Cleaning Sewing Machine Quick Tip

Cleaning Sewing Machine Quick Tip

Hey everybody, it’s Rob from Man Sewing.
And in today’s quick tip we’re going to talk about cleaning out and reassembling the
bobbin area in a drop in bobbin sewing machine. That’s right. So many of today’s sewing
machines have gone into the top load or drop in bobbin format. And it’s very convenient
and very easy for you to see when your bobbin is running low. But they do tend to build
up more fuzz inside. No problem. Easy for you to clean. But what I find from some of
my quilting buddies is they have a hard time reassembling all the parts and pieces. So
I’m going to actually spend most of my time showing you how to put it back together. But
we are talking about a drop in bobbin assembly here. And a couple of quick things about safety. Now of course I don’t do this at home but
I’m going to tell you to do this. Unplug the sewing machine so you don’t stab yourself.
I’m going to take the needle out. I do actually do that one. So let’s get in here. The needle
is now out of the machine, ok? The machine is unplugged, powered down obviously. I’m
going to also now take the presser foot off. We’re going deep into this area here in
a few minutes. It would be a wise choice for you if you’ve never done this before to
pay attention to what you’re doing right now because you’re going to be reassembling
this stuff. But I took the presser foot and the entire shank off. That’s mostly just
so I have the room to work. Now check out this tool. Many of you probably
have this thing in your tool box and have no idea what it is. Like you’re frustrated
because you thought it was a pair of earrings but you only got one. That’s only good for
guys like me that have one earring. It’s not an earring at all. It’s a screwdriver
of all things. So what this does, is it drops in right here. And it’s designed to get
these very wide and beveled screws out. And I don’t like scratching my screws if at
all possible because that could cause drag on your fabric. So I don’t know if you noticed
but I basically broke them loose and then I took them out with my fingers just by spinning
them. So I’ve got a couple of screws that are coming out here. Set that aside. I’m going to open my little bobbin door.
I’m going to take the bobbin out but we certainly could get it out in a few minutes
if we needed to, right? Now all of these drop in bobbin machines are similar but also different.
This happens to be a Baby Lock that I’m working on right now. And so the stitch plate
and the bobbin cover area are going to come off in one piece. I’ve seen them come off
in two pieces. Again you know this is also probably going to be information in the maintenance
section of your owner’s manual. So if I remember correctly, this one I just kind of
pick at it from the back at first. And I’m going to wiggle these two parts loose here.
See how easy this is. I actually have been playing with it a little bit so I kind of
left this loose for us there. So they’re going to come out in two pieces. Now we’re going to do some inspections because
we’re checking for things that will cause frustration and problems down the road. So
first thing I’m looking at is in my stitch plate, that cool little half, that’s a frowny
face. Let’s turn it upside down for now. Now it’s a smiley face. That little smiley
face opening is where the needle goes through so I’m looking to see if I’ve ever hit
it with the needle and left a little burr. If I’ve gotten a burr inside of there, I
want to take a little screwdriver or a nail file or something and just kind of soften
that and smooth that as much as possible. Burrs in your stitch plate will catch thread
and possibly cause your thread to break. Now as we’re getting in here closer, the
next thing that comes out is your drop in bobbin, bobbin case. And some machines you
actually have to turn the hand wheel a little bit as you’re wiggling to take this piece
out. This piece also comes out. And I’m inspecting again for needle strikes. These
pieces are usually made of a real high density plastic. But the needle will pierce right
through and that will cause your thread to hang up. The common places, if I can hold
it just right, are going to be right in here as well as right in this area here. You might
see little holes where the needle has pierced. And if that had happened, you can often see
that from the back as well. I take the top side and I use my fingernail just to push
that plastic back together. I don’t replace it until it becomes problematic really. Now come on over here in close. What we’re
going to start doing, is I have one of these little nylon brushes. You can see this is
well loved. And I’m going to start getting some of the fuzz and dust out of there. Look
at all that stuff that’s coming out of here. I mean it’s just huge, right? And this is
just a machine that is often well cared for and often maintenance but with these drop
in bobbins we get a lot of fuzz that builds up inside. So I’m just kind of wiping as
I go when I’m rotating the hand wheel as I go. And I’m just kind of cleaning around.
Now one of the things I don’t ever do is I don’t use those cans of spray air. The
cans of spray air are actually CO2 propelled. And after every three or four bursts, it shoots
moisture in there. And so funny enough, you don’t want to spray that moisture into a
camera, a computer, or a sewing machine. And the only places I know to buy that spray is
a sewing store, a camera store or a computer store. So I’m recommending you don’t.
But if you want to take this outside and take the giant air compressor that’s out in the
garage in your other workshop, right? And blast it with an air compressor, I am cool
with that. So I’m going to go ahead and take another
couple of minutes and inspect and clean as I go around here. Some of your machines will
say you should oil, some will say you shouldn’t. I’m not saying a thing about that. I have
my opinions of course. Cleaning all of that. Now here comes what I consider to be a little
bit more of the tricky part, putting it all back together. Now on our drop in bobbins,
there are going to be sometimes little markers. Like on this cool Baby Lock, there’s a little
white arrow you see. That white arrow is going to line up with a part. This little nub is
going to line up with a part. So as I bring it in here close. Try to do this slow for
all of us. Get some of this fuzz out of the way. I’m going to lay this in with my hands
in your way. And then I’m going to show you what I’ve done. So when you’re looking
real close, the white arrow on this is lined up with the white dot. So there’s a dot
and there’s an arrow there. And then that nub I was pointing out goes against this little
spring. That little spring is actually what is considered a position finger. Your thread
will come through there. Funny enough. That’s actually what makes a little bit of noise.
Your machine will run quiet, almost silent without the thread in it. You thread it and
that spring going boing, boing, boing, causes the noise while you’re making a stitch.
Right now this is very loose because the back end of the stitch plate here has got a locking
mechanism that is going to hold that in place. You do not want your bobbin case moving around
at all. Oh that’s not fair, it’s going to have just a teeny bit, like a two or three
degree of play in there. Like it might move this much. But it’s not going to really
spin. If it really spins you do not have it set in there correctly. And that’s how you’d
poke it with your needle. Once you’re sure that you do have it in
perfect though then on this particular machine, a lot of times both of these parts come out
together but they go in individually. So we start with the metal. And the metal is going
to drop back in here. And now the cool thing about the metal, and I should have pointed
out, I’ve dropped my feed dogs. I lower the feed dogs when I’m working on the machine
this way. It keeps me from scratching the feed dogs or scratching the stitch plate.
And these little screws here, let’s see if I can do this, have a little bevel to them.
And so I put in both screws at the same time and I finger tighten them until they’re
both in place. The bevel helps cause that metal plate to really get lined up perfect
so that your feed dogs are not dragging on your stitch plate. So I’m just going to
finger start that. And the reason we finger start things is we don’t, we don’t want
to strip out the screw heads. If you start using a screwdriver, you can apply too much
pressure. So that’s why people always say, Oh just finger tighten it first. There we
go. Now that I have it finger tightened, then I get my earring with its missing companion
here. And I start to tighten that up. I’ve tried to position the machine so it looks
just like it looks for you which means I’m working backwards here. And I’m getting
better and better at it all the time. But it does make me feel like I’ve got three
left hands. There we go. So that’s locked in. That’s not moving at all. Now we’re going to be able to bring in our
bobbin cover. And on this one, it kind of sets in the front of the machine and slides
towards me at the back of the machine now. It would be sliding away from you because
you’re sitting at the machine. At this point, I’m going to quietly listen, making sure
I’m not hearing anything weird happening at all. And then I would be replacing this
with a brand new needle. And I often have a hard time getting the needle in from the
back of the machine. So let’s see how we do here. Cross your fingers. Oh, and almost
like I had been practicing that. And now I’m going to go ahead and rotate and listen again.
And I want to make sure I’m not hearing a twang, twang, twang sound which means my
needle is hitting something because I’ve been working around in there. I don’t ever
want to hear that needle hitting anything. Once that is all locked back in place though
it’s as easy as: get your bobbin back in, get your foot back in, get your iron heated
up, get your rotary cutter sharpened, get your fabric all chosen, and you are ready
to be making a killer project on your newly cleaned out sewing machine. And while you’re
busy doing that, I’ll be making cool stuff for you here at Man Sewing.


  • Carol Doyle

    June 4, 2015

    I do value your opinion very much and would like to know about oiling, with the disclaimer that you would not be responsible for my machine, but I would love to know because you are very knowledgeable!  Thanks! Great tutorial, again!

  • Sandy Grogg

    June 5, 2015

    This was very helpful…. Thank you!

  • Robin Marcum

    June 6, 2015

    I would love 3 left hands since i'm left handed lol ( :

  • Kyle Neary

    June 8, 2015

    I don't know how I started getting your website feeds, but I love them!!!
    Great straight forward presentations with good information. You go Man!

  • donnah818

    June 8, 2015

    Love your tips and tutes.. I also would like to know do you oil your machine? Where do you oil. Thanks

  • Daria Phair

    June 8, 2015

    I agree with Carol and Donnah818.  I would like to know about oiling my sewing machine, a Babylock, too.

  • Coldfusion1205

    July 25, 2015

    Thank you for this video! I just got my first sewing machine a few months ago so this video is very helpful for me. It is going in my favorites so I can easily find it when I need to clean my machine!

  • Gail Miller

    August 4, 2015

    High Rob, nice video, Ive been sewing for awhile and painting. I learned a couple things from this video. I have a question maybe you can answer or even do a video on. I have a Brothers machine, middle of he road but perfect for me. There are often times when the thread brakes and gets caught in the threading steps. If thread gets stuck I have a time with continued braking and more thread gathering to nest someplace out of sight. How do I get to those areas to pull out the stranglers? Any idea?

  • Lauren K

    November 19, 2015

    I've performed this task many times and it never occurred to me to lower my feed dogs or inspect the bobbin case for burrs. Thank you!

  • Pam Woodworth

    January 13, 2016

    Rob, I am a klutz. So before I start putting the screws back into the metal plate, I just set the bobbin cover over the opening because when the screws spin off and fall down into the machine it is difficult to retrieve them. "Ask me how I know that"!

  • Bobbie Yoder

    January 23, 2016

    love all the machine tips….keeping my machine 'happy' keeps me happy!!

  • Jennifer Watkins

    January 23, 2016

    I'm new to sewing and didn't even think about cleaning maintenance on my machine. All good stuff to know.

  • Jonathan Williams

    January 24, 2016

    I needed this!!!! My Janome Skyline S5 came with a DVD…but being a guy, I ignored that (and the manual) and just went right to locking and loading!
    Thanks for the coaching.

  • Phyllis Lorimer

    January 25, 2016

    Great video.  My machine is not a drop in, but some of the information applies to my machine too.  Found out some of the whys.

  • P Hawthorne

    January 25, 2016

    its such an important step to maintaining and keeping your sewing machine in good running order, because I use mine all the time. keeping it clean is important and if you can do it yourself, it saves you time and money. many people will benefit from this video. once again, thanks Rob.

  • grandma sews brown

    January 25, 2016

    I knew how to clean but never inspected for burrs & dings – always something to learn thanks for the great tutorials!

  • Mary Bradley

    January 25, 2016

    Thanks for this video. My husband bought me the Baby Lock Melody for Mother's Day last year and I love it. Thanks for the tips on keeping my machine going!

  • Beth Williams

    January 25, 2016

    I am so grateful for your instructional videos – this would be my "favorite" only because it not only taught me that I have to clean out my bobbin area – but gave me the courage to actually do it!!! Now I feel like I really understand my machine more and it gives me more confidence as a quilter because I trust my machine and know that I can care for it as well!!!

  • Robin Cain

    January 25, 2016

    Thanks for the tutuorial on cleaning. I just made a quilt with a fleece backing and I know I need to clean up my machine. I'll give it a try tonight!

  • anna brown

    January 25, 2016

    very nice ty all very good to know pints…

  • Sandy Wilburn

    January 26, 2016

    You know, I have not realized how using a screwdriver could strip or damage the screws……thanks for that tip of using your fingers to finish screwing or unscrewing

  • LeAnn Price

    January 27, 2016

    you make it look so simple. thanks!! I'm going to go tackle many machine😀

  • Rebecca Miller

    February 4, 2016

    I agree about canned air. I do not have the air compressor but I have a vacuum with a blower on it. Most backs even uprights convert with a hose and should have ability to blow air. Just saying. You can also by mini attachments for machine cleaning.

  • Betty Stephens

    February 16, 2016

    Rob, I have been sewing since I was a teenager(many,many years ago) and this is the most deeply I have ever had anyone go into cleaning my machine. No manual I have ever had explained it as well as you did. Thank you so much for this Quick Tip. Fantastic help. I now have to try it out on my own machine which needs cleaning. I have also found out over the years that the more sophisticated our machines have become, the more important it is that we pay attention to cleaning them properly. Again, thanks.

  • Kitty Hurley

    March 14, 2016

    how do you do a side or front load bobbin

  • Lana Stewart

    April 18, 2016

    How often do you recommend oiling your machine and do you do it yourself or take it to a sewing machine shop?

  • Paula Gann

    May 9, 2016

    How often should you do this? I know it would depend on how often you use the machine and the type of fabric but perhaps a "Clean after xxx hours of sewing" or something like that. I am so happy I found your tutorials! Love them and your enthusiasm!

  • Janet Cozens

    November 9, 2016

    Just amazing thank you Rob

  • Kevin Monceaux

    November 6, 2019

    Oy, that's a lot of plastic. Have you considered upgrading to a vintage all metal machine?


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