Essential Sewing Resources

Sewing Resources
Photo Source: Pinterest

Essential Sewing Resources

Sewing is something that a lot of people pick up as a creative outlet or a stress-reliever. Sewing can be extremely therapeutic once you understand the basic stitches, tools, and fundamentals of sewing. With that being said, without knowing that key information, sewing can be a little overwhelming for beginners which is why we created this section as your go-to sewing resource.

Below you will find the following sections to help you learn a thing or two about sewing and get more comfortable with important sewing terms, equipment and techniques.

Useful Sewing Tools

Sewing Terms You Should Know

How to Sew Basic Stitches

Sewing Additions & Different Fabrics

How to Resize a Sewing Pattern

How to Maintain Your Sewing Machine

When you start learning to sew, there’s a few basic steps you should go through before starting the sewing process.

Choosing the Right Sewing Machine

All sewing machines are different and they’re made for different types of sewers. We’ve talked about the importance of doing your research when it comes to sewing machines to truly find the perfect machine, not only in your price range but also for what you’re looking to create.

Selecting the right sewing machine for you and your needs is the first and one of the most important steps to get your started.

To learn more about different sewing machines, check out our sewing machine section!

Sewing Tools

There are quite a few sewing tools that are essential when it comes to completing a sewing project. Having the right tools can really make or break your sewing and therefore, gathering all the basic tools ahead of time will save you a lot of frustration later on.

However, there are a lot of unnecessary sewing tools as well. On this website, we have walked you through the essential sewing tools to hopefully save you some stress, but also save you some money with not purchasing unnecessary items!

To learn more about sewing tools, check out our complete sewing tools section!

Familiarize Yourself With the Terminology

There’s a lot of terms used in the sewing world, some you may have heard before, others not so much. Since a lot of sewers follow patterns and directions, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the sewing terms and terminology used to properly understand directions.

We’ve done the hard work for you and organized the most popular and important sewing terms for you which you can check out here.

Purchase Fabric

One of the key pieces to actual sewing is to have fabric because, without fabric, you have nothing to sew on. Fabric can tend to overwhelm a lot of beginners because there’s so much to choose from and each fabric can require different needles, threads, and equipment used on it to achieve the best results.

To alleviate some of that stress, you’ll want to check out our Ultimate Guide to Fabric section for everything there is to know about fabric.

Buy Thread

As mentioned above, different types of fabric can require different types of thread, as well as sewing machines, which can require specific types of thread as well. When it comes to thread, it’s not only about the color of the thread, but more importantly about the material, the thickness, the stretch, and many other factors that go into choosing the right kind of thread.

To learn more about thread, check out our Ultimate Guide to Sewing Thread.

Practice Techniques

There are a few basic, standard, techniques that you should learn in the beginning stages of your sewing career. Sewing straight lines and zigzag lines are the two first stitches you should be learning and luckily, we walk you through them in a step-by-step guide.

How to Sew a Straight Line

How to Sew Zigzag Stitch

Practice Additions

Chances are you’re going to be sewing additions to your projects. Additions including buttonholes, zippers, elastic, and appliques are all common additions used in sewing and are all skills and techniques you should learn how to do.

 

We have a designated section all about sewing additions which you can check out here.

Useful Sewing Tools

Useful Sewing Tools

Image Source: Pinterest

It can be easy to get overwhelmed with all the sewing tools you feel like you need before you start sewing. As we’ve mentioned in previous sections, there are quite a few different useful tools to have beforehand.

Below, we’ve included some of the most beneficial, very basic sewing tools that you should get before you start sewing.

Scissors

We touched briefly about the importance of having good quality scissors in an earlier section. Scissors are something that you’re going to use all the time in sewing so investing in a good pair of high-quality dressmaking scissors is ideal.

It’s also recommended that you do not use these scissors for anything else other than cutting fabric. This will help ensure that they stay nice and sharp for years to come!

To learn more about scissors and what scissors we specifically recommend click here.

Seam Ripper

Most sewing machines will come with a seam ripper, but if your machine doesn’t, it’s extremely useful to have a sharp, good quality seam ripper to help fix any mistakes you make.

Pins

There are tons of different types of pins to choose from. Our preference when it comes to pins is simple, glass headpins. Glass head pins are by far the easiest to put through the fabric and the glass ball heads are able to withstand heat which is important if you iron your fabric. Lastly, glass pins won’t rust and are known to be sharper than the plastic pins.

We like these glass head pins.

Useful Sewing Tools

Image Source: The Spruce Crafts

Measuring Tools

There are a few different types of measuring tools that are handy when it comes to sewing. One of the most important tools is a two-sided measuring tape, preferably one that’s about 60” long.

Other useful measuring tools include a 6” metal sewing gauge and a couple of clear rulers. A sewing gauge is essentially just a small ruler with a sliding bar that lets you set specific measurement readings and allows you to take consistent measurements. This tool is essential when you’re creating a hem.

Clear or see-through rulers are also very useful in just about any sewing project, whether you’re doing quilting or clothing. They are particularly useful when it comes to sewing patterns.

We recommend choosing see-through rulers that are around 18” long and 3” wide.

Marking Tools

When working on sewing patterns, you will most likely need some sort of tool to mark your pattern. The type of marking tool depends solely on your preference and also the type of fabric you are working with. Important factors include the thickness, stability, and surface of the fabric as well.

If you’re working with a hard, stable surface, using paper and the tracing wheel method should work just fine. This method involves putting a double-faced transfer paper between the folded fabric in a way that exposes the paper. The tracing wheel is then used to find the area to be marked and transfers the markings.

For less stable fabrics, you can use chalk or a marking pen to mark the fabric.

Colored Tape

Especially if you’re a beginner, the colored tape is an essential tool and is key when learning how to sew straight lines.

We personally like this colored tape here.

Sewing Terms You Should Know

Sewing Terms You Should Know

Image Source: Pinterest

The ‘sewing world’ almost has a language of its own with different sewing terms and words that are essential to know. It can be kind of intimidating when you start to sew and not know all the terms and meanings. This is why we’ve put together all the Sewing Terms You Should Know down below to get you comfortable and show you there’s nothing to be overwhelmed about!

Below you will find some of the most common sewing terms…

A

Applique

 

This is a technique when you sew one piece of fabric over another piece of fabric. It is typically done with a tight zigzag stitch.

B

Back-stitch

This is the process of sewing backward and is commonly done by pressing a button or pulling a lever on your sewing machine. It is normally used when knotting the fabric.

Baste

Refers to very loose and long stitches and is commonly used to hold the fabric in place while you work on it. To baste you have to set your sewing machine to the longest stitch setting possible and to not knot the thread when you reach the end of the fabric.

Bias

Part of the fabric which is at a 45-degree angle to the grain of the fabric. The grain is in a relative position of the warp and weft threads of the fabric.

Bias Tape

Bias tape is used for making an edge on some sewing projects. A lot of sewing patterns will require the use of bias tape and you can find bias tape readily at most craft stores.

Bobbin

This refers to the thread that emerges from the bottom and connects to the thread from the spool. It’s important to wind the bobbin thread and properly place it in the sewing machine to get it to sew smoothly.

Buttonhole

A hoe sewed to allow a button to go in. To learn how to sew your own buttonhole, check out our guide.

F

Fat Quarter

A technique when you cut a piece of fabric right in the middle, first vertically and then horizontally.

Foot Pedal

A part of the sewing machine that you control with your foot to determine the speed of the machine’s needles.

Fusing

Used to stick two different pieces of fabric together. It’s available at most craft stores and is activated when you use heat, like an iron to mend the pieces of fabric together.

G

Gathering

The gathering is a technique of simply ‘bunching’ the fabric together. It’s typically used when creating ruffles and involves a baste stitching of the fabric, holding the ends of the thread and pulling it until the fabric starts to gather together.

H

Hem

Used to prevent the raw edges from showing on your finished project. To hem you simply fold over the bottom of the fabric, normally about a half-inch, and then fold it again with the folding length being the same.

K

 

Knot

Done using the back-stitch about an extra inch over the area.

L

 

Lining

Adding an inner layer of fabric to your main fabric. Typically done in clothing to make it less transparent.

P

Pin Cushion

A cushion or magnet that is used to store all your pins.

R

Raw Edge

The edge of the fabric that has been cut and hasn’t been hemmed.

S

Seam Allowance

The length of fabric between the stitch you’re sewing and the edge of the fabric.

Seam Guides

Part of your sewing machine that’s used to help you figure out the right seam allowance you should work with.

 

Seam Ripper

A tool with a sharp metal tip that is used to rip seams when you make a mistake.

Selvage

A finished edge of a newly bought fabric.

T

 

Top Stitch

An extra stitch on top of or beside the one you have already made. Can be done for decoration or to add extra strength to your stitch.

Turn

When you pull the fabric through an opening in order to have the right sides facing outwards. Typically patterns will tell you if a turn is necessary.

 

W

Webbing

Commonly used when making straps for bags and backpacks, webbing is a belt made with fabric-like material with braided straps.

How to Sew Basic Stitches

How to Sew Basic Stitches

Image Source: Apartment Therapy

When learning the sewing basics, there are a couple of stitches that are fundamental in the sewing world. The straight line and the zigzag stitch are extremely popular stitches and should be mastered before moving on to harder, more advanced techniques.

Below, we will walk you through the two sewing techniques, as well as touch-base on the importance of both of them.

How to Sew a Straight Line

Sewing a straight line is probably one of the first basic sewing skills that every sewer should know. It’s a skill that you should feel comfortable doing, especially before moving on to more advanced stitches as it’s an important part of the foundation of sewing.

That being said, sewing a straight line isn’t as simple as one may think and requires a few different steps.

Straight Line Stitch

Image Source: We All Sew

Setting Up

We recommend getting a scrap piece of fabric, preferably a plain cotton one to practice sewing your straight lines. You should fold the cloth in half so you have two layers of fabric to sew through.

You will then need to thread your sewing machine and determine the stitching length. Starting off with just average length is going to be the easiest way to learn, but as you practice, it’s great to practice with different stitch lengths. When ready to go, place the fabric under the pressure foot and align it perfectly. Lower the foot to hold in place before moving on. You can also use tape to help you keep the fabric in place.

Sewing

After you lined everything up, you can start to sew. Once you have reached the end of your fabric, you should make another knot and use scissors to cut off the extra thread.

Continuing and Connecting Straight Lines

If you want to sew a rectangle or any instance when you want to sew another straight line without breaking the line, it’s important to stop just a little bit before you reach the end of your fabric. Keep your needle in the fabric and lift the pressure foot and turn the fabric in the direction you want the new straight line to be. When correctly aligned, you can begin to sew again and repeat this process as needed.

How to Sew a ZigZag Stitch

The next step after learning how to sew a straight line is to sew a zigzag stitch. Zigzag stitches are really popular in the sewing world and using a similar technique to sewing straight, which is why it’s important to master that skill prior to learning.

There are three important reasons why the zigzag stitch is so popular and why you would want to learn it.

  1. Sturdiness

The zigzag stitch holds fabric tighter together and overall is a stronger, sturdier stitch.

  1. Prevent Fraying

Especially when it comes to edges, anything that is sewn with a zigzag stitch is less likely to fray.

  1. Used in Applique and Button Holes
    1. The zigzag stitch is commonly used when it comes to applique and sewing on buttons.
Sewing the Zigzag Stitch

Zigzag Stitch

Image Source: We All Sew

The beginning stages of sewing the zigzag stitch is very similar to sewing a straight line as you will be simply threading your bobbin and machine.

Some machines have a specific zigzag stitch on it or a number or letter that represents that sewing mode. This mode is typically in average length and width so if you require something different, you need to adjust accordingly.

After the setting is selected, you’re good to go to start sewing your zigzag stitch. You want to fire lower the pressure foot and let the needle go into the fabric. You can then sew forward an inch, pressing the back-stitch button to go back over the stitch and repeat to have the stitch go forward and make a knot.

Problems with Zigzag Stitch

Especially when you’re working with lightweight fabric, you can find that the material tends to bunch underneath. To prevent this from happening, most sewing machines have another zigzag option, usually with zigzag and dots, which prevents the ‘tunnel effect’ or fabric bunching from happening. This setting uses three stitches for every zigzag which seems to solve the bunching problem.

Sewing Additions & Different Fabrics

Sewing Additions & Different Fabrics

Image Source: Thrifty Fun

The fundamental basics of sewing are pretty straightforward. However, there are quite a few sewing additions that you are bound to come across in your sewing projects whether it’s adding buttons and zippers, or sewing different fabrics like faux leather.

Below we’ll dive into all the common sewing additions and useful information to go along with it.

How to Sew Faux Leather

You’ll come across many different types of fabric, some easier than others to sew. Faux leather is a popular fabric and is much easier to sew than traditional real leather is. That being said, there are still a few challenges involved when it comes to sewing faux leather.

Challenges

  • Faux leather can be a bit sticky when trying to sew on it
  • All holes on faux leather are permanent
  • Faux leather is a more demanding fabric to sew on and will wear your needles out a lot faster than other fabrics.

With a few simple techniques, you can easily work with all these faux leather challenges and create beautiful faux leather sewing masterpieces in no time!

Sewing Faux Leather

Image Source: Pinterest

Measuring and Cutting

Everything is permanent on faux leather. That means every pin, every needle poke, every cut, is all going to make a lasting mark. This means you have to be extra careful when it comes to measuring and cutting.

It’s recommended for cutting and measuring, you have pattern weights, a cutting mat, a very sharp cutter and a ruler present and have your fabric right side up. Put the desired pattern on the fabric and use the cutter and ruler to cut into a straight edge.

Sewing Tips

  1. Replacing your sewing machine foot

Since faux leather is such a ‘sticky’ fabric to work with, one way to go about that is to replace the machine’s pressure foot to something made for that type of material. A tractor style foot works great.

A non-sticky pressure foot will help make a smooth sewing experience when working with faux leather.

  1. Use Strap Wax

Another way to get around the stickiness of faux leather is by using a strap of wax. All you need to do with the strap of wax is put it under the machine’s regular pressure foot. This will help prevent sticking and any accuracy issues.

  1. Using a Sharp Needle

You are a lot better off using a sharper needle when working with faux leather. Using a sharp needle minimizes the hole size and since all holes are permanent, if you do make any mistakes, it’ll be less noticeable.

  1. Using a New Needle

Just like using a sharp needle, using a new needle will help with the hole size, but since faux leather tends to wear out needles quickly, having a brand new needle will hopefully allow you to not have to stop mid-work and replace it throughout the project.

  1. Longer Stitches

You can use either the zigzag or a straight line stitch when working with faux leather. However, the length of your stitches should be on the longer side because stitches that are too small can damage the material and weaken the seam over time.

Smocking Technique

One of the most popular sewing techniques is smocking. Smocking helps achieve a gorgeous embroidery effect on your sewing project by making very small pleats by gathering part of the fabric. It’s often accompanied by flowers or other embroidery details.

A part of smocking involves the fabric gathered into small pleats and stitched using long stitches on the back of the fabric and very small stitches in the front.

Smocking Technique

Image Source: Leafy Treetop

Smocking Technique and Fabric

You can use the smocking technique on just about any type of fabric. However, ones that have a smooth, even texture like plain cotton, satin, poplin, cotton blends, lightweight denim, are all great options for smocking. If you’re just starting out with smocking, it’s best to stick with something simple like cotton fabric until you get more comfortable.

As you would imagine, since you’re gathering the fabric, you’ll be using a little bit more fabric than a traditional sewing stitch and will require more fabric as your final piece to fit. The standard idea is taking twice the width of the final piece as the extra cloth, but it all depends on how tight your smocking stitches are.

You should also consider what happens when you wash or when your fabric shrinks. If you don’t take this into consideration, it can ruin all your hard work. Pre-washing your fabric may make it more difficult to do smocking, but is definitely worth it.

Once you have washed it, find the lengthwise grain of the fabric and gather the cloth according to that.

Thread

When it comes to smocking, you can use just regular embroidery machine thread for most smocking jobs. If you are smocking on cotton, it’s best to use a cotton thread and if you’re smocking on linen, use a linen thread.

With colors, we recommend just starting simple and don’t overdo it. With just a few colors, you can create a beautiful, cohesive looking design without getting too complicated.

Gathering the Fabric

There are a few different ways you can go about gathering the fabric for smocking.

  1. Using your sewing machine

This is by far the easiest approach as all you need to do is baste the stitches to gather the fabric. However, although it’s the easiest method, it’s not the most accurate as the pleats don’t always turn out to be even.

  1. Hand gathering

Can be a very accurate way to gather and ensure that the pleats are even, but can be very tiring when working on large projects.

  1. Using a pleater

A pleater is the best approach as it’s specifically made for pleating. It’s just as easy as using a sewing machine but delivers more accuracy as hand gathering does.

  1. Smocking Transfer

This is a paper that is covered with a lot of dots with even spacing between them. This paper is used to help you gather even pleats by transferring it to your fabric using heat.

You can find smocking transfer paper with dots a variety of different distances apart to allow you to get the pleat length you desire.

Sewing Additions

Elastic

Sewing Elastics

Image Source: Pinterest

Sewing elastics is a common step in a lot of sewing patterns and usually online involves a hem and a straight stitch, both are easy to do on a sewing machine.

Before you add the elastic, you have to create a casing for the elastic to be placed. Similar to how you would hem, you should fold your fabric, but with the wrong sides in contact with each other. Fold the fabric about an inch or so and then fold it again by repeating the process. Then seam the folded part.

You should then sew a straight line, once that’s done, you can add your elastic.

You need to make sure your casing is large enough for the elastic to fit in before sewing. To do this, simply put your elastic on the fabric before sewing and pin the seam around the elastic. This way you know for sure that the elastic will fit through once the fabric is sewn.

You can also use a safety pin to pull the elastic through the casing. Insert a safety pin to the end of the elastic and pull it through by pushing on the safety pin. You should hold the other end of the elastic as you don’t want that to get pulled through the casing. Keep pulling through the end of the elastic until it’s out the other side of the casing.

Also, when sewing, it’s important that you only sew over the fabric and not the elastic.

Zippers

Zippers are another common addition to a sewing project and they’re not too difficult to add. With that being said, there are a few different steps that need to be followed to properly sew a zipper on which we’ve listed below for you.

Sewing Zippers

Image Source: Thread Magazine

  1. Choose the Right Zipper

 

There are so many different types of zippers out there. To make things easy on yourself, we typically stick with just simple, polyester zippers, unless we have specific project needs.

When shopping for zippers at your nearest craft store you will see there’s a variety of different zippers ranging from length, size, color, etc. The only criterion that’s really relevant when choosing a zipper is getting the correct length. Otherwise, everything else comes down to personal preference.

  1. Adding Your Zipper

When you’re ready to sew on your zipper, you should start with it opened up. There are two different ways to go about adding your zipper, the centered application, or the lapped application.

We commonly use the centered application ourselves, which is exactly what we’ll go over below.

To get started, remove the pressure foot and replace it with the zipper foot. You should keep the zipper foot on the side of the pressure foot and not directly in the center of where the pressure foot was. Place the zipper on the same side that you have placed the zipper foot.

When you have everything aligned, you can start sewing the zipper on the fabric. First, baste shut the area where it will be sewn and the area the zipper will cover. The rest of the seam needs to be attached using a regular stitch. We recommend using a pin to mark where you want your zipper to be.

Sewing a wide seam of at least an inch is ideal for this.

Once you are done sewing, you can place the zipper perfectly in line with the seam and sew on one side of the zipper, moving on to the other side once you’ve completed it.

Once your zipper is properly sewn, you can turn the zipper over and using a seam ripper to get rid of the temporary basting.

Adding zippers properly may take you a couple of goes before you get it down correctly – and that’s okay! Sewing is all about practice and patience and this is especially true when it comes to adding zippers.

Buttonholes

Sewing Buttonholes

Image Source: We All Sew

Whether you’re making clothing or not, a lot of projects actually require buttonholes which makes it an important sewing skill to know.

Luckily, sewing buttonholes aren’t that difficult and most sewing machines do the work for you.

These sets may be different depending on your sewing machine…

  1. Locate the top line of options, which is basically just different buttonholes.
  2. Find the sensor option if your machine has it.

This function basically sews the buttonhole for you, all on its own.

  1. Place the button to be sewn into the back of your machine’s buttonhole foot. Pull the buttonhole foot back into the machine and lower the lever.
  2. Switch the machine on and your buttonhole will be sewn right before your eyes!
  3. If you don’t have the sensor option, use some chalk and mark where your button should go, pin your button-down and sew from there.
  4. Once your buttonhole is done, you should put the buttonhole foot back in place and keep lowering it until it’s resting on your fabric.
  5. Sew normally in the length that you want the buttonhole to be of.
  6. Sew in reverse mode after you’ve sewn the length and you will be brought back to your original starting point.

You can make some additional adjustments like changing the width or creating tighter stitches during the sewing process.

Appliques

Once you learn how to sew buttonholes, sewing appliques are fairly easy. Both require the same stitch, a Satin stitch, or a very close zigzag stitch. That being said, many beginners can find appliques a little bit challenging so it’s important to be patient when working through it.

Sewing Appliques

Image Source: Fabric

What is an Applique

Applique is when you put a piece of fabric on another, large piece of fabric and sew it together. The fabric is usually attached to the other fabric using the zigzag stitch.

How to Applique

To properly sew the fabric, you need to make sure you sew a very tight stitch and then place the fabric under the pressure foot where the edge of the fabric that is going to be sewn together is almost directly under the pressure foot.

Once the fabric is properly set up, you can begin sewing all the way through the edge of the fabric and that’s it!

Once you’ve practiced a few times, applique can be extremely easy. That being said, it’s important to note, if you’re using a piece of fabric on the thicker side, you will probably need something to guide you while you pull the fabric along.

How to Resize a Sewing Pattern

Whether you buy a pattern book or get some free patterns off Pinterest, chances are you’re going to have to resize a pattern. This is where pattern grading comes in, the process of cutting apart a pattern and rearranging it to the desired size.

To make a pattern smaller, you will overlap the fabrics, and to make it larger, you will move them further away from each other after cutting.

Resizing Sewing Patterns

Image Source: Fabric Zoom

Determining the Size

You need to first determine what size you want the pattern to be by taking measurements and compare it to the pattern’s measurements. For example, if you measure your bust at 34” and the bust in the pattern is 30”, there is a 4” difference between the two. However, you should not be spreading out your bodice by 4” since it typically only covers about ¼th part of your body. This means you should divide the bodice by 4 (4/4) which leaves you with 1”.

Typically the difference between both patterns and actual projects will only be just 1” or 2”.

In this case, we should only be increasing the size by 2” and the bodice should increase by ½”.

Spreading It Out

When it comes to spreading the ½” out, you need to divide it into 3 since there are three vertical cuts. This gives us ⅛ (½” /4) and should be added to two of the three vertical cuts that are the closest to the center. For the rest, you will need to add it to the vertical slash that’s closest to the side seam.

You will add ⅛” to two vertical slashes and ¼” to the rest/one closest to the seam side to help successfully complete the new size.

It can sound a little bit complicated, but the reason why you increase individual sections and not the pattern as a whole by a certain amount is that different parts of the pattern are required to be different sizes.

The increase in size for most adults is about ⅜” per side.

Making Sure It’s Accurate

If you gather the corner of the bodices and can draw a straight line across them, you’ve probably done it correctly.

It’s hard to resize items like pattern sets for adults, children, and toddlers. Petite women trying to size may also find it difficult because you will need a different shape than the pattern since it’s not designed for you.

Things To Keep In Mind

If you’re trying to resize patterns for pants or sleeves, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

  • The top part of the waist of your pants will have to be extended more than the bottom part of your pants since the hips require much more of an increase in size than ankles normally would.
  • When working on sleeves, you need to increase the cap of the slides. However, it will have to increase by just as much as the bodice for it to fit properly.

How to Maintain Your Sewing Machine

How to Maintain Your Sewing Machine

Image Source: We All Sew

Sewing machines are not cheap and chances are you have invested a bit of money into your sewing machine. Whether you received your great grandmother’s sewing machine or spent some money on it, you want to cherish and take care of your sewing machine to ensure it will continue to last.

One of the main ways to properly maintain your sewing machine is the cleaning and oiling it. Down below we’ll walk you through the importance of both, how to do it, and other useful information about maintaining your sewing machine.

How to Clean Your Sewing Machine

The best way to ensure that your sewing machine will last a long time is by properly cleaning it. One of the most common reasons your sewing machine isn’t sewing properly is actually the build-up of lint. The amount of lint that builds up and how often you need to clean it out depends on a variety of factors including how often you are sewing and what type of fabric you are using. Fabrics that ‘shed’ more like velvet will end up producing a lot more lint than other fabrics.

When you regularly clean your sewing machine, you can help your machine continue to run smoothly and efficiently, and save yourself some money on repairs and maintenance.

Before we get into cleaning your sewing machine, we suggest you learn the anatomy of your sewing machine to understand all the parts of your machine.

Cleaning Sewing Machine

Image Source: Professor Pincushion

Check the Manual

As we learned in the section all about sewing machines, every sewing machine is different. Your manual is going to be the best guide you have when it comes to cleaning your sewing machine.

If you don’t have an instruction manual, you can try finding it online from the manufacturer’s website.

Cleaning Equipment

When it comes to cleaning your sewing machine, we recommend you gather the following equipment beforehand:

How to Clean Your Sewing Machine

The following are basic steps to clean your sewing machine.

  • 1. Unplug Your Machine

Important to avoid getting an electric shock or other issues

  • 2. Remove the Needle

You need to determine which side is the flat side of the needle and push it in that direction to remove it from the machine. Typically the flat side is facing the back of the machine.

  • 3. Remove Pressure Foot, Bobbin, Needle Plate, and Bobbin Case

You should follow the instructions in your sewing machine manual on how to go about doing this.

  • 4. Remove Lint and Dust

We like to use a nylon brush to remove any lint or dust that may have formed throughout the machine.

If you haven’t cleaned the lint out for a while, using something like canned air can help move the lint around and allow you to easily collect it. Be sure to keep your distance between the air nozzle and the sewing machine parts to avoid exposing them to too much moisture.

  • 5. Clean the Thread Path

Remove the side cover and use the canned air to clean the thread path.

  • 6. Clean the Exterior

Using just a dry muslin cloth, wipe down the exterior of the sewing machine.

  • 7. Run the Machine

Once done cleaning, you should try running the machine without any parts (except the race area). If it runs as it should, then you can proceed on to the next step.

  • 8. Assemble Sewing Machine

Unplug your machine again and put everything back except for the old needle and instead, replace the needle with a fresh, new needle.

Important Information

Removing the Race Area

It’s important to know how to put this area back before you take it out. If you don’t know how to properly do this, don’t attempt to do it.

Cleaning Vintage Sewing Machines

Instead of a brush to clean your sewing machine, we recommend using an old toothbrush and a damp microfiber cloth to remove as much dust and lint as possible.

The Importance of Oiling Your Machine

It’s important to oil your sewing machine from time to time. Oiling your machine helps your sewing machine function better and prevents any common machine issues.

When oiling your sewing machine, you should opt to use a sewing machine oil. This oil is specifically designed for sewing machines and making it run smoother and make its parts more functional.

As with cleaning your sewing machine, the first step when it comes to oiling your machine is checking the instruction manual. Every machine is different and requires different cleaning and oiling to be done. On the other side of the spectrum, some machines actually don’t require any oiling as well as they are ‘self-lubricating.’ Needless to say, before you proceed, read your instruction manual to confirm if it’s even necessary.

Oiling Sewing Machine

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Sewing Machine Oil

Sewing machine oil is a lot different than your standard car oil. Common ingredients include things being derived from petroleum or petrochemicals. Petroleum is commonly used for industrial purposes and is something that you should use with caution at home as it can cause skin issues.

A lot of machines tend to come with a little bit of sewing machine oil included in the purchase and you should stick with this specific type of oil when oiling your sewing machine.

How to Oil Your Sewing Machine

You only need to use a small amount of oil to oil your sewing machine. This is a mistake a lot of beginners tend to make. Using a lot of oil, especially in the beginning can negatively impact the overall function of your sewing machine as it makes it difficult for the internal components to function correctly. Using a lot of oil, in the beginning, will also not give you the opportunity to test out of it the oil is suitable for your particular machine.

Our advice is to start slow and with a small amount of oil.

The run of thumb when it comes to oiling your sewing machine is to oil the parts that move when running.

Places to Focus

  • Housing Unit
  • Bobbin case
  • Shuttle hook
  • The ring outside of bobbin hook

Your instruction manual should also tell you what areas you should focus on when oiling your machine.

Alternatives

It’s also safe to use oils that you probably already have in your kitchen like coconut oil and olive oil. These oils will work just as well as many store-bought machine oils. That being said, you should test a small amount of the oil on your machine first to ensure that it doesn’t cause any damage.

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