This is part of a Learn to Sew series where I occasionally post tips, tricks, and beginner projects.
Admission: I’ve never been to a spa. And I’ve never really felt like I needed to, so I don’t feel any loss. I did get a facial of some kind once where they rubbed dry ice on my face and I felt like my skin was too small when I left… it was nice but not something I’d pay for anytime soon. Bring on the wrinkles: they are badges of honor!
Anyway, sewing machines do need their time to rejuvenate and get refreshed, especially in the form of lint removal and oiling. My machine, at least according to the manual, needs oil every three hours worth of sewing. I will tell you I don’t oil it every three hours; that would be crazy. More like every 10, I think.
A few months ago, I noticed my machine shaking considerably more than normal when I was sewing, and it was having a hard time getting the needle going. So I looked in my manual (a lot of manuals are available online if you don’t have one) and saw the 3 hours thing… and felt like an idiot that I’ve had my machine for years and haven’t oiled it.
I took everything apart and was SHOCKED at how much stuff had gunked up in the machine. So much so, in fact, that when I tried sewing again, the freshly oiled goop (I missed some) got stuck on a gear shaft and it wouldn’t sew! I was freaking out. I had to really work it to get it moving again, and you should have seen the piece of gunk I pulled out of it. It was like the creature from the black lagoon.
Now I regularly de-lint and oil my machine. Every machine is different (in fact, some say to never oil it or to have the professionals oil it), but let me give you a basic idea of how to do it. Of course, ALWAYS consult your own sewing machine manual for how to give some TLC to your own machine.
When you open your bobbin part and see lint, it is time! Pull out your bobbin.
I have a nifty lever that opens everything up when I push on it. Like magic.
Pop! Look at that mess! Next I pull out the part that holds my bobbin, and I remove the plate on top by the feed dogs too. There is always a great collection of lint there.
Carefully brush the loose lint away using the brush that came with your machine, or I use a paintbrush sometimes too. If there is lint really trapped in crevices, I bust out my sewing machine tweezers. Be very careful, and just pull on lint!
You’ll end up with a pretty pile like this. Yum.
If you are supposed to oil your machine, use your sewing machine oil and add a SMALL drop on the parts that move; just turn your hand wheel and see what moves, and put the oil on that. If you do too much, the lint will soak in the oil and give you a bigger headache than before. Ask me how I know.
Then, when you re-assemble it (just reverse what you did taking it apart), it will be purring like a kitten. And your machine will thank you.