How To Use a Sewing Machine

What First?

If you are just starting out as a novice seamstress, using a sewing machine can seem a bewildering proposition.

You should spend as much time as you possibly can researching what the best model is for your own wants and needs.

There are 4 main types of sewing machine:

  • Mechanical
  • Electronic
  • Computerized
  • Overlocker

The more basic mechanical machines are fading out quickly. Overlockers are the very specific pieces of kit. This means that most consumers make a choice between an electronic machine, and a more advanced computerized sewing machine, which will offer more versatility but comes at a premium.

Before buying a sewing machine, you should know how to use a sewing machine. Besides have a grasp of the best sewing machine for beginners that would kick you off. Therefore you should keenly analyze everything that you expect from a sewing machine. On the meantime, you may go for a sufficing machine to keep you moving.

If you are IT-literate and enjoy a challenge then it might be suitable to focus on computerized sewing machines. If you are not that tech-savvy person, then why be put off by flashing screens and lights? If you are clear about your needs, then you would be ready to buy the perfect model and start sewing.


A manual is a fundamental factor which cannot be underestimated: consult the manual which accompanies your machine. Familiarize yourself with the contents and keep it safe for future reference.

All sewing machines have minor differences and it’s crucial that you follow the instruction manual carefully.

You can always research online if you are stuck but the manual should be the first thing you consult.

Different Parts of a Sewing Machine

When you first encounter a sewing machine it might seem like Mission Impossible to get it up and running.

A very useful starting point is to fully get to grips with the different parts on the machine. This consequently boosts your confidence to handle the sewing machine.

  • Power Switch: The location of the switch may obviously vary. Although the power switch is generally found on the body of the sewing machine. It is often found on the right.
  • Speed Control: This regulator allows you to run the machine at an appropriate speed depending on the level of your ability. Sewing straight seams is easier at slow speeds. Ideally it is recommended that you look for one with three speed settings.
  • Spool Pin: This little pin can be metal or plastic. It is situated at the top of the machine. The spool containing thread sits flush on top of it.
  • Thread Guide: This feature guides the thread which comes from the spool down towards the bobbin winder. It is fashioned from metal and protrudes from the top. It is located to the left side of the machine.
  • Bobbin Winder: On top of the machine, to the spool pin’s right, is a second smaller pin (metal or plastic) adjacent to a little wheel. This is the stopper and the bobbin winder. It works in synch with the spool. Before you start sewing, they assist in winding the thread onto the bobbin.
  • Stitch adjusting buttons: With many features, placement differs. Often on the front side of the machine, though, just look for a screen with some accompanying buttons. You can use these to alter the kind of stitch, its direction – forward or reverse – as well as the length of stitch.
  • Thread Take-up Lever: After winding the thread on the spool through the threading guide, it surrounds to the take-up lever. This lever is grooved and situated on the left of the machine, towards the front. Usually, arrows or numbers help you in understanding how to thread your sewing machine.
  • Tension Dial: This numbered wheel is found near the take-up lever. Its function is to regulate the tension of the thread as you sew.

Note: Excessive tension force makes the needle to be pulled towards the right side of the machine. If it is too loose, your thread would contrive and loop on the material at the bottom as you are working.

  • Needle Clamp Screw: The needle is held firmly down while you are working by this metal screw. It resembles a nail. It is located beneath the arm sticking out from the needle on the right.
  • Presser Foot: Underneath the needle clamp screw is the presser foot. The metal attachment resembles a mini ski! When you engage the presser foot, it holds the material intact, as well as guiding it along the machine.
  • Presser Foot Lever: This lever is at the back of or right of your needle assembly. Moving it up and down the entire way, will make adjustments to the presser foot. The user should practice using it, to boost comfort ability and familiarity.
  • Needle Plate: It is located directly under the needle itself.
  • Feed Dog: This is the metal guide on top of the needle plate. The feed dog will move the fabric through your sewing machine as you work on your designs.
  • Bobbin Cover/Bobbin Release: What is a bobbin? Well, it’s simply a little spool containing thread. It is fed out from underneath and gives the needle its supply of thread. The cover is beneath the plate. The pin or button to release the bottom is situated right next to it. Use it to get the bobbin set up before beginning.

How to Set Up a Sewing Machine


  1. Place the machine on a flat surface. A heavy duty table or desk is ideal or a dedicated sewing cabinet if you have one. Make sure that the chair you choose is at an appropriate height. Set up your machine with the end of the needle to your left, with the machine’s body on your right. Do not plug the machine at this point. .
    Put in your needle nice and securely. Since needle’s come with one side flat, this means they can only be installed in one direction. This is normally with that flattened side towards the back.
  2. Look for a groove along one side. Both the direction of the grove and the one which the needle is threaded, ought to be the same. As it goes up and down through the material, the needle travels in the groove. Put the needle right into its post, making sure you have tightened up the thumbscrew.
  3. Now wind the bobbin and insert it. Your sewing machine is equipped with two sources of thread. For winding purposes, simply place the spool on the winder. Using the guides, pull the thread spool’s thread round the guide towards the bobbin itself. Turn the winder on. It will stop by itself when it’s full. Pop the bobbin in the cage under the needle.
    You’re now all set to thread your machine. You will find the spool at the top of the machine. First, you need to unwind it and attach it onto the needle. Pull the thread through the guide. Take it down next then around the take-up lever.
    Note: Look for arrows and numbers to assist you with this process. If in any doubt, consult the instruction manual or look out for guides which are printed on the machine itself. Practice makes perfect.
  4. Now you want to get out both threads. With the thread of the needle taut, hold it facing you in one hand. If you use your other hand to turn the hand-operated wheel towards you, this will make a complete revolution of the needle. Yank upwards on the thread you’re holding. As the threaded needle traveled down and then up, the bobbin thread caught. It’s now nicely looped and positioned over the needle thread. You have two choices in order to bring up the thread tail. You can simply pull the loop on one of the sides to achieve this. Alternatively, let go of the thread, put some scissors in between the plate and presser foot then pull the thread (which is now looped) out. Either way, you should end up with the ends of a pair of threads. One comes up from under the bobbin, the other from the needle itself.
  5. Now that you’ve set up, plug your sewing machine in. With many models, a built-in light indicates if the power is on. Don’t forget to plug the pedal in too. Make certain it’s in a comfy position for you to operate.

Practice makes perfect!

As time ticks you should be getting more and more conversant with the terminology and operation of the sewing machine.

After making things ready both physically and psychologically, it is time to kick the ball rolling. The main activity here is first of all experimenting. You would be recommended to use the instructions that were first issued. This also includes suggestions.

  • Refer to the instructions in your product manual. Choose two stitch lengths, straight and medium. Sewing seams frequently use the straight options, where the zigzag is used most often. This on its own purposefully for stopping fraying at the edge of the material.
  • Grab some scrap fabric. Go for something woven rather than knitted to make it easier for yourself. Ensure it is light.
  • Have the material nicely lined up. Make sure that the better part of the fabric is on your left. Untidy stitching can result from having the fabric being crowded largely on the right hand side.
  • Release the presser foot down onto the fabric. It is lowered or raised by a lever. Keep loose ends in check by holding them firmly.
  • Use your foot on the pedal to regulate the speed. Be cautious at first as you get used to the new moves.
  • Check out how your machine operates in reverse. A lever or button will flip it so it reverses.
  • Cut off some thread. Use the notch provided or some scissors to cut it.
  • Have a go at a seam. Refer to your manual for precise instructions here, as the procedure differs from machine to machine.

Once you feel conversant with the machine, it’s time to think about undertaking a project. Although before then some advice would make more sense.

Handy Hints

  1. Take a better part of your time to practice using the machine to grasp the better part of sewing machine benefits. Controlling the pedal, moving the fabric and maintaining speed requires co-ordination.
  2. Test the diverse stitch options at your disposal.
  3. Consider a sewing class in order to practice and socialize with people who share your interest. Although the Internet is crammed with useful advice, there’s no substitute for human interaction.
  4. Make sure you focus on things that you are passionate about. Being interested in what you are doing is critical, if you do not want to get bored and frustrated. Sewing should be relatively enjoyable to help avoid beginners common mistakes.
  5. Steer clear of old needles and cheap thread. If it is cotton then ensure that it is mercerized for added strength. For heavy materials seek out upholstery thread. Match this thread up with the fabric you are working on unless you want it stand out for some reason.
  6. Make sure that you keep the area you are working in clean. This will prevent any stains on the material.
  7. Consider the importance of maintaining your sewing machine. Looking after it well will increase its longevity.
  8. Take care that the area you work in is adequately lit.
  9. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Experimenting, trial and error are the best ways to progress.
  10. Avoid putting all of your needles in the storage spot. This will help you to steer clear of accidents.


  1. Make sure you don’t get your fingers too close to the needle.
  2. When threading your sewing machine, make certain it’s unplugged to reduce unplanned sewing machine repairs.
  3. Never use force with the machine.
  4. When you are working, do not place needles on the material.
  5. Spend as much as you can afford on your machine: Buy cheap, buy twice.


This article should have got you up and running and now feeling quite confident with your new machine. It might be quite complex to learn your new machine. Apparently, following the few guidelines, back up with your user’s manual would be helpful. It would teach you how to use a sewing machine for beginners in the most comfortable and pace friendly manner.

Now it’s time to practice and to get creative. Only your imagination will limit the scope of projects you can enjoy immersing yourself in.

Take care and enjoy your new sewing machine!

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