Ready steady go…..it’s time to get to grips with how to use a sewing machine. Sewing by machine is not that difficult, but getting the right basics in place will make all the difference to your journey and make the ride simple and successful.
The Anatomy of a Sewing Machine
How to begin learning how to use a sewing machine? When you sew you begin with…a machine!
It doesn’t matter whether you went out and bought a new one, or great aunt Bessie gave you her old one, you need to know and understand the basic language of your ‘new’ machine.
As a first-time machine sewer, it is important to be familiar with all the bits and bobs of the machine from the power switch to the presser foot. Take time to check through each item on the machine noted in the manual. Look for these simple points. Some may seem very obvious but going through the list before you start sewing will make your journey smoother.
Sewing Machine Parts
How to use a sewing machine by identifying parts:
- On/off switch – Start by knowing where the machine is switched on and off. This is generally on the side of the machine.
- Bulb – The light bulb in the needle area. Try it out. If your light is not bright enough you may need to move your machine nearer to a window for some additional natural light.
- Pedal – The foot pedal that operates the machine…your accelerator!
- The speed regulator so that you don’t break the speed limit. Some machines will have a switch on the foot allowing you to choose between high and low speeds.
- Stitches – Stitch length and width buttons including decorative stitches and zigzag. Many cheaper beginner sewing machines will have set stitches and lengths whereas more expensive machines will allow you to set length and width independently. This includes the buttonhole stitch settings
- Tension wheels – usually at the front or top of the machine. These are important for getting nice even stitching with no loops.
- Presser foot and the plate with the stitch guides.
- Needle and small screw that holds the needle in place. You will need to know where this is to change needles.
- Bobbin – The lid that opens to expose the bobbin case and the bobbin itself.
- Bobbin tension screw –These are generally found on the bobbin case of front loading machines.
- Oiling – And don’t forget to look for the marked oiling points and make sure you have the correct oil for your machine. Some newer machines are sealed units and don’t need oiling so double check this before you start squirting oil everywhere.
HOW TO USE A SEWING MACHINE – THREADING
There are two sides to the learning how to use a sewing machine story – the upper and lower. The upper threading and sewing machine tension are linked to the needle and the lower threading and tension are linked to the bobbin.
Start by looking at the upper threading and follow your manual as you trace the steps the thread goes through. The thread will start at the top of the machine where the spool goes, all the way down to the bottom where the thread meets the needle.
Most machines all follow the same path through hooks and tension wheels until they reach the needle. The thread must enter the needle from the front to the back and should pull through nicely with a bit of tension but not too tight.
Lower Threading – The Bobbin
The lower threads and tension are linked to the bobbin. Be sure to check your manual carefully as different machines have different bobbins and casings. The bobbin may be inserted from the top or the front of the machine.
Top loading bobbins go straight into a casing (photo on right) which is attached to the machine. Front loading bobbins first go into a case (photo on left) and then that is loaded into the machine.
Winding the bobbin is an important part of the process, so be sure that you know how to wind a bobbin too.
This is generally done by placing your main thread on the spool pin, winding it around a thread guide and across to the bobbin winder. All bobbins will have a hole in the top through which you can insert the thread to start it off.
Push the bobbin winder across and start winding! Some machines will also require you to disengage the flywheel to stop the needle going up and down while you are winding.
Join the upper and lower threads
When the upper and lower threads have been sorted, it is time to join the two together and start learning how to use a sewing machine.