Every machine quilter’s worst nightmare is to be in the midst of a project and their machine malfunctions. That nightmare was a reality for me a few weeks ago. I was cruising along, strip piecing a quilt, when my machine just stopped. I pulled it apart, turned it off and on, begged, but to no avail. I packed her up and headed to the Viking Sewing Center to see if they could succeed where I failed. On the way, I ran through several scenarios – a quick fix by the shop, shipping the machine back to the manufacturer for service, and buying a new machine. These scenarios were listed in preference and increasing cost. I was hoping that a quick fix was all I needed as I have several deadlines to meet and didn’t want to be late. Even though my sewing machine is over 10 years old, I was really hoping to get another 10 out of it, so the last option was the least favorable.
Lanna, my local Viking representative, was extremely helpful. She gently pulled my sewing machine apart and immediately noticed the problem. The cutters under the plate were stuck because of some built up lint. I had just cleaned the machine, but she taught me how to get to some hard to reach places for an even more thorough cleaning. She removed the offending lint, which freed up the cutters. Low and behold, the machine worked like a dream again. Lanna saved my day. Lesson being – even if you think you know your machine, you can always learn more from the experts.
Before you start a project and sometimes during a project, you need to perform routine maintenance on your machine to keep it running well, avoiding lengthy servicing or an unplanned purchase of a new machine. Typical maintenance may include the following:
- Open up the machine and carefully remove lint using a soft brush. The lint will typically stick to the brush, which makes this easy. Some machines allow you to move the bobbin mechanism around so you can get lint from those harder to reach places. Depending upon the fabric and thread you are using, lint removal may be needed during the project as well.
- Oil your machine as recommended by the manufacturer. Some sewing machines need routine oiling to keep its parts moving smoothly. My Viking sewing machine doesn’t need oiling. However, my Handiquilter Amara needs oiling with each bobbin change.
- Change your needles. Sometimes, I am even guilty of not changing my needle often enough. Dull or rough needles can cause irregular stitches, punch holes in your fabric and cause snags. One of the top needle manufacturers, Schmetz, recommends changing your needle every 8 hours of sewing. Given needles cost about $1 each, this is a pretty inexpensive investment to ensure the success of your project.
- Perform any other maintenance recommended by your manufacturer.
Servicing your machine typically takes less than an hour. From experience, I can tell you that is less time than taking your machine in for professional servicing! Not to mention, this simple servicing, minimizes your headaches and can extend the life of your machine.