When it is time to service your sewing machine?

How to keep your sewing machine working between services

When do you know when to service your machine.  We see machines in all kinds of conditions and on servicing them the usual issues we find are:

  • Build up of fluff – see the picture below of a picture of one that we serviced in our workshop.
  • Bent or broken needle – sometimes parts of a needle are lodged within the machine and/or the needle is bent and so isn’t picking up the bobbin thread correctly
  • Tension issues – usually caused by fluff or caught threads but sometimes caused by the thread not being held in the tension discs properly
  • Burrs on the needle plate or on the hook – usually caused by sewing with a broken needle or forcing a fabric and pull the needle out of alignment

Knowing when to service your machine can be a tricky one.  If you use your machine every day or for 6+ hours per week then we recommend an annual service. If you use your machine only periodically then you don’t need to service it every year.

If you find the following issues then its very likely you need a service:

  • Stiffening of wheel when turning it or stiffening of needle mechanism
  • Any unusual clicking or rattling sounds
  • Ceasing of machine
  • Unusual smell
  • Shredding thread/fabric
  • Reverse isn’t not working or the machine is only doing stitches in reverse

Fortunately there are a number of things you can do in-between services to keep your machine running smoothly.  Here is a our list of top tips:

  1. Use the right needle for the right job.  If you are sewing through thicker fabric then make sure you use a thicker stronger needle for that purpose – there are needles for sewing jean, top-stitching and leather.   If you are sewing stretchy fabric then you need to use a ballpoint needle or a stretch needle that prevents you getting a load of skipped stitches
  2. Clear out fluff from your feed dogs.  To do this, un-plug your machine first!.  Some machines have a quick release needle plate (the metal plate that goes under the needle and presser foot) and some you may have to unscrew.  Make sure you have a small pot to put any screws to avoid them rolling onto the carpet and the dog eating them (yes this happened to me!) . Use some tweezers to pull out the build up of fluff that you can see in this area and around the feed dogs.  Reassemble  🙂
  3. A needle starts to go blunt from its first use and usually had around 8 hours worth of sewing until it needs replacing.  If you are sewing metallic fabrics or thicker fabrics this time is halved or even more.  Replace your needles regularly.  We have seen machines that have been sewn on for 20 years and never had a needle change!
  4. Oiling: Check your manual.  If it has a guide on oiling then refer to this and try to keep it oiled periodically.  If it hasn’t been serviced then PLEASE do not oil.  Putting oil into a machine that has too much fluff in will result in a gunky mess.  Both new and old machines need oil!
  5. When threading your machine, make sure that the thread is going through the tension discs properly.  You will feel tension on most machines when the presser foot is down.  With top loading bobbins, keep your finger pressed lightly on the bobbin when threading so it engages the tension hook
  6. If the machine is going to be stored for a period of time or is not used regularly, run through a variety of stitches on a scrap bit of cloth to keep things moving around inside the machine.  This prevents the oil gunking up and keeps everything mobile on the inside.
  7. Keep your machine serviced regularly.  Whilst the above helps keeps things moving in-between services, a full service involves dismantling many bits of a machine and thoroughly clearing it of all debris, fluff and dust and testing a number of functions.  Its well-worth having this done every year if your machine is used on a regular basis.  Canberra Sewing service and repair all brands of sewing machine, overlocks and industrial machine.