[VIDEO] Tips for Cleaning and Maintaining Your Sewing Machine at Home (Top Loading Bobbin)

cleaning and maintaining sewing machine top loading bobbin featured image

It seems like a million years ago now, but I did a podcast with my local sewing machine technician about tips for cleaning and maintaining your sewing machine. I’ve finally recorded a video demonstrating how you can clean and maintain your sewing machine at home. You can see the video below. This video is for a sewing machine with a top loading bobbin, but the video using a sewing machine with a front loading bobbin is being uploading to YouTube now!

or you can see it on YouTube here

I had always been too scared to take my sewing machine apart, but doing the podcast with my sewing machine specialist made me realise that it wasn’t that scary after all (and he could fix my sewing machine if I did manage to break something anyway ;) ).

cleaning and maintaining sewing machine top loading bobbin featured image

Steps for Cleaning and Maintaining Your Sewing Machine

The following guide is a snapshot of what you will find in the video above

Before I started removing parts I took out the thread and unplugged the power cord from the sewing machine. 

Step 1 : Remove the needle and foot (I removed the ‘ankle’ part as well).

remove foot and needle plate

Step 2: Remove the needle plate by loosening the screw/s. keep the screws with the needle plate as you do not want to lose these.

remove needle plate 2

Step 3: Remove the bobbin case.

remove bobbin case

Step 4: Use a soft brush to gently brush out the lint build up and any pieces of thread in the hook race area. Be sure to brush the lint out of the machine and not let it fall through the cracks and further into your sewing machine.

brush out lint

Also clean between the feed dog teeth as well. You can get a big build up of lint here.

check your manual for this step as some machines do not need to be oiled!

Step 5: Oil the middle of the hook race with one or two drops of sewing machine oil. You really don’t need very much. (I’m using my old machine in the video and photo as my newer machine does not need oiling. I knew I kept it for a reason!)

oil hook race

Step 6: Reassemble your sewing machine and don’t forget to change the needle for a new one now if it is needed!

Step 7: Wipe you machine over with a dry cloth and you are done.

The thought of taking your sewing machine apart can be scary, but once you know how to do it, it’s not all that scary after all.

If you’re still having trouble getting your head around cleaning and maintaining your sewing machine then think of your sewing machine like you would think about your car. You tend to check your car frequently to see how the tyre pressure, oil, water, etc are going between professional services, right? It’s the same with your sewing machine. Cleaning out your bobbin area and feed dogs and oiling (if needed) is your maintenance you do in between your big sewing machine services. These big services should be done by your local sewing machine technician or specialist once a year or so. If you look after your sewing machine, it will look after you. ;)

Happy cleaning and maintaining!


[PODCAST] ESFB 005: Where I’ve Been for Two Months; the Habit of Sewing; Craftsy Class and More

ESFB005 featured image

ESFB005 featured image

In This Episode

  • Where I’ve been for the last two months
  • Getting back into the habit of sewing
  • A great Craftsy class for beginner sewers
  • a quick tip to prolong the life of your tension discs

Keep scrolling to find links to things I’ve talked about in this episode…

See a cute pic of Jordan (and Elyse) on my previous blog post

Leo Babauta’s website

The Power of Habit book – Find it on Amazon* or The Book Depository*

How to Create a Habit Flowchart PDF from The Power of Habit showing you how to create a habit

Listen to an interview with Charles Duhigg on The Good Life Project Podcast with Jonathan Fields

Check out the recommended Craftsy class for beginning sewers

This is the other Craftsy class similar to the first one

Happy Listening :)


I’m Back and Slightly More Distracted Than Before!

TootellKidletss Distraction

Well hello there. You may or may not have noticed that I have been MIA for two months now. All for a good reason, I promise. You could say I’ve been slightly distracted for the past 11 weeks or so. The newest addition to our family decided to join us seven weeks early just as we had arrived at our holiday destination, which was a five hour drive from home. Let’s just say we ended up having an extended holiday for the following three and a half weeks as the local hospital where we live didn’t have the resources and equipment to care for a premature baby.

11 weeks on, all is good and we have a beautiful baby boy who is chubbing up nicely. He’s name is Jordan and you can check him out below. Isn’t Jordan (and Elyse) the cutest!

TootellKidletss Distraction


I’m a little less sleep deprived now and feel slightly more in control of my brain so I’m ready to start blogging, podcasting and creating videos to help and inspire others through the journey of learning how to sew once again. It’s all a bit overwhelming still, but I’m slowing getting back into it. Eeek! :)

So this is where I was at just before Jordan joined us (this is probably more for my benefit than it is for yours)

My last post was for my most recent podcast episode where I interviewed my local sewing machine technician to get all the dirt on maintaining your sewing machine at home. I learnt a thing or two about how to look after my sewing machine I also remember being completely grossed out by what his most unusual thing was that he found inside the sewing machine. Yuck! I was also inspired to create a video and printable resource for maintaining your sewing machine. Must put that back on my ‘to do’ list in Trello (gotta love Trello. It’s my second brain).

I was also playing around with printing on fabric and finding a way to make it colourfast and washable. It has been a complete failure so far, but I have a few things to try yet. If all else fails, I will be putting that new printer on my ‘wanting to buy’ list (in Trello, of course!).

So What Have I Been Up To?

Other than spending time with my beautiful kidlets, I have had more time to check out some Craftsy and Creativebug classes while I’ve been breastfeeding. My new iPad Air has been so handy for this. I hope to add some of the classes I have been watching to my ‘Recommended Resources’ list in the menu bar on this site.

I’ve been doing a bit of sewing as well, but not as much as I would have liked. I’m trying to restart some good habits that I had going before I had Jordan and I’ll be talking a bit about this in my up and coming podcast, which should be up by the end of the week (fingers crossed).

Thank you to everyone who sent messages after I had Jordan. They were lovely to read. Thank you also to those of you who have sent me emails to tell me how much you have enjoyed the podcasts. You have all motivated me to get back into it!

Well, I’m off to sew a bit and record a podcast.

Happy sewing,

Domenica :)

ESFB 004: Tips for Maintaining Your Sewing Machine at Home – An Interview With My Sewing Machine Technician

ESFB004 featured image700

ESFB004 featured image700

In This Episode:

I interview my local sewing machine technician to get some helpful tips and advice for how to maintain and care for your sewing machine at home.

I’m out and about interviewing Malcolm Vaughan from Vaughans Shoe Store and Sewing Centre in my local area. He has been servicing sewing machines for 25 years, so lets just say he knows a bit about sewing machines! Wait until you hear what his most interesting thing was that he found inside a sewing machine during a service. It’s gross and will leave you wondering how it even got in there!

Do You Still Have Unanswered Questions?

This podcast episode has inspired me to create a video and printable resource guide for maintaining and caring for your sewing machine at home so if you have any other questions on this topic then contact me here and let me know or leave your questions in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to answer them in the video tutorial or resource guide that will be coming in the near future.

The Podcast is Now Available in iTunes! Yay!


It can be annoying listening to the podcast from the website so now you can listen to it from your smartphone or tablet device wherever you are. You can now download the podcast from iTunes. You can find it here. If you’re not sure how to listen to podcasts on your smartphone or tablet device then leave a message in the comments below and I’ll create a video to show you how.

Happy listening!

How To Print On Fabric Update and Why I Need a New Printer

comparison of homemade solution700

In a previous post I talked about how I had explored printing straight onto fabric using my inkjet printer. Through my previous experiments I did find a way to get the fabric through the printer without jamming it. Yay! The one thing that I didn’t consider at the time was how to make the printing colourfast and washable. It would only take a bit of contact with water or a baby dribbling on the printing to start making the colours bleed and wash out.

If you’re wondering, I’m using a Brother DCP-J725DW ink jet printer for these tests.

The Homemade Recipes for ‘Faux Bubble Jet Set 2000′

This week I decided to tackle that challenge. I’m sure it couldn’t be that hard. I also came across this product called Bubble Jet Set 2000 preprinting treatment,  which is supposed to make your fabric washable when printing on it with an inkjet printer. There is also a Jet Set Rinse available as well. It would cost double the amount to buy these products from Australia. Not a worthwhile investment at this point in time for me.

I found a couple of home made recipes online that would enable the printed fabric to become washable. Cool. This will work….I thought. You can find the recipes that I tried here and here.  The basic ingredients for these recipes were Alum powder, washing soda, fabric softener and hot water. I included both tutorials because one involve doing a post rinse after the ink had been printed and dried and the other one didn’t.

My Disappointing Results

My printing looked awesome after it had been printed onto the fabric. When I rinsed with water? well, that was a different story. You can see from the photos below what just a rinse with water did to my beautiful printing. I did wash the fabric after I rinsed it, but the rinsing washed most of the ink out anyway.

comparison of homemade solution700

The black definitely didn’t hold and the rainbow is not very bright and happy looking anymore. To me this was an epic failure and I couldn’t work out why it worked for some people and their printers and not others. I tried a few other tests, but really, the results turned out very similar and weren’t worth writing about.

A New Recipe to Try

I have since come across this recipe from The Quilt Rat. This recipe still has the Alum powder, but the washing soda is replaced with soda ash. With a bit more reading I soon found that soda ash is the active ingredient in washing soda. It’s just more concentrated by itself. There is no fabric softener in this recipe and I couldn’t really find a good reason to include it so I’m definitely going to try without it.

These instructions suggest using Retayne in the after treatment to help the dye fix to the fabric just that little bit more. I’ve ordered some of this online and am waiting for it to arrive. I’ll need to retest the printing when i get this magic liquid in the mail.  I’ll keep you posted on that one.

Why I ‘Need’ to Get a New Printer

No, I didn’t break my printer. During my obsessive/dedicated research after the epic failure, I stumbled across the fact that inkjet printers can come with two different types of ink. There’s dye-based ink, which is the kind that runs as soon as water touches it or comes off on your highlighter when you’re trying to highlight something. You know the one. Then there’s pigment-based ink. Now this ink is colourfast so that means it can be washed. Hmmmm. I found this great resource that lists a whole heap of printers and whether the printer comes with pigment based ink or not.

From this list I worked out that Brother printers use all dye based inks and no pigment based inks at all. Boo for me! Canon use pigment based inks for most of their black cartridges, but not for their colours. So this might explain why some people  had success when printing with black on their fabric and and not with the colours. HP seems to do the same thing, but some of their printers use pigment based ink for the coloured cartridges.

Epson, Kodak and Primera (I’ve never heard of this brand before) seem to use pigment based inks for all of their printers. I did some extra reading about the Epson ink and they’ve designed a specific pigment based ink called DURABrite Ultra, which sounds like the best kind of ink to go with for washability and durability factor that I’m looking for.

This blogger shows the difference of using pigment based inks compared to dye based inks over time. She recommends using an Epson printer with the DURABrite ink as well.

So, if all else fails, I’ll be trying to convince my husband that I ‘need’ to buy a new printer or plot a way to kill my existing printer. Printing with pigment based ink definitely sounds a lot easier with no pretreating and post treating of fabric to be done. I’ve even got my eye on the printer I want!

Have you had a great success or failure with printing on fabric? If so, share your thoughts in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time, happy sewing :)