How to Fix a Broken Embroidery Machine

By on October 5th, 2022
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If you’re an embroiderer, then you know that a broken embroidery machine can cause major headaches. Not only is it a waste of time and money to have your machine out of commission, but it can also be very frustrating trying to track down the right repair person to fix a broken embroidery machine.

In this article, we will discuss some tips for fixing a broken embroidery machine. We will also talk about when it is worth repairing your machine and when it might be better to just buy a new one.

I happen to know a thing or two about broken embroidery machines being that I’ve had my own machines in and out of the shop. But, I certainly wouldn’t consider myself an expert on the topic.

So, in order to learn more about broken embroidery machines (and how to fix them), I went right to my local pro. Who better to enlighten me on broken embroidery machines than someone who repairs them day in and day out?

Since I had just picked up my trusty Bernina 630 combo sewing/embroidery machine from the shop, I knew exactly who I needed to speak to about embroidery machine repair – Terry from Heyde Sewing Machine Company in St. Louis, Missouri. Fortunately, he was willing to speak with me on this very topic.

I asked Terry the following questions, sat back, listened and recorded his responses. And what a treasure trove of wisdom I received.

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Can any embroidery machine be repaired?

The first thing I wanted to know was if any embroidery machine could be repaired. I had heard rumors that “cheap” (under $500) models like the single needle Brother home embroidery machines could not be repaired. Terry debunked this myth right away.

In fact, he frequently repairs these types of broken embroidery machines. And – oftentimes they are still under warranty and the repair is covered by the manufacturer.

Like any dealer, Heyde only sells certain brands of sewing and embroidery machines. In their case, it’s Brothers and Berninas. But that doesn’t mean these are the only brands of machines they will repair.

Terry has put plenty of Brothers and Berninas back in business, but he’s also brought several old Singers as well as other brands back to life.

The lesson? Don’t assume that just because your dealer only retails a certain brand of machine, they won’t be able to repair yours if it’s another brand.

Your dealer may be able to repair your embroidery machine - even if it's not the brand they sell.
You may be surprised to see the variety of embroidery machine your local shop will repair.

What are the most common types of repairs needed?

Damaged bobbin housing

The most common type of repair that Terry sees is for the bobbin housing. The reason is because it’s quite easy to break.

If you turn the wheel backwards on your machine, it can cause the needle to hit the bobbin housing and break it. If this happens, you’ll need to replace it.

The lesson here? Don’t turn your wheel away from you on your embroidery machine – only towards you.

Broken USB port

Another common repair is a broken USB port. If you are too aggressive pushing in and pulling out your USB stick, it can break the port.

Fortunately, this is an easy repair as well. All you need to do is replace the USB port and you’ll be back in business.

But to save your USB port, it’s a good idea to invest in a USB extension cord. This way, you can plug in your USB stick without having to worry about damaging the port.

Broken power supply

Unfortunately, the broken power supply is a problem I’m quite familiar with. I just had my power supply replaced on my Bernina 630. Fortunately, it is fixable – albeit not the cheapest repair. Mine cost a few hundred dollars.

You can burn out your power supply if you plug your machine directly into the wall and you experience a power surge. To avoid this type of problem, always plug your embroidery machine into a surge protector before you plug it into the wall. And it’s always a good idea to turn off your embroidery machine when you are not using it.

What does a typical repair cost?

The cost of a typical repair will depend on the type of machine you have and the severity of the damage.

For example, if you need to replace your bobbin housing, it might be less than $100. But if you need to replace your power supply, it could be a few hundred dollars.

Generally, service and repair of multi-needle machines is more expensive than single needles. Terry said that a typical repair bill for a single needle is about $150 – $200, whereas most multi-needle repairs cost at least $200.

When is an embroidery machine worth fixing?

A multi-needle embroidery machine is often more expensive to repair than a single needle.
Multi-needle machines are often more expensive to repair than single needles.

The obvious answer to this question is that you don’t want to spend more to repair an embroidery machine than it the machine is worth. A broken motherboard can cost between $600 – $800 which can sometimes be more than what the machine is worth.

Nevertheless, sometimes people justify breaking this rule.

Let’s say, for example, that the cost to repair your embroidery machine is $500 and the machine is only worth $500, it may not seem worth fixing. However, if you have invested quite a bit into accessories for the machine, you should consider the value of those as well. It also may be worth fixing if you plan to use the machine for a couple more years, and you think you can resell it for a few hundred dollars. If this were the case, it may be worth repairing.

Another reason why you may opt to fix your embroidery machine (even if it’s expensive relative to the value of the machine) is that you simply can’t bear to part with it. Some people have a serious sentimental attachment to their embroidery machine and will fix it at any price. Hey – I’m not judging.

What are some tips for preventing embroidery machine problems?

Now that we’ve talked about some of the most common types of repairs and how you might justify the cost of the repair, let’s talk about how to prevent them in the first place.

First and foremost, always use a surge protector. This is the best way to protect your machine from power surges that can damage the delicate electronic components.

Secondly, be gentle with your USB port. Avoid pushing and pulling on the stick too hard, as this can damage the port. If you’re concerned about damaging the port, invest in a USB extension cord.

Third, keep your machine clean. Threads, lint and dust in the machine can prevent your machine from working properly. Terry explained that if a piece of thread gets caught in a specific spot inside of a Bernina, it can completely disable the entire machine.

Finally, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance and care of your machine. Oil your machine regularly and bring your machine in for service when it is due.

A good guideline is to get your embroidery machine serviced after every 1500 hours of use. (Many embroidery machines keep track of the number of hours of use – and your repair person will reset it after service is done.) This will help to prevent problems and extend the life of your machine.

By following these simple tips, you can avoid many common embroidery machine problems – and save yourself a lot of money

Are some brands of embroidery machines more reliable than others?

When it comes to keeping your embroidery machine out of the shop, there are a few brands that tend to be more reliable than others.

Terry explained that while Brothers and Berninas are both great machines (which is why Heyde sells both brands), he prefers working on Brothers. He also noted that Brothers tend to need fewer repairs.

Terry said that Brother embroidery machines are an excellent value with a simple, straight-forward design. Plus, Brother offers great support.

Berninas, on the other hand, are over-complicated, over-engineered and break more easily. When they run – they run great, but they often require a bit more attention.

Can you repair your embroidery machine yourself?

If you are mechanically minded, you may be tempted to dive right in and try to fix your machine yourself.

However, if you are not a trained repair person, this is not recommended.

Embroidery machines are complex machines with delicate electronic components. Unless you know what you’re doing, it’s best to leave repairs to the professionals. Terry (and other dedicated repair people) have had thousands of hours of training and experience working with broken embroidery machines. It’s worth it to hire a professional.

Plus, you probably won’t be able to get the parts you need anyway. The embroidery machine companies will not sell replacement parts to individuals, only licensed dealers.

Can you recycle your broken embroidery machine?

If you are ready to part with your machine, you may be disappointed to know that there are not many uses for a broken embroidery machine’s parts. Terry said that there are only a few parts of an embroidery machine that might be worth keeping, specifically the feet, hook and cams.

He also noted that some people dump their broken embroidery machines off at Goodwill. So, if you see one for sale at a thrift story – be wary. It may not be worth repairing.

You may be able to recycle some parts of your embroidery machine.
You may be able to recycle some parts of your embroidery machine

Fixing your broken embroidery machine

If you embroider a lot, it’s almost inevitable that you will need to get your embroidery machine fixed. But, it’s best to try to avoid it. If you follow some simple tips in order to prevent common embroidery machine problems, you can save yourself a lot of money and aggravation.

Additionally, if your machine does break, it is best to leave the repairs to the professionals. They will have the experience and knowledge necessary to get your machine up and running again.

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How to fix your broken embroidery machine.

6 thoughts on “How to Fix a Broken Embroidery Machine

  1. I’ve discovered that simply unplugging and replugging the machine from the wall sometimes works wonders, just like your computer.

  2. Those are wonderful tips. My problem with my Destiny 11 is always the threader getting bend. These machines are so heavy it’s almost impossible to take in and get up the stairs.
    You are the best with sharing your knowledge.

  3. Hi,

    Sorry you had to wait so long for a power cord. You could have found one on Ebay for less than $8.00. I always search for parts there first, for my embroidery machines and for my car. Nothing worse than going in for a repair and being totally clueless about the cost of parts.

    1. Yes – I wish it was just the cord.

  4. Can you ask Terry why I have to have a dealer just to change a LIGHT BULB! on Brother SE1900?

    1. HMMM. I’m wondering if you can buy the bulb from somewhere else besides a dealer? Have you looked on YouTube to see if anyone has made a video about this?

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