Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Getting At Those Dustbunnies

April showers bring May flowers!  Showers clean away the grubby remains of winter.  And that's what we're doing today.  Cleaning out the fuzzy remains of those last 29 quilting/sewing projects!

These instructions are written for a  sewing machine with a top-loading bobbin.  Many of today's modern machines are top-loading.  But there are a few front or side-loading bobbins that we will discuss in another post.

So get your tools ready! Gather everything and let's get started! 

A good brush is essential.  There are brushes specifically sold for sewing machine cleaning.  Don't forget to check the automotive section of your local hardware store.  That's where I found the brush with the puffy red end.  It's for cleaning your dashboard and air vents.  A small paint brush is also handy for sewing machines.  Don't forget pipe cleaners and Q-tips for tight places.  Tweezers, not pictured, are good for grabbing on to loose threads or reaching in to tight spaces.

You should have a bottle of sewing machine oil handy.  DO NOT use any other type of lubricant or oil than what is SPECIFICALLY labeled as sewing machine oil. If your oil appears cloudy or yellowed, it's time for a fresh bottle.  Don't worry, it's inexpensive.  Repairmen are not!

A small lid from a plastic container for screws and small parts. And last, but not least, a small screwdriver.  Stubby, short ones work great for removing needleplate.

First let's remove the needle.  Dispose of safely.

Remove the screws from your needleplate.  Store them in a small lid where they won't roll away and become lost.  Remove bobbin cover and bobbin.

Remove the needleplate and store safely aside.

If you are unsure or haven't done this before, you may want a digital camera, phone with a camera, or a tablet to take pictures of your machine parts and placement for reference.  It may come in handy when you go to put things back together.

Having exposed the bobbin area where most of the bunnies breed, you'll want to remove the bobbin case next.  Here you will find the rotary hook - the silver round thingy!

If you haven't cleaned in a while - or EVER - you might find a compacted accumulation of lint and threads.  Depending on what materials you are sewing, this can build up fast.  Flannels, cotton quilt batting, and inexpensive threads are the biggest culprits.

Clean this area with a Q-tip with a drop of sewing machine oil.  It works like a magnet attracting dust.  Place a drop of oil at the bottom of the rotary hook.

Continue to clean the area around the hook with Q-tip, brushes, and/or tweezers.  If you have a automatic thread cutter, ensure it is free of stray threads.

Check the feed dogs for accumulated and compacted lint between the rows of teeth.  Remove with blade of small screwdriver or tweezers.

Once you have ensured that everything is clean and clear, it's time to put everything back together.

Before you replace the bobbin case, ensure it is clean and free of lint and threads.  If your case has a little tab of felt, DO NOT REMOVE!  It belongs there.
The bobbin case should lie flat in the rotary hook.  Not cockeyed!  To ensure you have placed it correctly, rotate the hand wheel towards you one full rotation slowly.  The rotary hook should rotate smoothly and completely without hanging up on bobbin case.  If the case gets hung up, STOP.  Remove and replace bobbin case correctly.

Now replace the needleplate and screws.  Tighten securely, but do not over tighten.

Insert a fresh needle for your next project.

Repeat this process often for best machine performance and longevity.  Try at least every 2-3 bobbin changes.  And if you sew often, send your machine to your dealer or qualified repairman for annual spa day maintenance.  Don't wait until something goes horribly wrong in the middle of a project - because, it will, you know!

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