Posted by on January 20, 2018

If you sew on regular basics, you never want to find yourself in the situation where your sewing machine doesn’t feed the fabric anymore. You may want to go ahead and just throw it, or you can simply ask around and find out what’s really wrong with your machine.

Here’s some breaking news for some of you: nine times out of ten it’s the dirty feed dogs the reason of your machine not feeding anymore. And we’re not talking about the little dirty situation. We’re talking about the feed dogs full of junk, leaving no chance to the machine to feed anymore. Is it possible to get all the dirt out of the feed dogs or not?

The good news is that you only need some patience and grease to do it. You should also keep in mind that this isn’t a tip only for the vintage sewing machines, but for all sewing machines.

What you need

We’re not going to explain how the feed dogs really work, we’re going to leave that topic for another time. We’re only discussing the situation when the feed dogs don’t work.

Here’s what you need to have at reach:

  • Sewing machine oil
  • Tweezers
  • Paint brush
  • Wire detailing brush
  • Cotton swabs

Cleaning the feed dogs on regular basics is going to minimize the risk for them not to work anymore. All the lint piles into the feed dog area act just like the ones in the bobbin area. Next time you’re brushing out the bobbin area, don’t forget to also brush out the feed dogs. Use the paint brush and cotton swabs too. it’s always better to be safe than sorry so cleaning the feed dogs the easy is going to eliminate the need for the more complicated cleaning.

How to clean the feed dogs

If you’re not cleaning often enough the feed dogs, going through the next steps is going to be of great help. You also need to grab some elbow grease on the way too as you’re going to use quite a lot. The feed dogs didn’t get all dirty over night, so you may need more than just a couple of minutes for a thourough cleaning. In the end, it’s going to be worthy, though.

Cleaning the feed dogs isn’t that difficult, but you need to spend a bit more than you’d expect. Here are the steps:

  • Put oil onto the feed dogs.

The oil is going to soften all the dirt and junk from the feed dogs. You need to let it stay for quite some time in order to be very efficient. You may have to use the tweezers to pull off all the big chunks. If that’s not possible, you should add a bit more oil and let it soak for more minutes. Being patient about it’s the secret of a successful cleaning of the feed dogs. Wait until all the junk is loosened up and continue with the next step.

  • Scrub the feed dogs.

Use the wire brush to scrub around, adding oil if necessary. You want to be careful and not to get the brush on the paint. The wire brush may scratch the paint on the machine and you don’t want that. You don’t want to add re-painting the sewing machine on the list too.

Keep on adding oil and pull off the big chunks, using slowly the wire brush for the scrubbing.

One last thought

Some may want to take their machines to a professional for a cleaning of the feed dogs area. As long as you’re only using the paint brushes and cotton swabs, you can very well do it at home. Never use canned air as it’s going to pack all the junk into your sewing machine. And that’s the last thing you want.


Posted in: Machine Quilting