sewing machine


Ok, so I have a new hobby!  Fixing sewing machines.

This all started by my obsessively stalking craigslist looking for sewing machines.  All that ever comes up are “vintage” or “broken” machines.  At the same time I was blowing about $125 at the sewing machine repair shop for a tune up. Just the regular yearly tune up that we are supposed to have for these machines.  I’m a woman who changes the oil in the car herself. I’ve replaced brake pads. I’ve replaced a radiator, fuel pump, and much much more.  All to avoid taking the car to the service station where I’m certain they will rip me off because I’m a woman and they think I’ve got “Gullible” written across my ovaries.

Dad Fixing Pfaff

You could easily look to my dad to see where I get my desire to take things apart:





I started looking around the internet and found dozens of videos on how to repair your own sewing machine.  I started picking up sewing machines cheap on craigslist with the intention of “learning” to fix them up by troubleshooting the issue and (hopefully) implementing the repair.  Well. You know. Six months later I hadn’t touched the machine I bought. It sat and sat and sat.  It was a steal for what? 10 bucks?  A Singer Stylist 514, circa 1960s or 70s.  That’s it on the right.  Feed dogs don’t move consistently. But it has all the parts and accessories and otherwise runs fine (or so I was told).

Well, finally I got off my behind and took the bottom off to have a look. It was blatantly obvious what the problem was:

So I began hunting for the parts to replace the disintegrating gear, which I quickly found (and ordered) off ebay (ETA: They arrived today!). But in my googling, I found all kinds of resources on learning to service your own sewing machines.  I decided to buy another machine simply for the purposes of (once again) learning to tune and repair my sewing machine, but something I could work on right away since my learner was out of commission until the new gears arrived.  $35 later, I had a Kenmore 158 sitting in my living room.  Armed with canned air, tweezers, a screwdriver set, and sewing machine oil, I started following the YouTube videos.  When I was done, I ran a couple practice seams, prepared for it to still not work, and wouldn’t you know, it ran like a beauty.  Purred like a kitten! 

I’m not sure if there was anything wrong with the tension to begin with, or if it just needed a cleaning.  I probably should have tried it out before cleaning it, but the instructional videos said that if it’s been in storage for awhile, clean it first, then sew.  The cabinet needs a bit of stain and poly, and it’ll be a nice machine for someone.

I have another Kenmore, this one is a 148. I’m searching for the foot control for it (on ebay – where else).  Let me know if you find a two prong foot control!  I can’t seem to find one :(.  BTW it also purrs like a kitten, even without the foot control:

I’ve already asked my friends if I can “borrow” their machines to test on.  Cleaning a machine and checking the timing takes less than an hour.  I figure with my 9 machines I’ll save enough to pay for the couple books I bought on the subject as well.  And if one day I open a shop, well…you’ll be able to say “You knew me back when I was just starting out!” 😀

Other Craft Projects:

I was at Walmart the other day, looking for yarn, and happened upon their sewing machine collection. It’s a long story which I might one day share, but I lent/sold my pfaff embroidery machine to the mom of my good friend.  Long story short, it’s not coming home any time soon, nor do I seem to be getting paid for it. I should be irritated, but I know where they live, I could go pick it up if I wanted to. She’s using it, I assume, and I’ll get it back some day.  My friend will track it down.  However, I did need to do some embroidery, so I’d been eye-ing a cheap gap-filler.

I wanted something cheap, that could do fonts, that would also sew button holes with one touch.  The Brother SE400 seemed to fill every check box I had, and it was under $400.  A price I could afford with my Pfaff in limbo. It also has the drop in, horizontal bobbin, which I love.

Check this out, amazon has it for just over 300 and free shipping for Prime members.

I’ve just opened the box and gotten out the manual, so I don’t have a review for it yet.  Some of my first intended projects are personalizing some Aprons that I sell.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Also, here’s a blog I’ve found BrotherSE400 which appears to have reviews of the machine and accessories. I’ve already ordered the larger hoop.

For the record, I bought the machine from for 349.00, used Ship to Store, and paid about $25.00 in sales tax.


Other Craft Projects: