Sewing machine problem

Let me preface this by saying that I know I should take it in to a shop, but that is not an option right now and the choice is either fix it or give up my new favorite passtime.

I have an old front-loading Montgomery Ward sewing machin. I was sewing this morning when the machine just suddenly stopped working. It turns out that the top thread won’t catch the bottom thread. Furthermore, it looks like the shuttle won’t spin at all. It just sits there, or occasionally weakly vibrates. Everything else looks all right. I don’t have an manual.

Any ideas?

If you machine is older and has not been regularly maintained (which seem to be the case), then it may simply be dirty. An amazing amount of lint and gunk accumulates inside sewing machines, and eventually it can just “gum up the works” I personally find this to be a bigger problem if I’ve been working with “fuzzy” fabrics such as polar fleece or velvets, or when I do a lot of work with knits. I’m not familar with your particular sewing machine, but if you can gain access to the area underneath the plate, and around the bobbin holder, In my experience you may be able to remove enough debris by hand, or with some canned air to get things moving again. Sometimes a longer piece of thread will work it’s way in there and get tangled on something as well. You can also check the mechanism that moves the upper needle for similar problems.
(on my machine getting at the lower mechanism involves removing the plate (a couple of screws) and popping out the bobbin holder. Access to the upper needle mechanism also involves removing a couple of screws YMMV).

If the machine does seem to be dirty, and you are not comfortable with disassembling it yourself, the good news is that having a machine cleaned does not have to be expensive. The repair shop I use (in eastern PA) I think charges about $20.00 for just a cleaning. If you sew a lot, and it’s been awhile since it’s been serviced, it might be worth the investment check the yellow pages and call around for a good price, or if you have any contacts at the local Jr or Sr high schools you can ask who services the sewing machines for the Home Ec department.

Firstly, no matter what you ‘think’ the problem is, rethread both the bobbin and the above thread. Take them both out completely and start over.
When I was a beginner this advice was a life saver on more than one occasion.

I feel your frustration having just gotten my machine back and started sewing up things this very week. Nothing is more painful than wanting to sew and not being able to, grrr.