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Frequently Asked Questions


When should I get my machine cleaned?
The most obvious answer is - the machine should be cleaned when it gets dirty. A better answer is - it depends on the thread you're using, the material you're sewing and the number of stitches. A good rule of thumb is about a million or so stitches per year - whichever comes first.

Sewing machines and sergers are complex precision devices built to exacting tolerances. Modern computerized sewing machines are even more so. Dirt is their biggest enemy. Dirt can make a sewing machine old before its time. Dirt can dramatically increase machine failures while dramatically reducing stitch quality. It just doesn't make any sense to spend serious money on an expensive sewing machine and then fail to take proper care of it with regular maintenance and cleaning.

Don't let your BERNINA machine get to looking like this...

Is it OK to use compressed air to blow dust out of the hook and bobbin?
No. No. No. No. No. And furthermore, no. Blowing dirt around inside the covers of a sewing machine only drives dirt deeper into the innards of the machinery and makes it just that much harder to clean. If you find your sewing activity generates an excessive amount of lint, then purchase a small inexpensive vacuum cleaner and suck as much dirt out of the machine as you can.

When a sewing machine comes into my shop looking like this, I charge by the pound...


What kind of thread should I use?
You may be surprised to learn that thread has an expiration date. Unless there is a compelling reason otherwise, it does not make sense to buy that tempting box of antique thread at the neighborhood yard sale – especially if it happens to be on wooden spools. Thread manufacturers have not used wooden spools in several decades because of the chemical deterioration effects that the wood spool has upon the thread wound upon it.

The same is true of that stash you might have inherited from a previous generation. The cotton, nylon and polyester materials used in fabrics and thread do not last forever. They become brittle and fragile with age and cannot stand up to the demands that a modern sewing machine places upon them.

As expensive, precise and well-maintained as your sewing machine might be, you will not get great quality results from poor quality thread. I don’t know about you, but my least favorite part of sewing is fighting with machine jams, thread breaks and the dreaded ‘Bird’s Nest.’ Nothing spoils the mood (and the sewing project) quite like ripping out loose loopy stitches and / or rethreading the machine. The best, easiest and cheapest way to avoid the majority of these problems is to use fresh, high-quality thread.

On a regular basis, customers bring machines into my shop with complaints about stitch quality while using thread that was manufactured twenty years ago. Not even the best and most expensive Bernina sewing machines will deliver the great results you have come to expect using thread that was manufactured twenty years ago. It just ain’t gonna happen. And so my advice to you is this – if you’re going to take the time, trouble and expense to plan your next project, don’t skimp on the thread. Go ahead and spring for some new thread. You and your project are worth it.


What kind of needle should I use?
The obvious answer is - use needles that are new, straight and sharp. What is not so obvious is that the number one complaint about the performance, quality, accuracy and reliability of a sewing machine is related to the needle.

I don’t care how new or old your machine might be. It matters not how much or how little you paid for your machine. It matters not who manufactured or maintained your machine. It matters not how experienced or novice at sewing you might be. There is no use arguing with physics. A sharp straight needle will yield great results. A dull bent needle will yield tiresome aggravation.

If you bring your machine to me for service, the very first thing I will do is install a new needle and dispose of the old one. Then, and only then, will I test how the machine functions. I do this because the needle is, quite literally, the heart of the sewing machine. If the needle is not sharp, straight and true, nothing else matters because nothing else will work. Even though seemingly simple, the sewing machine needle it is a finely engineered device and carefully manufactured to exacting standards. Despite this, the needle is the first thing to be damaged and/or wear out even in ordinary use.

Not to put too fine of a point on the argument (pun intended), a sewing machine is nothing more than an expensive doorstop if it does not have a sharp, straight and true needle installed.

If in the process of servicing the machine I accidentally snag or bump the needle (which happens a lot), I change the needle. If there is any question in my mind about the integrity of the needle, I’ll change it – again. When returning a machine to the customer, I’ll install a fresh needle – again.  Yeah, I have a sharps container on my workbench to dispose of all the old needles.

For that matter, so should you.

Needles are easy to change. In fact, you should be generous about needles. They are cheap when bought in bulk. It is not an unreasonable thing for you to purchase a 100-count pack of needles. If you ever break a needle, you’ll have a plentiful supply of replacements.  Whenever you start a new project – change the needle. After you finish off three or four bobbins – change the needle. Should the machine break the thread in the middle of a project – change the needle.

Here is a small sampling of needles - every one of which was causing a machine failure...

And so my advice to you is this – if you’re going to take the time, trouble and expense to plan your next project, don’t skimp on the needles. Go ahead and spring for a pack of new ones. You and your project are worth it.


What is thread tension?
Blah Blah Blah


What is a software / firmware update?
Blah Blah Blah

Free Motion Quilting: The Next Step

This class is not intended for absolute beginners.   Participants should be familiar with stitch-in-the-ditch technique.  Ideally, students should have also experimented with some free-motion quilting.  You will learn new tips and tricks and will gain confidence through practice and skill building.  This class will teach you how much fun and how easy free-motion quilting can be.

Skill Level: intermediate
Skill Details: This class is not intended for absolute beginners. Participants should be familiar with stitch-in-the-ditch technique. Ideally, students should have also experimented with some free-motion quilting.
Materials Included: None. Students will provide fabric and supplies.
Requirements: Instructions will be provided upon registration. Students are expected to prepare a block for quilting prior to attending the first session.
Instructor: Janet Moran
Instructor Bio: Janet has had a life-long love of fabric, thread and fibers. She began quilting in 1989 and loved traditional quilting to the extent that she opened a quilt shop. After successfully operating that business for ten years, she wanted to have more freedom to create and express herself in fiber and textiles and launched a new career as a Fiber Artist and Instructor. Janet has shown her work in numerous art shows and galleries and taught quilting and fiber art in local and national venues. Janet says: "I create my art because I need to. I teach others to love the art of quilting because I want to. My hope is to bring pleasure and joy to those who view it. Enjoy."

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Included Materials



This class cannot be purchased online. Please contact the store for more information.