DIY: How to maintain your embroidery machine?

DIY: How to maintain your embroidery machine?
Hello my dear embroiderers, how are you? The idea for today’s post came to me because in the middle of so much work that I had to do, the time has come to make my routinary monthly maintenance to my embroidery machines. This is the time to take care of them, to remove the lint and dust accumulated from so much use! I thought it would be a very good idea to share with you some tips and recommendations that I have learned over time, and that will help you increase the life of your embroidery machine to the maximum. The first thing we have to take into account is that not all machines are the same, and that in addition to the brand and type of machine, we need to read the rules of our specific model, because even between different models of the same brand there can be big differences. So, step number one will always be to look in our machine’s manual for the manufacturers’ recommendations, and adhere to them as the mandatory information guides that we must respect no matter what. To those rules we can add the extra tips that we find on the internet, like the ones that I will give you below. For those who do not have the manual for their machine for whatever reason and cannot find a digital version of it online, I suggest that you read this post carefully and be cautious when carrying out my suggestions.

Clean your embroidery machine regularly

The constant use of the embroidery machine leaves our machine full of thread remains, lint, fabric fibers, dust, broken needle particles, stabilizer fibers and even sectors full of glue if you use spray adhesive or sticky stabilizers.  This accumulation of foreign elements may seem imperceptible on a day-to-day basis, but if you don’t clean your machine regularly, it can affect the performance of the machine and many of its components. So, how often would it be ideal to clean your machine? That will depend on how often you use it. If you are an embroidery entrepreneur and you have a business, you’re probably using the machine everyday and for many hours. So I’ll recommend that you clean it at least once every 15 days. On the other hand, if your machine is not for professional purposes, once a month is enough. Although it will also depend on the conditions in which you usually keep it

Here are some tips about how to clean your embroidery machine:

  • The best advice I can give in this area is that while you are not using your machine, always leave it covered, so that it is not affected by dust. Many machines come with the right accessory for this, when you buy them. But if you don’t have one, it is very simple to create one with some fabric that you have at home.
  • DO NOT use hot air (such as from a hair dryer) to “blow” the dust from your machine, this can produce humidity and cause serious problems for some components.
  • Have a small set of makeup brushes that you’ll use for your machine only. You can choose various sizes and thicknesses, according to what you need to reach each  tiny sector of your machine. I only have two brushes, one is very thin and the other is thick, and with those two I can go over all the areas easily.
  • Clean the bobbin compartment with one of your brushes to remove lint and thread debris that your fingers will not be able to reach.
  • Wherever you see that a screw has been linked with a thread and you cannot reach it, help yourself with a credit card or one of those business cards, which are very thin and can be inserted by the edge in those difficult places.
  • Use wax-free dental floss for those areas where neither your fingers nor the makeup brushes enter, such as the thread guide where there are always pieces of broken thread.

Be careful with the embroidery thread you use

The thread we use must be chosen with care. We cannot embroider with sewing thread, nor use poor quality threads. This, although it sounds obvious and simple, can help us extend the life of our machine, and at the same time, it protects us from having to take the machine to a service for something perfectly avoidable. Some important tips:
  • Do not give in to the temptation to use common thread (although it’s cheaper) in your embroidery machine, since the spools of this thread usually come with small notches in their stops, where the thread can get stuck and cause constant breaks, of thread and even needles. In addition, due to its composition, this thread does not have such a smooth pass through the needle, so it will get stuck more often, with the expected result of more thread breaks.
  • Although I have already mentioned it several times in my posts, I remind you that a poor quality thread can wreak havoc on our machine, precisely because its fibers will break more easily, fly through the air and get stuck in the most difficult to clean sectors. Take a look at some of my preferred brands here!
  •  Keep in mind that each machine is compatible with a certain type and thickness of embroidery thread, so it is important to always follow the suggestions in the manual. If the thread you use is not compatible with your machine, you will notice that the thread tension will not be what you expected. You will end up believing that your machine is broken and taking it to a service, which costs money.
  • In addition to using the correct thread suggested by the manual, we have to keep it covered. Dust is our enemy. It is important that you buy a thread organizer box with a lid, or that you have a fabric cover for your racks. If you don’t have it, you can easily create it with any left over fabric that you have (and why not, add a nice embroidery to it – take a look at our free designs!). The same creative solution works excellently to keep your embroidery machine safe from dust, if it didn’t come with a cover when you bought it.

Change needles before they break

It sounds like I’m asking for special powers to see into the future… but no! It does not take a guess to know that after extensive use, needle quality starts to deteriorate, and you may even notice that it begins to deform and bend slightly. That is the time when it is a good idea to replace it. Another way to do it is to try to find the approximate pattern to realize every few hours of use, a needle breaks. And choose a wise time to make the change, before that happens. The idea is to prevent small pieces of metal from getting into the nooks and crannies of your machine.  

Oil: yes or no?

Have you read out there that it is advisable to oil your machine? But have you also read that oil can ruin its components? Before trying, try to find information about it in the user manual, or even consult the store where you bought your machine. Some models can be affected by oil, especially in their electronic components. For example, the manual for my Brother SE 1900 machine suggests putting one drop of oil a day in the shuttle, and one drop in the needle clamp every 50 hours of use. Some brands, like Janome, suggest on their web pages how often maintenance should be done according to the frequency of use, and for those who use it less than 2 times a week, they should lubricate it once a month and take care not to over do it (just one drop is fine!).  

Other general tips:

  • Be careful with your work tool. Treat each of its accessories with kindness, and never force its components. Although most of the time we are in a hurry, and we want to get things done quickly, this usually causes things to go wrong, break, and we have to start all over again, wasting much more time than we had tried to save. Embroidering is an art for patients, and if you are not one already, just keep embroidering, because soon you will be!
  • Take care of the engine of your machine by turning it off if you are not using it. When you are in another step of your embroidery, such as cutting fabrics, dusting threads, take the opportunity to rest the machine, even if it is about 10 minutes. If you have your machine running for more than 3 hours, you could also give it a short break. Although some machines sometimes take their time to get started, taking that little moment will be very beneficial to your machine in the long run.
  •  Take your machine to full service once a year (if you don’t use it daily, it can be every two years). Much better if it is at the official service of your brand. There they will disassemble everything that users cannot, they will do a thorough cleaning and they will return it to you as new.
  • Although it is difficult to separate ourselves from our work tool, even for a few days a year, it is the best way to take care of our investment. So keep in mind in your delivery schedule those days that you will not be able to use it!
  These are the tips that I have to keep your machine always in a good condition. We have to take good care of our work tool, by giving it its routine maintenance we will save a lot of money in repairs and even in having to buy a new one. Maximize the lifespan of your companion as much as possible! I hope you find these tips useful and that you can put them into practice soon. Until next time! Mary