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when to start requiem for machine

sewfar | Posted in General Discussion on

My Elna 8000, computerized bought in 1995, is acting up. It breaks the top thread, skips stitches sometimes, sews goofy zig zags and other stitches especially on knits and it is generally not dependable. But every time I say that’s it, no more, I am going shopping and getting a new one it seems to recover just enough to give me hope. What are the signs of computerized machine brain dementia ? Because of its age and mileage I would like to get an inkling if that it the problem. I did have it adjusted a couple of years ago and the repairman told me it was a poor model and I am pretty sure the problem is none of the usual problems like needle, burrs, or dust. I would appreciate your input as to the signs of computer failure before I put her out to pasture. thanks


  1. ohiostar | | #1

    The time is now. It's just not fun to sew with a machine that performs poorly. Your machine is a tool, and as such, it's not possible to do great work with poor tools. Get a new one and don't look back. JMHO, but add a new feature that your old machine didn't have. Good luck!

  2. ljb2115 | | #2

    IMHO there is a time for all poorly performing sewing machines to go to "machine heaven".  I am a "sometimes" sewing instructor and I have seen machines which were brought to class that should have been thrown out a three-story window.  Go to a dealer whom you trust (and like), try out a myriad of machines - inexpensive to the best and treat yourself to a decent machine.  This will enhance your sewing time and  keep your sanity.


  3. Teaf5 | | #3

    I agree that an poorly functioning machine will discourage you from sewing. 

    However, one tiny thing to check before you chuck it:  are there any magnetic pincushions, scissor holders, or any other magnetic devices anywhere near your sewing machine?  Magnets, even the lightweight ones that hold name badges on, can completely foul a computer.  If it sometimes works and sometimes doesn't, maybe something like a pin holder is confounding it.

    1. sewfar | | #4

      Thanks. I have always been so careful but I will check again. I may well have a magnet nearby that is not obvious.

  4. meg | | #5

    Are you sure that your thread is not a culprit? Have you taken it in to an experienced repair shop to see if it can be adjusted? You do deserve equipment which performs well!

    1. sewfar | | #6

      I did try different threads, needles and tensions as well as cleaning every nook and cranny with a vacuum cleaner, canned air and a flashlight. It has been in the shop before and as it is I think I would be throwing good money after bad if I try again. I am probably gun shy as we just had an expensive repair on a newer refrigerator. The repairman warned me that it was a gamble and I lost !

      Edited 7/3/2009 3:42 pm ET by sewfar

      1. MaryinColorado | | #7

        I never use canned air in a sewing machine or serger!  NEVER!  It can cause them to freeze up.  It can push particles deeply into the parts too.  Mary

        1. sewfar | | #8

          Ouch, I did not know that. This is my first can and first use. Sounds like it may not be really good for anything. I have always just used my mini vacuum attachments and I thought they were the greatest invention when I discovered them. So glad you informed me about canned air before I went around nonchalantly spraying the rest of my world !!

          1. MaryinColorado | | #9

            Just sharing the information that was shared with me by quite a few people when I got my first embroidery machine....then I was horrified when an instructor came from behind me in a class and sprayed the canned air into my new (at the time) serger....all was well but I was really shook up. 

          2. sewluving | | #10

            Wow, glad someone said this.  I have been planning on getting some of that 'canned air' (isn't that just the weirdest thing.......canned air?? - just strikes me as funny when air is all around us......LOL) so now will not bother if it messes with the machines.  Yikes.

          3. MaryinColorado | | #11

            People have used it for years in photography to get rid of all those little dust particles.  But compressed air would just push fibers and dirt deeply into your machine parts.  At least that's what I strongly believe.  Not worth the risk. 

          4. sewluving | | #12


            Yes, I know about the air for cameras and I thought it was also used around computers so thought it would be safe for sewing machines and sergers.  I sure won't use it though.  I am using a 12 yr old Kenmore sewing machine.  I would love to have a fancy machine one day.  My sister sews many many quilts and has a wonderful Janome 6600 I think it is.  She lives 2000 miles away but I have seen it.  I know hers was so much more expensive than mine so I know she will want to know not to ever use compressed air. I don't know if she knows this little informationor not but will let her know for sure.

            Thanks again, from Heather in Calgary

          5. MaryinColorado | | #13

            Any sewing machine these days is a big investment.  My mother in law got a nice Brother machine this year with lots of bells and whistles, unlimited classes, and on site maintanance for under $400.00 on sale. 

            I had a wonderful top of the line Necchi for many years that I'd still be using if it hadn't been stolen.  For the past 12 years I've been sewing on Husqvarna Vikings and just love them.  I have the Rose, the Designer I, and the Huskylock 936 Serger.  They are very sturdy and reliable and I really put them through alot.  Again, free classes and on site factory authorized service is paramount to me, even though I've rarely needed it. 

            If you end up needing a new machine, you might want to consider checking out the previously loved reconditioned (and maybe warranted too) machines at a reputable dealership.  My Viking Rose was used in classes so I got a great deal on it.  They also have great discounted on machines used for sewing/quilting expos. 

            http://www.patternreview.com has good sewing machine reviews written by owners. 

            I'd watch out for the (usually 2 models at least) lowest end machines on any brand.  They are usually not made in the same factories or countries as the rest of the machines.  I believe all the major brands do this so buyer beware...have heard many dissapointed sewists comment about it. 

            I hope your machine will be working fine for you again.  If not, think of it like buying a car and test drive and do alot of research first.  Mary

          6. sewluving | | #14

            My machine works okay but sometimes I wonder what a new machine would be like.  I'm almost 64 and have sewn since in grade 7 at school oh so many years ago.  I don't do as much as I did when my children were small.  I also have two little grandsons.  Had hoped for a granddaughter so I could sew little dresses etc.  Oh well.......not to be.  I usually just sew p.j.'s, housecoats and easy things these days.

            I became paralyzed almost 6 years ago due to Transverse Myelitis but now can walk with cane, walker etc. I am able to sew after re-learning how much pressure to put on the pedal.  I now also drive with a left-foot accelorator in my car.  So life is not so easy but I am so l glad that I have full use of my hands and arms and can still do sewing, needlework and crochet etc.  I was so fortunate in this way.

            I would like to motivate myself to quilt.  Perhaps THIS winter I will get into it.  :)

            Perhaps if I sewed 'more' I would think a new machine would be worth it.  I do love the one my sister has with push button start stop, lots of fancy stitches, great sewing and so very quiet etc.  She has MS too and mostly stays in.  She has made some absolutely beautiful quilts too.  She bought her machine from a dealer after it was used as a demo at a quilt show.  She has actually got a couple of machines that way and they have been a lot less expensive and the dealer lives quite close by.

            Heather in Calgary

            Edited 7/7/2009 12:09 am by sewluving

          7. MaryinColorado | | #15

            You are such an inspiration.  With all your struggles, you do what you can to rise above the obstacles put in your way.  Good for you, and thank you for sharing your story.  I'm happy to hear that you have come so far and now are able to even drive again.  I'm sure that took alot of determination and hard work to accomplish. 

            I too have been sewing since my youth.  I always loved creating one of a kind clothing.  Last year I decided to take a break from fitting woes.  It was just too frustrating at the time.  I've finally realised it isn't the fitting so much as accepting that this is the body I have now, and this is the life I have now.  This ended up being a blessing as I have really enjoyed learning about quilting and art quilts.  It's okay if it takes a year to complete a project...no one is going to "grow out of it".  I don't  like to tackle the large quilts, but twin sized, lap quilts, placemates, and wallhangings and other small items.  Each of my grandkids have quilts from me, some they have helped design, chose fabrics for, and sewn with me. 

            I work on more than one at a time.  I hang them up in the sewing room so I can see them and decide what to add as the inspiration strikes.  I might add some embroidery, beading, applique, different fibers or use ribbon for a flower's stem, maybe I'll paint on some details, shading, or words and eventually free motion quilt it or maybe even do some threadpainting.  There are so many ways to embellish them.  It's like playing again. 

            If I don't feel well enough to work on them for several weeks, it's okay.  It's about the process not the end product anymore. 

          8. gailete | | #16

            Heather the newer machine have so many ways to make sewing easier for those of us with disabilities of all sorts. My main sewing machine is a Janome 6500 and at times I truly want to hug it. I finally managed to get a Janome 9000 on line for a decent price as I wanted the decorative stitches that weren't on my 6500. But for you to get a machine that you don't have to use the foot pedal for, has automatic thread snipping, etc. it is wonderful. I have arthritis and just having not to pick up scissors to snip threads and to have the extension table to rest hands and arms on while I sew makes a world of difference.

            Go for a new one!


          9. sewfar | | #17

            Just a note to all. My old Elna 8000 that started this thread seems to have sprung back to life. I cannot say whether "she" heard the conversation concerning her requiem and caught her second wind or more likely it was my trying all the good advice I received and maybe even the big blast of cold canned air I gave her before I knew its possible detrimental effects. Ouch. Anyway thanks to everyone. I am still very tempted to get a new machine with more bells and whistles now that I have studied so long and hard on the options! It was a lot easier when I felt I really, really needed it to be able to sew but I am thinking I may really , really need it for myself !

          10. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #18

            "I am thinking I may really , really need it for myself !"My friend, whatever it takes to keep you active, happy and healthy....Cathy

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