Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Zen and the Art of Sewing Machine Maintenance

When I got my new sewing machine, I was determined to keep it in the very best of shape.  After spending a fair bit of money on sewing machine tune ups in the last few years, my "burning" question for the sewing machine store was around maintenance.  What did I need to do to keep my lovely Janome in peak running condition?  And I use my machine A LOT so I needed to treat it right.

With that said, this is what I know.  You need to have some tools.  Compressed air is one of those tools.  Being paranoid about wrecking things, I did ask if it is okay to use this on my machine.  It is okay.  Just so you know there are some safety tips you need to remember.  More on that later.  I also have my trusting sewing machine oil with the telescoping spout.  Kind of cool.  I also have handy, the little screw driver thingie that came with the machine to remove the needle plate and tighten the screws when done.  The little brush that comes with your machine is also important.

I was told to check out the lint accumulation and give a little drop of oil after every 8 hours of sewing machine time. I try to do this.  Have a look at what I saw after removing the needle plate the other day.  Big giant EWWWWWWWWWW!  The first photo shows the bobbin case still in place and the next photo shows with the bobbin case removed.  Look at all the fluff that gets under the bobbin case!!!!!  EEEK!  Trauma!

So I take my little brush and I brush as many of the clumps of fluff out of there as possible. The magical little brush acts as a fluff magnet so it does quite a good job.  After getting the fluff out, I then make sure I turn the machine off before using the compressed air.  I just think this is a good idea.

Safety tip:  Turn off machine before using compressed air.

Using the compressed air, blow out all remaining fluff.  I use it on the upper parts of the machine as well.  It works like a hot darn.  The can gets really cold as you use the compressed air.  I find that, well, cool!

Now look at the clean machine!  Wow!  Snazzy!  One last thing, using the sewing machine oil, place one tiny drop of oil on the centre spot under the bobbin case.  Right in that little donut on the "wick."  That is it, folks.  These are the keys to a smooth running sewing machine!  Put all your pieces back in, tighten screws and you are good to go!

And just so you know, all that fluff accumulated after quilting 2 quilts.  ERG!  One big, one little.  Just so you know.  Have a lovely evening!


  1. Great post, Cathy! I need to remember to do this to my machine every 8 hours! And great tip about the canned air.

  2. I try to clean mine out frequently too, amazing how that stuff collects in there!
    I know there are lots of different opinions, but my maintenance guy suggested NOT using compressed air because it just forces all that grunge deeper into the machine. he said it was better to get a small vacuum device......which I haven't actually done !! But anyway, who knows?

  3. I clean mine regularly, but due to your post, realize it's a little past due! Haha! I like to use pipe cleaners bent in half(so there's no sharp edges) so I can really get down in there!

  4. I've always used our vacuum when cleaning it out--we have a central vac so it works really well for this. I hadn't thought of the compressed air. Great idea!

  5. I have to clean my machine out almost daily as I find I do so much sewing that it get dusty and I can hear the difference. you have reminded me that i need to go buy some more compressed air too. All the maintenance is well worth it though. Happy stitching.

  6. I don't sew but reading your blog each day with all the interesting information and beautiful quilts is making me think I should start. What would you say would be a good first project?

  7. I clean after every couple of bobbin changes, use a pipe cleaner stem as an aid to the brush. Oil the wick....always check. Then every 3-4 months, I remove the bottom of the machine--about 6 screws--then brush and gather the lint from the bottom. Use canned air across ---not directly at the wiring and stuff ---to get all the small bits too.

  8. Thank you! The use and care book that came with my machine just says to oil regularly, but not where to put the oil.