Sewing Machine 101: A Beginner’s Guide

Congratulations! You have a new sewing machine! You are probably excited to unleash your inner Martha Stewart and start your sewing projects from simple pillows, blankets, curtains to more complex projects like sewing clothes and stuffed animals. However, the problem is—you don’t know how to sew and how to operate your sewing machine. The first thing you need to learn on your sewing 101 is how to operate a sewing machine.

It can be intimidating at first to use a sewing machine—it has different stitch options, it runs fast, and there are even different types of needles that you should use depending on your fabric. But don’t let your fear prevent you from creating crafts and accomplishing your sewing projects.

In this article, you will learn the basic parts and functions of a sewing machine so you can start using it confidently and create your wonderful textile creations.

So let’s start to learn the basic parts and functions of a sewing machine. It is essential that you learn this because it enables you to use the sewing machine properly; plus, it will be easier for you to perform troubleshooting when a problem arises.

Basic Parts of a Sewing Machine

There are 19 different parts of a sewing machine.

1. Spool pin

This is usually located at the top of the sewing machine and whose main function is to hold the spool of thread correctly in place so that the mechanism works properly. 

2. Bobbin winder spindle

This is where you place the bobbin to wind your thread of choice. You need to wind the thread onto your bobbin because this will supply the thread to the needle.

3. Bobbin winder stopper

This automatically helps stop the bobbin winder from winding thread when it is full. 

4. Stitch width dial

You will find a dial with an illustration on your sewing machine that looks like miniature mountain peaks (starts flat and progressively grows taller). This is the stitch width dial, which you can use to control your zigzag stitches.

5. Pattern selector dial

This is a dial whose main function is to make different stitching patterns. Some of the basic sewing machine stitches are straight stitch, zigzag stitch, buttonhole stitch, blind hem stitch, decorative stitch, and backstitch.

6. Hand wheel

A hand wheel is located at the upper right part of a sewing machine. It sets the mechanism of the sewing machine in motion. It can be used to control the movement of the thread take-up lever and the needle.

7. Stitch length dial

You will find a dial with an illustration on your sewing machine that looks like a set of different lengths of dash lines. This is the stitch length dial; this function helps you control the length of your stitches. If you opt for a smaller stitch length number, the smaller the stitch your sewing machine will produce. On the other hand, the higher the stitch length number, the wider the stitch will be.

8. Reverse stitch lever

You use this function to reverse the stitching of the sewing machine to perform backstitching. You can use backstitching at the beginning and end of your seam to secure stitches in place and avoid loose threading.

9. Power stitch

Usually located at the front or the right side, this is the power switch button that will let you turn off or turn on your electric sewing machine. 

10. Bobbin winder thread guide

This is used to guide the thread to be inserted onto the bobbin binder spindle during winding.

11. Thread tension dial

This function helps correct your top thread’s thread tension to ensure consistent stitching on both sides of your fabric. If the thread tension is too tight, it might cause your thread to break. In contrast, if your thread tension is too loose, your thread might get tangled because of the thread looping underneath your fabric.

12. Thread take-up lever

Its function is to pull the thread to the machine as it goes up and down simultaneously with the needle when you sew. 

13. Needle clamp screw

This helps the needle to hold in place. You can remove and insert a needle by loosening the needle clamp screw.  

14. Presser foot

A presser foot holds the fabric flat in place as it goes through the machine for stitching. There are different specialized types of presser feet depending on your needs, but the commonly used is the zipper foot and the all-purpose foot.

15. Bobbin cover

A bobbin cover or bobbin case is a flat plastic (sometimes metal) cover that helps protect the bobbin holder.

16. Bobbin cover release button

The function of this button is to remove the bobbin cover and expose the bobbin so you can have full access to it. 

17. Feed dog

This is a set of two or three metal bars with ridges resembling a dog’s teeth that help guide the fabric beneath the presser foot when sewing, allowing the fabric to move forward or backward.

18. Needle

The needle is one of the most important parts of a sewing machine or generally in sewing. A sewing machine needle is a specialized needle for sewing machine use only. Even if it is so small and thin, the sewing machine needle is composed of 10 different parts: 

  • Butt
  • Shank
  • Shoulder
  • Blade
  • Long groove
  • Short groove
  • Needle eye
  • Scarf
  • Point
  • Tip

19. Needle plate

This is a metal plate under the presser footer and the needle. It is a protective cover of the feed dogs and bobbin casing and helps the fabric move forward or backward. It has a hole for the needles to pass and holes for the feed dogs to emerge and grab the fabric, which helps it move forward or backward when you are sewing.

Now that you are familiar with a sewing machine’s basic parts and functions, it will be much easier for you to learn how to sew. Sewing 101 is an online course designed for those who are interested in sewing. You will learn how to thread your sewing machine, cut out fabrics, and more! You will also find tons of online courses that will help you gain skills in sewing by visiting Skill Success.

3 Easiest Sewing Machines to Start With

Buying your first ever sewing machine can be overwhelming for a beginner because several factors should be considered. Each sewing machine also has different features that you may not understand. With so many different sewing machine brands, features, and price ranges, how do you choose the best sewing machine for a beginner? When buying a sewing machine, you may consider the following:

1. Singer Start 1304 Sewing Machine

Singer Start 1304 Sewing Machine is a mechanical sewing machine that is simple and easy-to-use. It offers 57 preset stitch applications making it an ideal sewing machine for beginners. You just need to turn the dial to select a type of stitch and start sewing. It is also lightweight and portable, around 7 pounds, making it a perfect sewing machine if you only have a small space or for taking in sewing classes.

2. Tradition™ 2277 Sewing Machine

Tradition™ 2277 Sewing Machine is ideal for beginners and those experienced in sewing. It can perform all the basic sewing needs and has 97 stitch applications. This sewing machine model falls under the full-size category because it is wider than other compact machines. But despite its full-size, it is not heavy and can fit on a desk.

3. Brother XM2701 Lightweight Full-Featured Sewing Machine

Brother XM2701 Lightweight Full-Featured Sewing Machine is perfect for beginners and advanced sewers. It has 27 built-in stitches, 1 one-step buttonhole, automatic needle threading system, 6 included accessory feet, 3-piece needle set, twin needle, 4 bobbins, and more.

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