29 June 2012

Friday Feet: Clean & Oil Your Sewing Machine

I know, there are billions of series in blogland, and you probably feel like it's the last thing you need, but you do.  I promise.  And I thought about what I wanted to call it and came up with Technique Tuesday, but that sounded awfully boring and dry.  Then I wondered about Method Monday or Strategy Saturday, which sounded equally dull.  So I came up with Friday Feat, then changed it to Feet, in reference to presser feet, but it also reminds me of shoes, and everyone loves shoes.  Was that too much information about the way I think?  I have all these different hints and tips that I want to share, but not necessarily an entire tutorial for a whole garment.  Like what fun things your presser feet can do or fancy things you can do with different needles.  I'm excited just typing it!  I guess that officially makes me a sewing geek.  Ah, well.
So, today I'm going to show you how to clean and oil the bobbin area of your sewing machine.  Not all sewing machines are going to look like mine, but it will give you a basic idea of what you can do to keep your sewing machine purring.  You can also check with your owner's manual about your specific machine and where yours needs oil.  In general, don't mess with the upper portion of your sewing machine.  Leave that to the professionals.  
Start by removing the bobbin case.  I'll admit I don't clean mine out as frequently as I should, but I do oil mine on a regular basis.  
There's a hinged frame that will pop down by pressing on the side clip.  Look at all that lint!  It gets worse.
The spindle/hook that the bobbin goes into comes out.  This general doesn't have lint on it.
Take that out as well.
Next remove the throat plate, the metal plate with the seam allowance markings.  Some just pop of by pressing one of the corners on top, this one has two small screws that need to be taken out first.
Push the plate up from inside the bobbin area.
Whoa!  Look at the filth!  Now I was taught NEVER BLOW THE LINT.  Since there is oil used to keep everything running smoothly, the lint might just stick other places that you can't reach.  Instead, use the small brush that comes with your machine to clean it out.  A stiff, clean paint brush would work just as well.
Most machines also come with a small tube of oil, if yours didn't you can buy some anywhere sewing machine accessories are sold, it doesn't matter the brand.  Place a drop of oil on the outer rim of the bobbin spindle/hook, rotate it and let the oil run along the outer circumference.  If one drop isn't sufficient, add another one, but you don't want it dripping down the sides, just the edge!
Now I've heard stories of people who clean their house before their housekeeper comes.  I will admit I cleaned this out before I took it in to be professionally oiled and cleaned (mainly the upper parts).  I thought the tech would be so impressed.  I just picked it up today and the report goes that while he was in the back of the store working on it, they kept hearing "Oh, my goodness......OH MY GOODNESS!" as he pulled a couple dozen pins out of the arm of the machine, some wrapped around the different mechanisms.  Well, I did what any seamstress would do and blamed it on little hands in my house, sticking pins down inviting holes.  They better thank their lucky stars the machine was still working! 


After cleaning out many projects worth of lint, put everything back together in the reverse order.  It should go back together just as easily as you took it apart.  
If you're unsure about how to oil and clean your particular machine, take it to a sewing machine dealership and ask them to show you, or check your user's manual.  Now you have the weekend to try today's Footie Friday tip and let me know how it goes Monday!  I won't have these every Friday because this isn't my full time job, as I already have 6 of those, but I have some neat things to share.  If you have suggestions, let me know!

ps my dad just let me know that everything in their etsy shop is 20% off (including stars!!!) with coupon code PATRIOT until July 4th.

24 comments:

  1. One more. Never, ever EVER use 3-in-1 oil. While it does have a sewing machine on the can, it is not sewing machine oil, and can lock up your machine because it's too heavy. Only oil it with real sewing machine oil. (I speak from experience!)

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    1. So sorry you learned the hard way!

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  2. Never blow out the lint - I hadn't heard that before and I am guilty! But it makes a lot of sense. Thank you!

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  3. I'm really glad you are doing this series, Katy. I never maintain my machine and that's a big no-no on my part. I just have never really known what to do!

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    1. Ditto for me! Thank you Katy! I never knew NOT to blow th lint... Good tip ;)

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  4. Thank-you for posting this! I know how to clean and oil my machine but don't do it often enough. You've just motivated me to actually go and do it - like right now!

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  5. very cool! i love the name for your new series! this will be incredibly helpful! do you sew with a bernina? it resembles my bernina, but i can't tell for sure. just curious!

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  6. Yay! I love hearing tips and techniques for sewing... at this point, they are often more useful to me than a full-blown tutorial. =)
    I need to clean my machine right now...I cleaned it a couple weeks ago but I did some lettuce edging... that stuff makes a ton of lint!

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  7. I had no idea that my machine would break down that way! Thanks so much for the step by step method of cleaning my Bernina! It was full of lint!

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  8. I think this is fabulous! I have never oiled or cleaned my machine. *Gasp* :/ I will be changing that soon!

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  9. Well timed post, guilty look on my face here - hardly ever oil mine - about to take it in for long overdue service next week and vow to start taking better care of it!

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  10. thank you! Look forward to more.

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  11. Oh thank you for this! I've been meaning to clean my machine for a while but was kind of scared to take it apart! I admit I've blown the lint that I can see to "clean" it....now I know better! Can't wait to see what else you have!

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  12. I just had to do this actually.
    My bobbin thread was being terrible and looping and breaking. I couldn't sew.

    My dad came in to look at it and asked if I had oiled it. I of course hadn't so he did and it's back to normal.

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  13. I confess. I have never cleaned out my lint. Thanks for the help. PS Scored big on some Lane Linen!

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  14. Ooops, I may have attempted to blow away the lint once or twice...

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  15. I've never taken off the throat plate- I usually just take the top arm cover off. Maybe I'm not supposed to do that. . . . Looking forward to this series!

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  16. Great Tutorial! This should be done about EVERY 3 HOURS of sewing time, when you have an oscillating hook system (bobbin area), like the Bernina in your tutorial. --Annette / Sewing Machine Mechanic

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  17. My Bernina tech recommends using BERNINA oil on Bernina's. She says to put a drop on a Q-tip and then rub it on the bobbin race every time you wind a bobbin. Very little oil, no build up. Josefa swears that if every machine owner did this, she would be out of a job!

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  18. Cleaning the lint on my machine is actually one thing I do regularly. I feel so proud of myself now:).

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  19. thank you for the inspiration. It took me about an hour to clean my main machine tonight. I really took it apart, and got it all back together without any extra pieces! Yay! There was SOOOO much lint. Yuck! Hopefully she will be happier now.

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  20. Thanks for reminding me that I needed to clean and oil my machine. I've just finished and my machine is now whispering sweet nothings to me again (it had been giving me nothing but unhappy grunts for a while).

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  21. This is very good to know! I never realized that the bottle of stuff inside my machine is oil and that I should be using it! :P I do give it a little brush inside every now and again, but nothing like this!

    Rowena Hailey (Seattle Criminal Lawyers)

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