Monday, March 29, 2010

Tip of the Week: REALLY Basic Care for your Machine

It is surprising, when you think of how much they cost, that people ignore some of the little things they can do to make their machines run well. 

Many of us (not me, people!) only use 100% cotton thread in our machine.  In my opinion, it has never been about the type of thread, but the quality of thread.  Computer programmers have an acronym for this:  GIGO, which stands for garbage in, garbage out.  If you think you can buy the 4 for $1 thread and not have problems, you are in for some unhappy surprises.  I've already posted about the threads I prefer, and thread breakage has never been a problem for me.  Using cotton thread  on top and in the bobbin means one thing:--LINT--no matter what brand you are using, and what they say about it.  I use cotton on the top and a lightweight poly in the bobbin, and my machines (four of them) seem to like the blend.  A project may also involve lots of lint.  I've recently grown fond of the bags, bowls, and baskets made from clothesline; this is a lint making project if ever there was one;  ditto for fleece, corduroy, and Minky®.  There is no way to avoid it, but you can lessen the impact that lint will have on your machine by cleaning your bobbin case each time you change the bobbin.  I cannot stress this enough.  One day, in a workshop, a classmate's thread broke repeatedly.  She changed the needle, sewed more slowly, and still the thread kept misbehaving.  I suggested changing the bobbin entirely, and when I saw the bobbin case, I knew immediately what the problem was.  She had enough lint in there to make a small stuffed animal!  You don't need fancy tools to clean your machine;  I use the brush that came with my machine as well as another favorite brush that looks like a dollhouse-sized bottle brush.  I also use a Q-tip, but before I put it in my machine, I twist it around a little bit to ensure there is no loose cotton on the tips.  I never use canned air on the bobbin case, but will use it on the bed, and on the surface of my sewing table.  Another handy tool I use is a pipe cleaner, particularly in the upper threading areas. 

The second most surprising thing is that people simply forget to change their needles; each time you start a project, or every eight hours (new project or NOT),  you should change your needle.  A worn needle can not only damage your project, but do serious damage to your machine and its timing.  As for my favorite machine needles, some folks swear by Organ, and I've used that brand on occasion, but I prefer Schmetz and Klasse needles.  For long wear, Klasse and Organ makes a Titanium needle that will wear much longer than the eight hours.

These are little things, but they will save you time and aggravation; I mean, sewing is supposed to be a happy time, isn't it?

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