How long has it been since your machine had a good cleaning?
Being mostly self-taught in the sewing room, there once came a day when I asked myself this question. “How often should you clean your sewing machine?” It was very quickly followed by a huge sense of dread… Clean? Um… Oops. (The absolute horror… I know!)
Yikes… If you are having that moment today and you cringed a little when you realized it… then I commend you for clicking on this link to read and take action. Good job!
We are going to get all your questions answered today and show you how to fix it!
First off, sewing machines aren’t some rinky-dink fragile machine. These machines are pretty robust. They are made to stick around for a long time. They’re like the crock-pot of the sewing room. Never given enough credit yet we depend on it to be there for us to make our job easier and create wonderful things. (*hands in the air for my crock pot friends!*)
This is entirely something you can do yourself in less than 10 minutes.
Unless your machine is in really really bad shape, you can do this yourself. If you’re working with an antique machine or things are a HUGE massive mess, you might consider taking it to a sewing machine repair shop.
See that mess right there? This is when I usually remember to clean my machine.
This tangled mess happens when things aren’t going as smoothly as I would like them to go. If your machine is giving you fits and threads are getting tangled more than your toddler’s hair when she sleeps… it’s time.
… and I haven’t completely ruined a machine yet. So if you don’t remember the last time your machine was cleaned… chill… you’re probably fine (for the moment).
That being said, you really should take care of your sewing machine. The amount of dust and fibers that accumulate inside your machine is so crazy.
I have a top loading bobbin machine. There are many different models out there, but the general idea is the same…
Get that ‘gunk’ out!
What you need to clean your sewing machine:
The things you need you can probably grab from your bathroom cabinet. You’ll need some Q-tips, tweezers, the little fiber brush that came with your machine (or similar), a flashlight and a screwdriver.
What to do to clean your sewing machine:
Safety Note: It is recommended that you turn off and even unplug your machine for extra safety measure. Make sure the needle is in the “UP” position. It would be a disaster if your fingers were all crammed into that space all laser-focused on cleaning and the machine started. Just Nope. Let’s not go there.
- Remove the needle and whatever sewing foot you have attached as well as the presser foot holder. You’re about to get personal with your machine so let’s clear it all out of the way.
- Use your screwdriver to remove the screws on your machine plate. It’s the metal plate that surrounds your bobbin. Your machine may have also come with one of these mini “T” things. They’re awesome if you’re machine throat (the space you have to work with in your machine) is a bit tight to get a larger screwdriver into. Just a reminder, do not lose any of the pieces :)
- Time to access the mess – Dust bunnies galore… Slide your machine plate off. Take a mental snapshot where all the equipment is right now. Use your phone to take a picture, if you desire. You’ll thank me later because you have to put it all back together soon.
- Remove your bobbin casing. Clean in and around it really well.
- Inside the machine -Do you see all the lint? YUCK! I can’t believe I’m sharing these pictures because… OMG Y’all… Fair warning… If you sew with Minky, your machine will look like this after ONE quilt. ONE!
- Get it out! – Use your tweezers out and start picking out the more significant chunks as well as any stray threads that you can grab. (Do not unscrew anything else.) Remember the doctor board game Operation? Get deep in those corners and get all those lint balls out!
- Tidy up -Use the small brush and the Q-tips as magnets for the tiny fibers from the corners and crevices too!
- Squeaky Clean! Most machine manuals WILL NOT recommend using compressed air to clean because it can push fibers further into your machine parts. So take this step at your own risk, but I feel it really gets things squeaky clean if you take care to blow if OUT and not IN further. I use it at the very very end just to meticulously clean up the last bits of fuzz and only a real quick blow out.
- Admire your perfectly clean machine!
- Screw everything back together. Remember earlier I mentioned taking mental note of where everything was? Refer back to your picture or your machine manual, if you need to.
- While we’re doing machine maintenance, this is a good time to change your needle too. (It is actually recommended by the experts to do it every 4-6 hours of sewing time… Ha, I get a huge FAIL on this one all the time.)
- Also, take a soft cloth and give your machine a good wipe down.
**I don’t recommend oiling your machine. This is something the professionals will do when you take your machine in to be serviced, which is recommended every two years.**
And there you have it. Easy Peasy! You can see my favorite quilt pattern here, available for FREE download. It is super quick to piece together but still super impressive!
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