Friday, 17 August 2012

Smooth Running

Your sewing machine is probably the most expensive piece of your sewing kit, so it it pays to look after it. So I thought I'd jot down a few top tips for keeping your machine running smoothly... Experienced crafters can look away now, this is all basic stuff I wish I'd known about when I started!

And it should go without saying that before doing any fiddling about with the innards of your machine, do unplug it first. It's also worth remembering the old IT maxim - RTFM (read the fucking manual), as it should have a section on maintenance. I'm lucky that I still have the manual that came with the machine, not always the case with second-hand. If you don't, it's sometimes possible to find a copy online with a bit of judicious googling.

Top Five Basics of Sewing Machine Maintenance:

1. Needles
Replace the needle on your sewing machine regularly. It's good for your machine, and should mean better stitching too. Most things I've read suggest starting each project with a new needle, a good habit to get into.

2. Thread
With needles come thread, and you should always use a decent brand - Coats or Gutermann are good and available in most sewing/craft shops. The bargain bin stuff is really not good for your machine, this article shows why. You should have seen the look of disdain on the man's face who came to service my sewing machine as he removed the cheap thread, it was like I'd just crapped on the carpet.

3. Keep it Clean
An article I read recently suggested cleaning out the fluff from the sewing machine after every project (sense a theme developing here?). I'll hold my hands up and admit to not being so great at this one, as the photo shows, plenty of fluff there. But as with all machinery, keeping them clean does help them run better and hopefully last longer. I did have a little brush that came with the sewing machine, but all the bristles have dropped out. A small paintbrush does the job just as well, but best if it has nice stiff bristles. An old toothbrush with a small head is a good addition to the maintenance kit too. And if you were thinking you could just blow the fluff out, stop right there... Apparently the moisture in your breath can encourage rust inside your machine, so don't do it!

4. Oil
Some modern machines are apparently self-lubricating, so don't need oiling. Mine is an older model and has a little diagram in the manual showing where to put a dot of oil. If your machine does need oiling, the main thing to remember is to use proper sewing machine oil (I buy it in my local fabric shop). It usually comes in a little bottle with a long thin nozzle. Remember to do some test stitching on scraps after oiling just in case any oil comes out onto the fabric.

5. Servicing
Most stuff I've read suggests getting your machine serviced by a professional every two years. If you're in Bristol I can recommend a really good chap who will come to your house (although he will tell you off about cheap thread and not changing your needles...). He also has one of the best marketing techniques that I've seen for a small business. Forget social media, this man puts a small sticker each machine he's serviced with his name and contact details - genius!

Happy sewing :)

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