Home Beginner's Guide to Sewing Beginner’s Guide to Sewing (Ep 5): Maintenance

Beginner’s Guide to Sewing (Ep 5): Maintenance

written by Sarah

Unfortunately, sewing isn’t all fun and seams. Sewing machines, just like any machine, need some TLC to keep them running smoothly. That means cleaning, tune ups, and oiling as directed in your manual. Think of your machine like your car; the more you use it, the more upkeep it needs.  In this video, you’ll learn basic sewing machine care and troubleshooting.

In addition, we’ll make you masters of sewing machine tension and throw in some tips for preventing thread nests and headaches.

There’s a ton of information, so feel free to use this video as a reference guide and fast forward to just the sections you need at any given time:

00:35 Cleaning the Face Plate, Needle Plate, and Bobbin
02:35 Oiling A Sewing Machine
04:38 Preventative Tips
06:52 Mastering Tension and Thread Nests
12:19 Bobbin Tension
13:19 Installing Your Needle Properly

Remember to always consult your manual regarding proper cleaning and oiling, as every machine is different. Try to get your machine deep cleaned by your local sewing repair shop every 3 months (for heavy sewers) to at least once a year.

Stay tuned for next week’s video! We’ll be back at the machine learning about hems and elastic.

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18 comments

Robert Brabon June 25, 2017 at 10:38 pm

Not picking up the thread from the bobbin.

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Robert Brabon June 25, 2017 at 10:36 pm

I have an old wards signature and just starting to sew like a beginner but I’ve got a problem with starting seems the needle will not pick up from the bobbin, I hope there’s a solution.

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Sarah June 26, 2017 at 9:17 am

Hi, Robert! This is a silly question, but are you holding the needle thread tail while you turn the handwheel to pull up the bobbin thread?

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Robert Brabon June 26, 2017 at 11:21 am

I have been holding the thread tail, still not picking up the bobbin thread.

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Sarah June 26, 2017 at 12:48 pm

Hi, Robert! That sounds like a timing issue. Your local sew and vac repair shop should be able to correct the timing issue easily.

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sandra pritchett March 27, 2017 at 11:45 am

my singer machine will not go all the way down it bends the needle

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Sarah March 28, 2017 at 9:40 am

Hi, Sandra! I’m so sorry your having trouble with your machine. Is your needle hitting the presser foot?

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Gail January 11, 2017 at 8:36 pm

I just discovered you very informative and helpful site. By checking out your videos I was able to successfully clean and oil my Brother machine after having it for over 18 years with NO service what-so-ever. Granted my machine gets very, very little use. I am NOT a sewer. I don’t have the patience for the thread slipping out of the needle too often and not a big fan of long tails. However, with that in mind, I signed on for some piece work so I can stay home and take care of my elderly father. Crazy right? I can sew, just not very patient. So, the piece work at first glance seemed pretty straightforward. Zig zag stitching along the edges of the project. HOWEVER, there are little quarter to half inch cut outs that require a horseshoe finish using the zig zag stick on the F stitch length setting. In other words intense coverage using a satin stitch which bundles up very quickly if you aren’t careful. The fabric I’m working with is a very thick (multiple layers) canvas with a rigged felt backing. The pieces are very small and it’s very difficult to see the stitches under the pressure foot while sewing. Using No. 16 needles and upholstery thread penetration through the layers is fine but the fraying with the precut pieces and the hemp pieces that are added to the project is horrible. Im a perfectionist and cannot send a ratty piece back to the vendor but I am stumped how to manage the perfection needed to make the piece saleable. Any suggestiions you might have would be greatly appreciated. I did buy a fray product, not Fray Check, another brand from hobby lobby but I’m concerned it may be too time consuming to make the project profitable for me at $1.34 per piece. Can you help?

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Sarah January 12, 2017 at 4:32 pm

Hi, Gail! I’m so glad our videos were helpful!
This does sound like a difficult project. I would recommend adding a light-weight fusible webbing or stabilizer of some sort. It’s cheaper than fray check and the fusible feature holds the frays together just like fray check. Stitch Witchery is very easy to apply: https://www.sewingpartsonline.com/stitch-witchery-tape-collins-reg-weight.aspx

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Maryanne Davis-Baldwin December 3, 2016 at 10:14 am

Looking for a part-the tiny machine screw that prevents the needle from being set too far up the shaft. Bernina #807

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Frances April 1, 2016 at 1:59 pm

Hi Sarah I have a Singer One Plus sewing machine. I broke the jack for the foot control. I live in Tracy California. Can you recommend a service center in this area? I just started sewing as hobby since retiring a year ago. I plan to take a sewing class soon. Thank you for your help.

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Sarah G. April 6, 2016 at 12:41 pm

Hi Frances! I hope you are enjoying your retirement and your new sewing hobby! I don’t have any experience with service centers in that area. However, I always recommend going to your local sew and vac shop. I’ve always found them to be helpful.

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Shane October 3, 2015 at 11:52 pm

I have recently inherited a Kenmore Zig Zag sewing machine model # 1301. The belt appears to be dry rotted. Do you know which belt I need? How much do they cost? I have not used a sewing machine since home economics in 1987. I’m excited to try my hand a sewing. I will be watching many of your videos.

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Sarah October 6, 2015 at 9:08 am

Hi Shane! I hope the videos are helpful! This is the belt I have listed for your machine: https://www.sewingpartsonline.com/motor-belt-kenmore-dp6912.aspx
I hope you enjoy your return to sewing!

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carol October 14, 2014 at 3:03 pm

This is really useful info

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Sarah October 16, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Thank you, Carol! If any have any questions please let me know!

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christine uden October 3, 2014 at 9:52 am

I having trouble with the tension it will sew but then the bottom gets tangle up when I sew then it won’t sew
thank you
Christine uden
uden.christine@yahoo.com

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Sarah October 16, 2014 at 2:16 pm

Hi Christine! To begin let me ask you — what are you trying to sew and what is the tension setting on your machine when it gets tangled?

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