When I started posting about sewing machines, the intention was to cover what I was doing along with some of the maintenance we should all be doing and some of the basic repairs that nearly everyone could do.
Eventually, I started to get requests for certain posts and videos which is extremely flattering. It told me that people were enjoying – and learning from – what I was doing. Some of the requests have been excellent suggestions and often form the basis of the posts you’ve seen on this site.
Some other requests though have been for videos or posts or private help on major work. I thought today I should clarify my position on this a little bit.
Let’s look at an analogy:
Many generous mechanics and handy people will (and do) show people how to change spark plugs (maintenance), maybe brake pads (maintenance/basic repair) or maybe even something like changing the airbag module light bulb that always burns out on some very specific vehicles we’ve owned (basic repair) – *mutter mutter mutter* I digress.
Very few if any though are going to do an entire video or post on how to remove an engine to change the timing chain, then reinstall the engine (and have it work).
This is actually more similar to some sewing machine repairs than you might think!
They’ll probably suggest a mechanic or if they’re licensed and in your area, they may offer to do the work for you – for a fee. Their time is worth something to them – their education and experience has taught them that. Their off-time is also worth something to them – maybe more – even if they donate some of that off-time by doing free videos or blog posts.
Similarly, there are many things I consider when it comes to whether I’ll cover a particular process:
- It was never my intention to cover major repairs or complete tear downs of machines. There is a time and a place where sewing machine technicians (of whom I am one!) are worth their weight in gold. Some jobs require service manuals* and some jobs require more than the service manuals. Service manuals are not always that good. Sometimes, even with a service manual – experience will make the difference between success and a box of parts – partly because the service manual assumes it’s being used by a trained technician. My goal is to empower vintage machine enthusiasts not marginalize the value of sewing machine technicians.
- Some projects don’t lend themselves very well to long distance hands-off fixes. Some things really do need to be seen to be diagnosed. Even a mismatch in terminology can sabotage the success of this sort of thing. I once had someone tell me that the bobbin string thing wasn’t running. I had to ask the person about 10 questions before we could get on the same page.
- Some things are way bigger in scope than a person realizes. I get caught out every once in a while even still sometimes.
- Do I have the time to do it right? (As it is, there’s at least one video out there that I’m really not happy with but it’s popular, so I leave it.) The time commitment to make videos and posts on very technical things, especially posts with a lot of photos is significant. On the average, even a stream of consciousness video takes me about 10-12 times longer to create it than the actual length of the video. Posts generally take me a half to a full day and go through an average of 13 revisions unless the photos require a lot of setup – then there’s more time involved. This is even harder when someone needs information yesterday. My current backlog is about 15 months and my current email response time is greater than 10 days. Seriously.
- Support – When I make a how-to video or post, there’s always a percentage of people who want clarification of a point, have trouble with a step or two, or say “Hey! I have a related issue, it’s…” And that is perfectly fine and expected. My point though is that support takes time as well. Let’s say 10 people have a question about rebuilding a specific tensioner. How many will need extra support with a major repair?
- Availability of a victim machine. This is the main reason I cover largely Singer machines and generally only machines that I already own. The cost involved for me to acquire all the machines I’ve been asked about so I could do posts or videos is unrealistic. What I try to impart instead is the theory. You may notice that most of my posts and videos often also cover the why as well as the how. I do this because – for me at least – if I know why something does what it does, I can usually figure out how it’s supposed to do it – even if it’s a different model or brand. This is the tool I’m trying to offer the community.
- *Added Aug 22, 2017 – Is this a request to provide free support for a company who was paid to fix someone’s machine but didn’t do it right? These will be denied immediately. Here’s the thing: If you paid for a service and it wasn’t done right – take it back and tell them it’s not done right. How is it right for you to pay someone else for service, them to get paid for nothing and then this somehow falls to me to provide free support for the company who didn’t do their job? This time investment as described above belongs to them, not me.
* and no, I won’t send anyone service manuals for machines that are still on warranty or manuals I have access to because of my training, qualifications, or affiliations! I sign agreements stating that I won’t do that. And yes, I have been asked.
If you’ve read this far – Thank You! Please believe, I’m not trying to snub the community that we’ve built here. Instead, I need to set some clear boundaries. This way, hopefully we’re all on the same page and can just enjoy ourselves.