Hall Of Shame...

On this Page, you will find pictures of sewing machines who have been abused, or neglected or who have been the victims of "User Error."  It ain't pretty!  You can click on the photo for a better view.

What's wrong with this picture?  See the sticky label on the spool?  It's stuck on the spool pin, and will cause drag as the spool unwinds.  Also, the spool cap is on backwards.  The smooth side of the cap should be next to the spool.  Whenever possible (despite whether it's cross-wound or not), use the vertical spool pin.  It just feeds the thread better.

You need to see this as a bigger image.  Not only are there an assortment of pins and needles, there's a 6" needle behind the left side of the pulley, and a lovely miller moth.


This machine was froze-up.  Do you see what I see?   How does thread get behind there?  It took me a little while to find the problem.  Then it took about 20 minutes to remove the thread.

I don't know what she was sewing on, but it's pretty gummy in there.

Yes, YOU really do need to clean under your needle plate!

Yes, YOU really do need to clean under your feed dogs!  Her complaint, "stitch #36 doesn't work."

"I didn't even know that part came off!"

 On top-loading (drop-in) bobbins, you should be comfortable with removing the needle plate and bobbin case.  This should be cleaned out and oiled every-once-in-a-while.
"It's alright to sew over pins, right?"
 I've seen the bent pin under the bobbin case several times.  As you can imagine, the machine doesn't sew very well with a bent pin underneath the bobbin case.  The lint doesn't help either.
"I didn't know I was supposed to clean the bobbin area!"
 With an oscillating bobbin, you need to clean and oil the bobbin area about every 3 hours of sewing time.  
That includes the feed dogs underneath the needle plate.

Here are some good reasons to 
get your machine serviced regularly.
"My machine sounds really rough."
 After so much sewing, the driver gear can get packed with greasy lint.  It really makes your machine sound bad, and can damage the gears on some machines.
"I don't remember the last time I brought it in for a service."
Please don't go more than 5 years without a service.

"I sew EVERY day!"

If you sew every day, get your machine serviced every year.
"My husband used the same oil that he uses on his car."
 Only use clear "sewing machine" oil.

 "My machine won't sew through 2 layers of denim."
The orange pieces are chunks of her lower belt. 

Wouldn't you notice if this much thread was... just gone?

All those fuzzies were packed inside this one bobbin area!  
As you can imagine, she was complaining about her stitch quality.


  1. We are amazed every time we encounter one of these situations. My grandmother in particular. She has been sewing & quilting for YEARS. We sold her belongings last summer so they could move to Florida. I brought the sewing machine home. I was ashamed of her! I was surprised. I guess I assumed she knew to clean out the lint. Her machine was one of the dirtiest that we've ever encountered.

  2. There are so many times when just a quick clean and oil of the bobbin area would take care of the problem. It does amaze me when people don't realize this simple thing.

  3. A picture is worth a thousand words...more true than ever as I look at these pictures. Wow...I wish I was a sewing machine mechanic. :)

  4. I am always amazed by how much lint is in my machines after just a short amount of time. Since I rotate through the machines in my collection, I'm always cleaning and oiling them. I do have my grandmother's sewing machine that is locked up tight, I haven't opened it up yet but I'm sure it will look like much of the pictures above.

  5. Sounds like you take good care of your machines! When a sewing machine is locked up tight, it's usually the old oil that has turned into glue. To remove the old oil, we use WD-40. Then work the hand wheel and knobs until they're loosened, then run the machine. When everything is moving, remove the WD-40 and re-oil. We use an air compressor to remove the WD-40. You may need to use a can of air and some flannel rags. Keep up the good work!

  6. These machines look like some of the ones I have cleaned. I never thought of taking pictures of what I removed and how clean they can be when it is finished, but I will say a picture is worth a thousand words for certain.

  7. i just found your blog and I have to say I am very happy I did. Bless your heart, have you ever heard (I just step on the pedal and sew :) keep up the good work.

  8. This made my day! Thank you!

  9. I was taught to sew in middle school, not once did we discuss maintenance!

    1. Same Here. My Mom had told me a few things, but I found out how to take parts off through trial and error and lack of money to take to shop. This is a Great Blog

  10. I am So Happy I found this blog. My clutch stopped disengaging for the bobbin winder when I had about 20 hours to go to finish a quilt for a Christmas present. I was taking the needle out to wind the bobbin and was going to take it to the shop in Jan. Something in my head told me in the middle of the night to check the internet first.....Your instructions were SO thorough and in less than an hour had it up and working. While I had it apart I cleaned and oiled all the Grunge out. There had been 3 quilts made since it was cleaned good. Thank You, Thank You from the Bottom of my Heart

  11. Thanks, Vickie! I hope you got your quilt finished in time.

  12. One of my favorite things has always been to clean and oil my machine. But I never knew how to take the top off my 930...and now i do! thank you, so much. sandy

  13. Thanks for the fun! I do my best to remove lint and oil my machines on a regular basis. Just bought a new foot pedal for my old Singer Zig Zag machine and went to wind up a bobbin. Found your site looking for a way to fix the little "hand" that stops the bobbin went it's full. One or more of my daughters used this machine in their teens and I have never been able to figure out how they managed to loosen this from the machine-it won't tighten and stay in place. Your site has given me the courage to dig in and figure this little mystery out. Thanks!

  14. As I searched Google Images, there are several different Singer Zig-Zag machines. They all look like the plastic wonders that you can’t take the top off of. If you could take the top off, you would probably find a nut on the bottom of the “hand.” If you could remove the nut and add a lock washer, that might keep it in place.

  15. I have a Singer Golden Touch and Sew, Model 758. Just wondering if the rubber feed dogs can be replaced with metal.

  16. Hi Texas Mom,

    There is a metal replacement for your feed dogs. The Brewer part number is M181843. The retail price is $3.20. You could probably get any sewing machine shop to order them for you.

  17. Thanks! I am thrilled that I found your site. You are a wonderful resource.

  18. Hi Annette. My Pfaff 7510 just died. Doesn't show anything on the screen, and no movement at all. The power turns the light on and I swapped out another foot. (I have a lot of machines. Oh the shame I have... lol) Still nada. I used it just yesterday and it was fine. I like to fix things myself, if I can get around to it, and if I don't electrocute myself (that 'finger in the light socket' trick of my brothers in childhood ain't so funny after age 60) so if I can figure it out and get the part, I am happy to do it myself. I do keep my machines clean and oiled. Any ideas? I have even switched electrical outlets on a superstition (the light comes on with the existing outlet) but still nada, out of nowhere.

  19. Hi Cheeky,

    One thing to check first… is there a dimmer switch for your screen? There’s a “display” button on the right side on the front of the machine. Try pushing that a couple times.

    If it’s not the dimmer switch, I’m afraid it’s time for a funeral. If other Pfaff dealers are the same as our local Pfaff dealer, you can’t get the part. And if you could, the price would be about the same for buying a new machine. They seem to phase their machine parts out pretty quickly, so you’ll feel like you need to buy a new machine. And I searched Brewer Sewing Supply, and there’s nothing for that particular model.

    It may be time to find a new machine. Bernina has one for about $900 (model 330) that would be equivalent. Or the Bernina 350, which comes with a walking foot, is about $1300. Can you tell that I’m partial to Bernina?

  20. Hi Annette. I was afraid you might say that. No, the dimmer switch doesn't work because there is no power going to the machine at all, except for the lamp. 8-(

    I will rip it apart just to see if it is something obvious. One time years ago, after going through "Rowenta hell" with their horribile CS over an expensive iron, and it still no longer worked right, I opened it up and found a silver fish (California cockroach) on the tiny circuit board! How the hell it got in there I'll never know but I delicately brushed it off, closed it up and use it to this day. But I'm not holding my breath on this Pfaff 7510.

    I already own a Viking 190, 9X0 (my late mother's, I forget the no., it's buried in a closet) a Bernina 930 (given to me by a friend years ago but I don't like it because of that certain noise that model makes that another friend's does too -- dealer says that's normal for that model; I plan to sell that so I can put the money towards a new machine perhaps), a QuikSew at my local Fabmo.org -- check them out!, pd. $25 -- someone said it didn't work but it does, actually a good Japanese machine and not junk), and an old Pfaff 190? from the 50s (great for leather; pd. $5 because the motor was once frozen). (And I've picked up 4 sergers cheap because people in the SF Bay Area dump good stuff cheap. You should see the $5K sofas dumped on the street! We live in a tech/financial bubble, for sure. Explains a lot politically too.)

    I miss that Pfaff 7510 because of the auto walking foot. I take it that cheaper Bernina you mentioned does not have that auto walking foot? (I'm not against buying a new toy, although I was hoping for a pick'em up truck.)

    Maybe I should get busy selling the old Bernina to get the new one? (I won't trade it at a dealer because I won't get much. CL or ebay for that since it has everything on it.)

    I'll let you know if I can revive the Pfaff somehow but thanks for your quick response and your sage opinion. CB

  21. Hi Annette. I recently acquired a singer 401a and have been getting it up and running. After some cleaning and oiling the stitch is great, and the tension seems to be balanced, but every once in a while the top thread 'jumps,' and binds the fabric. You have to pull gently on the fabric to get it moving again, and that usually breaks the thread. Any suggestions?

  22. Hi ShelliRae,

    My first thought is that the needle is hitting the hook or the needle plate. Put a new needle in. Then take the needle plate off and watch what the needle does. There should only be enough space between the needle and hook for one thread. And the needle shouldn’t be touching or deflecting off the hook.

    Or maybe the needle plate has some burrs (rough spots) around the needle hole. You can use a very fine sandpaper (about 400 grit) to polish it smooth.

    Then make sure you’re using good thread, and that your thread isn’t “spinning-out,” when the take-up lever moves upward. You can put a felt or denim pad under the spool to keep it from “spinning-out.” Or if the thread is dragging, you can put an empty bobbin under your spool to help it spin more freely.

  23. Reminds me of my father who serviced televisions. I never knew what a cockroach was but my father would tell me about them because he found them in the insides of televisions.

  24. Hi Phillypat,

    Oh, I can just see those cockroaches coming out of the televisions! The worst we’ve had is a lady who brings her machine in faithfully every year and they’re covered with bird poop. She has a pet magpie…. It’s pretty disgusting… I go through about 6 pair of rubber gloves.

    Have a great Thursday, and keep your machine clean!