Sewing Machine Maintenance Procedure

Sewing machines are the heart of the garment manufacturing industry. Though a sewing machine seems a complicated one, it needs very little maintenance. All kind of sewing machines needs to be cleaned and oiled where applicable regularly. Obviously the more the machine is used more often it will require to be cleaned and oiled. In this article, you will get the sewing machine maintenance procedures.

Sewing machine maintenance

Cleaning of a sewing machine

The most important part of doing maintenance is to do proper cleaning of the machine parts like bobbin raceway, feed teeth, needle plate, etc. It must be remembered that the machine should be cleaned properly before oiling as it can lead to accumulation of the fluff and the dust around the oil thus jamming the machine. It is always advisable to use good quality thread as it produces fewer amounts of fluffs.

The sewing machine cleaning process that should be followed while cleaning is listed here. These steps are normally used for industrial sewing machine cleaning.

1. Disconnect the machine from the electricity supply.

2. Take the thread take up to the highest position and lift up the pressure foot using the hand wheel.

3. Unscrew and remove the needle plate to brush out the lint in the feed teeth.

4. It is better to remove the pressure foot as well as the needle to have proper access to the feed dog and the bobbin raceway.

5. If the machine has a front loading bobbin, lay the machine on its back.

6. Remove the bobbin case.

7. Remove the raceway. Note which way it was aligned and positioned.

8. Inside the needle plate, if the dirt or lint becomes matted, a simple pin or needle can be used to pick them out. Another way of doing that is by use of nylon brush and/or a vacuum cleaner crevice tool. Can of compressed air can also be used or as simple as blowing can also do. But it raises the risk of blowing the fluffs and lint further into the machine.

9. Clean both bobbin and bobbin case

10. Also, look out for pieces of a broken needle as they might be trapped in the bobbin raceway and could jam the mechanism

11. After cleaning the area, wipe it with a cotton wool bud with a little machine oil. This will lubricate the bobbin raceway with the required amount of lubricant oil.

12. Check for any kind of dent or scratch in the parts removed from the raceway and the needle plate. If they are present, filing them with a file or nail emery board can smooth out any roughness. On much deeper scratches the parts need to be replaced.

13. Finally, reassemble the parts manually. All the parts should be placed as it was. For checking of the machine after reassembly turns the balance wheel downwards and towards yourself to look for any obstacle as the needle goes into the needle plate and through the bobbin area.

14. After this also check for dust, fluff, pieces of broken thread between the tension disks of the upper thread tension adjuster.

15. Checking of the needle is also preferred before refitting it. Simply running the needle through the figures from the shank till the point of the needle. Any roughness can be removed by emery. But it is advisable to change the needle after a few consecutive uses. There is no predefined frequency which is to be followed for needle change as it will solely depend on the fabric been sewn. Completely avoid the use of bend needle as it can break and damage the machine.

Related article: Sewing machine parts

Oiling of a sewing machine

Oiling the machine can soon become a thing of the past. Modern machines (mainly electronic and computerized model) are being made in such a way that they do not need oiling. Therefore manual should be referred for whether to oil or not.

Most importantly always use sewing machine oil as most of the other oils are unsuitable, the reason being they are too thick and may clog up the machine. For an experienced operator change in the machine, the sound is enough to know if the machine is in need of oiling or not. Oiling can be done in two ways depending on the machine make.
  • Older machines have holes in the body encircled by a red. These are the spots where oiling is to be done. Just put 1-2 drops over the holes and wipe over the area to clean the excess.
  • Some machines need the top plate removed to oil the internal parts and the steps can be found in the instruction manual.
Proceed by the following steps for oiling the machine

1. Switch off the power supply.

2. Drop 1-2 drop of oil over the series of holes in the machine body.

3. Run the machine without any thread or fabric in it for a few minutes to distribute the oil.

4. Wipe out the outside surface of the machine for any excess oil around the holes.

5. Sew a piece of cotton with the machine being threaded to ensure all the surplus oil is absorbed and will not spoil the fabric.

Following these simple maintenance steps regularly on the machine can give trouble-free sewing for years.

Related article: Performance Improvement of the Maintenance Department in the Apparel Industry

Reference: The A-Z of the sewing machine by Maxine Henry.

Soumyadeep Saha

Soumyadeep Saha holds a Master's Degree in Fashion Technology from NIFT, New Delhi. He is also a graduate in apparel production. His area of interest includes Quality Assurance and technology implementations in Apparel Production.

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