General Maintenance and proper technique are critical for optimum performance of your sewing machine and project outcome.

You are stronger than you think!

Stripped screws and damaged needle plates are caused by overtightening.

When you change your needle or reinstall your needle plate after cleaning your bobbin, all you need to do is snug up the screws. For the needle, hold the needle firmly against the upper stop and use your fingers to tighten the screw. You should be able to apply enough force to easily hold the needle in place so that you can use a small screwdriver to turn the screw just a smidge more. That's all, just a smidge. Similarly, if your machine has screws holding the needle plate, place the screws and tighten only to the point that the screw stops with easy pressure using your screwdriver. There is no need to tighten the needle plate screw any more. The needle plate is not going to move.

When the needle screw is overtightened you can damage the end of the needle making it difficult to remove and you run the risk of stripping the needle screw or damaging the holder any of which could require replacement of the parts. We just had an older machine in the shop where these parts were no longer available :(

An issue that crops up often when needle plate screws are overtightened is that the screw head gets damaged. Usually because the screwdriver is too small and slips out of the slot creating a burr. A burr can impact the free and smooth movement of fabric through the machine.

Take it easy on those screws, you don't know your own strength!