Sewing Machine Help..! Help and advice on how to repair sewing machine problems

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  1. Tensions are out on my overlocker.

    Quite often tension issues on overlockers especially new machines are simply down to the machine having been miss-threaded.

    For a newer overlocker, or where the user is classed as a learner!

    When threading an overlocker always make sure that the threads are passed between the tension disks. Quite a common occurrence is when the tension disks are missed and the thread is passed on either side of them, this is especially common on overlockers where the tension disks are located at the very top of the machine and only a small amount of the tension unit can be seen.

    1. Lift the presser foot using the foot lifter. On some overlockers, this action releases pressure between the tension discs, which in turn allows the threads to find the correct threading paths between the tension discs.

    2. Keep the thread taught while threading.

    3. Double check all the threads have been correctly placed over/under the guides, of wire guide loops.

    4. Always take your time threading a machine especially if it is new and you are unfamiliar with its function and always refer to the user manual.

    For more experienced users, where in the past the overlocker has been working fine, then suddenly a tension problem occurs.

    1.  Rethread the machine with different coloured threads. This will make viewing the overlock stitch easier to fathom out which thread tension relates to the complex 4-thread overedge stitch.

    2. Tweek the tensions, some overlockers require 1, 2 or 3 numbered rotations on the tension dial, while others need only 1/4 to 1/2 rotation between numbers on the dials. Only adjust one tension/thread at a time, then sew test.

    3. Tip: To balance the overlock stitch, It's best to start by adjusting the thread tension to a lower setting, rather than setting the tension higher. For example, if needle 2 and looper 3 are unbalanced. Needle 2 is pulling looper 3 thread to the top fabric side: Lower the tension of needle 2 first, before tightening looper 3 tension.

    Other things to look out for:

    1. Start by using brand new needles of the correct type and size 12/80 is a good starting point.

    2. Overlock loopers do snap, but ofter loopers can bend!

    3. If the needle guides under the needle plate are slightly bent, this can cause issues.

    4. Check the needle plate for damage, the tongue ofter becomes damaged. Some models have the tongue built into the presser foot. This needs to be a perfectly smooth surface.

    5. Last, but not least important is the selected thread choice! The wrong type of thread can cause tension issues. Imagine using a different thread brand or type on one or more needles or loopers, It may have a different thickness, and cheaper threads may even have variable thickness! Hold your thread strand up to the light, a hairy will not allow the overlocker tensions to control the tightness and it will give an uneven stitch. Some threads stretch more than others. Using a good-quality overlocking thread can make tension problems disappear.


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  2. Bobbin case has jumped past its stopper.

    For whatever reason top loading sewing machines can jam, when this happens sometimes the bobbin case can be forced past its stopper spring and will need to be reset. This can be done by following the pointers below or checking the machines user guide.

    1  Remove the needle plate on the machine, usually held down by two screws.

    2  You can now see the bobbin case, it has a small V shaped butt this comes up against the bobbin case stopper spring. The spring is located at the 5 o'clock position as viewed from the front of the machine. If jammed the Butt will now have jumped past the stopper spring.

    3  Remove the jammed bobbin case and check for any damage, light damage can be smoothed by using fine emery paper, heavy damage and the case will need to be replaced.

    4  Re-seat the bobbin case in the correct position so that the V shaped butt comes up against the bobbin stopper spring.

    5  Re-attach the needle plate and try again.

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  3. Singer ESP2 beeps and will not heat up.

    The Singer ESP2 has a built in auto shut off and auto wake up function. If the pressing plate is left in the closed position for more than 10 seconds then power to the heating plate is cut off and is signalled by a continuous beeping sound. Function of the heating plate can be restored by raising it again.

    Quite often a customer will receive a new machine and turn it on without raising the pressing plate and the beeping alarm will sound. The customer will then believe the machine is faulty.

    Also if the pressing plate is left in the raised position with the power turned on for more than 15 minutes then again the alarm will sound and power will be cut off. Again this can lead the customer to believe the machine has developed a fault.

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  4. Roller press will not steam.

    Quite a common cause for a roller press not steaming could simply be a damaged or jammed polystyrene float. To acces the float follow the procedure below or consult the user documentation.

    1 Remove the drain plug from the water reservoir located underneath the machine (use a bucket to capture any water if the reservoir is full)

    2 Check there is no visible damage to the float, if there is it will need to be replaced.

    3 Make sure the float moves freely up and down the shaft of the drain plug, if not clean the shaft with soapy water and rinse.

    4 Repalce the drain plug, re-fill the machine and try again.

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  5. Accessories are missing from new machine

    This can be quite a common issue which customers do contact us about all the time.

    If you can't find the accessories in the box when you recieve a new machine then chances are they are stored somewhere within the machine, the user manual will normally exlplain where the accessories are stored but this is not always the case. Normally the accessories will be located in the removable accessory tray which will have a hinged lid which can be opened to reveal them.

    Some overlockers especially the higher end Babylock models have a small storage compartment within the thread stand which can be quite tricky to find. Always fully check the machine as it is very uncommon for machines to be missing their standard accessories.

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  6. Motor spins but needle will not move

    On the older black cast Singer machines sometimes the motor can spin but there is no drive to move the needle bar. The most common cause of this problem is usually the washer located directly under the de-clutching hand screw which secures the machines handwheel. The hand screw can be removed by simply removing the single locking screw then unscrewed. The washer with two raised prongs will then be visible. This maybe worn and need replacing although it can be moved round one notch and relocated, also it's worth checking that the washer is fitted the correct way round with the raised prongs facing towards the machines top shaft and not away.

    While the washer is removed it is good practise to remove the handwheel add a little oil to the top shaft and inner handwheel for smooth operation.



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  7. Explain the types of button hole that sewing machines can stitch

    Keyhole Buttonholes

    This keyhole buttonhole has a bar tack at one end and a round opening at the other edge.

    The keyhole accommodates the shank of the button nicely without pulling on the buttonhole. It is a strong buttonhole suitable for suit jackets and coats in medium to heavy-weight fabrics.

    The opening for the keyhole can be cut after the buttonhole has been stitched by using a small eyelet punch.

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  8. How to retime a sewing machine resetting hook to needle timing

    If your sewing machine is missing stitches, or the needle seems to be catching on the bobbin case or hook. Follow these instruction to reset the sewing machine needle timing.

    But, first replace the needle with a size 90 brand new sewing machine needle. This is extremely important, the needle must be unused, and the correct one!

    Remove all the thread and remove the bobbin case and needle plate. You may need to remove the feed dog if required for a better view.

    This information will set the needle to the hook timing correctly.

    First steps:
    Set the sewing machine to straight stitch with center needle position.

    Turn hand wheel anticlockwise the needle will move up and down. Watch as the needle moves up and down just like the animated image below, see how the needle should go to its lowest point then up slightly, just as the hook point rotates past the needle. That hook should catch the thread from the needle eye.

    Prepare the needle position:
    Keep turning the hand wheel by hand, and stop only when the needle point moves to its lowest point, then moves back up - Stop turning when the needle moves exactly 2.2 mm higher than its lowest position.

    Set the hook to the needle:
    Loosen the hook gear or belt pulleys (usually held in place by 2 or 3 allen key screws)

    Turn the hook by hand in the same direction as the machine would run (the top shaft and needle must not move), watch the hook movement as the hook point rotates behind needle point - when the hook point is directly behind the needle tighten all gears etc.

    The optimum position you must achieve is the needle should be inline with the hook point. Also the needle eye must be just below the hook point.

    After timing the needle to hook, the next task that may need to be checked or adjusted would be the feed timing, which is the feed dog moment to needle movement. This is covered in another FAQ.

    How to reset hook timing on a sewing machine

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