You finally found the perfect spot for you new machine. You excitedly took it out of the box and placed it on the table of your choice. You’ve got all your supplies, notions and equipment lying around you strategically. You’re rearing to go!
You have no idea how to use this machine. You may have never even seen one in use? Although, I’m hoping you took the time with the salesperson to test drive it a bit, not everyone get’s that luxury however.
The first thing I always tell my students is to at least flip through the manual. I’m a realist – there are very few people who *actually* read through the whole manual on any device and quite frankly, I’m not sure if I’d want to be friends with that person anyhow. At least take a quick peek. (If it’s a used machine that came without a manual, you can find them on the net usually for free, but you can always buy one from several outlets that carry old manuals) You’ll at least want to know how to thread your machine. Getting all the steps right is an absolutely must! Getting even one step wrong will keep the machine from doing any useful sewing, cause “nests” and ultimately, over time damage your machine.
From the spool (thread), make your way over to either a plastic or metal carrier, wrap it around this carrier and head towards the bottom of your machine. Wrap it again around the bottom of either a plastic or metal carrier again. (Older machines may actually have the tension here.)
After that, you’ll head back up to the top of the machine where there is a bar with a hook that you’ll wrap the thread around and it will self thread into the eye. This bar has to be at the top position for you to thread it – I suppose it would be possible without it there? But really, let’s make this easy on ourselves! (If you miss this step, bad things will happen!) Make sure to hit the hook at the top of the needle. It keeps things nice and tidy!
And then you can thread your needle; either by hand or your needle threader.
Each machine threads slightly different, so this demonstration on my machine won’t do you much good in the long run. There are however usually numbers to help you along – so if you can count, you can thread.
Your manual can also show you what the parts are called – which is useful if you want to know what someone is talking to you about. If I talk about the “foot”, I don’t want you searching around the “pedal” in vain.
Don’t lose your manual! I still reference mine for various reasons. Keep it in a drawer near by or with your other books. Trust me, at some point you’ll be looking at it again. And if you decide you don’t like sewing or want a different machine, it will be worth more on e-bay with it included!
Your machine will take some care and feeding also. It is a machine with moving parts and while most machines today are computerized and that part can’t be tampered with by us lamen, we can contribute by making sure certain parts are oiled, cleaned and not broken.
I usually go through the various parts that my students can take apart themselves. It can be a bit scary to undo screws, take parts out and squirt fluids into various area’s – I get that. So having someone show you what parts you can actually tinker with is a big help!
Let’s get started –
Make sure to take both screws out before lifting the face plate. After you get them out (and safely set them aside, not to get lost), lift the plate out. Some slide, some lift, some do both, but it does come out so wiggle it a little to see how your’s is supposed to open. There are also front loading machines, in which case, you just flip the door open.
You’ve got it off, so start digging away! You can use the brush provided with your machine, a paint brush or small vacuum attachments. It’s suggested that you steer clear of compressed air – I’ve used it, but only when nothing else worked. Make sure to get all the way to the bottom, the back and the sides. You’ll see plenty of lint in your machine (probably not this time, since you haven’t used it yet, but after a project or two, it get’s pretty gunky.)
This is the bobbin carrier – it carries the bobbin….. make sure to lift it out (or if you have a style that loads from the front; slide the two black bars holding it in to the left and right and poke it a bit and it will come out.) and clean underneath.
You can always remove the foot, shaft and needle if this makes you feel more comfortable with the process. It does give you a bit more room to move around.
If it’s been a while since you’ve cleaned it, you may want to dig a little deeper. You can take the side-bottom off and get in that way. You many need a longer tool for this however. A paint brush works well. Don’t worry – you won’t break anything!
This is the top of your machine where you did all that threading before. Yes, lint can collect up there too. As you did for the bottom, take the outside off and start poking around de-linting.
I’m a bit embarrassed to say – I found a sticker in the top of mine?! I’ve also found a stray needle and a lot of thread before.
So why do we go through all this every few projects? Because all this can gunk up your moving parts stopping them from working. I’ve had my machine start squeaking even! It’s also a good time to check to make sure nothing is broken, chipped, rusting or in need of a bulb change or oiling. Which is where we’re headed next.
You’ve got the machine all opened up, so let’s do a little oiling. This is just as important as the oil in your car. It cuts down on the wear on the gears, keeps the parts from over-heating and keeps things running smoothly. The best rule of thumb is: If it moves – oil it.
I have two types of oil. One that’s very liquidy and one that’s more solid. You only really need one, but I like the solid one for up top so it doesn’t drip down onto the fabric and the liquid for the bottom. It doesn’t matter which one you choose as long as you oil your machine.
As you can see, I’m putting the oil on the moving parts. I wouldn’t suggest as much as the second picture, but taking a picture while trying to oil is a bit of a challenge….
You can always turn the dial on the side to make the parts move while the machine is open to make sure you’ve gotten all the moving parts.
The oil will also help with humidity rusting your machine.
Very good – you’re done cleaning and oiling your machine! Hopefully you stored all the screws safely and are now able to put everything back together like it started out. Don’t go too fast or you’ll pop important parts off! Once you’ve begun sewing, you’ll want to run a piece of spare fabric through the machine after you oil it, to make sure there isn’t any oil left to get onto your good fabric.
That wasn’t nearly as hard as you thought it would be was it!
Pretty good for your first day touching your machine! You’ve now seen all the inner workings and hopefully its bit less scary in there.