Tools of the Trade for Cleaning

Posted by on October 30, 2017

A person doesn’t have to sew for long before it becomes evident that sewing creates lint, lint and more lint.  Longarm machines are no exception. Keeping the machine clean of lint and dust is essential to successful quilting.  You may ask, “How often shall I clean my machine?”  The more the machine is used, the more frequently it should be cleaned.  Some areas of the machine are easily in view and the lint is obvious.  Other areas are hidden, but still accumulate lint.  Lint can cause the wheels to roll unevenly.  It can interrupt encoders rolling consistently.  Lint in the tension disc or strap will allow too much thread to pull through, break thread or get caught in the thread.  It can also be the culprit in a thread jam.

How should a machine be cleaned?  The first question that is asked is, “Can I use canned air to clean my machine?”  Canned air will not damage the outside of the machine, but it will blow lint everywhere in the room and you will have to clean it up later.  Why not just clean it up at the source to begin with?  Using canned air when any of the covers are removed can cause damage to sensors by blowing lint on them.  The propellant in the canned air adds moisture where it is sprayed and can also do damage.  I vote ‘no’ to canned air.  However, there are mini vacuum attachments available that are handy for cleaning small areas.

On a regular basis do a thorough cleaning while there is no quilt on the frame.  First, remove anything that has accumulated on the back of the table and return it to its place.  Those flat surfaces collect patterns, screw drivers, bobbins and any number of things.  Take the bobbin case out.  Remove the needle plate.  Clean the underside of the needle plate where tiny drops of oil accumulate lint easily. Using a brush clean up the lint around the hook assembly, making sure to reach back behind it and to each side.  Check inside the basket where the bobbin case usually sits.  Brush it out, checking the “race” of the hook to ensure there are no threads caught there.  Move the handwheel to inspect the race thoroughly. If there is a stubborn thread in the race, a drop of oil will help to release it.

Now, clean the bobbin case.  Look inside and clean any lint that may be caught behind the anti-backlash spring.  You may need to remove the spring to get all the lint.  Using a stiff cardstock-weight paper, slip a corner of the paper under the tension strap of the bobbin case to clean any thread or lint from underneath it.

Brush away lint from the presser foot and needle bar.  Lift the presser foot lifter and clean between the tension discs with a brush.  Lower the lifter as soon as you have finished cleaning between the discs.  Use a microfiber cloth to dust the machine and table, paying special attention to the thread guides and tracks where the wheels and encoders run.

Using dental bushes, clean where the carriage wheels attach.  Threads and lint accumulate there and slow the action of the wheels.  There are 16 wheels that need attention.  You may use a microfiber cloth or magic eraser sponge with clear water to wipe any surface that may need it.  Denatured alcohol is good to clean stubborn marks from encoders.

Replace the needle plate and bobbin case.  You are ready to sew with a clean machine.  This is a thorough cleaning that should happen regularly, maybe after two or three projects.  Dusting and brushing should take place during any project as dust and lint accumulates around the presser foot and thread guides.  Every time a bobbin is changed, check in the bobbin case for lint and remove it.

A clean machine is a happy machine.  When your machine is happy, you are too.  Being conscientious about caring for your TinLizzie18 machine will add years to its life and decades of enjoinment to your quilting.  We are committed to helping quilters of all levels realize their quilting dreams.


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