Thursday, April 28, 2011

Me vs. The Sewing Machine...

Yesterday was a frustrating sewing day.

As I sat at my sewing machine it began to attack every single project I threw at it. It was snapping off thread right and left. It created creative gigantic knots when it wasn't snapping off the thread at the base of the project...

I did everything I could possibly think of... but without the manual I was pretty much helpless. Then I talked with one of my friends on the phone, who has years of sewing experience under her belt and she asked if I'd ever cleaned out my sewing machine. Or oiled it...

Cleaned it? Oiled it? What?

These things are necessary?

My sewing machine is five years old and while it wasn't used much for most of that time it was collecting dust in the garage. I had tried to figure out how to open it up to clean out the inside a while back, but I was so nervous about breaking it that I finally gave up.

At my friend's suggestion I googled the manual and... Bingo! I had "Maintenance" instructions. Then I picked up the little bag that was inside the machine compartment and discovered a brush and oil (and just about fell over when I saw the zipper foot and button foot which I thought I was going to have to buy separately). Oh how little I know about sewing machines!

As I complained to myself about the necessity of using both a flat head and phillips head screwdriver to clean out a very basic sewing machine, I finally managed to remove the plate on the bottom to find a packed in mass of thread so thick I'm kind of surprised the problems only set in last night (my sewing machine has apparently been a brave little trooper!). I cleaned it out and put it back together and still had problems. I took it apart a second time, reread the instructions, figured out how to remove the bobbin case, found another mass of string packed against the hook and read the instructions on oiling the bobbin and then put the entire thing back together a second time.

I also managed to take apart the top just to give it a dusting, but it actually all looked pretty clean!

I was just about to start sewing when the crying began (the girls, not me...)... and that was my night...

I did learn quite a bit of useful information though. #1) Sewing machines need to be cleaned out regularly. #2) I can do this myself. #3) I now know how to do it myself!

Now to go get ready for tomorrow's garage sale. I'm pruning my closet way back and selling a ton of other stuff (racing snowboard, anyone? All the books I read when my goal was to get my PhD in South Saharan African Political Studies?)... It's going to be a busy day!


  1. Okay, you're not so bad. I've never cleaned a sewing machine before and I've been sewing since I was 8.

    Although granted, not all machines need to be oiled. Some of the fancier ones don't. But they do get lots of dust and fuzz in them!

    So good for you for figuring it out!

  2. Make sure you replace your needle every 4-6 hours of sewing with it. They will get burrs, snag your fabric, bend, and ruin whatever you are working on. I usually replace the needle right before a big project that demands a lot of sewing.

    You know how there are a lot of different types of needles (universal, jeans, quilting, etc). Get a large tomato pincushion with the strawberry hanging off the side. With a sharpie write the needle size/description (70 H-J denim/jeans, 70/10 Universal Lightweight, 80/12 Quilting Universal Medium Weight, 90/14 universal medium weight, etc.) one in each section. Then take your new needles and put them in the corresponding area. This will help you see at a glance what needles you have and pick the right needle for the project. And that little strawberry? It's an emery board for your needles. Poke your needles in and out a few times and they will sharpen up.


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