Friday, February 5, 2016

Timing is Everything ;)

I know, I know... I fell off the face of the earth. If my blog were vegetation it would be withered and dead several times over. But really, nothing super exciting happens. And whenever I make awesome things, well, it usually takes me at least a week to complete one item because I'm chasing after an almost-two-year-old and an almost-five-year-old. So why am I making an appearance? I'm glad you asked!

Once upon a time... we were making holsters. I was serging a holster when that durn thing broke my serger. Two needle plates and four visits to the shop later, my poor serger still couldn't work properly. It's a 4-thread serger. A Brother 1034d to be precise. It's a very common machine. VERY. People LOVE it (or hate it). Well, my poor machine was only able to serge with three threads. This went on for over two years. This week I was making a super cute skirt for my daughter for Valentine's Day. I mean, I LOVE this pattern and I was so excited I thought I'd try some woolly nylon in my upper looper while I did rolled hems. OH MY HEAVENS. Worked BEAUTIFULLY. I had finished two ruffles and I was about 2/3rds of the way done with the third and FINAL ruffle when BAM! My machine made a horrible noise and when I turned the hand wheel it wouldn't make a full rotation. I cried. Upon closer inspection I saw the upper looper had been knocked out of place (how? I have no clue). So I was able to get it back in place by adjusting the screw on the side (uses the hex wrench that comes with the machine). I got back to work and my rolled hem looked like poo. I was so sad. My machine was still making a funky noise so I decided to quit and move to my sewing machine to do a regular hem. Once I finished that, I went back to my serger and got it set up to do regular serging. I cried again. It wasn't completing stitches. So I fiddled with things and searched how to fix the timing. Well, wouldn't you know, there's hardly a thing on fixing serger timing?! It's like a complete mystery! I did find this YouTube video helpful in that I could figure out what to mess with on my own machine. But there really isn't a lot out there for Brother 1034d! I was able to adjust my upper looper's timing and I fixed it! I finished my daughter's skirt and serged all the seams to a beautiful finish. Then I got to thinking, "If I just fixed my upper looper's timing to stitch again, could I make my machine use four threads again?"

The next day and three hours into working and my machine wouldn't do squat. All my hard work to make it stitch again and now the threads were just passing ships in the night, never to mingle again. I cried. I cussed. My daughter asked if I wanted to take a break. Yes, sweet child. Yes. So I hung out with the munchkins for a while and then it hit me.... What if I look at pictures of people threading their WORKING machines to see where everything lines up???!!! Hot diggity dog! I got it to stitch again! But the lower looper was still a mystery to me. I took apart that section and discovered a small family of dust and lint bunnies thriving over there. YIKES! After doing some meticulous cleaning, I turned the hand wheel to see what moved which parts. And there it was. Could it be as simple as loosened that? Oh yeah. Now I was cookin' with grease. I kept getting stuck somewhere though. Everything seemed to line up, except one thing (well, TWO). The needles. They just didn't seem right. A few turns of the hand wheel and there's where I needed to work next. (I'm going to pause and say that ALL of this needs to be done with the machine OFF and UNPLUGGED). A couple hours after my break, I placed all the casings back on and went for a test sew. I cried. I looked at my daughter and told her to hug me. She gave me a tight squeeze and said "Don't worry, Mommy, you'll get it." I pulled back from her and held up my scrap fabric and her face lit up. Four threads. Beautifully stitched. I was so elated. I did a few more test stitches to make sure it wasn't a fluke. I took a picture and sent it to my husband and my oldest sister. Then I posted it all over FaceBook. Ah, the virtual pats on the back I received from one of my sewing groups and the serger help forum made me even more proud of myself. I wanted to share this feeling of happiness. I thought "If I can take apart my machine and get it to work after the repair folks DIDN'T, then maybe there are people out there who are in my shoes and just need to know that someone without professional training CAN do it!" I swear, I think I'm related to TinkerBell. This is the second machine I've fixed in just a few months. I was able to get a Sewing Genie working that NEVER worked, that way my daughter could practice sewing.

Sew, without further ado, here's a whole bunch of pictures!
*Disclaimer: Taking apart your machine could void any warranties you may have and could end up making a bigger problem (aka $$$). I'm not a trained technician. I have no association with Brother. I was just fed up with my machine and thought I'd try fixing it before getting a new one.

You will need:
- Philip's head screw driver
- Flat head screw driver
- Hex wrenches (sizes 2.5 & 3)
- Regular wrench (not sure what size, I used an adjustable wrench)
- Needle-nose pliers

First of all, you'll want to remove the front casing. It's held on by three (3) screws. One (1) on the front and two (2) on the back.

Front screw
Back screws
Now you'll want to gently tug on the casing and you may need the flat head screw driver here... You'll also want to push the little tab to the right (arrow pointing at it) to help remove the casing.
Very gently pry the casing off. It should "pop" loose
Push that tab over slightly so you can wiggle the casing off
It may help to turn the hand wheel a little to move the crank shaft and the needle-thread-holder out of the way (you'll know what I'm talking about after that casing is off).

Now to remove the casing for the lower looper there are three (3) screws to worry about. The first one you don't have to remove ALL the way, unless it's just easier for you. We only need this one piece loosened so we can get the casing off.
Just loosen this one so this piece wiggles to allow the casing off
The next screw (starred in red) will have to be removed completely. It's best to have the stitch width lever all the way at 7 so you can get to the screw easier. Once you have the screw removed, the lever just pulls off. Once the lever is out of the way, remove the last screw (circled in blue)
Remove the starred screw completely to remove the lever. Then remove the circled screw
Now you'll be removing the casing for the lower looper. You want to push the piece in front of it down slightly and then pull the casing off.
See how I didn't remove that little piece? Just loosened it so we could push this part down to remove the casing
My pictures will look slightly different since I forgot steps, but before you can work on the lower looper, you'll want to remove your stitch finger, your presser foot, and your needle plate. For the needle plate you'll be using the flat head screw driver.
You can remove these before or after you remove the casing, but you'll need to remove them to work on your lower looper
Once all that is removed you'll have something like this sitting in front of you...
MOST of the guts.
Now, if you don't know if you really need to work on your lower looper's timing, or if it's just off by a hair, you can adjust the height of it first. For this, you'll be removing one more piece which contains two (2) screws.
To make it easier to adjust the height of the lower looper, you'll need this piece out of the way
Once that piece is removed, you'll want to LOOSEN, not remove, the height adjuster screw. This screw has space above and below it.
The arrow points to the screw. You'll be able to adjust the part that is circled
Alrighty, you've made it this far because you're probably wondering about the TIMING. Well, here are each of the places you'll be able to adjust timing.

For your UPPER LOOPER, you'll need hex wrench 2.5 and you'll be LOOSENING, NOT removing, two (2) hex screws.
LOOSEN. Do NOT remove. These will allow you to move your Upper Looper.

For your LOWER LOOPER, you'll need either a regular wrench or an adjustable wrench (I used an adjustable, but if you have the right size regular wrench it'll be so much easier) and needle nose pliers. Loosen, DO NOT REMOVE, the nut. You'll need the needle nose pliers to manipulate the shaft of the lower looper from side to side. In my case, I also need the flat head screw driver to GENTLY pry the shaft away from the machine a hair.
LOOSEN the nut and use pliers to manipulate the lower looper shaft from side to side.

For your NEEDLES, you'll need hex wrench 3 and you'll be LOOSENING, NOT removing, one (1) hex screw. You'll want your needles as far up as they'll go before you can get to the hex screw to loosen.
LOOSEN this hex screw to adjust needle timing
Now, I know I said this earlier, but it's VERY important to make sure your machine is OFF and UNPLUGGED before working on it. My dumb self went to loosen this screw with the machine on and burnt the tar out of my finger on the bulb casing. PLEASE exercise caution and learn from my mistake!

And now I will show you pictures of my machine with correct timing!
Needles in UP position, followed by a close-up of Upper Looper in relation to Needles while in Needle UP position
Needle UP position

Upper Looper in relation to needles
Needles in DOWN position
Needle DOWN position

Needle DOWN position (alt view)
After turning the wheel, here's a look at when the loopers pass each other
Loopers passing each other

With any luck this will help at least ONE more person fix their machine! And you'll have FOUR working threads!!!
YAY for FOUR threads!!!
These settings work for me, but your machine may vary slightly
And here's my hex wrench set in case you were wondering
2.5 for the UPPER looper, and 3 for the Needles

I really hope this was helpful!

Until next time, Happy Crafting!


  1. The best write up for this issue with photos I have ever found - thanks for taking for so much effort to make this post so helpful!

    1. Thank you so much! I wanted to be as thorough as possible because there's next to nothing out there on this subject!

    2. I linked your blog post in my SERGERS group on FB


    4. This is awesome, excellent detail.

    5. This is awesome, excellent detail.

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  3. Oh. My. Goodness. Thanks to you, I have taken mr serger apart and fixed it. I even took the picture of your wrench set to the hardware store to purchase the hex sizes needed. mind blown. I'm linking your post in the 1034d serger group on Facebook. THANK YOU!!!! My serger now runs literally as good as new. Cheryl Keen Doncaster.

  4. This has just made me a little bit excited! I have crying over my 1034D too. Brilliantly written and produced, thank you xx

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  6. Awesome, thanks so much for this! The pictures and instructions are very clear and detailed when I click on them to enlarge on my PC. I appreciate the time it took for you to make this tutorial. :)

  7. I cannot wait to try this. I have spent 100s of dollars places and months and months of waiting in the repair shop only to get it home and it still not work properly. Your problem sounds the same as mine and I know how terribly frustrating it can be! Thanks for the wonderful tutorial!

  8. Plenty of info and videos on lower looper but my problem was the upper looper..... the only other video i found shows adjusting the screws of the main shaft!

    Glad I found your blog.... like you i found it almost impossible to find info on the upper looper.

    Machine repaired in 15mins.... (10min reading and 5min action). Continue with your angel wings....

  9. Bless you, kind stranger.
    This actually made sense and addressed the upper looper. As mentioned there is almost no info available for the upper looper. I’ve gone through two 1034Ds and was about to move onto my third, but now I don’t have to! I may even go back and see if this trick works on the other one!
    Oh, AND youre the only tutorial I’ve found that showed me how to take off JUST the front panel. I completely dismantled my other one to get to it lol
    Now if I could just figure out why the guide needles keep snapping...

  10. Thank you sew much. I took my machine to the service center and they wanted me to pay $150.00 because the timing was not covered under warranty. I followed your instructions and voila. I am grateful and very thankful for this tutorial.

  11. Bless you, you’ve saved me again. Thank you thank you thank you. This time though I also googled what the correct timing was since I didn’t see it in your instructions, and thought I’d include it for anyone else who might not have the manual anymore lol

  12. You saved my serger and my sanity!! Very grateful!