Monday, October 13, 2014

Sergers

I've added a new page about sergers!  It's on its own tab at the top of the page.


This is my Bernina 800 DL serger, "Ben" (short for "Benevolence," because he was practically given to me).   In this picture, we're (Ben and I) getting ready to work on some T-Joe pectus brace, back covers.

Friday, October 10, 2014

How Did I Become A Sewing Machine Mechanic?

I am often asked, how I became a sewing machine mechanic.  I got lucky!  I've worked at a quilt shop that sells and repairs sewing machines for over 10 years.  When the assistant tech retired, The Boss asked me if I’d like to learn.  I had worked on cars a little and enjoyed it.  And I have a high mechanical IQ.  So I was pretty excited about the offer!  I’ve been training as a sewing machine mechanic for over 4 1/2 years, and I still learn something new every day, and The Boss still has to help me with the hard stuff.  There's a lot to learn!

The best way to learn, is to become an apprentice to someone who has been doing it for a long time.  The Boss started learning when he was 16, and he’ll be 54 soon.   He didn’t really have anyone to teach him, and he’ll tell you that he “learned from the school of hard knocks.”  So he's a  patient man, and  doesn’t get upset with me when I make mistakes.  Making mistakes is one of the best ways to learn.... as long as you don’t do any permanent damage. :-)


If you can't train under a pro, here are some ideas...

1)  I’ve seen some good books on Amazon about sewing machine maintenance.  They can teach you the basics.  

2)  The older mechanical machines are a good place to start.  You can get them from the thrift store for $10 to $25.  Take them through the "What To Check..." list that's at the top of my blog, and see if you can get them sewing.

3)  If you become a sewing machine dealer, you can attend their conventions.  I’ve been to “Bernina University” once.  But you don’t really learn much from power point presentations.  

4)  There’s a website, where you can get help with working on vintage sewing machines...  http://www.quiltingboard.com/main-f1/  Just above the quilting board, there’s a section “For Vintage and Antique Machine Enthusiasts.”  There are some nice people there, who are great about answering your questions.

5)  There are so many variables in sewing machines, that you need to be the kind of person who can figure things out.  We very rarely use the service manuals.  We know the basics, and figure out the rest.  There's so much that isn't in the manual!


Being a sewing machine mechanic is fun and rewarding... most of the time.  Other times, I’m really glad The Boss is there to help me.  I can't imagine trying to figure out all of these machines by myself, without The Boss to take care of the harder ones.

Monday, June 16, 2014

What To Check Before Taking Your Machine To The Shop

I've added a new page!  "What To Check Before Taking Your Machine To The Shop," is on its own tab at the top of the page.  On this page, there are some common troubleshooting things anyone can do for themselves. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Row By Row Experience

The Store where I work is participating in the Row By Row Experience.  Click here to find out more.  The theme is "Sew A Season."  Since I live in Utah, we would naturally choose Winter.  

Here's our row, designed by me.  It's called "Snowflake Collection," and is done with English paper piecing, hand applique, and hand embroidery.  You can click on the picture to see a larger image.



There are shops in 34 states, plus Canada, that are participating.  You can find a list of participating shops on the link above.  

When you go into a participating shop, ask for their row pattern, and they will give you the pattern for FREE.  If you make a quilt using at least 8 of the Free Row By Row Patterns, you may win a prize.  Sounds like fun for traveling quilters!  I hope to collect some patterns, myself.  The dates for this are July 1 through September 2, 2014.

The only way to get these FREE patterns is if you go to the shop in person.  That's the rule, and we want to keep the rules.  However, after October 31, it may be available for purchase. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

I've re-arranged things...

If you'll look at the top of my blog, you'll see that I've put the best stuff on separate pages.  Now you can find Hall of Shame, How to Clean and Oil Your Machine, Sewing Machine Tensions and Bobbin Winder Clutch, by clicking on the tab.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Refurbished Sewing Machine Update

I've been able to sell all but one of my refurbished sewing machines.  I only sold the drop-in bobbin Kenmore at my sewing machine yard sale, for $50.

Then I sold the other Kenmore for $100, the Montgomery Ward for $100, and the Riccar for $50, to the same person.  She has about 15 ladies who sew cheerleader, drill team and ballroom dance costumes for her.

The White is the only one left.  I'm asking $110 for it.  I had a woman come to look at it, and it wouldn't work.  We got it into the buttonhole system, and couldn't get it back out.  Of course, as she was driving away, Karl (my DH) flipped the switch and it popped right out.  I will de-gum it and make sure it won't do that again, before I sell it.

Update:  The White has a new home.  I got $100 for it.

All but one of my machines were bought by people I know through my job or quilt guild.  I give a 30-day warranty with all of my refurbished machines.  And I hope they will feel free to contact me if there are any problems.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Refurbished Sewing Machines

I've been collecting and repairing machines for a few months, and have 6 ready to sell.  I'm thinking about having a sewing machine garage sale.  Here's what I've got...



I've written a list for each machine that points out it's positive and negative points.  Here's a closer look at each one.  You can click on the photo to get a bigger image.


Bernette Model #715
Oscillating hook, Bernette (made for Bernina), has it's sew table, and a good variety of stitches.



The logo washed off of the front, so I didn't dare wash off the logo on the back.  It's the only way to tell what it is.


It sewed off really nice.


Kenmore Model #158-16031
This is a beauty!  The one draw-back on this one is that it's a flat-bed.  It has some nice stitches built-in, oscillating hook, and clean.



It sewed off well, but I ran off the edge a bit.




Kenmore Model #158-17800
This one, I probably wouldn't have bought, just because it's a drop-in bobbin, but my DH brought it home.  It doesn't have any cams, and the buttonhole system is missing parts for it to work.


It sewed off pretty good, but I haven't cut off the top row of stitches, which were before I had the tensions balanced.

Montgomery Ward Model #UHT J1930
Lots of stitches on this one!  And it has a few accessories, oscillating hook, and a nifty spring-loaded sew table.


Sewed off well, too.
Riccar Model #333
No bells or whistles, oscillating hook, carry case.  I won't ask too much for this one, but I think it would be just fine with the right person.

It only has straight and zig-zag stitches, but what a solid machine!
 White model #701
This is another one I wouldn't have bought, but DH did.  And I'm glad he did!  It has some fun engineering!  The knob on the lower, left side releases a sew table in the front if you turn it one way, and another sew table in the back if you turn it the other way.  In the top, it has its dials and knobs for selecting stitches and even has a buttonhole system that you can set the size.

Lots of stitches on this one, and it sewed off surprisingly well for a rotary hook.

So, what do I look for in a thrift store machine?  
#1  does it have an oscillating hook system.  Yes, I'm prejudiced, but am softening a bit.
#2  does it have all of its parts?  hook, bobbin case, presser foot, foot control, needle plate, sew table, etc.
#3  does it run and function like it should?  We bought one that was missing its back-stitch mechanism, and was too old to get a replacement.
#4  Has it been knocked or dropped, and is the race intact?  If the race, or ledge that the hook sits on, is broken off, it might sew but will make a terrible banging sound.  If it's been knocked or dropped, it may have some bent shafts or broken internal parts.

We can tweak things like a burr on the hook or the timing (unless its been scrambled beyond repair).  We can clean up the old gummy oil, most of the time.  Some machines would take major surgery to clean up the old oil, and it wouldn't be cost effective.  I'm having a bit of trouble with noisy Kenmores.  I know they have a rattle, but these are extra loud.  I haven't figured out how to quiet them, yet.