Taking Care of Sewing Equipment

There are so many kinds of fabric and there always seems to be something new to pre order, not to mention all the new patterns coming out! 
As exciting as this is, we often forget about the boring parts of sewing and that is keeping our equipment that we use every day while sewing in top order. I can’t think of too many things as frustrating as getting ready to sew something and not having pins that stick or blades that don’t cut. Having a plan to take care of these things will help your sewing to go smoother, faster and without delays and frustrations.
Let’s start with getting your fabric ready. I always wash and dry my fabric when making clothing in the same way that I am going to care for the final garment. This ensures that when I am finished, the fit I was going for will hold up wash after wash.
Measuring yourself or whomever you are sewing for is very important however when is the last time you replaced your measuring tape? These get stretched out over time and you need to double check the measurements are still correct against a non flexible measure.
Scissors are another thing that are easy to forget. Keep your fabric scissors for fabric only. Contrary to popular belief cutting paper with them won’t dull your blade but it is better for your blades to keep them fabric specific. This goes for those scissors you use for cutting paper too, only use for paper. Wipe your blades off once a week this will keep lint and thread from getting into the inner workings of your scissors. Have your scissors professionally sharpened at least once a year. Do not drop them, so for me that means don’t set them in precarious places to fall. This can knock a good pair of scissors out of alignment quickly! Buy the best scissors you can afford. When you have a lot of cutting to do you will thank me when your hands are cramping up.
This brings us to rotary cutters. I use these about 75 percent of the time to cut my fabric. I never use them to cut anything else.
Change your blade! Change it at least every six months and at any other time you notice it is taking much more pressure to cut. The one thing you can do to keep a rotary cutter performing well is to clean your blade. Lint is the sewists enemy and it will make your cuts uneven and clunky. I take my cutters apart weekly, wipe down the blade and cutter (carefully) and put them back together. While doing this, look for nicks or divets in the blade. Replace if needed.
Cutting mats, I think this is a very ignored piece of sewing equipment that needs regular care to keep it preforming well for you. Never roll your mats, they will just never lay flat again. Avoid direct sunlight and temperature extremes. Clean your mats weekly. One method is to use a solution of ¼ cup white vinegar per gallon of cool water blot onto mat and let it soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Add a bit of mild dish soap, like Dawn or Ivory, and use a soft brush to gently scrub the surface of the mat (the key word here is SOFT). This will get any straggler fibers that may still be trapped in cuts. Wipe dry on a flat surface. This will make your blades last longer and heal some of those cuts. Never iron on a cutting mat they are much softer than you think. Turn your mat after you clean it so that you are not always cutting in the same space.
Update or sharpen your thread scissors. Trying to thread a needle with thread that has been snipped with old scissors will be a significant challenge. Nobody has time for that.
Pins need to be thrown out once in a while. Using bent and dull pins is not only frustrating but they can easily warp your fabric during cutting.

Clean your iron. There are many commercial cleaners that can do this job. I use the following method. When the iron is unplugged and cool, rinse out the water reservoir with hot water. Wipe the entire iron down, including the cord with a damp clean cloth. Use a second clean cloth to dry the iron and store it in a cool dry place. Clean out the water reservoir to help avoid hard water build up.

As far as your sewing machine care and maintenance, that is a whole desperate blog post we will cover soon.

Take care of your equipment and it will take care of you by giving you fabulous results in all of your sewing projects.