So the other day I decided I really need to clean out my sewing machine.  It was making too many cachunkachunk noises lately.  Now, I replace my needle often, and even put a piece of tape on my machine with info on my currently installed needle: the needle type, size, and date changed. That way I can always remember.  Usually I have either a Schmetz Microtex sharp size 70/10 or a Schmetz Quilting Needle size 75/11, but a recent bulky project had me using a size 18.  The piece of tape helps me always remember what’s in there.

I kept thinking I should check under the hood, but kept getting distracted by one thing or another.  But today was the day.

If you know how to take apart your machine and clean out the bobbin race and all the other spaces under your needle plate, skip forward to my vacuum hack, simply perfect for getting all that dust out.  If you need a refresher, continue reading.

First, remove your foot and ankle.  The ones on the sewing machine, not your body.  Most machines today have a snap-on foot and a separate ankle that removes with a screw.  My machine is a Brother QC1000, but I think these pictures are representative of the typical machines you will find.

Brother general purpose foot plus ankle, at Craftalife.com

Now take out your bobbin along with the bobbin case.  The bobbin case should just lift out.  Then see the two screws in the picture below.  Grab your sewing machine screwdriver (you should definitely have one of those) and remove those two screws from your needle plate. Your needle plate may look different, and your screws may be in somewhat different locations.

Cleaning your sewing machine, at Craftalife.com

Remove the needle plate and surround.  These parts may look different on your machine, but you should be left with something like this:

Cleaning your sewing machine, at Craftalife.com

Of course, mine was filled with dust from thread and fabric.  Filled. Completely Filled. Although I always use high quality thread, mostly Aurifil, which sheds very little, even a little builds up over time.  I did not take a picture with all the dust still there, though.  Just too embarrassing.

Vacuum Hack Perfect for Cleaning Your Sewing Machine

To clean out your machine, you need 4 things. A small soft paint brush. A vacuum cleaner. Some masking tape. And a bendy straw. The bendy straw is your secret weapon.  If you don’t have one, immediately head to your local fast food joint, and swipe a straw.  If it’s not bendy, you can make do, but the bendiness makes it perfect.

Here’s what you do with the straw, the masking tape, and your vacuum cleaner with the crevice tool attachment. Make a tight seal between the straw and your vacuum attachment. And suck all that dust right out of there.  I loved this little hack so much that I didn’t take it off, just put away the crevice tool with the straw still attached.  It worked fabulously.

Vacuum Hack for cleaning your sewing machine, at Craftalife.com

For some areas, the paintbrush also helps.  I would just stick it into a crevice and dab (don’t brush, just dab).  The dust will stick to the brush. Then pull out the brush and wipe off the dust. Voila. Pay special attention to any dust in and around the bobbin race, which is the round area where your bobbin case fits. Here are all the parts and pieces when I was done, including the type of brush I used. Just put it all back together and you are done.  My sewing machine manual specifically states “Do not oil.”  This will vary by manufacturer.  If you are supposed to oil your machine, now is the time to do it. Just be sure to follow the instructions in your manual.

Cleaning your sewing machine, at Craftalie.com

My sewing machine is so happy now.  No more cachunkachunk noises.