Today I'm talking to you about two of my favorite topics (but only if sewing-related!): cleaning and maintenance!
How to clean your sewing machine
As you may know, I try to be a frugal person, refashioning whenever I can, repurposing almost everything (my trash can is almost always empty!).
To make things last, the key is only one: regular maintenance!
And this applies to almost everything, starting from your sewing machine and your serger, but also to cutting tools, measuring tools and, generally speaking, your sewing room.
I'll explain to you here how I usually clean my sewing machine since I already talked about serger cleaning routine on OneThimble issue 5 (and you can now read it on SergerPepper).
Most of the things I said about cleaning your serger applies here too, but I know a lot of people actually scared from unscrewing anything on their sewing machine that would actually see what they can/should open without actually harming it…
To save yourself from accidents, please remember that the best way to go is unplugging your sewing machine and having a little desk lamp on your sewing table, lighting the “crime scene”!
For tutorial purposes only, I kept mine plugged… so you can actually see what's happening.
Clean the surfaces
Start with a soft cloth, cleaning the top surface, where lint loves to accumulate!
Pull out the presser foot and the needle first.
Then unscrew the presser foot adapter, if you have one. Put these things aside in a secure place where you won't lose them!
The next thing to do is pull out your bobbin. The sewing machine I'm showing you now has a horizontal bobbin, but I've been sewing with a vertical bobbin one, years ago.
If you have a vertical one, your cleaning session will be slightly different but you should be able to proceed following this tutorial too.
Unscrew now the throat plate and put the screws where they can't roll to the floor, where they'll be lost… forever!
If you're not that new to sewing, you should already know how to put a bobbin out (hint: you do that every single time you change your thread color).
Chances are that you've never pulled out the bobbin holder: it's not hard, at all, just put your fingers inside it and… pull it out, but first, take a snap with your smartphone, so you'll be able to put it in the right place again, later, when you're done!
You should never let your sewing machine get that dirty.
Please try to clean it at least once a month, if you do some serious sewing.
Even more often if you often sew towels, wool knits and anything that frays a lot.
Consider that if, when you stop sewing, the table around the sewing machine is full of lint, inside the sewing machine will probably be exactly the same!
Now. Stay calm and start brushing!
Your sewing machine should have come with a tiny rigid-bristled brush. If you don't have it or you have lost it, try using a (new, or at least clean) blush brush. Start brushing out the lint, making sure you're not pushing it inside!
Check between the feed dog teeth: here the lint loves to hide!
If you want to be sure there is no lint inside (below the bobbin) you can go one step further and either use a hairdryer (set it on warm temperature) or an air compressor.
Please DO NOT use canned air which lends moisture to your sewing machine metal parts and this means one only thing: rust (which, if you don't figure it out, is EVIL!).
Try to direct any air, brushing or suction to pull lint outside and not push it more inside.
When you're done, take your Q-tip and clean surfaces from residual dirt, then put a couple of drops of sewing machine oil (if only you're not like me and you've lost the bottle… must buy another one soon) and gently oil the metal parts inside, where the bobbin holder goes: this will prevent rust.
PS: I said a couple of drops on your Q-tip: don't soak it!
Unscrew the left-hand portion, to have a look to the upper inside of your sewing machine, where you can see the lamp and the mechanisms that make the needle go up and down.
Again, clean here with your brush, air compressor, and Q-tips.
Then put a drop of sewing machine oil everywhere you see a metallic joint: this will help them move smoothly.
Check your manual if you have a different machine, to see if you need to put oil and where.
Hubby, who is a great DIYer, when helping me cleaning my sewing machine always unscrews the bottom of the sewing machine but I feel uncomfortable doing that… I won't do it today and I don't think you'll need to do that if you clean it every now and then.
Take your smartphone and, looking at your previous snapshot, place the bobbin holder in place (if you have a hard time correctly placing it, gently turn your hand knob back and forth, until you find the right place.)
Slide on your throat plate and replace screws.
Put on foot adapter and foot, add a new needle (remember: you should change it every now and then!), and the bobbin and you're all set to go!
Take a scrap of white cotton fabric and sew back and forth multiple times, checking you're not going to have lint or (worst) oil into your next project.
And this is the final result: a shiny sewing machine, perfectly cleaned and oiled, ready to tackle your next gorgeous project!
Let's make her sing!
What about you? How often do you clean your sewing machine? Do you ever oil it? Or you prefer waiting and waiting and waiting until you plan a trip to your local dealer to fix it?
Can't wait to hear about it!