Thursday, May 11, 2017

Beginners Unite! Side Trip ~ Maintenance

Let's take a side trip, shall we? 

As I started to talk about the rotary cutters in this post, I began to talk about how to change the blade. However, I was trying not to stray off on tangents like that. Instead I think we will do some Side Trips during this series to delve a little deeper into portions of the topic. I don't know that it will happen every week, but we will see. This one will be devoted to the maintenance of our supplies. 

Self healing mat

There are many different opinions about cleaning/hydrating/caring for your self healing mat. Here is a link to videos of what OLFA says about the care and use of their mats.

Rotary Cutters

I find it very easy to get my pieces all messed up when taking my rotary cutter apart to replace the blade. Here's my trick: 

As I remove each piece, starting with the nut, I place the part that faces the blade face down on my mat. (I've photographed it on the white background to make it easy to see, but I always do this on my cleared cutting mat.) The bolt and blade I place to the left of the rotary cutter, with the side that faces the blade up.

Make sure you check the new blade that you are using just one, they can stick together from the oil that is on them. I've had this happen before and the fabric seems to just shred as you cut, so if you are having that kind of issue, check your blade.

I keep an empty blade container marked USED to put my old blades in. When it is full I tape it shut really well and then toss. However, someone brought up getting a Sharps container, available at the pharmacy, and I think I will pick one of those up. I will still keep them in the old container, but then put that container in the Sharps container. (I need a new word for container, yikes.)


This is a tricky subject. You will most likely get different answers from almost everyone. Some will go by how many hours of sewing you have done, some say every project. I don't know if there is a right or wrong answer to this, but here are some signs that you need to change your needle. If you hear "thudding" every time your needle enters the fabric, if you are getting skipped stitches, if you are getting knots and/or bunches of thread, or your top thread is shredding and/or breaking, these are sure signs your needle is dull or has a burr somewhere.

I know I don't change my needle as often as some probably think I should, but I tend to change the needle when I clean the machine, which is usually twice a week. 

A note about replacing your needles. When you replace your needle, make sure the flat side of the shaft is facing the back of the sewing machine, or away from you. If you are struggling with stitches, it never hurts to double check that you put your needle in correctly. As mentioned in the Quilting Supplies post, I put my old needles in an old prescription bottle marked Sharp. 


Having your machine professionally cleaned is a good idea. Especially if you use it a lot. However there are a few things you can do on your own to help it run  smoothly. Rule one though, is don't use canned air. The moisture can mess with your machine. They do have parts you can attach to your vacuum that are small enough to get in and suck out the fuzz.

These are my favorite, go to every time tools. A pipe cleaner and a tweezers. My experience is only with my Husqvarna Lily 555, but I will share what I do. 

Take off your throat plate and bobbin case, as well as the needle and presser foot. Using your pipe cleaner do a quick swipe of the bobbin case and gather up all the little fuzzies. I like to turn my bobbin case all the way around and dig out extra fuzz from there, the tweezers comes in handy here. 

That's it. I replace everything, making sure the flat part of the needle shaft is facing away from me, and continue on my merry sewing way.

Do you have other maintenance tips? Please share in the comments. Did I miss something you would like me to talk about? Ask in the comments or send me a direct email

Happy Stitching!

We get back on track next week Tuesday. Here's the schedule:

1) Intro  - May 2 
2) Quilting supplies ~ What makes the process easier - May 9
2a) Side Trip ~ Maintenance - You are here
3) Choosing fabric and color - May 16
7) HST - Half Square Triangles (My one true love) - June 13
8) Flying Geese - June 20
12) Adding Borders - July 18
13) Sandwich that top - July 25
14) Quilting - August 1
15) Binding - August 8
16) Labels  - August 15


  1. After cleaning my machine, I put a drop of oil in two different areas as instructed by my manuel, my machines are Singers.


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