Sewing Machine Repair 101

Last week as I made my way around town doing errands, I decided to swing by my parents’ home and say a quick hello.  PQP’s former Ask Mom and Shipping Department Manager retired last October, and so our daily interaction has dwindled to Sunday church/brunch and my impromptu visits.


Usually, mom and dad put in “service” requests ahead of time with me so I can make time to fix their laptop, desktops, get their cell phones back to the main screen, log them back into Netflix, figure out why their cable doesn’t work on their bedroom television, etc.  I am their IT department, and I couldn’t be happier about it!

On this particular visit, meant as a quick hug/kiss ‘nice to see you’ stop, it wasn’t really a surprise when mom asked me to fix the bobbin in her old sewing machine.  (Insert music: du – du – dummmmm!)

I hope you enjoy the account of last week’s Sewing Machine Repair adventure:

I used my key and let myself into their house so they wouldn’t be completely startled awake or out of their comfy recliners by ringing the doorbell.  After calling out “hello” from the kitchen door, they called me into the living room.  Dad was in the middle of reading a newspaper article to mom all about eagles, so I had to sit down and wait my turn.  Again, happier than a lark to wait and witness this loving, caring interaction between them.

Afterwards, our visit progressed with lively conversation, jokes and tales of my many farm animal shenanigans.  Then, mom popped the question about the bobbin.  SURE!  I’d be happy to do that before I leave!

So, we all marched back to mom’s sewing/computer room.

Mom:  (clearing things off the chair and from the sewing surface) This machine has a built-in threader, so I just need you to get the thread in the right place and also thread the needle.

Me:  Oh!  You need me to thread your needle?  I left my glasses in the car, but I bet I can handle that. (I start trying to poke the end of the thread through that tiny, tiny little hold in the needle…)

Mom:  Well, the bobbin…it’s the bobbin.  I can’t remember which way you put the end of the thread so that the machine will automatically pick it up.

Dad:   Want me to get you my glasses? (exits room)

Me:    No, dad hold off and let me try without. (I get the needle threaded.)  Let’s try and sew something because it looks like it’s ready to go, mom.  I think you got the bobbin right on your own without knowing it!

Mom:   Really?  Well, let me find you some fabric. (looking all around the room)  I don’t think I have any fabric here – it must all be in the attic from when we had the new ceilings put in.  Here’s the pouch my new sheets came in!

Me:    Ok – I’ll try to hem that a bit and we’ll see if the bobbin is in there the right way.  (I look under the sewing table to get my foot on the pedal…no pedal is in sight.)  Mom, where’s the pedal?  It’s so hot in this house….

Mom:    Oh, it’s just under there.

Me:    Um…no…it’s not.  (temperature of house…76 degrees…remove cardigan)

Mom:    (now looking around everywhere for the pedal) Well, isn’t that the funniest thing?  You’d think the pedal would be right there with the sewing machine!

Dad:   (back in the room)  Let me get you some glasses.  You can’t find the pedal? (starts looking and then heads for the attic)  Can you make it sew without the pedal?

Mom:  Yes, if you turn the handle it will make some stitches.

Me:    Oh, I can try that….I think I’ll be ok without glasses dad.  (I manually make some stitches, and discover the bobbin isn’t in correctly.)  Do you have scissors handy, Mom?

Mom:     Sure – they’re here somewhere. (looking for scissors AND the pedal now)

Dad:    You need some scissors?  Here are some scissors!  (hands me scissors)

Me:     Thanks!  (Then I got smart and opened the secret trap door to the sewing table cabinet) HERE IT IS!I  FOUND THE PEDAL!  (The crowd erupts in joy.)  Mom, you don’t have very much thread on the bobbin, why don’t we wind you a new one before I get it all set up?

Mom:    Oh, ok.  It has an automatic bobbin winder – I paid extra for that!

Me:    Oh, the bobbin winds automatically?  I thought you said the needle has a built-in threader.  I’ll have to get the manual out for this. (Reach back in the secret compartment for the manual.)

Dad:    Oh, you’ll need glasses for this.

Mom:  I’ve got some glasses! (exits room and comes back in with HER old bifocals)

So, I start reading the directions step by step (holding the manual about 3 inches from my nose so the glasses will work for me), and it’s going along just fine.  Mom and Dad are on either side of me watching everything I do.  The bobbin is winding in-place.  There is a little window so you should be able to see its progress, but since I have mom’s old bifocals on…I really can’t tell.  Periodically, I stop the winding and open the little sliding plate all the way so I can clearly see the bobbin.  Then, it happened.  The bobbin quit winding…the little sliding plate jammed.  Ugh.

Me:    Man, this is stuck!  I can’t even get this thing open to fix the position of the bobbin, and it’s definitely not wound all the way. (surely the house temperature is up to 80 by now)

Mom:     Oh dear!  Well, don’t break it.  I can take it in to the repair place down in Parkersburg.

Dad:     Do you need a screwdriver?

Mom:     No!  No screwdriver!  Don’t worry about it, I’ll take it in.

Me:    Maybe if I just use my car key to push down the bobbin the sliding thing will open…

Mom:   Be careful, don’t break it!  I can just take it in…

Dad:    Here, let me see if I can push it down out of the way…

Me:    The bobbin has a little nobby that’s keeping the thing from sliding…

Mom:   Please don’t break it….(and goes to sit down behind us, just sure we are going to break her machine)

Me:    (Eureka moment..)  Hey, wait!   The back plate is supposed to lift out...if I just use my car key to lift up the one side…(mom extremely quiet…possibly not breathing at this point)   Dad leans in grabbing the front plate and tugging……and VOILA!

Between the back plate removal and a little loving nudge at the bobbin, we got it all loosened up.  The sliding front plate miraculously got back on its track, too.  The bobbin thread had been “winding” underneath the bobbin for a while, so that made it sit higher in its little area, which jammed it into the sliding front plate.  Whew!

I was able to cut our losses, and proceeded with the newly half-wound bobbin and the instruction manual.  I fixed the tension and our sewing test was successful!

Yet another fun time with my mom and dad.  Wouldn’t trade it for the world!

Dad:   Mary, wasn’t there something you wanted Gretchen to do with your computer?