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Sewing machine repair: Hook timing

Hook timing is a fairly common problem that sends many sewers running to the repair shop. When it happened the first time on my older Kenmore, I decided to try to repair it myself first. My thinking was, since it’s a mechanical machine with mostly metal parts, as long as I was careful, I couldn’t really hurt anything. I probably would have thought twice before attempting it on a computerized machine.

All machines are a little different, so what worked on mine may not work on yours. Something I recommend to everyone who wants to work on their own sewing machine, is getting a copy of the service manual. Honestly, I still need to do this. There’s tons of info online, but having the actual service manual is even better. You should have an owner’s manual on hand, too. It  covers basic care and maintenance. For repairs, though, the service manual will give you technical instructions and confidence. 

Hook Timing?

Before taking things apart, determine if hook timing is causing the problem. If the needle (top) thread isn’t picking up the bobbin (bottom) thread, hook timing is a prime suspect. It’s always a good idea to rule out simple problems first, though. Try swapping the needle, rethread the machine and sew on some scrap fabric. If it’s been a while since you’ve dusted the lint out of the bobbin case or you’ve been sewing on linty material, give it a good cleaning.

Once you’ve tried the easy fixes, if it still isn’t working right, look at how the needle and the bobbin hook intersect. This page, https://tv-sewingcenter.com/general/sewing-machine-timing-hook-timing, has illustrations, photos and descriptions for where they should meet on both rotary and oscillating machines. 

Taking a look at my oscillating hook.

My machine is an oscillating machine, so the hook tip should pass just above the eye of the needle. Mine was passing below the needle’s eye, so clearly the hook timing needed adjustment.

Open it up

The first and honestly the hardest step was figuring out where all the screws were that I needed to remove to take off the casing. (Actually, the first step was to turn off and unplug the machine. If you’re attempting this at home, do not skip this step!) On my Kenmore, I have to take off the side by the hand wheel, a plate on the bottom, and the front panel. 

More cleaning

While I have my machine open, I like to take the opportunity to clean it out and oil it. Oiling a linty machine, using the wrong oil or putting it in the wrong places can cause tons of problems, though, so if you’re not sure, stick to dusting only.

Find and adjust

Next, I tilted the machine on to it’s back so I could get a good look at the mechanism that rotates the hook. Once I had isolated that, I found a hex head set screw. Loosening that allowed me to gently adjust the hook position so that the tip passed just above the needle’s eye.

About in the middle, just above the motor is a silver piece with a round, black screw near the top. That is the set screw I loosened to adjust the hook timing.

When I was sure I had it properly positioned, I tightened the set screw. I turned the hand wheel a few more times, making sure everything still looked good before I put the casing back. A quick test run showed everything was working properly again.

Done!

It’s so satisfying to be able to make simple repairs to my machines myself, especially when most repair shops start around $75 and go up from there, depending on what needs to be done. 


Hook timing
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Early Morning Gauzy Tunic Refashion

In keeping with my desire to be more conscientious with my clothing, I shopped my closet for clothes that aren’t bad, but need a little refashioning to make me feel comfortable in them.  I’ve had this gauzy tunic top hanging in my closet for a while. It felt nice and lightweight, but I just never felt like wearing it.

Originally it was a pale, pastel blue. I thought maybe a color change would help, since I’m not big on pastels. I added it to a black Rit dye batch a few weeks ago, turning it a nice, dark grey. When I put it on yesterday morning, though, it still wasn’t quite right.

Early morning=terrible lighting

The sleeves had weird cuffs sewn on that were an awkward length and oddly tight. I decided they had to go.

See the blue thread? That was the original shirt color.

Rather than ripping out the seam, I simply cut away the cuffs as close to the seam as possible. I could have folded and hemmed the sleeves, but I planned to wear the tunic that day, so I wanted a quicker way of finishing them.

Still too dark.


Instead of hemming, I used my serger to make a rolled overcast edge where I had removed the cuffs. Not only was this quick, it gave the sleeves a light, breezy feel that, in my opinion, fits better with the overall style of the shirt. With the new color and sleeves, I can see myself getting much more wear out of this tunic shirt. 

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Like Cats and Dogs

While we were away, Chris did a ton of work on the house. He also tackled a major challenge: making sure our cats and dogs get along. Merlin was old and mean, so the dogs left him alone other than an occasional nose-touch in passing. The kittens, on the other hand, are young and run and jump and play and desperately want to be friends with the dogs.

Shadow is a little afraid of them, so she mostly avoids them. Jake is still a bit of a puppy himself, so he takes much more interest in them. The problem is he is an eighty-plus pound Pit Bull and they are five month old kittens. We have had concerns that he might be interested in them as kitty-snacks, so their interactions have involved kennels or leashes and been limited.

This past week, however, Chris took advantage of the quiet to properly introduce Jake to the kitties. The end result is adorable.

I do worry about accidental injuries because Jake is so much bigger, so I still keep a close eye on them. He really is very sweet and gentle with the kittens though. When we first let them out together in the mornings, the kittens rub all over his legs and purr while he has his big, goofy, happy pit smile on his face.

Angel is the feisty runt, so Jake tolerating him is awesome.
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Road Trip

Last week, the kiddos and I loaded up the Suburban and took a road trip to the Panhandle. For some reason, that’s where almost all of my family lives. I don’t get it, either.

This is pretty much the view for most of the 6+hour trip. At least you get to see wind generators in this shot.

Anyway, we spent a little over a week visiting and driving while Chris stayed here and worked. It was a good trip, but I did learn a few things:

  1. I will take DFW traffic over two lane highways any day.
  2. Semi-trucks driving 80 mph make me ranty.
  3. My driving style is sarcastic.
  4. I still love my old 93 Suburban way better than the 2003 Deville it replaced.
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Cats are weird

After my kitty Merlin died earlier this summer at the ripe old age of fifteen, we decided we would like to adopt a pair of kittens. I always felt a little sad that Merlin never had a kitty friend. But, by the time we really started thinking about a second cat, Merlin was old and cranky. I wasn’t sure he would like another cat around, so we waited.

Kitty Merlin

In July, I began looking for a pair of kittens to adopt and found a local family needing to find homes for their three kittens. How could I just leave one sibling behind? Not possible. So we ended up with three eight week old kittens, one female and two males.

Buffy:

Spike:

Angel:

Based on those names, everyone reading now knows my age and that I am a huge nerd. 

Anyway, like a responsible kitty owner, I took Buffy to be spayed yesterday. Spike and Angel aren’t off the hook, but taking care of the little lady first removes the immediate litter of kitties threat. Imagine my surprise when I picked Buffy up and learned that Buffy was, in fact, a boy. 

This news, of course, left me questioning whether Buffy’s brothers were actually brothers. Again, all kitties are destined for that trip to the vet, but females get top priority due to babies and certain health risks. 

After spending a weird afternoon Googling variations of “how to tell if a cat is male or female” and comparing the results to my intact furballs, I am fairly certain I do, in fact, have three males. Typical for me, really. I also think that by their current age, I would have realized Buffy was a boy if I had actually looked. Until yesterday, though, I didn’t see the need to double-check.

One thing I learned is that, at TCAP at least, when in doubt, register cats as female. If they turn out to be male, they will continue with the surgery. Spaying is harder and has more potential complications, so if your cat is a surprise female, they won’t perform the surgery at that time.

As a reminder, from now through the end of September, use coupon code “HELLOFALL18” to save 25% off of your entire order at the SubEarthan Cottage shop.