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!