Prepping Your Sewing Machine (Before You Sew)

Juki Machine With Rainbow Fabric

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So, you’ve chosen your fabrics, prepped your fabrics and cut your pieces - and you’re feeling ready to start sewing? 

Not so fast!  

There are few things that you should do to make sure you and your sewing machine are best friends first!

Juki Machine and Pine Falls Quilt

Clean Your Machine

First things first! Take a moment to clean up and de-lint your machine! This is one of those things most of us should definitely do more often than we actually do! 

You can use the little brush that often comes with your machine, a cotton swab or even a pipe cleaner to get rid of all the fluff and buildup inside your machine. 

I use this wooden brush for my machines and like it a lot! Canadians can find it here.

Cleaning Machine

If it’s been a while, I would even recommend removing the plate on the machine and cleaning between the feed dogs! This is a really common place for lint to get trapped in.

Years ago, I almost took my machine in to get serviced because the fabric wasn’t feeding properly and I was having serious problems with both puckering and tension! A very kind soul on Instagram recommended I give my machine a good clean first and see if that made a difference. And let me tell you...the lint was so packed down between my feed dogs, it had basically become little felt strips that were restricting movement! 

Lesson learned! Now I always make sure to clean my machine first as soon as anything starts acting wonky!

Machine With Thread and Scissors

Oil Your Machine

I’m lucky that I almost never have to oil my machine, but every machine is different! Some machines will definitely work better (and even run more quietly) if they’re oiled regularly. 

Most high quality sewing machines will come with oil to use. If not, I recommend using Zoom Spout (Canadians click here). Or you can always check out what your local quilt shop has in stock! 

If you do decide to oil your machine, just remember to clean your machine first!

Get Acquainted With Your Machine

It’s always a good idea to really get to know your machine. Which, more often than not, will happen when it’s acting up!

Machine and Birch Point Quilt

If your machine is giving you trouble, try completely re-threading your machine from top to bottom (not just the needle). Sometimes, we can miss a step or the thread slips! 

Additionally, you may need to remove and re-wind your bobbin. Occasionally, bobbins will get wound in a weird way and cause issues!

Machine Closeup

Another good tip is to hold the top and bobbin thread tails in your left hand before stitching a new line. Sometimes, the loose threads can get tangled in the machine’s mechanism or even pull the fabric down with them, causing all sorts of messes and problems! 

Always make sure your needle is in the highest position before you start sewing. This will alleviate tension on the threads when you start!

Machine And Sewing Space

Replace Your Needle

A new needle can often solve A LOT of problems! If your machine is skipping stitches (for example), a new needle might just do the trick! Blunt or bent needles don’t work well - and they can actually be a major safety hazard! 

Anyone ever had a broken needle come flying at their face? No? Just me? 

Sewing Machine Needles

The universal needle size is 80/12 (Canadians click here), which is perfect for everyday sewing. But, the 90/14 size (Canadians click here) is more ideal for quilting because it’s sturdy enough to get through layers of thick fabric and the needle eye is the right size for pretty much any type of thread!  

I personally LOVE using Janome’s Purple Tip Needles (Canadians click here) - when I’m using my Janome machine, of course! 

Sewing Studio

Practice Makes Perfect 

Just like with any other skill, practice will be your friend when it comes to learning your machine! I PROMISE that over time you’ll get to know it well and discover all of its wonderful quirks along the way! 

Machine Sewing Closeup

If you’re a beginner and feeling pretty worried about starting to sew, try sewing a piece of scrap fabric to make sure that your machine is threaded correctly etc. before starting on any of your quilt pieces. 

Machine With Pieces Closeup

One more thing! Please remember that even a quilt with wonky seams and missing points can still be a very well-LOVED, well-USED quilt! The quilts in my house are total proof of that!

Have questions? Please reach out to and we’ll help you out! 

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