In today's economy, we are all looking for ways to save money and stretch our budgets. If you happen to have an old sewing machine stashed away in a closet, you could be missing out on an opportunity or two to save some money.
One thing you could be doing is fixing some of your clothes that only need a little seam here and there and they'll be good as new (well, almost).
But before you attempt to set up the machine, only to have it grunt and groan from being idle for so long, you might want to give it a little check-up.
You wouldn't just run out and decide to be a marathon runner without some preparation, would you? The same principles apply to your sewing machine. Give it a little TLC, and it will reward you with smooth sailing for quite some time.
The first thing you want to do is pull out the sewing machine manual that came with your machine. However, if the manual has disappeared, you can often find copies of the manuals online that you can download, in many cases for free. Do an online search for the brand of your machine, and you should be able to find a link for Instruction Manuals.
If you're not computer savvy, or just don't want to take the time to look around online, you can also order a copy through your local sewing machine dealer, such as Dollard-Baker's Sew & Vac, 232 South Shore Road, Suite. 2, Marmora.
Once you have the instruction manual in hand, it's time to dig out your machine's screwdriver, a cleaning rag, and some sewing machine oil. Be sure to only use the type of oil that is made specifically for sewing machines. Other types of oil can actually do more harm than good.
Remove the thread from your machine, both from the top and bottom (bobbin). Remove the needle and dispose of it safely. Look in your instruction manual for instructions on cleaning and maintaining your machine. Every machine is a little different, so don't assume that you can figure it out on your own (real men DO sometimes need instructions!).
Follow the instructions, including how to oil your machine. For example, I recently came across a Singer Featherweight machine (Model 221) that had been greased rather than oiled, and was quite a mess inside.
It took some time, and several cleaning rags before I could properly oil it and get it running smoothly again.
After the cleaning and oiling process is complete, reassemble the machine, install a new needle, and thread the machine.
Again, be sure to check the manual for instructions on inserting the needle and threading it, including the bobbin. Many times when people are having trouble with their machines it is because the needle is not installed correctly, or it was not threaded correctly.
Once you have accomplished all of this, give the machine a little workout by sewing on some scraps. This will help remove any excess oil, and you can check the tension.
If your machine is still not sewing properly, then perhaps it's time to take it to an expert and have them look it over. Those of us who sew on a regular basis often call this "sending our machines to the spa."
Chances are good that someone like John Dollard can identify the problem right off the bat, and if not at first glance, at least he can go over it and find out whether it's the machine or "operator error" that is causing the problem. In either case, for a very small investment and a little TLC, your machine can be humming along for quite some time.
(The above was submitted by Merry May for Dollard Baker Sew Vac in Marmora.)