Sewing Machine Guide

sewing machine guide

If you need to learn the parts of a sewing machine then you’ve come to the right place – our Sewing Machine Guide. Sewing machines have come a long way in the sewing industry over the years. To think that hand sewing was just a normal part of life for so many centuries to where we are today with modern sewing machines (computerized even). Speaking of sewing machines, we have a whole post on everything Sewing Machine – check it out.

The period during the Industrial Revolution gave way to the sewing machine advancements we currently have today and continue to improve upon. Thanks to this pivotal moment in history, sewing enthusiasts alike can complete more projects today, at a faster rate, in shorter amounts of time. Let’s take a look into what makes our sewing machines work.

Your machine may or may not look like mine, but most of these parts can be found on your machine as well. (You may even have additional gadgets if your machine is more advanced). This guide aims to help you identify the basics so you can begin your sewing journey straight away!

Sewing Machine Guide | Parts of a Sewing Machine and How to Use Them

1.) Bobbin Winder

Typically located on the top right side of the machine. You would place your empty bobbin case onto the silver metal piece, slide it to the right and allow the thread to wind around until complete.

2.) Bobbin Stopper

The bobbin stopper tells the machine when to stop winding the thread by allowing the newly filled bobbin case to run into it and stop once full.

3.) Vertical Spool Pin

Holds your spool of thread upright as you sew. Excellent for larger spools of thread.

4.) Hand Wheel

Manually lifts your needle up and down by the use of a hand. Located on the side of the sewing machine. (Usually, the right).

5.) Buttonhole Stitch Balance Adjustment Slot

Controls the width or narrowness of your buttonhole stitching when creating buttonholes. Allows you to turn the dial accordingly.

6.) Light and power on off switch

Responsible for turning the machine on and off. Also controls the power to the light bulb inside of your machine. Just flip the switch on or off with your finger.

7.) Main plug socket

The port in which you would plug your cord into that operates the foot pedal and the machine. You will find 3 metal prongs inside the machine that connects to the pedal cord. Keep it plugged in a while in use. Unplug it after use for safety and storage.

8.) Stitch Length Dial

Controls the length of your selected stitch. The bigger the number the wider your stitch will be. The smaller the number the narrower the stitch.

9.) Pattern Selector Dial

A dial with built-in stitch patterns to choose from, such as a straight or zigzag stitch for example. Your project and the fabric base usually dictate which stitch to use for your seams. You may use a decorative stitch for topstitching to add an excellent detail.

10.) Reverse Sewing Lever

Press the reverse lever and hold down to sew in reverse. Release to continue sewing forward. Important for locking in your beginning and ending stitches.

Sewing Machine Guide
Sewing Machine Guide 13

11.) Needle Plate

Allows the fabric to move forward as you sew. Located right underneath the needle and presser foot. Remove this plate for a thorough cleaning of your machine as needed. Lint likes to collect here!

12.) Bobbin cover

Protects the bobbin by covering it. There is a press release button that opens it up as needed for refilling your bobbin case and cleaning.

13.) Presser Foot

Holds your fabric down in place as you sew. There are many different kinds of machine feet available to help assist you in completing your projects more smoothly. Use the specific type made for your machine brand and model.

14.) Feed Dogs

Metal teeth gently feed your fabric through as you sew.

15.) Automatic threader

The mechanism that assists you in threading the needle for you. Raise the needle to its highest position. Hook the thread under the thread guide. Pull down the needle threader all the way and pass the thread through into the hook. Release the threader to pull the thread through the eye of the needle and pull your thread through.

16.) One step buttonhole lever

A built-in one-step feature that allows the buttonhole foot to measure your button and produce the same results each time with better accuracy.

17.) Presser foot lifter

A lever that lifts the presser foot up and down. Raise the lever up for threading and removing your fabric. Lower the lever down to secure the fabric as you sew.

18.) Presser foot pressure adjustment

It allows you to adjust the downward pressure in reference to the type of fabric being fed through. The plus direction will tighten it and the minus will loosen.

19.) Upper thread guide

A guide that assists you in how to properly thread your machine in order numerically and or with arrows. Follow the arrows and numbers for threading your needle. If you’re ever having an issue with your machine, rethread this part step by step and it may solve the problem for you.

20.) Bobbin Thread Guide

A guide used to assist the thread direction around the pretension disc for aiding in the filling of an empty bobbin case with thread. Just like the step above, follow the arrows or numbers on your machine as a step-by-step guide.

21.) Thread Tension Dial

Controls the amount of tension on the thread. You won’t be able to get proper tension if your machine is not threaded properly. Also, if your machine has lint in the tension disc’s, it will also have an impact on your tension as well. With that being said, balance is key! Not too tight and not too loose. Different fabric bases will require more or less tension. I always test on scraps to the same fabric I will be using for said project before beginning for this reason.

22.) Three-Needle Position Dial

It allows you the choice to move your needle position to the left, right or center depending on your project needs. This can come in real handy for smaller seam allowances for example.

23.) Stitch Width Dial

Controls the width and narrowness of the zigzag stitch.

24.) Handle

Used for lifting and transporting your machine.

25.) Horizontal spool pin

Holds your spool of thread horizontally.

Additional helpful Information:

  • It is good to know the make and model number of your machine should you need to look up something specific in the future such as replacement parts specific to your machine.
  • Use the gear specific to your machine brand.
  • Clean your machine frequently-especially after sewing with fuzzy fabrics. A little fuzz can cause issues! A cleaning brush or canned air is ok to use. I use pipe cleaners to clean mine!
  • Oil your machine per manual instructions.
  • Change out your needles accordingly. It will have an impact on the quality of your stitches.
  • Choose the right needle and thread for your project. Both are very important!

I hope this post has helped to enlighten you as to which parts function, when and why, and how learning your machine will help you to make the best decisions for your projects. With time, it will become second nature as you exercise your sewing skills and navigate through sewing projects. Most sewing machines come with manuals when purchased new. If not, blogs like these can be so handy.

If you are in the searching phase and haven’t yet decided on what machine is best for you, I would suggest making a list of projects you want to accomplish or may consider doing and looking for a machine that would suit your needs best.

Also, budget comes to mind. Sewing machines range in price quite a bit. Most of us hobbyists work our way up the ladder, so to speak. Not everyone can purchase a fancy machine right off the bat, and that’s ok! Thank you for taking the time to follow along and read over this article today, and I wish you the best of luck as you begin to sew!

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