I finally finished the gift quilt I'd been spending all my time on over the last ten days (no photos until after I mail it out) and realized my sewing machine had more fluff in it than it should for being 5 months old. I'd cleaned and maintained it once already but when you see chunks of fluff appearing each time you sew, it's probably a sign that you need to do another cleaning.
Sending my machine off for cleaning is not an option. I mean, it is an option but one I do not choose. I prefer to do the maintenance myself which saves time and money. I'm sure I am doing things wrong but I never had any problems after keeping up the cleaning on my old machine so I was certain I could do it for my new machine also. It's a different beast inside what with the computer guts but unless I mess with the feed dogs it is much easier to take apart and put back together.
My tools of the trade:
Camping headlamp for better light, magnet on a stick to pick up dropped screws, rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs to get those pesky lint bunnies, paint brush and pick to get out large lint clumps, star screwdriver thingies to get the screws in deep holes, a little star screw bit to reach where the longer hand-held ones won't fit and a Leatherman to twist the bit, a magnetic bowl to hold the screws so I don't lose any, canned air to get the last bits of lint blown out and machine oil for the places that need oiled.
It's sort of amusing to see the makeshift toolkit. I use rubbing alcohol because it dries quickly and won't leave excess liquid on the metal bits as water would. Cotton swabs bend nicely in and around crevices where the paintbrush and pick can't reach.
First up is removing the screws from the bottom of the machine. Not all of them need removed, as I learned the first time I cleaned Betsy. Yes, her name is Betsy. I don't know why. It just came to me when I brought her home and set her up. Machines work better once you name them.
Screws on the back are next. There are 7, two are hidden under the handle. They are short screws and do not want to come out of their little screwy tunnels unless I tip Betsy on her side and pat her a couple times. Burping machines for screws!
I hadn't even removed the front casing and the amount of lint bunnies start poking out from around the needle plate. I know I've been spending about 5 hours a day during the week sewing (and upwards to 8 hours a day on the weekends) but I'd never have guessed so much fluff could accumulate!
This is what Betsy looks like unclothed. She's a Viking Sapphire 850 and other than her computer bits on the right, the sewing area on the left doesn't really look any different from my ancient basic Viking.
Underneath the needle plate... it is a scary sight. You don't really see how much fluff builds up until after you take off all the detachable bits.
This is what I removed from all the nooks and crannies of the sewing bed. Some of those clumps are dense
This is what a clean sewing bed looks like. Such a difference compared to the photo above. And Betsy runs much smoother and quieter now. The whole process takes about two hours. It will get quicker once I clean her up a couple more times and remember about some of the sneaky hidden screws that I miss. I was really nervous the first time I cleaned her because she is such a high end model compared to my first Viking. I was afraid I would destroy the computer bits. Even after my second cleaning I still hold my breath before I turn her on sew a test strip.
There is something so empowering to cleaning your own machine. It's just another step in quilting for me. From beginning to end I know I am responsible for each aspect of what I make. And if I take a few hours every couple months to treat Betsy to a spa day I know she will run better for me.