Oh my gosh, my biggest pet peeve is a sewing machine filled with lint. I have seen many very expensive sewing machines being maintained with the respect of a used car. You put gas in the old clunker, so it should go when you want it to. I know someone who never changed the oil in her vehicle because no one told her to. Guess who had have the motor replaced? And my husband told me, a maintenance guy he worked with would change his car oil but not the filter. A maintenance guy, really!?!
Sewer can be the same way. They expect their sewing machines to be ready to use as soon as they sit down. They know how to wind the bobbin and how to thread it. What more is there? They use their sewing machines until they don’t work anymore, then go out and buy a new one. You all love your new sewing machines at first. They sew like a dream. Your new machine almost purrs as you sew. Then gradually the new sewing machine doesn’t purr anymore, it growls and groans. Your stitches are loopy, the thread knots up and keeps breaking. It gets louder and louder until one day it jerks to a stop.
I have a friend who loved her Bernina when it was new. Then over time it didn’t stitch the same so she bought a new Janome. Now I’m a big Bernina fan, so this didn’t make sense to me. I asked to look at her machine. The first thing I did was pop off the needle plate. She gasped! “What did you do? You broke it.” I hadn’t broke anything. There are no screws in the needle plate so she never thought it would come off. There was no surprise as to what I found under the plate in the feed dogs: lint that had been compacted into felt. After cleaning the feed dog area, I started on the bobbin area. She knew how to take the bobbin and bobbin case out so that area was not too bad. Then I unlatched the shuttle hook. She gasped again and more lint. Once all of the cleaning was finished I proceeded with my sewing machine oil. Now she was asking questions. “Is that where you are supposed to put the oil? I was never sure.” And surprise. The machine was running again with a slight purr. It still needed to go in for service and a thorough cleaning and have the timing reset, but it was sewing again quite nicely.
Now that I’m teaching more quilting and sewing classes, I’ve seen many brands and models of sewing machines. On every supply list with every class I teach, it says to clean and oil your machines before class. About half of the students look at that statement and scratch their heads. There is at least one student in each class who has that sewing machine I know hasn’t felt oil in over a year. And they all gasp when I get out the screw driver, brush and sewing machine oil.
So here are my top tips for maintaining your sewing machines:
- Read your sewing machine manual for how to clean and oil your machine.
- Ask your sewing machine dealer to show you how to clean and oil your machine.
- When I bought my first real sewing machine, the bobbins held less thread and the thread was linty. I would clean and oil my machine 1 time per bobbin of thread.
- Bobbins are larger and hold more thread. We have more choices of weights of thread and some are very fine. Therefore bobbins can hold more thread than before. Now I sometimes clean and oil my machine 2 times per bobbin.
- Just because I clean and oil my machine a lot does not mean I don’t have to take it in for service. If I’m sewing an average of 20-40 hours per week all year long, using a variety of specialty threads and doing a lot of machine quilting, I will take my machine in 2 times per year for service. Mostly I take my work horse machine (Maude – Bernina 440) in 1 time per year and my portable (Kermit – Bernina 230) every other year.
- Bonus tip: Cut your thread up at the top of your machine near the spool. Then pull the thread out of your machine at the bottom near the needle. Lint and loose threads collect along the thread path. Pulling the thread from the bottom is like flossing your machine. Pulling it up backwards through the thread path will bring all the lint and garbage up to the tension dics at the top of the machine. Now your tension won’t work properly. This one was a hard lesson for me to learn. It cost me 2 trips to the dealer in one year. I won’t do that again.
- And while I’m writing about cleaning and oiling your machines, I will say one thing about canned air – DON”T! Check this link out and see why: https://weallsew.com/how-to-remove-lint-from-your-sewing-machine/?utm_source=BERNINA+of+America+eNewsletter&utm_campaign=830c941072-2017_10_06-October-eNewsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_85c499ae9d-830c941072-295396677&mc_cid=830c941072&mc_eid=c853e5065c