Start The New Year Off Right: 10 Tasks to Keep Your Space in Tip Top Shape

The holidays have come to a close so with that let’s take a collective deep cleansing breath… ahhh-haaa.

Now, let’s do a dance of gratitude to thank our sewing machines, tools and supplies for going the distance with us. Actually, better than a dance, let’s dive right into our top 10 tasks to keep our sewing space ready for action.

Task 1: Remove the lint.

Our sewing machines are so often at the heart of our sewing journey and yet, if you’re anything like me, you do very little to maintain them. Let’s start the year off right by lightening their load.

A good dusting makes a world of difference for the life of your machine. Let’s start today by grabbing a small lint brush - I actually use an assortment of stiff and soft bristled paintbrushes - and wipe out all the dust that has collected on and in your machines. It’s tempting to want to grab some compressed air to blow out that nasty lint but DON’T DO IT! That high pressure air can push lint deeper into the components of the machine. Stick with brushes and maybe a handheld vacuum to suck up the big stuff if you’re so inclined. Don’t forget to open the door on your serger and pull out your sewing machine bobbin to clean out the bobbin tray.

Your owner’s manual will outline instructions on how to maintain your machine including how to clean under and around the feed dogs. If you’re a rule follower like me, it’s definitely worth the read. If you don’t have your paper manual anymore, you can almost definitely Google it. It’s handy to have access to it so I suggest you download them for each of your machines and keep them in a file folder wherever you keep your digital patterns organized.

Task 2: Oil your machine.

Next, it’s a good idea to oil your machine. Actually it was a good idea to oil your machine 6 months ago, now it’s less like an idea and more like an imperative. But either way, we’ll sally forth. You’ll definitely need your manual for this part because every machine is different but the idea is you’re going to open that baby up and give it some love. I recommend that you toss the sewing machine oil that came free with your machine 12 years ago (or even 12 days ago) and opt instead for some higher quality oil. It’s not all that expensive and what you’re trying to do is lubricate a few parts that move a whole lot. It pays to use a good quality oil like this one. (#ad) 

Task 3: Schedule a service.

Although you can do a lot of the maintenance yourself, unless you're mechanically inclined or just really like to figure things out, taking your sewing machine in for service really should be a no-brainer. A qualified service technician will not only do all the cleaning tasks mentioned above, they'll do them better and more thoroughly and they’ll dial in your timing and tension and replace any worn parts (with your permission). All of those maintenance tasks will increase the life of your machines and reduce the number of meltdowns you and your machine will experience and that’s what we all want, isn’t it?

Now that our machines are taken care of let’s talk about some other things we can make a fresh start on…

Task 4: Update your patterns.

Now is a great time to comb your emails for any digital pattern updates. You should definitely download the latest version now as they may not always be available. And you don’t want to be working with an old version when you could have something new and better right at your fingertips.

Task 5: Reassess your stash.

Take a discerning look at your fabric stash. Is there anything you just don’t love anymore? Have the kids grown out of the cartoon unicorn phase and into something altogether different. Maybe it’s time to destash or it’s time to resolve to sew some of it up. Resolve to sculpt your fabric stash into something you love looking through.

Task 6: Make it sharp.

Take a look at your rotary blades. If you haven’t changed them in a while now is a great time. Pushing hard on dull blades to make them cut through fabric will ruin your self-healing mat much quicker so they should be changed out regularly but, I recommend holding onto the somewhat dull blades to use for cutting out paper patterns if your still in the dark ages living the #noprojectorlife with me.

Task 7: Change out your needles.

While this seems like a no-brainer it also seems like a really important task to be reminded of because, in all honesty, I rarely replace my needles and it’s really important. Basically, I wait until they break or there’s a skipped stitch and I could be the poster child for what not to do. So do as I say, not as I do and change your needles out regularly. “They” say every 8 hours but I don’t know who “they” are so I’m not sure if that’s real or not. I’d definitely recommend changing them out “regularly” though.

Task 8: Measure your measuring tape.

Did you know that they can stretch over time. I mean it makes sense, especially those cheap plastic ones. If they’re stretched you’re definitely not getting accurate measurements and if your measurements aren’t accurate then all that work you’re putting into sewing could be wasted.

Task 9: Clean your iron’s heat plate.

It’s not always necessary but it’s worth a quick peek to see how it looks. I know that if I do a lot of appliqués I generally end up with some gunk on the bottom of my iron from when I’ve tried to take a short cut or iron on fusible interfacing after the shape is already cut out. Give it a good cleaning so that you don’t get anything nasty on your projects.

Task 10: Take inventory.

And lastly, make sure you have a good stock of all the essentials because as you're sewing up a storm next time you absolutely do not want to have to stop and wait for Amazon to deliver your needles.

These are just ten tasks I think are a good place to start. How do you start your new year out on the right foot? What tasks do you dread and put off and which ones do you look forward to? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments or join our discussions on Facebook at Gus + Steel Sewing Chatter.


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