Tuesday, January 17, 2012

ABC of Quilting Post # 14

Today's topic is

Never skip a stitch : Sewing Machine Basics and Machine Maintenance.

And today's guest is none other than the company that is known worldwide as the best in sewing machines... Buying their machines is the ultimate pleasure for any quilter...

I have a Bernette E56... Compared the the range of sewing machines available at Bernina its a puppy... But when I contacted them their contact person, Mr Gupta, has been a tremendous help... I have received excellent before sales and after sales service... And I am going to be a loyal Berninian for ever!!!

When I requested him to contribute to our series of posts, he immediately sent over the required material for me to be able to write this post for you guys... 

So, you are just heading out to start quilting but do not have a sewing machine yet. Or you have a faithful one and need to buy a new one...

A sewing machine is the largest investment you are going to put into for quilting. So think a hundred times before you buy one... 

 Have a budget 

Even if you have a lot of money to spare, I'd suggest you consider how much are you willing to spend on your sewing machine. To give you a rough idea, I'd just like to tell you that range of prices is from about 80 USD (approximately 4,000 INR) to 8,000 USD (about 4,00,000 INR)

Know your Dealer

Once you have a budget in mind, know as much as you can about your dealer and the kind of service he provides. Talk to old customers. Talk to the company people. Talk. Talk. and Talk.

When you buy a machine

Take along a list of what are the things that you are planning to sew. It would also be advisable to take along a scrap of fabric to test if you sew with extra thick material like denim. 

Test the machine! Always test the machine if you can. (In my case it was not possible, but I trusted the Bernina guys and went ahead with it anyway)

Here is a document that will brief you with the features of most of the Bernina Sewing Machine models...

Machine Maintenance & Cleaning

Now that you have bought your sewing machine, what should you do for its maintenance?

I even know some people who apart from their yearly (in the first year), or quarterly (in the second year) or monthly (in the next year) or weekly (by the end of the machine) visit to the repair shop do not even clean lint from their machine! Ideally you should clean the machine after 4-6 hours of sewing... I clean my bobbin area every time I change the bobbin, the feed dogs every time I change the needle / the presser foot... Apart from this I lubricate my machine every 4 days (I do it twice a week)

Here are tips from Bernina. Please use whichever is applicable to your machine.

Cleaning the screen and the sewing computer
Wipe with a damp cloth.

Feed-dog area
Clean the sewing computer after every use - remove any lint from under the stitch plate and in the hook area.

Power switch to «0» (off). Pull out plug from electrical outlet. Remove presser foot and needle. Open the free arm cover. Press the stitch plate down at the back right corner, lift and remove. Clean the area with the lint brush and replace the stitch plate.

Cleaning the hook

Power switch to «0» (off). Pull out plug from electrical outlet. Remove the bobbin case. Push the release lever to the left. Let down the locking lever and the black hook race cover. Remove the hook. Clean the hook race with a cloth or brush, never use a sharp instrument. Replace the hook, turning the handwheel if necessary until the hook driver is on the left. Close the hook race cover and secure with the locking lever, the locking pin must engage.  Check by turning the handwheel. Insert the bobbin case.


Power switch to «0» (off). Pull out plug from electrical outlet. Squeeze 1 or 2 drops of oil into the hook race. Run the sewing computer for a short time without thread to prevent oil soiling your work. 

Disconnect plug from the socket before cleaning or lubricating!
Never use alcohol, petrol, white spirit or any type of solvent to clean the sewing computer!

Trouble Shooting

In most cases you will be able to identify and remedy faults by checking the following.
Check whether:
The upper and lower threads are threaded correctly
The needle is inserted correctly with the flat side to the back
The needle size is correct - check the needle/thread table page 22
The needle tip and shaft are undamaged
The sewing computer is clean - brush out any thread lint
The hook race is clean
Any threads are trapped between the tension discs or under the bobbin case spring

Specific Trouble Shooting

Hope this post was helpful...


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