by Bernie Tobisch
I have been a sewing machine technician for 42 years and have enjoyed every minute of it. I couldn’t have found a better career to match my personality and skill set. I have had the opportunity to work on every kind of sewing machine from 200-needle mattress quilters to the latest household computerized embroidery machines.
For the last 20 years, my focus has been on household machines. Along with my wife, Shelley, I have taught many hundreds of classes. She teaches the techniques, and I relate them to the sewing machine.
This has worked very well and has been a lot of fun for us. Over the years, I have come to understand and appreciate that most sewists have a very strong relationship with their sewing machine. The connection is not like one with a toaster, microwave oven, or dishwasher. This is much more personal. I’ve heard it said that in a fire, the sewing machine would be the first item to be saved. I have seen this relationship be the source of much joy and the cause of many tears.
In our many classes, I have started to see myself as somewhat of a relationship counselor and always do my best to reestablish trust and understanding. But at times where there were irreconcilable differences between sewist and machine, I have also had to facilitate separation and divorce. My goal with this book is to help you gain a better understanding of your sewing machine—its needs and what it is trying to communicate to you.
I hope that this new understanding will allow you and your machine to become best friends. I have tried to include enough styles of sewing machine so you find one that is similar to yours; but as always, the manual that came with your machine should be the final authority. If you don’t have a manual, many manufacturers have downloads available from their websites.
HOW TO USE THIS BOOK
This book is divided into three sections:
Getting to Know Your Sewing Machine
Take a look at Sewing Systems and Hook Types to identify what type of sewing system your machine has—knowing this will allow you to apply specific information and advice about your particular type of sewing machine.
Look through the rest of this section for information about sewing machine features. Maintaining Your Good Relationship Refer to this section when you have questions about the best sewing machine foot to use in specific sewing situations. Read through Cleaning and Lubricating to see what maintenance you should be performing regularly on your machine.
Take a look at Other Maintenance to see what applies to your machine(s).
Problems and How to Fix Them
This section will help you address problems that occur as you are using your machine.
The Troubleshooting Guide is a great reference and will refer you to appropriate information in the book to address specific common problems.
GETTING TO KNOW YOUR SEWING MACHINE
Knowing your machine can be the difference between a happy experience or a frustrating one. This section will help you understand how things work, and that knowledge will allow you to focus more on your project and less on problems and issues with the sewing machine.
Sewing machines range from wonderfully simple—the old Singer Featherweights, for example—to the new high-tech computerized models. Regardless of the type of machine you have, the basic sewing functionality is the same: The needle takes the top thread down below the needle plate, where the hook grabs it and takes it around the bobbin thread. That creates the stitch. The feed dogs transport and release the fabric to give an even stitch length. This chapter focuses on the mechanisms that perform these functions.