For dressmaking, your primary tool is the sewing machine. In most cases, your sewing machine does all of the actual sewing for any given dress or garment. Anyone who has an old sewing machine, languishing in the attic or barn, has seen first-hand evidence that not everyone takes the time to learn the proper care and maintenance of their machine.
Neglect and ignorance can lead to lower quality needlework at best, and to expensive repair bills or even replacement at worst. Click here for a Sewing Machine Repair Book that could save you hundreds of dollars in repair bills; Sewing Machine Repair
Machines Aren’t Cheap
The first thing you should do upon getting home with your new sewing machine is to sit down and read the manual cover-to-cover. Sewing machine manufacturers recommend specific maintenance procedures and schedules that you should be familiar with. There may also be critical model-specific information you need to know in order to avoid damaging the machine badly. Finally, by reading the manual, you can make sure that you follow the correct procedures so that you don’t void the warranty.
Reading the manual is a pretty boring task, but taking the time to do it demonstrates that you truly value the investment you’ve just made in a quality sewing machine. You don’t want to have to replace the machine next week or even next year – indeed, it should serve you well for decades – so making sure that you’re properly caring for your sewing machine by reading the manual is important.
As discussed, the manual should give you what you need to know regarding information for caring for your new machine. When you go out to purchase the machine, though, the clerk or salesperson can likely tell you a thing or two that’s not covered in the manual. It’s very likely that they’ve done some research on the products that they carry, and that they’ve been called upon from time to time to provide support for other customers who have purchased the same model.
Looking for more tips to make sure that the workhorse of your studio will be around for years to come? Read on:
1. Keep it clean. This tip alone may well be worth the time you’ve spent reading this article. As the mechanical parts of your sewing machine build up dust and grime, they are likely to wear much faster than they would if they were kept clean and cared for. Keeping the machine clean will also ensure that you’re able to quickly spot any parts or materials that are out of place, thus avoiding damage.
2. Use excellent thread. I know you go through a lot of thread when dressmaking, but this is not a place to cut corners. The difference in price between a spool of cheap thread and a spool of top-quality thread is only a couple of bucks, and the lint-free, strong, and supple good-quality thread is a joy to work with and won’t gum up the guts of your sewing machine as it passes through.
3. Go slow. I liken this tip to the guy who passes you on the road in order to speed up a five-mile journey. It doesn’t matter how much faster you drive, you’re not going to get there too much faster over that distance. It can feel really cool to have enough control over your sewing to stomp down on the pedal and go all-out. In addition to putting additional strain on your machine, though, speed can also make small mistakes into huge blunders.
4. Change your needle. There are a couple of very good reasons to change the needle on your sewing machine frequently. First, a slightly damaged, chipped, or worn needle does sub-par work, and is likely to snap in the middle of a project, forcing you to take the time to change it, and costing you momentum. The second reason is that different needles work better for different fabrics. Thicker needles are more durable for punching through leather or denim, and thin needles can ease through silks without catching or perforating the fabric. Use the right needle for the job.
5. Unplug your sewing machine when you’re not using it. It’s much safer, and will protect your machine from a spike, surge, or lightning strike.
6. Remove lint. Lint from threads and fabrics, can build up in the mechanics of your sewing machine, increasing wear and tear and eventually causing damage. You can use the brushes provided with your sewing machine, or pick up a computer cleaning kit – full of safe brushes and even compressed air for blowing lint out of the hard to reach spots.
7. Lubricate! You machine may come with a special sewing machine oil or lubricant. If it didn’t, make this a top priority for the next time you drive by the craft store! Lubricant protects moving parts from friction damage and keeps metal parts from tarnishing or rusting.
8. Get help when you need it. Unless you have the right repair references on hand and feel competent to exact repairs on your own, ask a repair professional to help you out. The repair bills may seem steep, but when compared with the cost of a new machine or major part, it’s pocket change, and well worth avoiding the frustration. You can also learn how to do repairs yourself.