How many of us take the time to keep our sewing machines in perfect running order? How many of us even know the basics of sewing machine maintenance – where to oil, how often to change needles and what type of needles to use for what fabric, or how to clean the tension unit?
I learned a little bit about where to oil my machine during the crafty sewing classes I took at the local store where I bought my machine. I showed up for class one month with a very squeaky machine. It’s awful to look back and think that I let my machine get to that point without even realizing it. It happened so slowly over time that I just forget my machine wasn’t always that loud! My instructor asked me how often I oiled my machine. I didn’t even know I was supposed to oil my machine. She told me where I should place a drop of oil, and when I got home with my brand new bottle of oil, I did my best to interpret her instructions.
That class also taught me a lot about how often to change needles and what size needles to use for different types of woven fabrics, but it was actually the online sewing community that taught me to use ballpoint needles for knits.
But, how to clean my tension unit? I didn’t even know I was supposed to clean my tension unit until just this past week! I was recently asked to review the DIY Household Sewing Machine app for iPhone, iPad, and iPad mini, and I found this piece of advice well worth the cost ($0.99). Not to mention that I realized from the app’s included videos that I hadn’t been placing the oil in the shuttle quite right. My interpretation of my sewing instructor’s directions was close enough, but I liked seeing it done “in person”.
Let me tell you a bit about the small business behind this app. Well, more like the man behind the app. Mr. DIY Household Sewing Machine, Gordon Carr, has been a sewing machine mechanic for 52 years. He worked his way up from a junior mechanic at the Singer Sewing Machine Company, quickly branching into sales and becoming a top-selling dealer. His success scored him several trips to Japan to study assembly lines at the Janome Sewing Machine Factory in 1978 and 1982 and to improve and modify the Toyota Sewing Machines and Overlockers in 1988 and 1989. After this last trip he decided to start his own business servicing, repairing, and rebuilding sewing machines and overlockers, and his success has continued as he comes highly recommended by all of the major sewing machine brands including Janome, Bernina, Husquarna, Pfaff, Elna, and Toyota. To this day he keeps up to date on new machines by going to the seminars and workshops offered by the brands themselves. And, this man knows his stuff: if Janome’s factory mechanics can’t fix a machine, they usually send it to him.
Recently, Gordon started running short seminars in fabric shops, high schools, universities, and community centers around Australia to help people learn how to maintain their sewing machines and overlockers. His customers kept asking for a way to take the lessons home with them, and they talked him into making this app. The app contains the basic information from the class (but obviously can’t go into detail about individual machines the same way you could in a seminar). When you open it up, you are quickly taken to a main menu that includes two choices: front-loading machines and top-loading machines. But, instead of being a simple text menu, the app takes advantage of cute digital sewing machines to illustrate the two types of machines. Clicking either of those will take you to a submenu with three choices, again through illustrations: (A) bobbin and shuttle, (B) needle, and (C) the tension unit. Inside each of those it yet another menu that includes video instructions where you actually get to see Gordon at work, animation instructions that take advantage their digital sewing machines, and text instructions where everything is written out for you (these also often include extra nuggets of useful information). It’s straightforward and to the point, and I agree with Gordon’s customers who knew it would be incredibly handy to have this information on hand when you’re at your machine. I’ve checked the app out on both an iPhone and an iPad, and it works exactly the same for both gadgets.
So, if you’re like me and fall into the camp of someone who loves your sewing machine but doesn’t quite know how to show it that love and you have an iPhone, iPad, or iPad mini, then the DIY Household Sewing Machine app is for you. You’ll have the basics straight from an expert in the palm of your hand.
Now, Mr. DIY Household Sewing Machine who-is-also-an-expert-on-overlockers, can we please have an app for our overlockers as well?!
Do share – how are your sewing machine maintenance habits, what are your favorite sewing-related apps, and what kind of apps would you like to see come out in the future?
As a note, though all of the opinions expressed in this post are my own, I received a small amount of financial compensation from the app developer.