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Members of SCA-Garb

  • In general, oil anywhere you see metal moving on metal when you turn the handwheel by hand. Use solid lubricant (sold under the Singer label in a tube) or white lithium grease you can find in auto repair stores on plastic gears or anywhere you see in the machine where a thick grease was used.
  • In oiling, don't forget the hinges of the take up arm and underneath the machine. If you remove the hook in the bobbin race to clean it, put a drop of oil back in the race before you reseat the hook.
  • Take out the needle and bobbin case, over oil the machine about twice over (if it calls for 3 drops, use 6) and run the machine for about 10 minutes straight. This heats up the old oil, penetrating lubricant and anything else that shouldn't be there, and allows the new good oil to get into the joints. Wipe down everything and you should be good to go.


  • get all of the fluff out from the bobbin area often.
  • change needles frequently (which I never remember to do.. erp!)
  • the flat bit at the top of the needle goes in back.
  • don't pull the fabric though; let the machine take it at the speed it needs it.
  • make sure your bobbin is threaded correctly.
  • make sure the bobbin case is in correctly, too.
  • oil all of the moving bits that need to be oiled regularly.
  • take it to be tuned up/looked at/for preventive maintenance on a semi-regular basis.
  • when using a button-hole attachment on an old sears-kenmore (you know, the big weird-looking greenish-gray plastic thing with the wheel and the hole in the middle of it?) always drop the feed dogs.
  • if you change the throat plate to the little, straight stitch hole, remember to change it back when you're done, so you don't forget later, and try to zigzag something with the wrong throat plate.
  • whatever you do, don't try to stitch though steel boning. It won't work.
  • for set-in sleeves, make sure the seams match up, like sides together. (I never remember to do this.)
  • check the tension first.
  • when you get stuck because the bobbin thread is tangled with the topthread, and you have a huge clump of ickyness, and the needle won't budge, don't tug on it, try and wiggle the hand wheel to see if you can raise the needle (if it won't work, snip the thread somewhere between the spool and the needle, and unscrew the needle, removing it that way.) and gently slide some sharp scissors under your work, severing threads, and NOT cutting your lovely fabric. Then, open up, get all of the offending threads out of the way, fix your bobbin, check the tension, get a new needle, and try again. (Can you tell this happens to me a lot?)