Ok, I know this post is supposed to be about sewing machine servicing, but humour me for a second and imagine you’ve just picked up a brand new set of wheels. You’ve been waiting for ages. Saving your pennies. And finally (FINALLY!) you’re driving away in the car of your dreams. So, what’s the first thing that comes to mind as you ease out of the car dealership and onto the road?
Let me tell you what it’s not. The first thing that comes to mind is NOT when your first service is due, OR how much it will cost, OR what you should be doing to make sure your driving experience goes smoothly. Nope. All you can think about is how preeeeetty the colour is and how many USB ports it has (cos, iPhone, iPod, iPad, ya know?).
Well, it’s no different with sewing machines. Just swap out colour for stitches, and USB ports for feet. Right???
But the fact is, the annoying, bothersome, oft put off act of sewing machine servicing is entirely necessary – you can’t expect to have a smooth sewing experience if you never service your machine. Believe me, I know. I am the Queen of ‘let’s see how far I can push it before my machine grows legs and walks itself to the servicer’.
Getting ourselves to the point where we can
happily begrudgingly accept that we will be separated from our beloved machine for a period of time is HARD enough (unless you’ve lost your sewjo – if that’s you then you need to read this!), so when you add in the fact that a sewing machine is a pretty expensive piece of equipment, we want to be confident that the person caring for our machine is reliable and actually knows what they’re doing. But how exactly do we go about that, and what should we be looking for?
I’m glad you asked because I asked someone who knows and I’m here to pass on the info!
SEWING MACHINE SERVICING: FIND SOMEONE YOU CAN TRUST
It was pure dumb luck that lead me to my sewing machine servicer (who also happens to sell saunas, by the way) – I googled ‘sewing machine servicing’ and chose the closest one. Not necessarily an approach I would recommend. But with over forty years experience in the sewing industry, he has saved my sewing/quilting bacon more times than I care to recall (and he’s the bloke who gave me the gold you’re reading right now). If you’d like to take a more targeted approach at finding a good servicer, try the following:
Most sewing machine dealerships have an allegiance to a specific brand of machines. Find a local dealership that stocks your brand and enquire if they service machines. If they don’t offer the service themselves they might be able to recommend someone.
If you are purchasing a new machine through a dealership, it’s likely that they will provide some form of after sales service, and that’s probably a good place to start. Don’t feel obliged to use it, but make sure you understand the terms of your warranty with the dealership.
WORD OF MOUTH
You can pretty much guarantee that your local quilt store or quilting guild has all the goss’ on who’s who in the servicing world in your area. Give them a call and ask for a few names. Make sure you ask if they have personally used any of the servicers and can recommend them, as businesses often leave their cards with shops or associations in their industry in case people like you call asking for people like them.
SEWING MACHINES ARE KINDA LIKE CARS…
Now, to continue with the car analogy, sewing machines are kinda like cars in that if you don’t have them serviced regularly they will begin to deteriorate. If you haven’t already noticed, inside your sewing machine are moving parts. Also inside your sewing machine: dust, lint, dead bugs, threads, fluff etc etc. Moving parts and things like dust (and particularly dead bugs) don’t mix. And that’s why you might be noticing your machine isn’t working as smoothly as it was before. Eventually, if you don’t have it serviced, it would stop sewing altogether, but you’re probably going to give in and get it serviced before it gets to that point anyway, because there are only so many skipped stitches a girl can handle.
So you’ve found someone to do the dirty work (it’s oily, dusty work that sewing machine servicing!). But how often should you see them, what do you say to them, and more to the point, how much do you pay them?
The average home sewist should have their machine serviced at least once every twelve months. This is bare minimum, and includes maintenance steps that you should be taking at home such as regularly removing the needle plate and removing dust and lint. (Suzy Quilts wrote a great blog post about this here!) In fact, if you were an industrial sewist in a professional work environment, this is exactly what you would do at the end of every. single. day. Yep. Every. Single. Day. Apparently, it’s how they keep their machines in tip top condition, with minimal servicing needs. Older machines may also need a few drops of oil every few weeks, depending on use.
Here’s a little infographic I prepared earlier, with the 5 sewing machine servicing basics you should expect to receive, and how much to pay.
THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO TO YOUR MACHINE IS NOT USE IT!
That’s right folks, you heard it here first. The WORST thing you can do to your sewing machine (apart from never have it serviced, of course) is NOT USE IT! Now, hang on a minute, before you get your mobile out to call your partner to gloat about the free ticket you just got to spend every waking moment in your sewing room, at the very least, you should be taking your sewing machine out for spin every three months. Sorry, not quite the free ticket you were hoping for, but better than nothing, right?
So that’s the low-down on sewing machine servicing. Have I missed anything? Does your servicer include any special extras? Got a funny story about how you found your sewing machine servicer? Tell me in the comments below!
Adapted from an original article contributed to the One Thimble sewing e-zine.