How-to Tips

Machine Maintenance

We should all be aware of the importance of keeping our sewing machines clean.  Each time the needle penetrates the fabric, tiny fragments are torn off which build up under the feed teeth and bobbin holder.

Dust and fluff from your sewing thread add to this build up and if not cleaned regularly your machine will become noisy and perform less effectively. If left too long before cleaning, the dust and lint can become impacted between the feed teeth and consequently prevent them from feeding the fabric through leaving you with an even bigger problem.

It is important to remove the needle plate and the bobbin case at regular intervals, depending obviously on the amount of sewing that you do, and give the machine a thoroughly good clean.  Oil if appropriate but remember many of today’s machines are self oiling and require no extra oil, if you are not sure check your manual or with the manufacturer.

Sewing machines generally fall into two types – front loading with a separate bobbin case and top loading with the bobbin case built in.

Follow the diagrams and instructions and make sure that your machine has the TLC that it deserves!

Cleaning Out Tension Discs

One part of the sewing machine that often gets neglected when cleaning is the area between the tension discs.  Most users don’t even realise that this needs to be done.  Because they can’t see the tension discs they don’t even think about them.

Imagine the two tension discs with thousands of metres of sewing thread skimming between them, threads possibly shredding especially poor quality threads, metallic and Lurex thread with all their little bits being stripped off as they go between the tension discs. All of this will eventually result in a build up of dust and lint etc., lodge between the discs and rendering them totally ineffective.

It is also important not to remove the top thread from your machine while the presser foot is down as this will skim the thread and leave fluff between the tension discs.

To clean between the tension discs follow these guidelines:

1) Use a long bristled lint brush making sure that the presser foot is up as this will automatically release the tension discs allowing the brush to get between them.

2) Unthread machine

3) Brush firmly up and down between the discs.

4) It will also help if you place a piece of thin cotton material between the tension discs, lower the presser foot to engage them and then draw the fabric through the discs in the same direction that the sewing thread passes.  Cleaning your machine takes a matter of minutes. 
Don’t neglect it.

Note: You may find some slight variations on your machine so check cleaning instructions in your sewing machine manual.

Cleaning the Hook Race and Feed Dogs

Top Loading Machines

Remove the setscrews and remove the needle plateTurn the power switch off, unplug the machine and raise the needle to the highest position

1. Remove the setscrews and remove the needle plate.


2. Take out the bobbin.  Lift up the bobbin holder and remove it.Take out the bobbin.  Lift up the bobbin holder and remove it

3. Clean the bobbin holder with a lint brush and soft dry cloth.
Clean the bobbin holder with a lint brush and soft dry cloth

4. Clean the feed dog and hook race with the lint brush.Clean the feed dog and hook race with the lint brush

5. Clean the hook race with a soft dry cloth.

1   Screwdriver
2   Setscrews
3   Needle plate
4   Bobbin holderClean the hook race with a soft dry cloth
5   Lint brush
6   Feed dog
7   Hook race
8   Soft dry cloth

Inserting the bobbin holder

1. Insert the bobbin holder

2. The knob of the bobbin holder should fit next to the stopper on the hook race.

10 Knob
11 Stopper

Turn the balance wheel towards you to check the bobbin holder is in the correct position.

3. Replace needle plate and tighten the screws.

Dismantling and Assembling Hook Race Unit

Front Loading Machines

Turn the power switch off and unplug the machine.

To dismantle hook race unit:

Raise the needle to its highest position and open the hook cover.

Open the hinged latch of bobbin case and take it out of the machine.

Open the hook race ring holders and remove the hook race ring.

Remove the hook.

Clean the hook race with a brush and a soft dry cloth.

1 Bobbin Case
2 Hook race
3 Hook race ring
4 Hook
5 Hook race

To assemble hook race unit:

Hold the hook by the centre pin and fit it carefully back into the hook race, forming a perfect circle with the shuttle driver..

Attach the hook race ring making sure the bottom pin fits into the notch.

Lock the hook race ring by turning the holders back into position.

Insert the bobbin case.

6 Pin
7 Notch

Cleaning the Feed Dog

Remove the needle and the presser foot.

Remove the needle plate set screw and remove the needle plate.

With a brush, clean out dust and lint clogging the feed dog teeth.

Reset the needle plate.


This article is prepared by Janome UK Limited,, email:
tel: 0161 666 6011.

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