Friday, May 21, 2010

Like a Well-Oiled Machine

Believe it or not, I had never oiled a sewing machine . . . until last night. My last machine was "self-lubricating" so I never had to worry about it. But I've had my lovely Bernina 1008 for a few months now and I kept having a nagging feeling that I should be doing some sort of maintenance on it. Lo and behold, a quick glance at my manual informed me that I should be oiling this baby every 3-4 hours of sewing.

Now wonder it's been a little cranky lately! Nothing bad, and I actually didn't notice until I sewed a seam with the machine newly-oiled. OMG, guys. My machine was practically purring! (Goodness, not to be improper, but all of this vocab sounds like it could be the script in an, um, "adult" movie!)

So, a good lesson all around. Isn't it wonderful when your equipment is in top-notch working order? (Gah, everything I write sounds dirty now!)

Moving on!

I've taken a bit of a break from sewing these past several days. I didn't sew a stitch all last weekend or this week - until last night. I started my mini-break wardrobe! I decided to start with a pair of shorts in a gorgeous red double knit (the lower right swatch). The owner at Rosen and Chaddick gave me a very generous cut, and I think I'll have enough for a pencil skirt too!

I already have a slam-dunk shorts pattern so I knew I could just whip these up in no time. Here it is, a lovely 50s pattern that fits me perfectly - no alterations needed! (View 2, of course. Not the bermudas with knee socks and loafters - ugh!)

They're practically finished already! And then I can start on my tie-front top. I've decided on the big red gingham for it. I think the three-quarter length view is the way to go for this fabric, don't you?

I don't know about you, but I'm so looking forward to a weekend of sewing! It's good to have the old mojo back.


  1. I'm actually in the market for a sewing machine right now my first one - woo-HOO!). I have heard that they require a certain amount of maintenance (oiling, etc), but to have to oil it every 3-4 hours of sewing seems extreme. Being new to sewing, I wonder if all machines are like that?

  2. Looks like a scrumptious holiday wardrobe - cant wait to see it on

  3. Emma Louise, I thought that too when I started sewing, but then I learned that every 3-4 hours refers to the actual sewing of seams and operation of the machine, not the cutting, pressing, etc., so it's not as extreme as one might think--I end up oiling my 1008 every month or so, or when I happen to remember. However, I don't sew nearly as much as Gertie! So don't fear the maintenance--it's really pretty low-key.

  4. Yay for getting your mojo back! I agree about the sleeve length.

  5. Emma Louise: Also, the Bernina 1008 has all-metal parts, which I presume is the reason for more frequent oiling. I think the general rule for oiling is every eight hours of sewing.

    And yes, I think three-quarters length on those sleeves.

  6. Yeah that 3-4hr mark is pretty extreme for oiling! I've only oiled mine a few times, and I sew like crazy (but seriously - are they saying you should oil your machine more often than you change needles??).

    And since I've got my manual scanned and up as a pdf, I just checked - mine recommends oiling every... actually it doesn't give a frequency. humph. It just stresses how important it is.

  7. Hmm, I didn't think every 3-4 hours was that much! 3-4 hours of continuously running the machine would produce a lot of projects. I also like to change my needle often too though - usually after every project. Or at least every other.

  8. I know. It is amazing what a difference a little makes. My daughter's machine was making a loud and scary knocking sound once; and it all went away after we oiled it.

    I'm so excited about your holiday wardrobe. It looks like it's going to be really cute.

  9. I recently posted about cleaning and oiling my machine. I have a Bernina 430. A little oil can icon appears on the LCD screen when it's time to oil. Whenever the icon appeared, I immediately stopped sewing to clean and oil. Turns out, that wasn't enough. My machine was clunking like an old tractor. The dealer advised me to oil after every third garment. More often if I'm sewing for long stretches. This wasn't in the manual, but it sounds like good advice.

  10. Hmm - oiling the machine, changing needles... this is all very informative stuff! I guess that the lesson here is: regardless of the brand of sewing machine, for optimum results (and many hours of problem-free sewing), follow the manufacturer's advice. Nicola - I vow not to fear the maintenance! ;-)

  11. Mine needs oiled right now, and I know it. And as soon as I finish what I'm working on, I'm planning on doing it. I mean, I just don't want to accidentally get unsightly oil spots on the quilt I've spent three months on!

  12. My Babylock claims to require no oiling, but I do remove the bobbin case and clean all the lint out quite frequently. I don't change the needle as often as I should, through pure laziness.

    That red gingham tie-front top is going to be adorable: definitely the 3/4 sleeves.

  13. great patterns and fabrics! I am totally going to oil my machine today, you've got me inspired. and it's a weekend of sewing for me too, gotta load up the etsy shop with my new patterns!

    happy sewing!

  14. Definitely three-quarter sleeves for the blouse, it will be perfect will the shorts!
    Thanks for the tip about oiling! I've done it once in its lifetime so it's probably long overdue...

  15. Yeah machine oiling is not a favorite of mine, but once I admit that it is time, I am every bit as delighted (& purry) as my machine once I get it done. I really feel like it should not involve quite so many different kind of screwdrivers as mine does to get in there and do it, though! When I read "self-oiling" in your post I just about passed out in a fog of covet- had no idea such technology existed. Anyway, that warm sewing machine oil smell is one of the most comforting, comfortable, serene smells to me in life- I guess from happy times spent playing around (or under) my mom or grandma's sewing machine while they sewed, when I was really small. They both largely quit sewing by the time I was older- Grandma due to Alzheimer's and mom after my younger brother was born, so the really habitual, comfortable, day-to-day sewing was a thing really of my earlier childhood.

    And hooray for the holiday wardrobe- look forward to seeing!

  16. Clearly this is a message from the universe, because I was laying in bed trying to take a nap earlier and worrying that I really should learn how to oil my machine--I've never done it either on any of my machines and I have a brand new Bernina 430 that I got last August and of course, I would DIE if I injured it through neglect! Thanks for the memo!

  17. I oil mine a lot, but I know my machine (1927 Singer treadle) so intimately that when I hear it run in a slightly different tone, I add oil.

    Generally, when I am sewing it's about every 2 weeks, which amounts to 8-12 hours of actual sewing. Since I haven't sewn in a while, I'll oil it before I use it again. After every garment I brush lint out of the bobbin casing, tho.

    Thing is, you get into the habit of oiling it, and you keep up with it, you don't have to spend a lot of time doing so. A drop in the holes is all it takes, which is less then 5 minutes. Blot off with a lint free cloth and you're done. A few times I year I clean my machine and completely re-oil it, but I don't have a motor to worry about.

  18. You make sewing sound so easy... I've been making a skirt for four weeks now! Ha ha... I guess I have no natural talent.

  19. I have a vintage Elna 62C (which is a dream mechanical machine, unless you want to do fancy embroidery stuff), and I find that oiling it every time I change bobbins is a reasonable gauge of the time it takes for my machine to deserve a little TLC.

    (I'm not talking about bobbin changes because I'm changing colors -- I mean bobbin changes that occur when the full bobbin I started with runs out of thread so that the machine stops making stitches).

    At this point, I very carefully clean all of the working parts. I start with a brush, then prefer to finish with a q-tip, since it soaks up any oil that's dripped in the past and uses it to tease out the tiniest bits of fuzz that interfere with smooth operation. Finally, I oil all the points my manual recommends.

    Careful maintenance has meant that my vintage, heavily used machine, has only needed nominal time in the shop over the decades.

    If you have a self-oiling machine, I would recommend at least this cleaning step, since tiny build-ups of lint can make any machine function at less than their best -- and, anyway, you've got most of the working parts exposed anyway!!!


Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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