Home sewing machines ALL broken

I was very frustrated yesterday at sewing project night as I wasted a bunch of time trying and failing to get two of the home sewing machines to work. Right now we about half a dozen home sewing machines lying around that no one uses anymore because they need repairs.

The Singer Simple has been the one consistently working machine for a while, but I think some cam shaft inside has slipped and the feed dogs go up and down but no longer move back and forth to pull the fabric through. The Singer heavy duty keeps getting it’s top thread stuck in the bobbin, which may be due to a missing bobbin cover.

I hate that the machines are always broken until Tiffany or I fix them. I don’t even use home sewing machines so it just feels like pointless sacrifice to always be fixing them. Since I put signs on the industrial machines about not using them if you don’t know how, and since I’ve been showing up to sewing project night to teach people how to use the machines, the industrial machines have had great up time and are all working. I want to spend most of sewing project night actually sewing and not fixing machines for other people, so I’d like to propose the following:

  1. Some machines like the Singer Simple need to be completely taken apart to be fixed. I’m not interested in doing this because it’s time consuming, and it the machines stay at Noisebridge they’re likely to break again due to being too flimsy for public abuse. But, I’d be happy to tell people they can take the home sewing machines home for free if they can fix them, and they can fix it at sewing project night with my guidance

  2. Other machines don’t have to be taken apart to be fixed, for example, I’d like to try buying a replacement bobbin cover for the Singer Heavy Duty to see if that keeps everything in place so the thread doesn’t get caught. Let’s fix these and put aggressive signage on them like on the industrial machines about not using them if you don’t know how

  3. Going forward, let’s only accept home sewing machine donations that are heavy duty, such as the Singer Heavy Duty or the Janome HD3000. I think regular sewing machines can’t survive Noisebridge and break too easily in ways that are difficult to repair.

What do people think?

I agree, I was helping out a few people the other day, and noticed a lot of the home use machines had a few issues and they ended up hand sewing the things they needed.

Also having the sewing machines on the fire escape is absolutely a fire hazard. Though I think another issue is people dont know where the replacement parts (needles, feet, bobbins are, and just try to use the wrong needle or thread since it is a hassle to rethread or put a new needle in.

As part of the noisebridge digital repair hackathon I am planning to have the sewing machine pages updated and attach new qr codes to the machines. Also have more of the manuals digitally accessible.

Based on seeing people at sewing project night, I believe the source of the issue is people who don’t know how to use the machines trying to use them. I don’t think it’s an issue of people being unable to find replacement parts – very few people even know how to determine whether or not to replace a part in the first place.

People are pretty good about knowing how to google for manuals, the issue is things that are way better with a teacher in person, for example someone was putting the thread end over the foot yesterday instead of under it and it made their sewing a loopy mess. I firmly believe that people should not use the sewing machines by themselves if they haven’t done it before as there’s plenty of ways to screw up if you have no idea what you’re doing, and the machines get broken when abused.

Fixed the Singer Heavy Duty and put a sign on it DO NOT USE IF YOU DON’T KNOW HOW – learn at Sewing project night

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