Sew, What's Up

Sew What’s Up Presents

The Sew What’s New Archive

This archived content is from Mary Wilkins’ sewing and quilting message board “Sew What’s New,” which was retired in August 2007. It is being provided by “Sew What’s Up,” which serves as the new home for many members of “Sew What’s New.”
From: PaulineG
Date: 12-09-2006, 07:14 AM (1 of 2)
What sort of things can cause the timing on a sewing machine to go out? And can it be fixed at home?

Mine is okay at the moment but I have found it has gone more often than I would expect in the past.

I know heavier duty fabric than your machine likes is one way (first time it happened) but other than that my machine seems to have low tolerance or something.
User: PaulineG
Member since: 09-08-2006
Total posts: 901
From: lamx
Date: 12-09-2006, 08:09 AM (2 of 2)
Timing is not just one adjustment, it is a combination of several. Needle bar height is the one I find most commonly out of whack, that can be caused by hitting a zipper or some other shock to the needlebar that pushes the bar up in its clamp. Then there's hook-to-needle timing, making sure the hook comes around at exactly the right instant to catch the thread loop formed at the eye of the needle. This adjustment is almost impossible to disrupt on some models and goes out at the drop of a hat on other models. Another timing adjustment is feed timing, if the machine feeds the fabric while the needle in still in the fabric, a broken needle is probable. On zig zag machines, you also have bight and pendulum adjustments for the zig zag functions. Machines with built-in camstacks to produce decorative stitches have camstack timing adjustments as well. Some other adjustments that are not really timing are hook-to-needle clearance and feed dog height. These are sometimes lumped under the category of "timing", although they really have nothing to do with timing but still affect the way your machine sews. My experience is strictly with mechanical machines, Tom can fill in what I've missed in regards to computerized models.

As to whether these adjustments can be made at home, the answer is, "it depends". If you use vintage, all-metal straight stitch machines like the Singer Featherweight, common hand tools and mediocre mechanical skills are all that's required. There are several forums on Yahoo that deal with vintage machines and you can learn there how to make the needed adjustments. When you get into plastic mechanical machines, they are sometimes difficult to disassemble and reassemble to get to the innards and take a bit more mechanical skill. I would leave electronic machines to the trained experts.

I have the feeling that some technicians tell all customers that the "timing" needed adjustment merely because it sounds costlier than "I cleaned the lint out of the lower section". It also sounds so complicated that the customer won't ask too many more questions and waste the technician's time.

User: lamx
Member since: 05-04-2006
Total posts: 44
Sew, What's Up
Search the “Sew What’s New” Archive:
Visit Sew What’s Up for the latest sewing and quilting tips and discussions.
This page was originally located on Sew What’s New ( at