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  • Writer's pictureAndi Settlemoir Barney

Can I learn to service sewing machines?

This might be one of the most common questions I get on a daily basis (second would be, "what's wrong with my machine?"). It's a question that's haunted me for years. If you've read the 'About Me' page, you'll know that my start in sewing machine business was a humble and difficult road.

The issue is that there really isn't a school or vocational program that teaches sewing machine service and repair. There are really three ways, at this time, to learn machine service. One is to find someone that will teach you or offer you an apprenticeship. There aren't many options here, as most of the old sewing machine guys of yesteryear have retired or passed on. It is the best way, because it is "organic" and focused on mechanics. But again, finding someone to do this with you is rare.

For one, anyone still doing traditional repairs (i.e. not a dealer) is likely so buried in work that there just isn't time to apprentice with someone. Also, there is some old-school thinking out there that if you share any of your knowledge, people will only take from you, so most technicians hoard their knowledge.

The second way is to become a dealer. If you are interested in learning specifics to modern machines, which includes having access to genuine brand parts and computer motherboards, etc., the only way to achieve this is to become a dealer or to become a technician for a dealer.

The third way is to check out one of the few programs that exist. Do some Google work and you'll find a handful of programs and workshops that are popping up to teach various aspects of sewing machine repair. Ray White in Missouri teaches mostly vintage service, but the basics apply to most machines. A gentleman in Ohio has a range of classes from basic domestic all the way through industrial/commercial. There is a program in Texas that offers 3-day intensives and advanced classes from a reputable dealer and technician. Sew Purty Workshops travels the country to teach you full restoration on antique machines. And shops like myself are offering more and more to keep our industry alive.

Our shop already offers a comprehensive Featherweight service class, and this Fall we are rolling out the Vintage & Antique Cleaning Workshop, followed by the Vintage & Antique Service Workshop. We'll later add an electrical and gear replacement workshop, motor service workshop, and eventually, a full-on sewing machine service workshop that will cover modern machines.

Watch for our next blog post with an exciting announcement!

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