The #1 Reason Sewing Machines End Up in "the Shop"

When I spent a few glorious mornings in Arlington Sewing Machine Supply learning about my new Sewing & Embroidery Machine, I met Charles. Charles is one of the men who services the sewing machines on site at the shop (It’s very important to find a shop that repairs machines on site.) So I stalked Charles everywhere he went in the shop and asked him a million idiotic questions. He was very nice and answered them all. He also told me the #1 reason machines end up damaged and what you can do to prevent it! Any guesses?

So you know how experts say that you should get a sewing machine serviced every once in a while, especially if it’s been in storage? A tune-up? One of the main things they do when they service your machine is to open it up and clean it out. Lots of dust and thread and (dread) even bugs (and double dread) mouse nesting (etc.) can get trapped. I heard some horrifying war-stories as I was stalking Charles! All that gross stuff trapped in your machine can do bad things. Least of which, it can effect your machine sensors and throw off the tension. If your machine thinks you are using thicker thread because there are trapped thread-bits, it won’t work correctly. So bad tension is annoying but all that nasty stuff in there can also… catch your machine on fire! OMG! This happened to my sister-in-law. I’m not kidding.

So my point is that you should keep your machine serviced. Also, if it sits in storage or is purchased second-hand, take it for a check-up before you “fire” it up. But there is also something you can do day-to-day to keep your machine running smoothly. It has to do with how you change thread in your machine.
Has anyone else just grabbed a hold of the spool and pulled it up through the top of your machine? Well, that is bad. It rubs the thread along all of the internal machanics leaving thread dust and residue and broken pieces.

What you need to do, is:
1. Raise your presser foot.

2. Snip the thread at the top of the machine.

3. Gently pull thread out from bottom of machine, above needle.

So no more yanking, ok? It’s bad for our beautiful machines. Sew on Prudent mamas!




Oh man! I've had my sewing machine for 20 years and never had it serviced! Everyone I've called says they need to send it out and it will take at least two weeks and I'm never willing to give it up for that long. Anyone have suggestions for a good repair shop in the St. Paul, MN area? I'm in the eastern suburbs. Someplace that will do it within a day or two, rather than a week or two?

Linda Thompson aka Rosieq

Crafty Corner in Worthington is excellent turn around time. Their serviceman works nites for them, and I usually have it back the next day….one time it was a bit longer because he needed to order a part. I am very pleased with their service.


My mom's feed dogs stopped working and she was manually pulling fabric through her machine. I was shocked, opened it up to learn she had NEVER cleaned or oiled it. There was so much dust & thread jammed in there, but worked like a dream as soon as I cleaned & oiled it for her!


What do you open and where? I looked every where and it didn’t look obvious (lost my manual).


I am seeeeeeeeeeeew (hahaha) happy you posted this. Remember me? I posted on FB about my sewing machine woes, yada yada. I knew I wouldn't start the machine without reading the manual and my idiot's guide to sewing book. Now I'm on the hunt for a sewing machine service place as I bought this 2nd hand AND it's been in storage. TY TY!


Is it bad that I would sorta love it if my machine blew up?? I have a VERY basic beginner machine I got a few years ago for christmas and I desperately want a new machine…but family rules say if it's not broken I don't need a new I wait for some sort of calamity!


Screw family rules….sell/donate it and then get something nicer….No space in our lives for lemons unless they’re in lemonade.

If that’s still a problem, well you could ‘break the machine’, so that it needs to go to the shop, and then take it in. They will surely tell you it’s too much to fix, and show you a better machine for your needs.

Ted and/or Laura

@Angela – our Hancocks fabrics has someone that comes in once a week (I'm in Chicago which doesn't specifically help you) so if you haven't called the chain stores, it might be worth a shot. All the independent stores I've called have to send it out.


I have a funny picture in my head of a repairman opening up a machine and having a mouse jump out. That would be terrible to experience, but hilarious to watch!

Sara @ Sara vs. Sarah

Interesting! I just had to have my machine serviced and it's working SO MUCH BETTER now! ๐Ÿ˜‰ This is good information … I'll snip and pull from below from now on. I'm not interested in sending my machine away again anytime soon ๐Ÿ™‚

Jen @ My Own Road

Oh yeah….my machine is right at the 3 year mark with no tune up (I know it's totally worth it, but I can't bring myself to shell out the $65 at the moment). And ew about the mouse nests! I think I'd freak out if I went into my craft room and found little mice scurrying out of my sewing machine! That might be my motivation right there lol

Leigh Anne

LoL when I read the comment about the machine blowing up! ME TOO!! I've got an old, heavy as an anvil, grandmother inherited Singer from the 1970's. And yes, house rules "if it ain't broke…..yada, yada…". So, I too sew on w/ fire extinguisher close by hoping for a "burn out" ๐Ÿ™‚


I took my machine to a local sewing/vacuum place here in the SW burbs of Chicago, and even though they fixed it on site, it never really was fixed. Then I found a man who used to work for Singer and now COMES TO YOUR HOUSE! Yes! but if it needs more than he can do on site, he'll take it to his shop at home. He even took apart the motor on my Mother's 1949 Singer, which now runs like new, along with my 1980 Kenmore and my daughter's 2000 Singer(which she had never cleaned!). He handles Cook, DuPage and some Will county areas. If you're in these areas, look up


Thank you for passing this on! I have the same machine that you show in this post and pulled the thread from the top and it came out cover in the grease of the inner mechanics, had a feeling that was bad! LOL Why didn't I think to snip it on the top and pull it out the bottom!


Thankfully I just had my serviced. $45 and had it back the next day! The guy was so nice and came highly recommended. Although I've always thought it funny that sewing machine repair places also do vacuum cleaners. Seems like an odd combo to me!


I just said over the weekend that my tension is acting up on my 2 year old machine. I will clean it out and stop yanking. If that doesn't fix it I guess a tune-up is in order. Thanks for the info- I had no idea!

Vitty's mom

i have a brother se270d and it has a thread cassette.. and the ONLY way to get it out is by pulling it up!:( but my local service place is awesome and it is $90 to service annually as it has a touch screen… so i do bring it in as i am always trying to see what else they have:)


Thanks for the tips. I've been yanking my thread out the exact way you said not to do it forever now. I will snip and pull out the other way from now on! I treasure my machine and want it to keep humming along for as long as it can possibly last.


I have mine serviced annually (avoid the holiday season because there are a ton of "emergencies" then). My repair man was a tailor in the army and has been sewing ever since. Fantastic old guy. Now his daughter and grandson do most of the work and he does a lot of tinkering, but he can repair about anything! I don't sew daily or anything like that, but he says that I use my machine a lot and really should have it serviced at least annually. Now I have 4 machines between home and school so I have to stagger their servicing. I will say that one of those machines was for my 6yo lovely 1960's blue Singer. She LOVES it! He was so sweet to her and let her test drive all the machines she wanted when she was shopping.


Holy cow, I always did that! At least my saving grace is that I clean and oil the machine on a regular basis. Although, mine is a cheapo one but it does a good enough job for me to justify buying a fancier model. So, all I do is drool over the glimpses of the machines you show in your posts. Ooooh, goes the brain, aaah goes the mouth, Sigh goes the heart.


Well, don't I feel sheepish! I've always pulled mine from the top. . . BAD GIRL!! Thanks for helping me see the light and change my evil ways. I swear from now on to pull out my thread from the bottom.

Also, mouse nestings? Seriously? How can you not notice a mouse trying to nest in your sewing machine? Gross.

Dr. H. Golden

Looking for a good repairman to fix my NEW Brother sewing-machine. My tel number is: 860-491-6957. Please call !me if you can, or text me with a good repair man! My name is Dr, H. Golden.
Thank you very much!

Crunchy Con Mommy

Lol I'm in the sorta-wish-it'd blow up camp. I have a broken singer Pixie and an old Dressmaker sewing machine of my great aunts that I think I'm broke but I'm not sure. I wish I could find the manual! Anyway, I think it's time to call in a professional.


IF you have older machine, it may be worth the repairs….the old machines were made with metal parts and are real workhorses…..I have a metal machine I picked up in 1989, and won’t let go of it for this reason….it’s great for heavy duty sewing.


Wow. I had NO idea I shouldn't pull the needle thread out from the top, and I've been doing it repeatedly on my brand new sewing machine. Thanks so much for the post!

Vintage Dutch Girl

Um, wanna know the best ever sewing machine cleaning tip EVER?



Ya know, the kind that they advertise for computers?

I always keep a bottle near my sewing machine and serger and blow all the bits of dust, fabric fluff and thread out of the bobbin case and in every crack and crevice. It's kept my heavily used machines in top notch condition for YEARS in between servicing. Try it! …and you can thank me later! ๐Ÿ™‚


I was told if you did that you pushed particles further into the machine and messed up the important stuff


Wow, I had no idea that was wrong, to yank up. I do it each and every time. I really need to clean my trusty machine out. Thanks for the motivation. You tell me something is about to catch on fire, and girl, I will try to stop it! Fire is scary!


GUILTY! As I just yanked my thread and saw the lint fall to the plate, I thought, "Hmmmmmm that can't be good for my thread", yeah, priorities. So I am cleaning and diligently oiling, right after I post. Thanks for the hints. . .


I am giggling over shelly's (number 8) comment about a mouse jumping out of the machine. I imagined the exact same thing.

This is a timely post. I've been saying for some time that I need to get my machine serviced. I just realised that we have a vacation coming up that will be just the right time.


Here's another tip I learned from a Viking employee: Cheap thread will clog up your machine as well. I thought this was just a way to get me to buy the expensive kind, but I tested it out. I bought some of the high quality thread (Gutterman but I'm not trying to advertise) and tested it. I compared it to my cheaper stuff (coats & clark) and come to find out, it really is a lot better. First of all, it feels stronger and smoother in your hand. Then you can see that there is less fluff coming off it as you sew than with cheap thread. It also has better looking stitches. Seriously I thought this was snobby at first, but after trying it and seeing the difference, I'm a believer. Give it a try!


I 2nd Jess's comment about cheap thread, don't use anything from the bargain bin. I'm jealous of the $45 service fee, around here it's $100! For those of you without repair shops or not willing to shell at the money, there are You Tube videos that can show you how to clean & oil your machine. Your owner's manual should also tell you.


Yeah. I totally do that. I got a lecture from the Bernina shop last fall on cleaning out my machine and oiling the bobbin casing.


Sara – thanks for the tip about Associated Sewing! I checked their website and they have an online coupon for a clean/oil/mini-tune for $17.95. It says for "any mechanical sewing machine". They do take 4-5 days, though. I guess that is better than 7-10 or more, which is what I was quoted from the smaller shops I called and I suppose the price is worth the wait.

Amy Woodruff

I service my own. I blow it out with my air compressor, take moving parts out, oil it, put it back together. And I do it every couple of months. But I am very guilty of yanking on the thread.


Just dropped my lovely Singer off in the capable hands of Charles! ๐Ÿ™‚

I had used a place closer to home, but after hearing the raves about the Arlington shop and after meeting the employees myself, I'll drive a little farther and pay a little more!


My machine fell out of the bottom of the box when I first got it! it still worked but after I got it serviced it worked better than it ever did! I just bought one of those itty bitty sewing machines for sewing paper and scrapbooking so I dont destroy my big machine! Im excited!

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I didn’t know this. but makes sense. oh my poor machine. I wish you had more information on more sewing machine tips,
thank you. your awesome, Kari

Maggie Allen

Oh my gosh, I had no idea that your sewing machine could catch on fire if it isn’t maintained regularlyโ€” that’s crazy! I’ve actually been thinking of getting back into sewing, but the machine I have hasn’t been used in a very long time. It sounds like it would be best if I had it serviced before I started using it. The last thing I want to do is accidentally break it, or worse, set my house on fire!

Leana Daniel

The machine is 110 and it was accidentaly plug 220 it did not catvh fire but it not working wat part do i need to purchase


What machine is this? Looks just like tension is off, and thread cutter stopped working…..

Tony Woods

yeah. regular maintenance keep the machine so much efficient to work. the service maintaining must be kept for the regular basis. then the machine can provide service for a better strength for a certain lifetime

Kevin Rogers

It have a great impact when the machine is not in use for a long while. it requires regular maintenance. So when it got rusty and spoils as well then it would end up with the shop and cost some precious money


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