Good Habits for Quilters - Machine Cleaning

Good Habits for Quilters - Machine Cleaning

A few weeks ago I read a book called Atomic Habits. Generally I am purely a fiction reader, but a friend recommended this one a while back and I decided to give it a try. I'm not going to say that this book has revolutionized my life, but it has made me think a lot more about the small habits in my life.

Which of course made me think about quilting, because quilting is a big part of my life, and guys . . . my quilting habits are bad. HORRIBLE. So I thought it would be fun to do a series of posts this year on developing good quilting habits and I am going to start with one of the only habits I am actually pretty good at: cleaning my machine.
Good Habits for Quilters Machine Cleaning - Kitchen Table Quilting

I am not going to go into all of the detail of the things you "should" be doing to clean your machine because that will vary so much based on your model, I am going to tell you what works for me (and I hope you will share what works for you in the comments). This is going to be one of those things where there might be a "right" way to do things, but if the "right" way is something you can't maintain, you've got to do what works for you.

This is what works for me: I clean my machine after every 3 bobbins. In order to maintain this, I only wind 3 bobbins of thread at a time and as soon as they run out, I know it is time to clean my machine. I have heard people say that you should clean your machine after every bobbin, but that just isn't practical for me.

This is how I clean my machine. Depending on your machine, yours might have different needs so make sure to check your manual for specifics.

  1. Turn off and unplug your machine.
  2. Use a tiny screwdriver to remove the needle plate.
  3. Take out the bobbin case and remove dust and lint.
  4. Using a soft bristled brush, clean around the bobbin casing, feed dogs, and all throughout this compartment. 
  5. Then use a pipe cleaner to clean deeper into your machine. I probably do this every other time I clean my machine, but it really helps get the lint that falls down into the bottom.
  6. Place a drop of oil on the sewing machine wick (consult your manual to see if your machine needs to be oiled and where to apply the oil).
  7. Replace the bobbin casing (I usually turn my handwheel a couple of times to make sure I have seated the bobbin casing correctly) and the needle plate.
  8. Use a pipe cleaner or brush to clean the foot and around the needle (mine tends to get a little linty). 
  9. Take a minute to wipe down any lint on the exterior of the machine.
  10. Plug your machine back in, turn it on, and get back to sewing!

Cleaning my machine takes me about 5-10 minutes. Afterward, I wind 3 more bobbins and I am ready to go. With all of the bad habits that I have cultivated in my sewing life, cleaning my machine is important because it helps me avoid skipped stitches and other frustrating consequences of a clogged machine. 

A great way to keep your machine dust-free is to place a cover over it when you aren't using it. Of course I don't do this because I am lazy and I sew with my machine almost every day so I don't take the time, but if you aren't a daily sewer (or even if you are) it can help keep your machine protected.

Do you have any advice for keeping your sewing machine clean? I would love to hear your tips and tricks in the comments!

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