of the bobbin case (there was a HUGE wad of fuzz that isn’t in the pictu

dirty bobbin case


This was just wiping it down ONCE.

needle barIsn’t that gross?

Well, it gets worse! What’s up with all this grease?


I took everything apart, cleaned it all, and oiled and greased (appropriately) the components that were screaming for it.  I gently began rocking the hand wheel and after several mins, the handwheel turned!  The needle barely moved at first.  And it would be nearly impossible to turn as the needle reached the highest point.  I took apart the handwheel, took off the belts, tested the motor, oiled, cleaned and reoiled all the components over again.  Suddenly it dawned on me to take the bobbin shuttle out.  Once I did this, the handwheel turned PERFECTLY.

Here’s a look at the backside of the bobbin race cover:

Bobbin race cover

See that black ring? That’s GRIME.

Here’s ONE of the three q-tips I used, soaked in Carb Cleaner, to get the grime off:

grimeNasty.  I had to clean it a couple of times, actually.  Hooked up the foot control/power cord, and got the silly thing running: Movie



I learned quite a lot:

1- Need thread tape on the threads of the aircompressor connections.

2- Air compressors are extremely loud and scare me EACH AND EVERY time they come on automatically!

3- Never skimp on carb cleaner

4-Some people like a lot of grease on their gears

5-Know the value of a sewing machine before you put too much into fixing it up.  (This machine is about 120 max on Craigslist/Ebay.  I spent $45 on buying it and shipping.  I then ordered another 34.00 in parts and shipping as well as $10 for the instruction manual.  Not a lot of profit left.)

6-Extension cords are my friend. And a powerstrip.  I had the sewing machine, a lamp, and the compressor all strung to outlets all over the room.  Would be nice to have a power strip to just plug everything in close at hand.

So that’s about it.  Well, actually.  Two more things.

I got really brave and posted an ad on Craigslist offering my services doing sewing machine tune ups!!!!  This is HUGE! So far I’ve only gotten spam, but well, that’s part of the process I guess.

Then, I ordered Quilting the Carolinas – Sewing machine repair business cards.  They are so cute.  Will take a pic once I have them (should be Monday).


Oh and ONE MORE THING!!!!  I have a special surprise giveaway (my first) coming up!  Very excited about it.  More details to follow!

Other Craft Projects:

Having a random day today.  First let’s start with progress on the Well Blankie quilt:

Well Blankie


This is coming out so cool.  I decided to ask my cousin’s family if they wanted to see pix of the progress, or be surprised when it’s finished.  They haven’t decided yet, so I’m keeping these pics off facebook for the time being.  The circles are using HandiQuilter’s Half-Circle rulers.  The rest is getting a loose stipple.

Next on the agenda, I went a little crazy at Walmart.  First, their clearance section had One of these (which obviously came home with me):

Rotary Cutting machineSo far it’s pretty crap-tastic.  I’ve wanted one forever, now I wonder why.  Maybe it’s just me.  Not sure I’ve mastered it, yet.  We’ll see.  Not giving up, yet.

Next at Wallie world…I got a wild hair and decided to kit-out my sewing machine repair Hobby(?) by buying all new tools!!!

toolsThe set was under $10, and the bag was like $6.  I added to the bag my bottle of TriFlow lubricant, tube of TriFlow grease, a lint brush, a 100 count of fresh machine needles, and the universal timing tool…wait.  Where is my universal timing tool? It’s MISSING!  The baggie is there, but the box holding it is missing!!! I don’t know where it is! I searched my sewing room, with no luck.  I searched the living room sewing area (yeah I’ve kind of taken over the living room now, too).  No luck.

After a couple hours of searching, I gave up.  Went to and printed out the order form.  They are $59.00 when not purchased during class.  Guess I should buy two to have a spare one?  Watch the old one surface just as soon as I order the replacements. Grrrr. (and also, mailing in an order form? What year is this???)


And lastly, I’ve added FOUR new machines to my sewing machine collection!  Three were purchased off Craigslist for $40.  Two work fine, but one is missing parts (bobbin shuttle, bobbin gears and shaft).  The one that isn’t working is a Singer Touch & Sew,

Parts Machine

which just so happens to be the same model as is in the cabinet out in the living room.  It came with a crate of gears (for different stitches).  I’m going to try to see if they can be used on the functioning machine.  One has a really nice full cabinet:


Which looks really nice in the living room!

And the third machine (also in a cabinet, but nothing outstanding), is in REALLY good condition:

Singer This is just missing a decent presser foot.  I’ve ordered a new one.  $2.19 off Amazon. Whoo Hoo!

Wait – I lied.  There’s more to this story.

Many many years ago I bought a Kenmore 148, of which I promptly lost the pedal/power cord.  After my sewing machine repair class in 2012, I took it apart and gave it a full service…well as best as I could without having the pedal/power cord.  I periodically would look online for one, but they were all three-prong, where my motor was only two-prong.  Long story just a bit longer, I finally started looking for WHOLE machines of the same model, instead of just the power cord.  Ebay was my friend! Finally I found the right model with what looked like a two-prong power cord.  And they wanted only $15.00 for the whole locked-up machine and pedal/power cord. Wow!  Shipping, mind you, was $25.00!  But I was not to be deterred!  After it shipped, hubby and I the happy highest bidders, it dawned on me that if I found the pedal/power cord once it arrived, then I couldn’t return it.

Wouldn’t you know, while moving boxes around in the sewing room THAT VERY NIGHT, I found the stupid power cord.  Plugged it up and listened to that baby purr!

Here’s the pedal of dishonor: pedalStupid pedal.

Anyway, the other machine is still in transit.  We’ll see how bad it is “locked up” and maybe I can salvage it, turn around and sell it for more than we paid for it.  I’m flipping sewing machines!


So The very next night, I picked up a Singer FashionMate for $20.00, with case.  Supposedly it works perfectly, though the case is pretty dirty.

That’s 5 new machines, plus the old one, which is now functional again! Ha! What am I going to do with all these machines, you ask?

Well, I’ve been putting some thought into that.  I’ll update the blog when I have more details.


Other Craft Projects: