oiling your sewing machine


Several readers of my previous post on spring cleaning your sewing machine asked for a tutorial on oiling the rest of a sewing machine. So I thought I’d post that info as well.

Cleaning and oiling go hand in hand. Clean first, then oil. But the tricky thing is finding the right balance. Oil attracts more lint. If you over-oil a hard to reach place and then don’t clean sufficiently, you will attract more lint and cause premature wear to your machine. This is why we’ve been told in conversations with our sewing machine repair guy as well as what we’ve read in the manuals of machines that we own that the only parts of the machine meant to be cleaned and oiled by the user are the parts I covered in my previous post. The other areas of the machine require less frequent maintenance and are more complicated to clean and oil so they are intended to be serviced only by an expert.

There’s a lot of debate over how frequently to get your machine professionally cleaned. Some people say that they don’t use their machines very frequently so they don’t need to get it serviced often, but I think it’s more a matter of how and where it’s stored. If it’s somewhere where dust can get into it or it’s out in the open, I’d go for every year or 18 months. If it’s sealed in a case, you can go longer, unless you use it a lot. We have two machines and take ours every year or so because we use them a lot and because they are both out in the studio all the time. I’m also a believer in preventative maintenance. Sewing machines are expensive. One of our machines is nearly 20 years old and runs like a new one. I plan to keep it forever so I’m happy to pay someone to keep in in good shape.

Here’s are a couple more hints on oil and your machine. After you’ve oiled the race, get a scrap of fabric and sew a couple of inches onto it to make sure that none of the oil has gotten onto your bobbin. Check the thread color. You’ll be able to see that it’s darker if there’s oil on it. Continue sewing until the thread is the original color. Also, if you store your machine in a cold place or maybe it’s been in a cold car on the way to a class, let the machine warm up to room temperature before you start sewing. Think about what happens to olive oil in the refrigerator when it gets all lumpy. The lubricants on the internal bearings need to be at the right temperature to be sufficiently viscose. Happy cleaning!


  1. Posted March 17, 2009 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    Great info!! I just oiled my machine last week. Or should I say, hubby oiled the machine for me while I talked on the phone… I blogged your tutorial at Craft Gossip Sewing Blog: http://sewing.craftgossip.com/tutorial-oil-y…-keep-it-happytutorial-oil-your-sewing-machine-to-keep-it-happy/2009/03/17/

  2. allsaints, allsaints clothing
    Posted January 14, 2012 at 4:50 am | Permalink

    Hi i am kavin, its my first occasion to commenting anywhere, when i read this piece of writing i thought i could also make comment due to this sensible post.

  3. Posted October 24, 2012 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    Then this few days I’ve been trying to perform on a bag by Charlie’s Auntie, however last night my device kept losing stitching while stitching through a dense bit and now it will never even sew through only one item of fabric- the top and base spools just are not buddies any longer. :( I’ve tried modifying the stress to every possible establishing, I’ve strong washed the bobbin pocket, I’ve modified the hook twice and to no acquire.

  4. Rose
    Posted March 25, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Do the top thread and bobbin thread have to be the exact same to achieve even stitching? I’ve tried different threads in the bobbin and it looks more like a wave than a stitch.

    • Posted April 2, 2013 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

      No, you can use different threads but make sure that the tension is correct.

3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] Craft Nectar showed you how to clean your sewing machine, now oil it! […]

  2. […] First she showed how to give your sewing machine a good spring cleaning.  Now, Craft Nectar shows how to oil your machine to keep it running smoothly.  Get the tutorial. […]

  3. […] Tutorial by Craft Nector […]

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