Each year around the holidays – or more specifically, while I’m in the middle of the holiday sewing craziness – I lament about how infrequently I manage to perform the maintenance that I know my machine so desperately needs at this time of year: cleaning and oiling!
First, the procrastinator makes an appearance: “Just one more bobbin.” or “When I’m done with this quilt!”
Next, denial sets in: “Wow, where are all these fuzzies coming from? Must be this batting.” or “Really, I’m sure that ca-chunk-ca-chunk-ca-chunking is just the dishwasher.”
But the dirty dishes are still piled up, and your projects continue to flow through the machine, one after the other. And you don’t do it. Or at least, I don’t. Not nearly enough.
But there’s no excuse! It’s so easy and takes about 3 minutes. Below are the steps for you to do it yourself. At least someone will be cleaning their machine, even if I’m not.
Cleaning and Oiling Your Machine
Getting started: Unthread your machine and put it in the “needle up” position. Turn it off. Find your brush and oil. The ones pictured above came with my machine.
Step 1 – Approach: Quietly, gently approach the machine in its native habitat. Speak in soothing tones, so it doesn’t suspect anything.
Step 2 – Open the top: Press open the stitch plate beneath the presser foot and remove it.
Step 3 – Defuzzify: Brush out all the fuzzies and gunk, bits of broken needles, toast crumbs, dog hair, extra threads, whatever else is stuck in there:
Step 4 – Appreciate: Admire your clean machine top, and replace the stitch plate:
Step 5 – Bobbin area: Open up the bobbin door, and remove the bobbin. Clean out the fuzzies you can see.
Step 6 – Release the bobbin hook: Now, release the housing that holds the bobbin hook in place. There’s a handy little lever on the top left of your machine to release it. Push this lever to the left to release the housing. The housing will flop down:
Step 7 – Remove the Bobbin Hook: Open the bobbin housing and remove the spiky part that sits on the right-half of the bobbin area. This is called the bobbin hook. It’s the part that rotates around the bobbin and makes stitches.
This is what it looks like up close:
Step 8 – Clean like the wind!: Now clean out the hook and the rest of the bobbin area with your handy little brush so it looks like this:
Diversion! – Understanding the inside: Small side trip! The bobbin hook sits inside the housing and “races” around in a circle while you’re sewing to make stitches. The little track that it goes around on is called the race. Ultimately, this is the part that needs the oil on it.
There are two different ways to get oil onto the race. Are you ready? 3, 2, 1…
Step 9 – Option 1 – Oil the Hook:
Step 9 – Option 2 – Oil the Race:
Place one drop of oil at the bottom of the race hook.
Please note: You only need to do ONE of the above methods. You DO NOT need to do both. When you’re done with your chosen method, the rest of the steps are the same:
Step 10 – Put Humpty Back Together Again: Reinsert the hook into the race and close the housing again:
Step 11 – Run the machine and listen to it purr: As the hook turns in the machine, oil will be distributed along the race. Run the machine without any fabric in it until the oil is distributed. This saves you from the disappointment of getting a bit of oil on your project as the machine settles in to its new-found lubricated state. Machine sounds better, doesn’t it?
When should you oil your machine?
I’ve heard a lot of different things: Every bobbin, every 3-5 bobbins, at each needle change, every day, never… But my rule of thumb is usually the following:
1) After using up 3-5 bobbins.
2) When it start ca-chunking – sometimes the machine just sounds like it needs oil. When this happens, I oil it. It’s possible that it hits this mark after the 3-5 bobbin stage, and comes from my minor neglect, but I will deny this if anyone asks.
3) When Bernina tells you you should – Bernina will display a cute little oil can icon on the front of the machine after about 180,000 stitches, indicating that it’s time to oil. Almost all the sewers I know oil more frequently than this, but it’s a good reminder to get once in a while, and it’s a cute icon, to boot!
What you shouldn’t do when oiling: Compressed Air
People say that compressed air is ok for the older mechanical machines that are not computerized. However, most sewing pros I know don’t use compressed air on their computerized machines, for fear of blowing the dust into the internals of the machine and messing something up. I’m not sure I buy it completely, but better safe than sorry! I steer clear of it just to be sure!
Hope this little tutorial was helpful. Happy cleaning!
Posted by robyn on December 31st, 2011 under bernina 440 qe, crafts, sewing, sewing machines, tutorials
Handmade High Tech
I'm Robyn. Thanks for stopping by! This is my craft blog.
Contact me at robyn [at] dognamedbanjo [dot] com.