How to have your sewing machine running smoother!
Do you sometimes feel very excited, you’ve just decided on sewing a new patchwork or quilting project, your enthusiasm is running at full speed, and nothing will get in your way.
You trace, you cut, you iron, fabric is flying through the air, the sound of those scissors is almost deafening, and nothing is going to stop you…. You’re on your own personal mission…. Your sewing machine is ready and waiting for you.
You choose your thread, fill your bobbins, you place a note on the fridge saying, “Look after yourself today, as I’m busy sewing…..”
Excited, you’re sitting at your machine, and start to sew but “whoo” what just happened…fabrics puckered, stitching is awful…
Never mind you think, it’ll be right in a moment or two. You quickly undo the stitching with your trusty quick un-pick and you resew it again only to find the same thing happen again.
You’re now feeling somewhat deflated, and think to yourself,
“Why…Why now, I just want to sew… What is wrong with my sewing machine?”
We’ve all experienced times like this, but a little sewing machine
maintenance regularly can save many issues from happening, not always, but a machine in good condition can save lots of frustration, disappointment and even anger.
I regularly allow approx 20 or 30 mins or so, to give my beloved sewing machines a bit of loving care, and it always seems to thank me with how it sews after this little bit of a “beauty treatment”.
Don’t we all feel better after a trip to the hairdresser, etc, well our sewing machines are no different.
Firstly I like to remove the bobbin, the bobbin casing depending on which sewing machine it is, to what & how these things come apart. I have a nice little brush that I can then get into all the “nooks & crannies” of the bobbin area.
This is really important, because depending on what you’ve been sewing, you may have a build up of fibrous fluff, for example. If I’ve been sewing my trapunto technique, then I’ll always have a certain amount of fluff from the particular wadding that I use when creating my trapunto. All our quilting threads and fabrics all contribute to the build up of fluff within our sewing machine bobbin areas.
Once clean, I then replace this bobbin, etc, all back into the sewing machine.
Not all sewing machines need oiling these days, but for the one I have that does, I then will look for all the little oil holes and place a few drops of proper sewing machine oil in those holes.
I then will change my needle to a new one, throwing the old one out…using a safe method of course. Sewing machine needles are often the cheapest part of our beloved sewing but I often find that for many people, they don’t want to place a new needle into their machine, or worse they keep the old needle for another day, even though it’s just sewn 200 kms of stitching. Wouldn't you be feeling a little flat after running that distance, not to mention the state of your feet. Your sewing machine needles are no different.
People under estimate the difference that a new needle can make and the issues that an old needle can create… I’m forever going on about this when teaching in-person classes, on-line quilting classes or writing like here.
You can’t actually see the often minuet damage that a needle has
like a slight burr, a slight bend, a slight bluntness, a slight anything, but it will be noticeable when you start to sew with a new sewing machine needle. Always make sure that your sewing needle is the right size for the thread & fabric you’re about to sew.
I then thread my sewing machine with two different coloured threads and take a sample of fabric with a little wadding inside of this and start stitching to test my tension. It’s easy to see if you use two distinctive different colours of quilting thread. I make any adjustments to my tension that may be needed, until it’s in perfect sewing condition.
You may need to refer back to your sewing machine manual for any instructions to do any of the above, and of course do this with your sewing machine turned off for safety reasons.
Next, I’ll get my tin of Mr Sheen furniture polish, and give my sewing machine a really nice clean and polish, removing any built-up dust and fluff on the outside of the machine. I use Mr Sheen, but I take no responsibility for any damage that may happen from you using it on your sewing machine…be careful on your computer screens of your sewing machines.
After this I’ll look at my sewing area, bench, table etc and give it a bit of a
tidy up, put things away in their rightful places, and remove any clutter as clutter can really eat into our creativity. Check out this very popular blog post on “Cluttered sewing rooms” to open up your flow of creativity.
Then once this is all done, and 20 to 30 mins is normally plenty
of time to do this, then I thread my sewing machine with the actual thread for my project, with the correct size needle for the project as well and I take that fabric sample once again and just do approx 30 to 60 secs of stitching on that to make sure that everything is now flowing & sewing smoothly as it should be, adjust my stitch length etc and I’m now ready to sew.
If you have a sewing machine needle that really is very new and
you may be changing needles regularly on the project that you’re working on, as I do many times, particularly if I’m sewing with monofilament thread, and then back to a heavier cotton thread, then back to my monofilament thread and so forth, then this blog post here, How to know what size needle your sewing with, is a very good read, as it’ll tell you an easy way to always know what size needle your sewing with.
By now your sewing machine is feeling very pampered with all
that attention... and is ready to start sewing your new quilt.
Hope that this helps you within your personal creative sewing journey, but do remember that for many other issues with your sewing machine, you may need to take it to your sewing machine technician
Would you love to have a new & very unique way to do
"thread painting" on your sewing machine, easily & simply?
Of course you would, as learning new sewing & quilting
techniques will always help you grow within your personal sewing journey.