Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Maintaining your sewing machine . . .

For many years, my sewing machine was something I pulled out once a year to sew some curtains or make minor clothing repairs.  I never thought to clean it.  I mean how dirty could it get spending most of it's time resting in its original box under my scrapbooking table?

About this time last year I set aside my scrapbooking things and took up sewing in earnest.  I purchased a new machine (Singer 4422 Heavy Duty) for Christmas, I sewed what feels like a million handbags and never thought to clean it once.

A couple days ago I was sewing through some particularly thick layers of fabric.  The material was so thick that I hadn't noticed I forgot to lower the foot on my machine.  For those of you who haven't experienced this particular dilemma, let me explain.  When one sews without lowering the foot, the stitches appear to be coming out perfectly.  It's very deceptive.  However, when one flips over the fabric to reveal the backside of the stitches, one finds a mess of loose and tangled thread.  I my particular situation, I was sewing along for several inches until my fabric stopped moving.  It was then I realized my mistake.

The bobbin (which I repeatedly type out boobin for some reason) thread was all tangled up and wrapped around the feed dogs.  I had to cut it all out and cuss for about 2.5 minutes until I realized I had thread embedded deeply within the internal workings of my machine.  Then I figured it was about time I removed the metal plate in order to see what I was dealing with.  So after another bout of cussing because I couldn't find the tiny screwdriver that came with my machine I eventually did and this is what I found:

Oh.  My.  Goodness.  My sewing machine was definitely in need of some serious cleaning!  I used some tweezers to pull out all the bits of thread I had lost down under the feed dogs.  One more round of cussing and I found my little lint cleaning brush and went to work.

Shown above is just a portion of the lint I cleaned out of there.  Gross, right?  The lint in the grooves of the feed dogs was so compacted it was like felt!  I will never let it get this dirty again.  Never.

I finally got it all cleaned out.  I checked my manual and found out that my particular machine wouldn't require me to apply oil to any of the moving parts.  I changed the needle as well and was amazed that I could actually feel a difference in sewing performance.  The machine was smoother and quieter.  Amazing!

Because I like to share as well as entertain, here are some good links about sewing machine maintenance:

After browsing these links and videos, I realized I would have had a much easier and safer cleaning experience if I had removed the needle!!!!  Next time I'll remember that!  No more Miss Lazy Pants for me when it comes to keeping my machine clean and serviced.  I am curious if any of you have ever been so lax in your sewing machine maintenance.  Please let me know I'm not the only one!

Happy crafting and big hugs from Montana, 


  1. I was happily sewing away last Monday and PADANG, a thread got stuck INSIDE the machine. (How the heck did I manage that? I will never know...) On a piece I couldn't reach without taking the entire machine apart... and I am NOT good with a screw driver. So while I was poking in there, I removed all the dust bunnies (families and families of them). Oh my!!

  2. Great tip! I just started sewing this year and never thought about this. I'm slightly scared as to what fuzzy creature awaits me when I clean mine tonight.

  3. hehehe... boobin :o) I learned to clean my machine the hard way too!

  4. BTDT!!! Ever have the tip break off the needle because of the tangle of thread in/under the feed dogs? That poses a challenge. I can't find my manual, so I went by one for a different brand machine, I don't even know how I got it. And the Joann store that used to service or be a middle-person for getting machines serviced doesn't anymore. Gotta find somebody, I think mine is supposed to be oiled.

  5. With my previous machine.... guilty as charged. A light comes up on my new machine, to tell me when to oil it, so I just clean it at the same time.

  6. Nope Rikka - you're definitely not the only one! I've gradually learnt how to take bits apart to clean it after it's clogged up! (found the same dust balls you did in your photo!!). Thanks for sharing the links on how to clean. I really should make time to look at those and give my machine a spring clean!!

    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  7. Indeed, an advanced sewing machine needs more care


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