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I just got a secondhand sewing machine. The straight stitch, blind stitch, and stretch stitch settings work, but the zig-zag setting doesn't (the needle doesn't move side-to-side). I plan to use the machine mostly for repairs where hand-sewing would take too long (for example, my first project is a pillowcase that needs a new hem). Is the lack of a zig-zag stitch likely to be a problem?

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Based on your planned usage of the machine, it likely won't be an issue for you. The common usages of a zigzag stitch are to allow give in a seam for stretchy fabrics (which you can handle with the stretch stitch setting), to create buttonholes (not a case you described doing), and to secure edges against fraying (which you may encounter, but can compensate for with additional straight stitch lines).

However, I would also like to propose that your zigzag stitch may not be broken, if the blind stitch is working. If you do not have a manual for your machine due to it being secondhand, search using your manufacturer and model name to find a PDF version of it to consult. You may have a stitch width setting which, if turned all the way down, would give the appearance of the zigzag stitch setting not working as the width would be "0."

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  • Nice answer. Welcome to the site. (i know you have been here for a bit.) – Matt Oct 31 '17 at 15:19
  • I've looked inside. It's clear what happened to the zig-zag stitch: the drive gear for the sideways-movement arm (the only piece of plastic in the entire machine) split in half and came off the shaft. Blind stitching still works because it uses a separate displacement cam. – Mark Oct 31 '17 at 17:55
  • @Mark The good news is that may be repairable for low cost by a local shop! – Erica Oct 31 '17 at 18:22
  • @Mark plastic in machines does have a bad habit of breaking, but I've had similar repairs done to cheap machines in the past, and they've generally been cheap repairs. If it's something you decide you can't live without in the future, it never hurts to go in for an estimate! – Allison C Oct 31 '17 at 21:04

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