Cleaning is part of sewing – it’s like a wellness treatment for your sewing machine
When we are busy sewing, it’s easy to forget that we should occasionally give our machines a break by treating them to some well-deserved care. Therefore my blog post today is called “Wellness for your sewing machine”.
At the moment, many people are sewing for all they are worth. A little care is sure to do your sewing machine good! Sometimes you may be bothered by an irregular thread tension or improperly working thread cutter. This is often a sign that it’s time to clean your machine again.
How and what do I clean my machine with and how can I remove thread remnants from the thread catcher so that it works perfectly again? The following care tips should help you get your sewing machine purring again:
Tip 1: Make cleaning and oiling a habit
Your machine is affected each and every time you use it. Fabric, yarn and dust leave their traces on the machine, including on the inside. The more you sew, the more residues there are. These have a negative effect on thread tension and on the sewing results. Especially when embroidering, or if the machine is running quickly and for a long time, cleaning should be carried out more often.
I am often asked how frequently you should clean and oil your machine. The operating manual say: “regularly”. But what does that mean? We all love our sewing machines and want them to sew for as long as possible and to do it reliably and well. So I do it either after a project or before starting the next new project. If my project continues for weeks, I will of course also clean and oil during that time. It also depends on what fabric you are sewing: velvet and polar fleece fabrics produce more lint than cotton fabrics. This means that your machine will need cleaning more often.
You can find video tutorials for each model series on the BERNINA website or on our YouTube channel. For example, this video shows you how to clean and oil the BERNINA 435 and 475:
On our newer machines, you can also display a cleaning tutorial on the machine’s screen. Go to “Tutorial, Troubleshooting” and “Cleaning the machine”:
Tip 2: Check for thread remnants
Every time you clean, check if there are thread remnants anywhere in the hook or the hook race. I always – always! – take a look at the hook when I am undoing tangled threads inside (see my latest blog post) or when the gears icon appears on the machine’s screen.
First I remove the bobbin case and the hook. You can see how to do this in the machine tutorial.
Thread remnants can get tangled on the two silver-colored hook driver cams. I carefully remove these with tweezers. Please do not use any other sharp or pointed objects such as needles or scissors, as this could damage the hook race.
Tip 3: A microfiber cloth works wonders
Our instructional video shows the hook area being cleaned with the brush that is supplied with our machines, but I use a clean, dry microfiber cloth. Oil residues and lint form sticky residues that are not easy to remove with a brush.
I also wipe the front and back of the hook with the microfiber cloth:
The black, folded out ring-shaped hook race cover also gets massaged with the cleaning cloth as part of the wellness treatment:
However, I use the brush to clean under the stitch plate. You can see this here in the video:
Tip 4: A different way to insert the hook
I often read or hear that it is not as easy to insert the BERNINA hook again correctly on our new machines because you can’t see what you’re doing with your hand. I am happy to be able to show you a method for inserting the BERNINA hook that allows you to get a better view:
It takes some practice, but the method is easy and safe once you get the hang of it.
It is important that the left tip of the hook is lined up with the left tip of the hook race ring. In the video I have made for you, I use my fingertip to point out the two places. When you close the hook race ring, the hook is then automatically positioned correctly because it is magnetic.
Tip 5: Don’t forget to clean the thread catcher!
On machines with an automatic thread cutter, it is very important to also regularly clean the thread catcher to ensure that the thread cutter can operate properly. Thread remnants or lint can result in the thread no longer being cut correctly or not being cut at all when the thread cutter is activated.
This is how to clean it:
First, I remove the presser foot, needle and stitch plate and lower the feed dog.
Then I go to Setup and select “Machine settings, Maintenance/update” and “Clean thread catcher”:
A step-by-step guide will appear, that you can follow.
I have to admit that I have sometimes “forgotten” to remove the needle. I clicked the link in step 2 and quickly regretted it because of course the needle was in the way. So make sure you stick to the sequence!
It is also important that you first click on the link and only then press the thread cutter button on the machine. Otherwise nothing happens. The video tutorial shows you how to do it:
Tip 6: Do not use compressed air sprays!
You have probably heard or seen that there are so-called compressed air sprays for cleaning sewing machines. Please do not use them!
If you use compressed air, you will blow thread remnants and lint into areas of the machine that are not accessible to you. Sooner or later you will have to visit a mechanic, who will be amazed at the amount of dirt when he takes the machine apart. There are pictures of such “compressed air damaged” machines online that I prefer not to show here.
A microfiber cloth and brush are sufficient. Of course, if the machine is very dirty, I can also take it to my specialist dealer, where, as just mentioned, it will be deep cleaned – even in the areas that we cannot get to ourselves.
Those are all my tips for “cleaning your sewing machine”. Remember, cleaning is only half the battle. Regular oiling is also important. In my next blog post, I will tell you how often you should oil your machine, where exactly and what kind of oil you should use. If you follow my tips and regularly treat your sewing machine to a bit of TLC, I guarantee it will give you great pleasure for a long time.
See you soon,