I have inherited a sewing machine from my grandmother and have just started sewing. How do I tell that my machine needs a service? Is there a recommended schedule or some tell-tale sign that it's time for one?

  • 1
    I think it's a good idea to start with a service, for who knows what is the last time your grandmother serviced it?
    – Ji Ugug
    Apr 27, 2016 at 17:38
  • What kind of sewing machine do you have? The answer may differ according to this: e.g. Singers last much longer than electric sewing machines and (I think) require less attention. May 22, 2016 at 13:15

3 Answers 3


It never hurts to take a machine that is new to you in for a servicing, because you don't really know how it's been treated, and what it may need. At that time, it's not a bad idea to talk to the person servicing the machine. Different models and brands of machines may need different work, and different usage levels and types of projects may require more regular servicing than others.

I'm pretty irregular at getting my machines serviced - and my Viking has held up very well to my abuse. But it's always good take it in for service if:

  • thread is getting stuck or breaking frequently
  • you are breaking lots of needles
  • the machine's engine does not sound like a regular repeatable sound
  • you see signs of oil anywhere on your fabric or your hands
  • the thread will not catch (so the machine won't sew)

Keep in mind that service schedules may not be instantaneous.. at least near me, the folks who can service a sewing machine are getting rarer. So I plan at least 2 weeks of service time if my machine is acting funny.


I'm making an assumption this is a treadle, but correct me. I will try to make my answer "power neutral". Any of the following would prompt me to service the unit:

  • If the belt slips, or is very much cracked.

  • If the bobbin winding wheel (usually a rubber ring) is very cracked.

  • If it has been sitting unused for more than 10 years.

  • If something pulls hard.

    Once you start using it, find a manual for the machine. Look at the manual for the type of Oil, and other Lubricants. I'm personally able to keep mine happy & lubricated & adjusted.

My 27-3 Singer, does have a bearing/slider, that must have been locked up for many many years. It has 3/8" of the 1/2" round slider, just FLAT. I keep it lubed, but I do have a replacement part, for when I'm in the mood.


Another thought - if your machine is vintage or older, or you have any doubts about electric wiring, then get it checked over before use. The insulation standards of the day weren't great, and since then heat, UV and Ozone all contribute to wiring deterioration.

Do give a try at servicing your machine. A bit of light machine oil (literal sewing machine oil) does wonders for moving parts.

Truly the phrase "purring like a well oiled sewing machine" makes a lot of sense when you've just oiled your machine and it sounds very happy.

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