Sewing Machine Maintenance Tips and Techniques

You can consider yourself lucky if you own a modern, electric, sewing machine. Whether it has all of the features and functions, settings, and power that you want (or not) it does have an electric motor, and that means it is very easy to use.

There was a time when using a sewing machine was equal parts sewing and working out because of the need to pump the treadle that made the machine actually work.

Today's sewing enthusiasts don't need to be such multi-taskers, and can instead just focus on the items they want to make when using a sewing machine. There is, however, one area that has not changed much since the days of the foot-pump machines, and that is the need to maintain the sewing machine to the best degree possible.

When to Do Sewing Machine Maintenance

Of course, this begs the question of what, exactly, sewing machine maintenance means. Does it mean taking the entire thing apart to change belts or tighten fittings of one kind or another? Does it mean changing any sort of fuses or electric gizmos?

No, when you are told that sewing machine maintenance is a good choice,

you are being instructed as to the importance of cleaning and basic lubrication.

This sort of upkeep can be done after each use, but few people have the kind of time or dedication required to fuss with their sewing machine on such a constant basis. Rather, it is best to pay attention to specific areas of the machine, and to perform sewing machine maintenance when it is clear that these areas are not as free of debris as they had been only one or two sessions earlier.

The Basic Anatomy of the Sewing Machine

It doesn't matter if you have a 1970s model, a brand new "serger" or some other sort of combination machine, all of them have similar areas that are prone to clogging and trouble. These are:

  1. Throat plate - metal plate with measurements and markings that sits beneath the needle area. This is the area that pops open and reveals the bobbin area below;
  2. Feed dogs - these are the gear-like pieces that move and pull the fabric beneath the needle and then push it past and out of the machine;
  3. Cover plate - this is the portion that sits over the body of the machine and may need to be cleaned of lint, etc.; and
  4. Tension control, thread guides, and take up lever - these are areas that run the thread through the machine and which also become clogged with lint and debris.

If you purchased your sewing machine as a brand new item, it is likely that you have the owner's manual on hand. If not, the Internet is a fantastic resource for finding "PDF" files of most manuals, and also a lot of user's guides to specific machines. These will provide you with detailed drawings of your specific machine, and will also tell you which areas to oil and clear of debris when cleaning.

Specific Tips for General Sewing Machine Maintenance

Most maintenance is a matter of removing debris and proper lubrication. This means you want the best tools for the job. Most avid sewing experts will use canned air to blow debris from small spaces, sewing machine oil (use only this and no other kinds of lubricants), small brushes to eliminate dust or debris, and screwdrivers suited to the tiny screws that hold the machine together.

When doing sewing machine maintenance it is important that the machine is unplugged, that you understand the specific requirements of your make and model of machine, and that you never take anything apart unless you a prepared to pay for a professional to reassemble it! Just follow the recommended procedures in your manual, and all will be just fine.

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