How to Take Apart a Sewing Machine (Janome, Singer, Pfaff…)

The first step in any home sewing machine repair starts with the cover. Unfortunately, the system to remove the cover has changed over the decades and different brands have different ways of doing this first step. Nothing is ever easy when it comes to troubleshooting.

The specific brands will be dealt with in detail in later sections as there is no one way to take the covers off different brands of sewing machines. Some require screws to be removed while others use the snap system. Then some are vintage or antique with their own process.

To learn how to remove the cover of your sewing machine, just continue to read our article. It goes through several different brands to get you the information you need in order for you to remove the cover of your sewing machine.

How to Take Apart a Sewing Machine


The first step in this process is to determine which system your sewing machine was given. If it is the simple screw removal process the second step would be to get the appropriate screwdriver and place those screws in one secure spot so you can find them again.

This means you need to be organized when it comes to those screws as it is frustrating not to have the cover realign or have extra screws left over. it will be best to establish your own system of how to organize those screws and when the cover removal is complicated, the need for good organization is vital.

When you start to remove the cover, go in an orderly fashion and start from the right and go to your left. Of course, this will depend on which direction the sewing machine is facing.

Next, start with the try, then go to the lower arm cover, and on to the needle bar cover. After that, remove the needle, the needle plate, and the bobbin case followed by the hook cover and the hook itself.

As for the screws, also do this in a right to left direction starting with the back screws. Remove all screws as needed. There is no sense in adding to the pile of screws if the screw can remain in place.

Now, these instructions may not apply to every cover or every sewing machine. it is just one example and you will have to go by how your machine is designed. Once you get everything removed, you can start cleaning the interior areas and clean up old lubricant.

The hard part will come when you try to reassemble the covers and the parts again. Make sure you remember where everything went to avoid having to take the machine apart once more and doing the work all over again.

How do I Remove My Sewing Machine Cover?

This is the easiest part of any sewing machine repair. For many machines, it just takes 2 screwdrivers and a little time to remove the cover. One place to start will be the front cover and you need to locate the screw that holds this in place.

Most likely it will take a Phillips head screwdriver but a flat head could also do the trick. There is usually only one screw holding this cover in place. If that is all you need to do with the sewing machine, then replacing the front cover will not be frustrating or hard.

But if you need to go further, the next step would be to remove all the dial knobs. These just pull off with a little effort and there is only one way to put these back on so this will also be fairly easy to do when the time comes.

Next, for the rest of the plastic covers, you need to find those screw hole plugs and gently pry them off. A flat head screwdriver is best for that task. Once off, you need to peer inside the holes to see which screwdriver you will need to remove the screws

After the screws are out, you will have to pry the two sections apart. BE CAREFUL, some brands have the plastic covers held together by plastic latches. Too much force may break those latches so look for the tabs that release them and use them.

Not everything will be simple as some brands have placed a screw in the shuttle area and it holds the back half of the sewing machine body. Locate and remove that screw or screws. When you go to remove the plastic covers, make sure the presser foot is lowered.

When removing the back cover that is over the electrical plug and power switch, be careful here as well. Once the cover is off, you can proceed to your repair or oiling tasks.

Take Apart a Singer Sewing Machine


One of the first pieces of equipment you need to have handy is the owner’s or repair manual. This little booklet will show you where the screws are and save you a little time in locating each one.

The next thing you need to do is remove the machine from all power sources. Unplug the power cord, the foot pedal and make sure the power switch is turned off. The last thing you need is a surprise while trying to remove the cover.

After you are in this position, you now have to find all the screws. Some are on the bottom, others are in the back and still, more are hidden in the sides. Once you locate the screws, simply use your screwdriver and remove them.

Don’t forget to look for screw hole plugs and pry them off. Your task is not finished as some Singer sewing machines, like the 9960, also have to be unsnapped. The problem with this system is that plastic is not metal and can be very fragile.

If you pull too hard or forget to look for the latch, you may have a costly replacement bill on your hands. Once you get the covers off, your troubleshooting tasks should be a lot easier to do and your only worry will be putting everything back together without breaking anything or having extra screws left over.

Reassembly takes time as well and your patience is going to be needed when you get to that stage. To do that correctly, simply reverse your steps and make sure you organized your screws so you can put the right ones in the right spot.

How to Take Apart a Janome Sewing Machine

This operation may be a little bit more difficult than the Singer as you will need to remove more than just a few screws. The first step will be to remove all the dial knobs and make sure the machine is unplugged.

The second step is to start with the faceplate and belt cover. There should be screws holding those two items onto the machine. There are screws at the front of the machine that either have to be only loosened or removed. One is at the top of the machine, one is above the needle and the last one is below the needle plate.

But you are not done. Next, you need to go to the back of the machine and remove the 3 holding the front cover there. One is covered by a plug and another may be under the plastic cover in a difficult-to-reach spot.

Finally, you have to turn the machine on its side to get to the 2 screws there. One is easy to locate while the other is in a deep screw hole. Once you locate all the screws and remove them, a Phillips head screwdriver is needed, you should be able to pull the front cover off with ease.

The rear covers need to have the spool pins removed as well as about 8 screws. All of which are located in different spots at the front, top, bottom, side, and back of the sewing machine. There are latches to manipulate as well.

If you need a diagram to help you locate those screws, etc., then click this link. It takes you to the front cover diagram and you just have to click the next page button to get to the rear cover diagram. Go back a page to get the face plate and base cover diagrams.

How to Disassemble a Brother Sewing Machine

Removing the needle plate cover on one Brother sewing machine can be quite difficult. First, you have to turn the machine on and press the once or twice so the needle raises. Then you have to turn the machine off and unplug it.

Next, you raise the presser foot to remove the needle, embroidery foot, and embroidery unit. After that, you need to slide the bobbin cover latch to the right and remove the bobbin cover.

Now using your right index finger place it on the latch at the bottom of the needle plate cover. Your left index finger goes to the notch at the back of the cover and the left-hand thumb goes to the front. Now slide the cover towards you.

On another machine, to remove the cover you need to remove the needle, thread, bobbin, and bobbin case first. Then you remove the shuttle hook and the needle plate. After that, you need to remove the screw holding the needle plate housing. The screw is at the back of the housing.

Next, remove the light bulb and turn your attention to the 3 screws at the back of the machine. Unscrew those and lift off the back cover. be gentle and when the cover is safe start unscrewing the bolts holding the motor in place. Pull the connector apart holding the wires.

After that, move to the top of the machine head to remove the thumbscrews located there. This will help remove the presser bar and to completely remove it, you have to loosen the grub screw. A pair of pliers will be needed to remove this part.

Then remove the thumbscrews on the tensioner, take out the disc and spring then use a flat head screwdriver to remove the stud. At this point, you can take out the tensioner and spring.

Finally, unscrew the screws holding the belt guard using a Phillips head screwdriver. Take them off before going to the handwheel and removing that screw. Make sure to stay organized as you do this so no parts get lost or damaged.

Disassemble a Husqvarna Sewing Machine


To start, the face plate needs to come off, and to get that step moving you need to press the latch at the front of the machine down to loosen it up and get it removed from the screw at the top.

Next, the arm sleeve needs to come off and you have to press the plastic latch on the outside of the machine, then drop the feed teeth and remove the screw inside. Slide the sleeve off.

The back cover is easier as it has 2 screws, one at the front and one at the back that needs to be removed. Then you have to go to the bobbin winding thread guide and remove the screw that is located underneath it.

After that is done, there may be 2 more screws on the bottom to unscrew but newer models have a nylon stud and locking system. That is about as simple as it gets but remember we are only describing one or two sewing machines and the different models, especially the earlier ones, may have different designs and more screws, etc., to remove.

If you still have it, use your owner’s manual or service manual diagrams to guide you. A picture is worth 1000 words.

How to Take Apart a Bernina Sewing Machine

For all of its complexities and features, Bernina may have the simplest cover removal design of all the leading brands of sewing machines. At least for the frame cover and the 801 sewing machine.

There is a release knob on the bottom of the machine, at least that is what the image we saw showed but we can’t be 100% certain on that. Once you locate that knob, just press it and the frame cover can be easily pulled off. Be gentle when you do this.

If the machine is still under warranty, and it may be a long one at that, you are only authorized to remove the headcover. Bernina only grants permission to an authorized repairman to remove the remaining covers.

These activities are done under strict protocols established by Bernina. If you have taken the Bernina Machine Mastery Class you are not allowed to go any further than what was demonstrated in that class.

The company recommends that you bring your Bernina sewing machine in for an inspection once a year and there are some items you will need to bring with you. The power cord and foot control if you have an older model, the bobbin you are having trouble with, one or both bobbin cases, and a stitched sample of your concerns.

You do not need to bring the feet that you are not having any problems with, the accessory kit, slide-on tray, or spools of thread.

How to Disassemble a Kenmore Sewing Machine

Again, these instructions may not apply to all models of Kenmore sewing machines. The face plate is going to be the easiest part to remove, there are only one plug and one screw to take out before it slides off the machine.

The same goes for the belt cover as it too has only one screw on the bottom of the machine to remove. Once that is done, the cover slips right off. Then, the base plate has 4 screws on the bottom so those should not give you any trouble.

The front cover, on the other hand, has about 9 screws to remove and they are located at the front, the back, the bottom, the side, and the top. There are also 2 dials to remove. Click this link to get to the diagram that will help you locate all the screws.

The rear cover has 8 screws and they are also located at different spots on the machine. Once you click on the link above, click on the next page button to see their location. Just take your time and go in order so that you do not make upcoming screws harder to loosen.

How do You Take Apart a Pfaff Sewing Machine?


The first step in disassembling any sewing machine, including the Pfaff, is to make sure your cat does not come on your work table and lies right in the way. The fewer distractions you have, the better.

According to our research, faff may not place the locations of the screws or give instructions on how to disassemble their machines in the service or owner’s manuals due to the fact they do not want you to work on the parts.

But here are some instructions for the 1970s-80s Pfaff 1200 series free arm sewing machines. The first step is to remove the top cap. The good news is that no screws are holding it in place.

The bad news is that you have to remove this cover before you can remove any other cover. Lift it up and towards the rear to get it off. Then lift straight up on the thread holder to get it off the machine.

The front cover has 2 set screws on either side at the top. They need to be loosened not removed to get that cover off. Next, the motor cover only has one screw to remove, and once that is off you simply pull down and towards you. This will clear the hand wheel.

On to the bottom cover and you need to remove 5 screws. There are 4 big ones you should see right away and 5th smaller one hiding in a hole. Also, there may be a screw in the bottom of the free arm.

That should be about it. be careful when removing any of the interior parts as pieces tend to fall out and you may not know where to put them back.

How to Disassemble a Treadle Sewing Machine

The old treadle machines were a joy to sew on. They were simple and they did not have all the bells and whistles that modern machines have. That makes disassembly easier. The tools needed will be a few adjustable wrenches, a hammer, a Phillips screwdriver, and a flat head screwdriver.

The first step in this process is to remove the machine from the cabinet and you need to tilt it back and remove the 4 screws holding it in place. Next, you need to remove the treadle from the legs and it too only has 4 screws that need to be removed. make sure to set it upright when it is off the cabinet.

The third step is to remove the retaining pin or cotter pin that holds the pitman rod in place. The hammer can tap the pin and if it is a cotter pin, straighten it before hammering gently.

When that is done, take the pitman rod assembly apart at the crank end. You only have to loosen the nut using two wrenches and then once loose, use a screwdriver to remove the center screw.

Now loosen the lock nuts holding the pedal, then use a screwdriver to remove the hinge screws. After that remove the dress guard with a wrench and move on to the drive wheel and remove the lock nut there. Remove the cone-bearing screw and pull the wheel toward you. That is it.

Some Final Words

Whenever dismantling a sewing machine 2 important details need to be observed. One, have your owner’s or service manual handy, and two, make sure the warranty has expired.

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