Resources for DIY Sewing Machine Repair & Maintenance

Looking for information to help you re-wire a thrift store find?  Is your sewing machine tension way out of adjustment?  Maybe your zig isn't zagging anymore??

I've compiled this list of resources of "do it yourself" and "how to" guides for those people needing some help getting their sewing machine in good working order. 

Although every Sew-Classic™ sewing machine is fully serviced,  refurbished, guaranteed and includes full, after purchase support, not every sewing machine is Sew-Classic™. 

Dont' forget to check out the Sew-classic PARTS & SUPPLIES Shop!

Instructional Classes:
Ray White of White’s Sewing Center offer classes on machine repair. Here is his website for more information:

I haven’t found too many, but THE COMPLETE HANDBOOK OF SEWING MACHINE REPAIR by Howard Hutchinson is one that I have read over. It doesn’t hold your hand through the process, but it does explain how things work and many adjustments. For the more technically and mechanically inclined folks, it does offer some worthwhile information. ISBN 0-8306-1163-0

Online Sources:

Vintage Sewing Machine Repair Yahoo Group  - (for non-Singer machines) It's free to sign-up, but membership is required.

How to Replace & Adjust a Sewing Machine Belt

That "Thing-a-ma-bob"- Sewing Machine Parts Nomenclature-  The names and descriptions of common sewing machine parts from the Sew-Classic blog

Sewing Machine Maintenance PDF  General Cleaning, oiling & tune-up "How-To" with photos
from the New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service 

Products to Oil & Lubricate a Sewing Machine from the Sew-Classic Blog.

Sewing Machine Motors:
   Commutators – Surface Maintenance
   Commutator Patina Rating Guide

MORE Repair and maintenance Articles From Sew-Classic

Maintenance, troubleshooting and repair info including sewing machine TIMIING information
sewing machine TIMIING information from

The Sewing Machine Shop pages from 

Sewing Machine Restoration information from the International Sewing Machine Collectors' Society (ISMACS)

Thread Nests, Wads, Bunches, Knots, Loops & Tangles Under the Fabric in the Bobbin Area- How to fix it - Sew-Classic Blog

Adjusting Sewing Machine Tension - University of Kentucky, Cooperative Extension Service

How To Solder  Video from Popular Mechanics


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  • Friday, November 14. 2008 Shelley wrote:
    This is very helpful. Thank you
  • Sunday, December 07. 2008 Robin Denning wrote:
    Oh I am so glad you have started up this blog. What a treasure trove of information, and inspiration.
    Keep up the great work!
  • Tuesday, September 08. 2009 Wendi Hall wrote:
    I recently "acquired" a Singer 201k - 66-18 Oscillating Hook, allocation number AH 368735. I have the original manuals and what appears to be most or all of the accessories. This machine has been stored in a garage for well over 20 years and if filthy. The rubber tire on the bobbin winder needs replacement, as well as the needle, etc. I think this machine is worth refurbishing, right? I'd like to do it myself and your site is WONDERFUL!!! Anything more you can tell me about this machine?
    1. Tuesday, September 08. 2009 Sew-Classic wrote:

      First you need to determine if you have a 201k or a 66-18.  According to the serial number, and the charts on the singer site, you have a 201.  IMHO, these are WONDERFUL machines. I have a review of the Singer 201 on my blog.  All of the various sub models are basically the same machine (-2, -3, etc..) with the only difference being how the machine is powered. 

      With that said, I cannot asses a machine that I have never laid eyes on, nor can I say what would be "worth it"  for you.

      I have those bobbin winder tires in stock- quality v-belts too!
      1. Tuesday, September 08. 2009 Wendi Hall wrote:
        Thanks so much for your quick reply! Two manuals came with the machine -- one is for 201K and the second (green booklet) is for teh 66-18. I don't think this machine was converted from a treadle to electric, but the 201K manual has instructions for hand operated, treadle operated or electrically operated. I think it's a 201K also. My college bound daughter has my digital camera otherwise I'd post a photo for you. How much are the bobbin winder tires?
        1. Tuesday, September 08. 2009 Sew-Classic wrote:
          39 cents. 

          There is a free manual download for the potted motor version of the 201 (aka the 201-2) at the bottom of the review.  I doubt that what you have is a 201K.  The "K" would indicate that is was made in the Singer factory Kilbowie, Scotland, and according to the serial number that you provided, your machine came from the Elizabethport Singer factory in New Jersey.   I suspect that you have a 201-2. 
  • Tuesday, September 08. 2009 Wendi Hall wrote:
    I read your EXCELLENT review -- thanks so much for all the info! Thanks also for the clarification on the model. I was looking at the photos you have online and mine has the scrolled face plate and it's still in very nice condition. It's hard to get come of the "grime" off the machine, but I'm taking it slow. You've just been a WEALTH of knowledge -- Thank you so much!
  • Sunday, October 04. 2009 Make Money Online wrote:
    Great overview. Your style of writing is really a joy to read.
  • Monday, October 12. 2009 los angeles web design wrote:
    Thanks for providing such a great post. I have bookmarked it for my husband.
  • Thursday, October 22. 2009 roustabout jobs wrote:
    Cool animated gif. I've always been curious, but never knew how the sewing machine did its magic.
  • Monday, November 02. 2009 Wilma Mazzulli wrote:
    This website ROCKS!!!! and you're so very helpful.... I feel like an idiot when I look up something here, and you make it sound sooooo easy :o)
    I have just been gifted with a Singer Stylist 543.(my son found it in a house he's restoring) I can't seem to find it on the Singer website. Can you possibly help?
    Thanks in advance.
    1. Monday, November 02. 2009 Sew-Classic wrote:
      Not my favorite flavor of Singer, so I don't mess with them more than I am forced to.  Try this site:
  • Saturday, November 14. 2009 Ivar Fylling wrote:
    I have been searching the web for spare parts (drive belt) to a Singer 32-1 treadle machine, without success.
    I'm sure it exists. Do you have a website or supplier you can recommend?
    Thanks in advance
    1. Saturday, November 14. 2009 Sew-Classic wrote:
      Generally speaking, the treadle belts are not sold as a model specific part, but rather they come quite long and when you install them, you cut and fasten them so that they are the correct size.
  • Sunday, November 29. 2009 work at home jobs wrote:
    Really interesting, you have nicely demonstrate the mechanism of sewing machine.
  • Friday, January 08. 2010 2010 Elliptical Reviews wrote:
    Great website, very informative. My grandmother was a seamstress (hope I spelled that right). She recently passed away and reading information about sewing really makes me think of her.
  • Tuesday, February 02. 2010 apartments buenos aires wrote:
    As a regular reader of your blog I'm very grateful for such a good information that you provide every time, Tim
  • Sunday, February 14. 2010 Best Blu Ray Ripper wrote:
    Thanks a lot for the how to solder video. It helped lots and now i know how to solder
  • Monday, February 15. 2010 Polly wrote:
    Which link is the one: "Looking for information on how to re-wire a thrift store find?" I couldn't find it! Thanks!
    1. Monday, February 15. 2010 Sew-Classic wrote:
      Several of the resources listed have information about wiring and electrical repairs.  There are more entries on my blog under the "Repair and Maintenance" category that also have wiring related tutorials.  

      I also added a generic sewing machine wiring diagram right next to the "how to solder" video.

  • Friday, May 28. 2010 Abdul wrote:
    Great resources you have up here. Great work!
  • Sunday, May 30. 2010 lorene wrote:
    Hello, just found your site and am tring to take it all in.Tring to start fixing some of my machines that quit on me .I did see {1} a book you recomended. Still a little pricee for my budjet.any other resources for repair books.??
    1. Monday, May 31. 2010 Sew-Classic wrote:
      There are loads of resources on the internet.  Some are reliable, some are hogwash, but they are free.

      The other books are actually more expensive.  They are the Sincere series which are out of print.
  • Monday, July 19. 2010 megankalu wrote:
    I also have purchased a 201K, but mind is tan and it is electric driven and has a belt. The unfortunate thing is it didn't come with a manual and i have no idea how to use all the gadgets in the box that came with it. I'm told the 201K is the best Singer machine ever made back in the 40s and was very expensive. Is this true? I think i may need a foot pedal because the button on the pedal doesn't depress. It's like it's stuck, unless there's some kind of trick in using it. I just bought this last night, so it's going to be a learning experience for me. I also bought a Singer 15-91, but it doesn't have a power cord nor a manual. Any suggestions where I can get vintage parts? Thanks, megan
  • Monday, September 27. 2010 Cindy wrote:
    I have just started using my Mom's old Necchi Lelia 513 again after 35 years. It's been sitting for at least 20 years. I cleaned and oiled it. I cannot disengage the balance wheel to refill the bobbin by turning the small wheel on the outside (right side). It will fill a bobbin, but the machine still goes through the motions of sewing. Any suggestions?
    1. Tuesday, September 28. 2010 Sew-Classic wrote:
      You probably need to remove the hand-wheel and clean the area where the wheel and the shaft make contact- this can get gummed up over time.
    2. Tuesday, October 05. 2010 Polly Lacy wrote:
      Cindy, I have a Necchi group on Yahoo:

      Jenny gave you the basic info on removing the handwheel...if you still need help, we'd love to have youcome join us and we have directions for removing and cleaning the handwheel as well as doing a thorough cleaning of your machine. I have a Lelia 513 too, and love it!
  • Tuesday, September 28. 2010 Cindy wrote:
    Oh, thank you! I hate to admit that I do not know how to remove the hand-wheel. Can you tell me how?
    1. Tuesday, October 05. 2010 Sew-Classic wrote:
      back off the screw in the inner knob...remove inner knob...loosen motor bracket...pull off hand wheel.

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