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Sewing with Threads Podcast

Troubleshooting and Maintaining Your Sewing Machine | Episode 34

Video: Threads Magazine

Expert sewing machine technician Bernie Tobisch discusses troubleshooting and maintaining your sewing machine in this video podcast of Sewing With Threads. He also fields previously submitted questions from the Threads audience and even uses a few props to better explain his answers.

Bernie has been repairing and servicing machines of all types and brands for more than four decades. This pro also has written three books on the topic. The latest, released in July 2020, is Sewing Machine Reference Tool: A Troubleshooting Guide to Loving Your Sewing Machine, Again! (C&T Publishing). He and his spouse, Shelley Scott-Tobisch, make up the Easy Precision Piecing System team. They travel and teach internationally.

Maintenance tips from an expert

In the podcast, Bernie tells what he considers the best feature invented for sewing machines, shares important don’ts when operating and caring for your sewing machine, and offers a host of tips for keeping your machine in working order. See even more of his dos, don’ts, and tips in “Maintain Your Sewing Machine,” Threads #212 (Dec. 2020/Jan. 2021).

Handling needle threaders, skipped stitches, and thread tension

Bernie uses a giant needle prop to answer an Instagram question submitted to Threads about an automatic needle threader that never seems to work. These threaders are “the bane of the sewing machine companies’ existence,” he says, and explains why.

How do you deal with skipped stitches, and how do you adjust and test thread tension? Bernie answers these often-asked questions with the help of another homemade prop. It illustrates an enlarged cross-section of fabric with completed machine stitches. The paths and intersections of top and bobbin threads—represented by rope in the prop—are easy to see and are the key to understanding how to fix tension.

Maintaining your sewing machine: prop explains proper thread tension
Bernie Tobisch uses this prop made from rope and wood to illustrate an enlarged cross-section of fabric with completed machine stitches. Photo courtesy of Bernie Tobisch and C&T Publishing.

Clean and oil your machine

When it comes to cleaning dust and lint from your machine, Bernie advises against using pipe cleaners and compressed air. He details what happens when they are used. Instead, he recommends a small, soft-bristled paintbrush and vacuum cleaner.

He also tackles the issue of oiling your machine and how often you need to get it professionally serviced.

Watch and listen as Bernie provides specifics in answering all the questions posed by our editors and the Threads community about maintaining your sewing machine.

For more about Bernie, see his website, EasyPrecisionPiecing.com, and find him on Instagram @bernietobisch.



Today’s episode is brought to you by our friends at Baby Lock. The holidays are just around the corner and Baby Lock is here to help. Whether you’re looking for the perfect holiday sewing project to get started on, or searching for a new machine to add to your wish list or purchase for someone special, Baby Lock has you covered. They have lots of free holiday projects, special offers, machines available to purchase online through your local retailer, and much more. Check out BabyLock.com this holiday season.

Baby Lock logo

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  1. wendyfuselier | | #1

    Thank you for this podcast, I've been sewing for 30 years and have learned so much since finding the Threads podcast! I've listened to all the episodes in about a month and am looking forward to new ones. And thank you Bernie! I only wish my local providers had your wealth of knowledge.

  2. driosbay | | #2

    Just became a Threads Insider and this episode was worth the price of admission! Bernie, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge.

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