Saturday, December 6, 2014

Using WD-40 On Sewing Machines

There's a lot of controversy about using WD-40 on sewing machines.  Let's talk...

I use WD-40 on sewing machines, almost every day at work.  However, I don't use it as a lubricant, I use it as a solvent.  WD-40 breaks down the old, gummy oil very well.  If you're not equipped to remove the WD-40, it will continue to break down the oil.  At work, we use an air compressor and flannel rags to remove the WD-40 and the gunk it dissolves.  If you don't have an air compressor, you can use a can of air -- but it has to be a full can with some good pressure.

Don't use WD-40 on certain longarm quilting machines and industrial sewing machines.  Some of these have porous bearings that will hold onto the WD-40.

The procedure goes like this...
   1)  Blow out all the lint with an air compressor.
   2)  Generously spray the gummed-up area with WD-40.
   3)  Work the mechanisms until they are moving freely.
   4)  Blow out the WD-40 and gunk with an air compressor.  This takes a while.  You continue to blow until there are no more wet spots.  Turn the hand wheel to get all sides of the sprayed parts.
   5)  Wipe up the mess with flannel rags.
   6)  Go back and blow some more with the air compressor.
   7)  Apply new oil.  Only use clear "sewing machine oil," not 3-in-1 oil (or sewing machine grease except for very specific spots).

Some people will say that "someone" told them to NEVER use WD-40 on a sewing machine.  But I have to ask, who is "someone?"  And was "someone" talking about using it as a lubricant?  This "someone" LOVES to use WD-40 on sewing machines!  It works very well to remove the gummy stuff.

I've also seen where "someone" used WD-40, and it made matters worse.  I think they probably didn't use enough WD-40, and didn't get the gunk dissolved completely.  So, the gunk was still there. 
I've only had 5 years
(almost) of experience, but have never had a problem with WD-40 making things worse.

Some may say to just keep oiling the machine, and it will eventually break loose.  Nonsense!  The old, gummy oil is still there!  The old gummy oil needs to be removed, and WD-40 is the tool for the job.

OK, there's my very own, personal, private, take on the WD-40 controversy.  But then, I tend to figure things out and think for myself.   I know I'm not the only sewing machine mechanic who uses it! 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Row By Row Experience Pattern Now Available

My 2014 Row By Row Experience pattern, Snowflake Collection,  is now available to purchase for just $3.95!  You can buy it at Craftsy or Etsy.  Here's a full picture, and a few of the individual snowflakes.  Print the third page on card stock for your foundation papers.

Monday, October 13, 2014


I've added a new page about sergers!  It's on its own tab at the top of the page.

This is my Bernina 800 DL serger, "Ben" (short for "Benevolence," because he was practically given to me).   In this picture, we're (Ben and I) getting ready to work on some T-Joe pectus brace, back covers.

Friday, October 10, 2014

How Did I Become A Sewing Machine Mechanic?

I am often asked, how I became a sewing machine mechanic.  I got lucky!  I've worked at a quilt shop that sells and repairs sewing machines for over 10 years.  When the assistant tech retired, The Boss asked me if I’d like to learn.  I had worked on cars a little and enjoyed it.  And I have a high mechanical IQ.  So I was pretty excited about the offer!  I’ve been training as a sewing machine mechanic for over 8 years, and I still learn something new every day, and The Boss still has to help me with the hard stuff.  There's a lot to learn!

The best way to learn, is to become an apprentice to someone who has been doing it for a long time.  The Boss started learning when he was 16, and he’ll be 57 soon.   He didn’t really have anyone to teach him, and he’ll tell you that he “learned from the school of hard knocks.”  So he's a  patient man, and  doesn’t get upset with me when I make mistakes.  Making mistakes is one of the best ways to learn.... as long as you don’t do any permanent damage. :-)

If you can't train under a pro, here are some ideas...

1)  I’ve seen some good books on Amazon about sewing machine maintenance.  They can teach you the basics.  

2)  The older mechanical machines are a good place to start.  You can get them from the thrift store for $10 to $25.  Take them through the "What To Check..." list that's at the top of my blog, and see if you can get them sewing.

3)  If you become a sewing machine dealer, you can attend their conventions.  I’ve been to “Bernina University” once.  But you don’t really learn much from power point presentations.  

4)  There’s a website, where you can get help with working on vintage sewing machines...  Just above the quilting board, there’s a section “For Vintage and Antique Machine Enthusiasts.”  There are some nice people there, who are great about answering your questions.

5)  There are so many variables in sewing machines, that you need to be the kind of person who can figure things out.  We very rarely use the service manuals.  We know the basics, and figure out the rest.  There's so much that isn't in the manual!

 6)  You NEVER want to start un-screwing things that you don’t know what they do.  We had a woman try to adjust the timing on her Bernina, and really scrambled her machine.  She unscrewed things that we are taught to NEVER unscrew, even as sewing machine mechanics.  It would cost her about $400 to send it to Bernina and have them unscramble it.  We’ve had a few older mechanical machines that have been scrambled beyond repair, as well.

Being a sewing machine mechanic is fun and rewarding... most of the time.  Other times, I’m really glad The Boss is there to help me.  I can't imagine trying to figure out all of these machines by myself, without The Boss to take care of the harder ones.

Monday, June 16, 2014

What To Check Before Taking Your Machine To The Shop

I've added a new page!  "What To Check Before Taking Your Machine To The Shop," is on its own tab at the top of the page.  On this page, there are some common troubleshooting things anyone can do for themselves. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Row By Row Experience

The Store where I work is participating in the Row By Row Experience.  Click here to find out more.  The theme is "Sew A Season."  Since I live in Utah, we would naturally choose Winter.  

Here's our row, designed by me.  It's called "Snowflake Collection," and is done with English paper piecing, hand applique, and hand embroidery.  You can click on the picture to see a larger image.

There are shops in 34 states, plus Canada, that are participating.  You can find a list of participating shops on the link above.  

When you go into a participating shop, ask for their row pattern, and they will give you the pattern for FREE.  If you make a quilt using at least 8 of the Free Row By Row Patterns, you may win a prize.  Sounds like fun for traveling quilters!  I hope to collect some patterns, myself.  The dates for this are July 1 through September 2, 2014.

The only way to get these FREE patterns is if you go to the shop in person.  That's the rule, and we want to keep the rules.  However, after October 31, it may be available for purchase.