L is for Lint

A to Z of Machine Embroidery and Quilting

L is for LintWhen you’re doing machine embroidered appliqué you’re going to generate lint. There’s no way (that I know of!) around it.

Lint comes from various sources:

  • thread (even if it claims to be lint free!)
  • fabric
  • stabilizer

The most important thing to know about lint is… removing it regularly from your embroidery machine will significantly improve your embroidery results.

A good rule of thumb is to clean the lint from your machine every time you change the bobbin.


Lint under the stitch plate Lint in the bobbin area


The majority of lint accumulates around the bobbin, but it also accumulates in the feed dogs, just under the stitch plate. Remove the stitch plate and open the bobbin door. Use a good sized brush (I like to use soft paintbrushes that can be found in the paint department at your local craft store) and / or a Q-Tip to clean all the lint and fluff out. Some people like to use a tiny vacuum cleaner to suck the link out. You definitely want to avoid anything that will push the lint back into the embroidery machine.

When I’ve cleaned all the lint off my BERNINA embroidery machines, I usually add a drop of oil to the bobbin casing. This makes for a very happy machine!

Another place where lint has a tendency to accumulate is on the needle bar, just above the screw that holds the needle in place. Sometimes it’s easiest to get to this when the needle is all the way down making a stitch. Use a Q-Tip to wipe all the lint off the needle bar.


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Spirals of LifeWhat I love about this collection… Spirals of Life is a small wall hanging, 30″ x 30″. It’s not often that I make 2 versions of a quilt, but for this one I had two gorgeous color combinations from Fronds Design Studio so 2 quilts it was!

Spirals of Life can be created entirely in the hoop, quilting and all, which makes it pretty fast and easy.

Spirals of Life Quilting

Stitched on a BERNINA 830
featuring AURIfil Cotton Mako 28 weight thread
and Stof Linen fabric

Pillows featuring the quilting only (no appliqué shapes) look stunning in linen and heavier weight thread.

Change up the orientation of the 7.5″ x 7.5″ blocks to create a different effect:

Spirals of Life Quilting

Stitched on a BERNINA 830
featuring AURIfil Cotton Mako 28 wt thread
and Stof Linen fabric

Spirals of Life Quilting

Stitched on a BERNINA 830
featuring AURIfil Cotton Mako 28 wt thread
and Stof Linen fabric

29 Comments

  1. Thanks for this tip… sometimes we get to busy and forget to clean lint out. Great suggestion to clean every bobbin change.

  2. Great reminder!

  3. Boni Schreiber

    Lint really gets stuck inside my machine a lot. I forget to clean sometimes. A paintbrush seems a great idea for this project. Thank you.

  4. Marilyn Garcia

    It is amazing how fast the lint accumulates, especially when using inexpensive thread……time to throw that all out.

  5. I forget about this so glad you put a reminder tip for us. Time to put a sticky note on my machine. Thanks again for these wonderful tips!

  6. Great tip! I will try to remember to do this every time I change the bobbin. Thank you!!

  7. I actually do this!

  8. Great Reminder!
    Thank you for reminding me that the absence of lint is necessary for my sewing machines to operate smoothly and accurately!

  9. I take my machines to my husbands play area and he uses his air compresser….especially on my serger.

  10. For the first time EVER I can say I do this!!!! I had a great teacher.

  11. Thanks I to try to remember to oil the bobbin

  12. Kimberli Burnett

    Ohmygoshomitey I never thought to do just the quilting!! I love that!! 💓

  13. Thank you for reminding us. Love the stitching on the design .

  14. Charlene Popson

    I actually do this also! I love the designs. The swirls are amazing. Then I saw there quilt designs. They are just as beautiful. You are really talented. From the 2nd Charlene

  15. Jerrine Kirsch

    Thanks for the reminder to clean all the lint,

  16. A lady in our guild brought two pieces of the same embroidery pattern: one done as the end of a long embroidery spree, and the other right after she had cleaned the machine and oiled the bobbin case. The difference was truly amazing! Much crisper lines and smoother stitching on the one after oiling. That made me a believer!

  17. great tip, I try to remember to clean out bobbin every few hours of embroidery.

  18. Thanks for the reminders about lint. I enjoy seeing all your projects.

  19. I love your tips…thank you

  20. That is how I clean my machine. I probably don’t do it as often as I should though!

  21. Thank you so much for the reminder. I never thought of oiling the bobbin. Thanks again. I’m going to brush out around my bobbin and add a drop of oil too.

  22. Some emb. machines are not to be oiled or do I have the wrong information? I use a bent pipecleaner to clean bobbin case all the time…then use a small vacuum to clean all of the machine…great tip.

    • Hi Betty, You’re correct – not all machines need to be oiled. Always best to read the instruction manual so you know exactly what your machine needs. Removing the lint applies to them all though 🙂

  23. Great tips. I have had difficulty with thread breaking. This really helps.

  24. Thanks for your tips. I do this regularly but not every bobbin change I must admit

  25. Yes, a clean machine is so important for best results!! Couldn’t emphasize it enough when I worked at the dealership. Love the quilting with the Spiral of Life design.

  26. I have a mini attachment for the vacumn and it is great for cleaning out all the lint.

  27. Great idea to use a small paint brush! Stunning design!

  28. Great tips and reminder to check areas most often forgotten!

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