Knock Knock ~ oiling your machine!

MarveLes Art Studios Blogs, Tutorial 4 Comments

Knock knock?  Who’s there.  Olive Oil. Olive Oil who?  Haveyaoiled your machine?  Okay, nevermind the joke!  (I tried!)  But seriously, does your machine sound like it’s knocking?  If so, then it’s time to clean, and to oil your machine. Notice the oil can symbol?  I love that little reminder.  It blinks on and off on the screen of a Bernina (450 model) machine.  Many newer models will beep, (burp) or flash for you!  But if not, I’ve got some guidelines for you to consider.  And this is what we teach at the Bernina store:

Over the years, I’ve heard quite a few stories from different ladies about this must-do maintenance.  Perhaps you have as well.  Some said they haven’t cleaned their machine for a year(s)… or don’t know how… can’t find their manual, or are just plain intimidated, forgot, or well, you know. Whatever the reason, here’s what I do, and a few hints and tips to keep in mind. 

Bernina likes to recommend turning off the machines power to begin, although personally, I find I need the light of the machine to see where to clean, so I do not do that. 

First, of course, remove a foot if it’s attached.  It’s best to remove your needle also or even replace your needle – more on that down below.  Next, remove the throat plate. For Berninas, this means you press with your thumb on the upper right hand corner of the plate; there is a little circle there.  It may be hard to release if the machine is new, but it will break in and get easier.

The bunnie fuzz has arrived in full force!  I think I may have been… shall we say, LAX in my maintenance, here?  

Well, ah, yes. Hmm.  Bad girl!

Just how often should a machine be cleaned?  Hmmm.  Great question.  Would you believe me if I said at least every 2-3 bobbins?  Maybe… even sooner, depending on fabric, type of sewing, etc.  Working with flannel?  Minkee?  Linty thread? Yes, even more often.

Get your brush out.  Do a little brushing and sweeping.  Try not to push the fuzz down into the machine, but bring it upward with your brush strokes.  You don’t need to get it all out, ALL at once… be patient.  Take your time. Clean your brush off in between swipes.

Once that is accomplished, then you can use canned air. Use short bursts.  BUT first, PLEASE DO NOT blow into your machine with your mouth (aka spit into it!)  Just like your mama may have told you — don’t spit into the wind?!  Okay, never mind that.  But truly, you don’t want to blow with your mouth as it puts moisture into your machine. Not cool!  And yes, the can of air has some moisture in it too… but it evaporates very quickly—just don’t OVERDO it!  Yes, it’s okay to use canned air – IN MODERATION, as everything else in life… You’ll notice if you overdo, condensation droplets may occur and that’s not what you want.  It’s also important that you don’t use the can of air until you’ve gotten all the fuzz and dusties out the best you can.  AND… one more VIP thing!

Hold the can of air, pointing it away from your machine’s innards! (sorry couldn’t think of a better word).  In other words, point the shooter part (the plastic straw) of the can of air from the BACKSIDE of the machine, as shown below.  Pointing the can of air can from the front (if you’re not careful) can blow some of the the residual dust and fuzz particles back into the machine, possibly getting them stuck even better than before.  Make sure your bobbin case door is open.

Hint: Point the straw of the can of air from the back side of the machine, so the air blows dust through the front door…

Now for the oiling.  Just a few general suggestions.  FIRST: READ your manual!  SECOND, call your dealer if you have questions!  THIRD, go in to the store and ask them to give you (another) demonstration.  And lastly… a little bit goes a long way in the oil department!  In this little machine, I only put one drop of oil in the place where the screwdriver is pointing, in a little bit of a ‘v’ shape if you will.  And it’s really hard to show in a camera shot.  Some machines have several places where drops are needed. But again, refer to the manual, or ask your dealer.  It’s that important. And it’s EASY to do.  Don’t be afraid to ask twice!  After all, you paid for this info when you bought the machine, and there is no limit on how many times you can ask.  It’s their job to make sure you know it. TIP:  Once you’ve oiled your machine, run a piece of sampler fabric or muslin through it for a few minutes, just to make sure there is no excess oil.  You sure don’t want  to put excess oil on a good project.

Ahh… Now that’s a pretty sight!  Fresh and clean.  I love that.  Don’t you?

But you’re not quite done yet.  Check your bobbin case.  Make sure there isn’t a few dusties hiding in it, slinking around those round edges inside it.  If so, gently (I do mean gently) brush them out too. Careful not to brush your tension spring out of it’s slots (if you have this type of bobbin case).  See more about a bobbin cases in an earlier post I published this May by clicking HERE.

Nice and shiny bright-looking.  
 Now for those needles.  Do you hear thump, thump, thump?  Clunk, clunk?  Change your needle! Right away. Do not delay! A dull needle is a broken needle, and no one likes broken needles.  They can be scary, and there’s always a chance the point/tip can break off and flick upward into your eyes, or possibly stay down in your machine or damage the bobbin/timing mechanism.Please… I beg you! Don’t skimp on a needle!  It’s the least expensive thing in machine maintenance, and it’s so much more fun to sew and quilt when you have a good, sharp needle, a sparkling clean, and well-oiled machine to play on.  


Hip Hip Hooray! Here’s to a clean machine! 

Comments 4

  1. I dust out my machine about every bobbin or two, depending on what I am stitching. I do oil every time I clean it out too. It really doesn't take much time.

    Short story – one quilt class I was teaching several years ago had a student that was bragging about not having broken a needle in several years so she had kept using it. I suggested she might want to put in a new one as the old one should be rather dull and she didn't know why as it "still worked".

    I change my needle quite frequently – like you say you can hear the thump, thump.

  2. Good tutorial and pictures. I clean my Bernina 640 at least once per week if not more and give her a drop of oil, too. She "talks" to me when she needs oil. Unfortunately, I was not as kind to my Featherweight. Finally decided to bite the bullet and oil her yesterday – there are oodles of places to oil! Hubby and I followed the book, but must have done something wrong because the timing was off and she is now at the Featherweight hospital. So, I'll be asking for detailed instructions on how to oil her properly — I love that little machine!

  3. My Bernina definitely starts talking to me when she needs cleaning. But I use the little micro vacuum attachment kit. I was told never to use the canned air. It may take a few minutes to attach the kit to my vacuum cleaner hose, but it has worked beautifully. It's also great for other sensitive equipment.

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