Overlocker Care: BERNINA L 8 Series

Keeping up with the regular care and cleaning of your overlocker is an important routine to establish. With an air-threading overlocker like the BERNINA L 8 Series machines (L 850, L 860, L 890), the threading path is mostly concealed, but the cutting action of the machine still creates a lot of lint inside your machine. There are a few things to know that will help keep your machine in tip-top shape for many years to come.


When cleaning your machine, make sure that it is powered off. This is for your safety, so you don’t accidentally run the machine while your hands are inside or near the moving parts.

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At the end of every project, I brush out the inside of my overlocker. The lint brush that comes standard with your machine is great for cleaning the lint from around the cutting knife, presser foot, feed dog and other small areas. Doing this after every project will prevent the machine from getting really full of lint and fabric debris, but also means that the machine is ready to go the next time you need it.

Beyond the regular lint brush, I recommend purchasing a Micro Vacuum Attachment Kit to help you get the lint out from those hard-to-reach areas or when I do a deeper clean of the machine—about every 3-4 months.

Tip: Never used canned air to clean your machines. This is counterproductive because it moves lint further into the inner areas of your machine which builds up over time.

Open Up the Machine


There are standard accessories for BERNINA L 890 located in the Threader Cover of the machine. The tweezers and lint brush are here and ready for you to clean regularly. I also recommend changing to two new needles with every deep clean.

Pro Tip: Overlocker Needles

At this time, I usually discard any older needles in the foam pad, this keeps me from mixing up the old with the new. In my experience, I have found that (unless I sew a funky fabric or hit zipper teeth) my overlocker is easier on needles than my standard sewing machine. I have used the same needles for upwards of six or so months before without issue.

Removing the Stitch Plate

About every 3-4 months, I will go a little deeper and remove the Stitch Plate. Removing the Stitch Plate allows access into the Freearm area of the machine.


The machine will come with the screwdriver you need to do this located inside the Accessories Box. There are two screws on the stitch plate. This is a good time to wipe down the Stitch Plate with a microfiber cloth. Once the Stitch Plate has been removed, you can also slide out the side panel of the Freearm Cover for better access.


Cleaning the Air Threading Pipes


If your Air Threading Pipes become clogged during use, you can use the Threading Wire that comes with the machine to clear the clog. It is recommended that if this happens, you should also take the machine to a certified technician to ensure there is not a bigger issue causing the problem. You can regularly remove dust and thread build-up from the Threader Pipes by flossing back and forth through the Air Threading Pipes with a thicker thread, like Mettler Cordonnet or Amann Saba C size 30.

Oiling an Overlocker


Now you are ready to add some oil! There are a few things to keep in mind when oiling an overlocker.

  1. The oil is NOT the same as the oil for your sewing machine. It is important to use the oil that came with your overlocker, or check with your dealership or manufacturer before adding the wrong oil.
  2. Over-oiling an overlocker can cause more harm than good. The oil will act as a magnet to all that lint and debris, collecting grime to the area of the machine doing the most work.

With those considerations, knowing when to oil based on how you use your machine is important to figure out based on your sewing. An unused machine will dry up faster than a machine that is used. So if it’s been sitting for (ahem) a few years, then you will probably want to oil it. I use my machine frequently, although not daily, and with regular cleaning and care, I find that I oil my machine every 4-6 months. Getting to know your machine will help you determine when is best, as you will likely notice more noise or the machine feeling tight in movement.

There is one point that you need to oil on the L 8 machines. If in doubt, watch the tutorial found in the machine’s touchscreen navigation—I know, this machine is so helpful!


Additional Cleaning Tips

  • Take the time to wipe down the exterior of the machine too, especially at the thread stand. I like to remove my thread entirely and pull out the foam pad that sits underneath the spools. Give the foam a good shake and wipe down the body of the machine, then replace the foam.
  • I also like to wipe the Touch Screen with a lens cleaning cloth that I use also for cleaning my glasses.
  • Take a moment to tilt the machine backward and clean the suction feet on the bottom of the machine. This will help keep the bond strong and your machine firmly in place when you sew at high speeds.
  • Did you know that the L 8 Series machines have a Thread Cutter like many of the BERNINA sewing machines? Well, it does and just like the sewing machines, you can pull this out and clean out the thread bits—keeping it nice and sharp. Also, if it ever goes dull, you can easily replace this part.


Regular Annual Service

There are some things that are best left to the pros. If your machine has a recurring issue like breaking needles, skipping stitches or the blade becomes damaged, then you know it’s time to take it to the dealer. Replacing a knife can be a costly repair, so keep those pins that are easy to sheer off to a minimum. When serging, I recommend using Clover Wonder Clips, as they are easy to see and will less likely end up in the cutting knife of your machine. As a general rule, I recommend taking your overlocker to a certified dealership annually for a clean, oil and adjust. The technician will be able to remove the machine covers and work at cleaning the “inner” inside that we don’t have easy access to. They will also check your tensions and clean things up, which is one less time you will have to clean it too. Proper care and maintenance will lead to many happy sewing hours.

Here is a link to another helpful video about machine maintenance on the BERNINA L 8 Series.

Now, get to that machine TLC and all the spiffy serging in your future!


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