Friday, September 7, 2012

A Little Maintenance and TLC

Like Queenie, I really hate running out of bobbin thread when I'm in the middle of a seam. Since there isn't anything worse at that particular moment then winding a new bobbin, I wind as many empty bobbins as I can when I get down to the last one.

Since I do all my piecing with a medium gray thread, about a dozen will keep me going for a while.

But after sewing with a dozen bobbins, the dust in the bobbin area of the sewing machine usually needs to be cleaned out, so I take the time to do a thorough job.

Julie suggested I take a photo of the type of pins I use so I don't forget. Since I don't tinker with the settings on my sewing machine, it's easy for me to forget what settings I like best.  I took a picture, so now I can get back to "Normal" very easily.

 I turn off my sewing machine and unplug it before I do any of this maintenance. Couple of reasons, first, there's no risk to machine or my fingers if the power is disconnected. Secondly, if you're going to be taking things apart, be smart, make sure nothing bad can happen. Unplug the machine. (In the manufacturing world, we call this "Lock Out, Tag Out.")
Next I remove the cover, the bobbin casing, and blow the dust out of it with a can of compressed air. Now there are a couple of things you really really need to know before you use this stuff. First, read the instructions on the back of the can.  Second, use only short bursts of air. Don't just press the button and go for broke. The air that comes out of the can is COLD, and I mean, FREEZING COLD. You can damage your skin, and electronics don't like extreme temperatures.

Get yourself a little flashlight. Mine's a Mini MagLite.  Keep it nearby. It takes two AA batteries and costs about twelve bucks. There are cheaper flashlights, but the MagLite always comes with a spare bulb built in and it allows you to focus the light brighter where you want it. The flashlight makes it easy to see what's inside the dark areas of your machine.

Just like a tape measure from the hardware store, a utility knife, blue painter's tape and a 48" long metal ruler, these are handy to have at hand.  Sure you could probably buy all this stuff at a spiffy quilt shop, but you'd pay lots more $$$ for them, and I think that's pretty lame.

Dunno where you get those little pipe cleaner type brushes, but those are handy for cleaning dust out of nooks and crannies. Dust collects, grows, and stores heat and occupies space. You gotta get rid of it.

The bent needle nosed pliers (also called a hemostat) are useful for reaching in and pulling a chunk of dust or tangle of thread out of tight places you can't reach, and they're also handy when ripping out seams.

If you're going this far, you might as well oil your machine, but only if the manufacturer's instruction manual tells you to.

After I've done all this stuff, I clean the machine itself, and the work area. When that's all done, I plug the sewing machine back in (this also gives any parts inside a chance to come back to room temperature), and then I'm ready to get back to work, feeling very virtuous.


Julianne said...

Lynn Lynn Lynn!
I got out my "Word Play" book today and OMG OMG OMG! I had the best time making words! I cant wait to show you when I am done!

Quiltdivajulie said...

Super post!

Queenie Believe said...

A Queenie mention *blush* ah shucks, thanks :o)
Regular, at home, basic machine maintenence is the very best thing you can do for your machine! I just can't say enough about it. A well maintained machine lessons machine misbehavior and in turn lessons operator frustration. Also, change the needle at least with every new project and when you run into a pin (by mistake of course). I know its not the funnest thing in the whole world but lets all buck up buckaroos for there is that wonderful virtuous feeling at the end. I shall now remove myself from the machine maintenence soap box. :o)
Have a wonderful weekend.
Always, Queenie