Do you have some easy quilt-related maintenance tasks that you put off? I sure do. Now Quiltmaker will remind you periodically to do these things. We’ll do it today and on the 20th of each month. We’ll call it:
Tune-Up on Twenty
Tune-Up on Twenty will remind you of three things to start with:
• Sewing machine: weekly or more by you; annually by a technician
• Sewing machine needle change-out
• Rotary cutter blade change-out
1. Sewing Machine: Clean, Oil, Adjust
Regular cleaning by you includes using a small soft brush or cotton swab to gently and carefully remove lint buildup from under the throat plate and around the bobbin case. Check your manual for more detail. Use a bit of canned air to blow out the hidden bits unless it is not recommended by your manufacturer—it’s a good idea to check with them.
Following the instructions in your manual, oil the machine. A needle-nose tip (shown below) on the oil works much better than a regular tip because it applies a smaller drop exactly where you want it. It’s well worth the few dollars it costs.
If you sew on a regular basis, take your machine to a dealer/technician for a routine clean/oil/adjust annually. Some computerized machines will alert you when it’s time for maintenance. I have found that routine maintenance is much better than emergency maintenance, which always happens at the worst possible time.
When I lived in a city, there was quite a wait for the repairman to do a COA (clean/oil/adjust). I had only one machine and could not be without it for two weeks, so I would take my machine in when I was going to be out of town for a week or more. If I didn’t have any trips planned, I would make an appointment for the COA. That way I could drop it off, the technician could work on it right away, and I could have it back within a day or two.
When your machine is serviced, mark your calendar for one year down the road so you remember to do it again. A friend commented to me, “I’m always so surprised when the dealer says I haven’t had it in for four years. I could swear it was just a year ago!” Time flies when you’re having fun.
2. Sewing Machine Needle Change-Out
This could be considered part of regular maintenance but we’ll remind you separately because it’s so important. Recommendations for how often you should change the needle vary from four hours to 12 hours, or between every project. If you’re sewing for eight or more hours a day, consider changing the needle daily. It’s better to err on the side of changing too often. For most people, changing after each project or after two projects is adequate.
Have you heard the one about the quilter whose machine was skipping stitches? She called the repairman and explained what was happening. He asked, “When was the last time you changed the needle?” She answered, “Mister, I put a new needle in here 30 years ago and as long as it’s still working, I see no reason to change it.”
Buy needles on sale or ask your local quilt shop about buying them in bulk. You might save considerably.
3. Rotary Cutter Blade Change-Out
Every time I change my rotary cutter blade and the new one is slicing as if through butter, I wonder, “Why did I wait so long to change it?!” Do yourself a favor and save your arms, shoulders and back. Change that blade! If you can’t remember the last time you changed it, it’s probably time for a new one.
Blades can be expensive, so I buy the largest package of them I can find, on sale. This takes the price-per-blade down considerably—so I can change the blades often and without guilt. You’ll be glad you gave yourself the luxury of a sharp rotary blade.
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Now you’re set. You’re…
Tuned-Up on Twenty!
If you missed it yesterday, read the post about my sewing machine repairman and how I got the idea for Tuned-Up on Twenty.