Friday, December 4, 2009

It costs HOW MUCH for a tune-up?!!!

Singer Esteem machine = $100 USD

Tune-up at the local sew-vac store = $79.95


I received a Singer mechanical machine for a high school graduation gift in 1994. (Quit doing the calculations. I'm 33 years old.) That machine cost $200 and I never had it serviced. I never even oiled it. It finally broke in 2002. I kept meaning to have it repaired but never got around to it since sewing wasn't my hobby of choice at the time. My husband finally got tired of seeing it and threw it in a dumpster. He redeemed himself by buying me a new machine.

Enter the Singer Esteem. Nothing fancy; 32 stitches and 1-step buttonhole. That's all I need. I even promised to take care of the machine. I didn't use it much last year but I oiled it as described in the manual. This year the machine is seeing much more action so I debated about paying for a tune-up. It has started squeaking like crazy despite cleaning and oiling. I took it down to the Sew-Vac shop. They tried to talk me into a tune-up for $79.95. You have got to be kidding me! I could just buy a new machine and keep the old one for parts.

I'm going to sew on this machine until it dies and then buy another. It is crazy to think about how many things are cheaper to buy new than repair. How do these repair shops expect to stay in business?

That got me thinking. How difficult would it be to learn some basic sewing machine repair and fix my own or others?

Apparently not that difficult. There are several DIY books you can buy or download for less than $30. I downloaded the Sew it Works! book for $19.95. I would pass on this one if I were you. It covers many of the basics but it still didn't help me fix my squeaking machine. The book warns you to not over-oil your machine but it doesn't tell you where it is okay to oil your machine. I found better advice at free.

I found a great review for a 3-day sewing machine repair class through White Sewing Center. It costs $795 though. Pass. Mr. White does, however, offer a good selection of parts and tools at good prices.

EDITED 12-11-09:  Buyer beware of e-books by David Trumble or purchases at any of these sites: OR  OR  OR (inaccurate links, difficulty downloading products, disconnected contacts, etc.)

Reuben O'Doyle has self-published repair books for treadle, sewing, and serger machines. He also published a how-to book for running your own sewing machine repair business. Each of the repair books costs $20-$25 at his eBay store, Sew Many Things.

Gresslin Information Center offers a sewing machine repair manual on CD-Rom for $39.95. It includes generalities for all machines and then gives specifics for many Singers and a few Pfaff, Neechi and Viking machines. If you buy their combo with the vacuum cleaner manual, it is only another $10. (I can just see my husband rolling his eyes when I have the vacuum cleaner in 20 different pieces on the floor!) You can view the table of contents for the sewing machine manual here.

On the much pricier end California Academy of Sewing Machine Repair offers DVDs at $49.95 each. There are a ton of DVDs, many of them specific to a brand series. I'm guessing you could get by with ordering just the first 2 in the series but it's still rather pricey.

If you want free information, here are a few of my picks:
  2. How to Clean a Sewing Machine
  3. How to Repair a Sewing Machine
  4. How to Repair Singer Sewing Machines
I'm leaning towards the Gresslin CD-Rom. I'm so damn irritated by the overcharging for sewing machine repairs that I'm willing to spend $80 just to learn how to avoid sew-vac shops in the future. Look for a future post(s) regarding cleaning, oiling, and troubleshooting for sewing machines. I like to share (smiling).

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