Sewing Machine Savvy Tips

Read these 21 Sewing Machine Savvy Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Sewing tips and hundreds of other topics.

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Is it safe to use magnets around my sewing machine?


There is controversy over whether magnets placed near computerized machines can cause problems. It appears that some computerized machines are affected and others are not. Before you use magnetic seam guides, magnetic pin cushions, or other magnetic accessories near your machine, check with your dealer or sewing machine manufacturer.

How often should I have my sewing machine serviced?

Annual Servicing

Owners can only clean and oil the outside parts of the machine. A trained technician should clean out the inside of your machine and give it a routine servicing once a year (or more if you sew every day). Even if you sew very little, you should have it serviced at least once every two years because the oil dries out and gets gummy.

How often do I need to change my machine needle?

Change Needle Often

Damaged or bent needles can cause skipped stitches and damage to your machine. Get in the habit of starting with a new needle each time you sew a new project. At a minimum, needles should be replaced after every four hours of sewing.

What kind of sewing machine should I buy?

Beginning Sewers

Buy an inexpensive basic machine or a used machine to start out with. After you have gained some experience, you will know what features are important to you and will be able to make better choices when investing in a more expensive machine. You can often trade-in your old machine or keep it for a back-up when the other is being serviced.

How do I clean out the tension discs in my machine?

Cleaning Tension Discs

Dental tape or floss can be used to clean lint out of tension discs. Tie several knots in a line of dental tape and slowly run it through the discs.

What kind of sewing machine should I buy?

Sew Before You Buy

Take fabric samples with you to use when trying out machines. Dealers will usually demonstrate using fabrics that are easy to handle, giving the best results. In addition to watching a demonstration, you should test sew using the types of fabrics and techniques that you plan to use.

What kind of sewing machine should I buy?

Think Before You Shop

Think about what kind of sewing you are planning to do before you start shopping for a machine. Make a list of features that you need and/or would like to have. Rank them in order of importance. This will help you when comparing machines. Remember, the most expensive machine isn't always the best for every purpose.

How do I remove lint from my machine?

Lint Removal

Lint build up can cause excessive wear and tear and damage to your machine. Brush out lint often. Make-up powder brushes work great for picking up lint; they act like a magnet for lint. Canned air tends to blow lint into the machine and is not recommended. There are small vacuums and vacuum attachments that can be used to remove lint.

What kind of sewing machine should I buy?


Research before you go out shopping. Almost every sewing machine company has a web site where you can look at the current models and features. You will also be able to look at what accessories are available. This gives you a broader view before you go to look at the limited selection that is available in your area.

How do I change the light bulb in my sewing machine?

Changing the Light Bulb

Make sure that the old light bulb has cooled before changing. Check the wattage of the old bulb or check your manual for maximum wattage for the light bulb. Using a bulb that has too high wattage can get too hot and melt the machine casing around it.

Should I use a surge protector with my machine?

Surge Protectors

Most machines, even if they are not computerized, have some electronics, so a surge protector is a good idea. It is essential for computerized machines to have a good quality surge protector to prevent damage due to abnormal power surges.

Do I need to keep my sewing machine covered?

Cover Up

Dust and lint build up in your machine is the most common culprit of sewing machine problems. To avoid unnecessary lint and dust, keep your machine covered when not in use. You can purchase plastic covers or make one out of fabric. Even a small table cloth or pillow case can be used.

What is done during routine servicing of my sewing machine?

Routine Maintenance

During routine maintenance, the technician cleans out the old oil, lint, grime, etc. and puts in fresh oil. He checks the working parts for wear and tear. Some parts require replacement periodically to prevent major damage (such as motor brushes). The technician will also check tension and stitch qualities for straight stitching, decorative stitches and buttonholes.

How much should I spend for a sewing machine?

Know Your Budget

Buy the best machine that you can afford without going over your budget. Decide how much you can spend and what features are most important to you before you go shopping. It is easy to be influenced by a good salesperson or exciting new features on a machine.

What kind of thread should I use in my sewing machine?

Quality Thread

Inexpensive thread tends to fray and produce more lint that ends up inside the sewing machine. Using good quality thread is better for your sewing machine functioning.

How often do I need to oil my sewing machine?

Oil Your Machine

Most machines need to be oiled. This should be done after every eight hours of sewing time. Check your machine manual or with your sewing machine dealer for instructions on how to oil your machine. Only use oil specifically manufactured for sewing machines.

Where should I buy my sewing machine?

Choosing a Dealership

Shop around and find a reputable dealer to help you choose the right machine for your needs. A good dealer will teach you how the machine works and be there to service the machine when you have problems. Find out if the retailer can get parts and accessories for your machine that you may need in the future.

How do I learn about my sewing machine?

Read Your Manual

Read the manual whenever you get a new machine. Practice new stitches and techniques. Keep your sewing machine manual handy for reference. Carefully read and follow the instructions in the section on care and maintenance.

What kind of sewing machine should I buy?

Used Machines

Many sewing machine dealers take trade-ins and have a selection of used machines. Used machines can be a good option if you are on a limited budget. When purchasing a used machine, make sure it has been serviced and tested by a qualified technician. Also, be sure that your used machine comes with an instruction manual.

Can I use generic parts and accessories for my sewing machine?

Replacement Parts

When having your machine repaired, if replacement parts are needed, it is best to use parts made for your particular brand of machine. Other brands may manufacture perfectly good parts, but they may not work well for your particular machine. Using generic parts may invalidate your warranty.

How can I sharpen my machine's needle?

Sharpening a machine needle

Simply stitch through a piece of sandpaper!

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Guru Spotlight
Kristle Jones