Raise your hand if you remember the last time you cleaned and oiled your sewing machine or serger! Your sewing machine sounds like a jackhammer and your serger seems sluggish but you have got used to it.
Did you know that it is recommended that you clean your machine after each completed project and oil the machine once a week?
Well, I must admit that I only oil my machine after the noise starts really bothering me which isn’t really a good practice. However, I got a good lesson on the importance on proper oiling after I spend months trying to get my new cover stitch machine working without any progress. Finally, I took a tip from the internet and oiled the machine that wasn’t even supposed to need oiling and – ta-dah! – it works for the first time!
Sewing machine maintenance
Every sewing machine should come with a manual with instructions how to oil your machine. First, however you’ll need to clean all the fluff and dust out. Power off your machine to prevent any accidents.
My Bernina collects huge amounts of fluff under the stitch plate. The stitch plate comes off and I use the tiny brush that came with the machine to brush it off.
Then open the bobbing cover and remove the bobbin. There’s a little lever at the left that releases the hook race cover. Again, clean everything with the little brush. A lot of things end up down here. Once, my machine completely stopped and it took me ages to find a little tip from a broken needle that had ended up in the hook race groove! After the dust is gone, squeeze 2 to 3 drops of sewing machine oil into the hook race.
Run the machine after oiling for a while without thread to spread the oil and to prevent your work from being dirtied.
My serger is Bernina 800DL and I have had if for about four years. It was serviced a few months ago so it has been working well. However, with my amount of sewing it does collect a lot of fluff.
Again, power the machine off and pull out plug from electric outlet. Pull the threads off. I know… you’ll just have to rethread the serger (which no-one likes to do) but the threads do get in your way of cleaning the machine. Then take your brush and start swiping. You could also use canned air to help with the removal of the fluff. Also, if you have had problems with thread tension you could also take some thicker yarn or tooth floss and slide it back and forth between thread tension clamp discs to get rid of any fluff that might cause problems.
Then add a tiny bit of oil in the places shown in the manual. Move the hand wheel around to spread the oil.
Rethread your machine that now works much more smoothly!
Cover stitch machine
My Janome CoverPro 2000CPX is about 6 months old and I have had trouble with skipped stitches straight from the beginning. It has been very sluggish and I have been on the brink of taking it back to the shop to be serviced. However, a friend suggested oiling the machine and I decided to do it despite the manual not mentioning oiling at all. I then found this blog by Cynthia Dickerson that had instructions how to open the machine bottom and where to add the oil. (I do not take any responsibility if you manage to break your machine. I just describe what I did to get my machine working. If you want to, you can always take your machine to be serviced!)
It is enough to turn the machine sideways like in the picture and you don’t need to remove the threads. I recommend taking a photo of the machine bottom before removing any screws to be able to check later which screw goes to which hole. You don’t need to remove the one “odd” screw at the bottom left corner. You can slide the machine bottom cover off without touching it.
Cynthia added oil to the places where metal rubs metal and that’s what I did, too. Then I moved the hand wheel to spread the oil. Then just screw the machine bottom back on and you’re done!
I couldn’t wait testing the machine. I took some sweatshirting and started running the machine. At first I got an odd skipped stitch but then, as the oiling took effect, the skipped stitches stopped. I noticed that I could even move the dials around and still the machine worked, where as before any tiny change lead to more stitches being skipped.
I then moved to thinner jersey and added folds and tucks to simulate sewing over seams. Look at the image above to see how my machine got over a horrible bunch of fabric! (Don’t mind the yellow ugliness in the background. That was done before oiling and you can see skipped stitches even in the blurry background.)
Ok. What about bias binding attachment that seems to be the most difficult thing to get working. I fastened it on the machine, cut some binding tape and started sewing:
No skipped stitches! The only adjustment I had to do is to increase the stitch length a bit.
I am completely flabbergasted! I have been despairing with this machine for months and now it works after me spending only a few minutes doing oiling that is not even mentioned in the manual!
Now I can’t wait to start sewing knits!
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