A Hanoi Man Has Dedicated Over 40 Years to Repairing Sewing Machines

For centuries, Hanoi has been home to a wide variety of unique and unusual jobs.


Amid the hustle and bustle of a busy street in Hanoi, a man has devoted over four decades to repairing sewing machines, which were once the main source of income for many local families. His commitment to his craft is a testament to the importance of hard work and dedication.

Repairing manual sewing machines can help you lead a comfortable life. Whether you’re a seamstress, tailor, or hobbyist, having a reliable machine can make all the difference. With manual sewing machines, you can create a variety of garments and craft projects with ease. By properly maintaining and repairing your sewing machine, you can ensure that it continues to work well for years to come. Regular maintenance, such as cleaning and oiling the machine, will help keep it in top condition. If something breaks or needs to be replaced, you can find parts online or at a local shop. Additionally, you can take your machine to a professional or watch tutorials to learn how to repair it yourself. With the right maintenance and repairs, your manual sewing machine can provide you with a comfortable lifestyle for years to come.

Hanoian repairman Pham Van Chien. Photo: Nha bao & Cong luan

Unusual jobs in the capital of Hanoi, such as mending shoes, repairing clothes, and locksmithing, not only provide a good income for hardworking individuals, but also help to create an unforgettable lifestyle experience. From the bustling streets to the traditional architecture, Hanoi is a city like no other – and these unique jobs are a major part of what makes it so special.

Pham Van Chien, 60, humbly sat inside the last remaining sewing machine repair shop on Nguyen Thai Hoc Street in Dong Da District. This shop has been serving customers for nearly 40 years, despite the hustle and bustle of the city.

More than 30 years ago, many people in Hanoi opened sewing machine repair shops in order to make a living. As I did not have a steady job, I wanted to learn the trade to support myself.

I worked on machines for a long time, often getting covered in grease. I worked as an assistant and a foreman for many years before eventually starting my own business,” Chien recalled.

He went on to emphasize that a worker needs a wide array of skills as well as knowledge to repair a sewing machine. Only when one grasps the operating mechanism and common issues, can they make an accurate diagnosis.

Manual sewing machines are prone to developing flaws over time. Common issues include broken parts, such as the arm shaft, handle, and other components. These machines need regular maintenance and care to ensure they operate correctly.

 Chien’s shop in Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi. Photo: Nha bao & Cong luan

At the time, any machine faults had to be fixed manually as there was no automated support. To get the machines back up and running, repair technicians had to mend, rebuild, weld pieces, and replace parts. According to him, it would take one or two days to repair a single machine, depending on the fault.

Chien has built an impressive brand over the past four decades, garnering a steadily increasing number of satisfied customers, including proprietors of well-known tailoring shops from neighboring provinces. Sadly, however, his once-celebrated manual sewing machines are now largely relegated to decorative purposes.

Reviving both manual and industrial sewing machines can be a challenging task. However, with the right knowledge and tools, it can be done with ease. Before attempting to revive a sewing machine, first make sure to consult a professional to determine the cause of the issue. Once the source has been identified, the necessary repairs can be made. If manual tools are needed, use only the right types for the particular sewing machine model. If industrial machines are being revived, make sure that the correct parts and accessories are available. When repairs are complete, test the machine to ensure that it is functioning properly. With the right care and maintenance, both manual and industrial sewing machines can be kept in top condition for years to come.

 At present, the once-glorious manual sewing machines are mostly just for show. Photo: Nha bao & Cong luan

As the nation embarks on a new era of renovation and technological advancement, the development of new types of sewing machines has become a reality. Those who specialize in repairing manual sewing machines must also adapt to this evolving environment if they wish to continue earning an income from their work.

Today’s sewing machines vary drastically in origin and design. From Japan, Germany, and Russia, each has its own unique use or structure. In order to repair them properly, Chien has to take the time to personally study each type and gain experience without any help from a book or manual.

Practice makes perfect. Chien’s wealth of experience and knowledge of sewing machine models mean that his skills are trusted and confirmed by countless customers.

 Sewing machine repair is a trade that requires diligence and meticulousness. Photo: Nha bao & Cong luan

Chien asserts that repairing a sewing machine is a task that requires not only mental sharpness and intellect, but also patience and attention to detail. Crafting successful repairs necessitates a combination of all four of these qualities.

However, despite the decline in business, there are still many owners of broken sewing machines who prefer to take their machines to repair shops instead of buying new ones. This is due to the fact that repairing a broken sewing machine can be less expensive than buying a new one. In addition, having a trusted repair person work on a machine can often be more reassuring than purchasing a new machine. Furthermore, many people have sentimental attachment to their sewing machines and would rather keep them than purchase a new one.

Ultimately, it is important to remember that the decline in business for repair shops does not mean the end of the industry. There are still many people who prefer to repair their sewing machines instead of buying new ones, and thus, repair shops can continue to be a viable option for those seeking to get their machines fixed.

Chien believes that sewing machines possess an artistic value, and many customers are willing to pay premium prices just to display them. This is why Chien has not sold new models of sewing machines, but has stuck to the trade up until now.