How to Use a Sewing Machine- Easy As 1,2,3

We consider the sewing machine an appliance to be owned by all homes. Maybe you just purchased a new sewing machine , or you have one sitting just in the corner at home. If your curiosity on how to use a sewing machine is what brings you here, then look no further. This step-by-step written analysis, tips and tricks, and instructions below are basic and beginner-friendly.

What Is a Sewing Machine?

The use of sewing machines dates to the olden days of our favorite Nan and Aunt Susie, making homemade dresses for us, cute hair bows or bow ties, fixing our favorite dresses or torn jeans and making other crafted items.

It is a machine that is used for joining pieces of cloth, with a needle that is operated either by turning a handle or by electricity.

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Types of Sewing Machines

For beginners, knowledge of the different types of sewing machines cannot be overemphasized. This is because it plays a major role and serves as a guide in selecting a beginner-friendly sewing machine. I will be introducing you to three (3) main types of sewing machines:

i. The Mechanical also known as the manual type

ii. The Electronic type

iii. The Computerized type

The choice of sewing machine you make will depend on your needs and financial capacity as the different types vary in prices.

Get Familiar With the Machine’s User Manual 

All sewing machine appliances have a manual they come with, which serves as an introduction and guide on how to use them. 

But if your machine was an inherited one from an old auntie, you can still find useful resources on your machine’s model on the internet. Also, some machines even have user-installed sewing assistants for mobile devices that guide the user on how to use a sewing machine or on how to perform troubleshoots. 

Either way, you can access the user manual, but it should be your first stop on how to use a sewing machine.

Start Exploring the Components of Your Sewing Machine

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At first, understanding the parts of a sewing machine may seem like a herculean task but frequent familiarization with these parts makes it a lot easier and you know what they say about the frequent practice: it makes perfect.

The Functions of the Components of a Sewing Machine

Power Button 

To get started, you must locate the power button on the machine. The power button powers the device and it is located on different sides of the machine; this is dependent on the sewing machine. 

It is easily located with an on/off symbol. This button is seen only on the electronic and computerized sewing machine type. Clicking on this button serves as an automatic startup for the machine. The manual machine does not have a power button.

The Foot Control Pedal

Serves as a speed regulator. It helps in increasing or reducing the speed; the more you press, the more the speed increases and vice versa.


This is a little part of the machine. It is usually attached to a needle bar with the help of a screw. The choice of machine needles is important in knowing how to use a sewing machine because the use of wrong needles on fabrics will result in poor sewing. The type of fabric, heavy or light, will determine the needle to use. For a change of needles, you will have to refer to the user manual.

Needle Bar

This provides the needle with a firm grip using the assistance of a metal screw.

Needle plate: 

It is a shiny metallic flat surface usually located under the needle. Its purpose is to help move the fabric with the feed dogs to ensure sewing. 

Needle Position Dial 

The needle position dial navigates the position of the needle for a straight stitch type of sewing.

Spool Holders

This is located on the top of the machine and is used to hold the spool of thread. It is either metal or plastic.


The bobbin is a different but smaller type of spool that holds the thread below the machine. It is responsible for the backstitch that appears at the back of the fabric. It is in a metal form in manual machine and plastic form in the electrical and computerized sewing machine.

Bobbin Case

The bobbin case is the case that houses the bobbin. Much like the bobbin, it is either metal or plastic.

Bobbin Winder 

This is a metallic or plastic part of the machine. It is found at the top of the machine and it helps in a winding thread into the spool spin before sewing.

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Thread Guide

This is a metal tool that guides the thread from the spool pin to the bobbin winder then to the needle eye. It is also a guide on how to thread the upper and lower parts of the machine correctly.

Thread Tension Dial 

The thread tension dial is a numbered button that controls the tension of the thread to ensure smooth sewing. If the tension is too loosed it causes the thread underneath the machine to form ruffles under the fabric been sewn and if the thread is too tight it causes friction and pulls between the needle and fabric been sewn.

Automatic Needle Threader 

An automatic needle threader is a unique tool seen in some electronic and computerized machines; this function helps to automatically thread the eye of the needle by using the hook pin of the automatic needle threader. 

Reverse Stitch Lever

The purpose of this part of the machine is to strengthen stitches after sewing to enhance long-lasting stitch and prevent unwanted ripping. 

Presser Foot Lever 

The presser foot lever is a tool mechanism in the machine that extends from behind, it helps to hold the fabric down to the feed dog as it is been fed while stitching is taking place. Note: raise the presser foot lever for machine threading, lower for sewing.

Stitch Select Dial 

This dial displays the number of built-in stitches in mechanical and electronic but in computerized, a screen displays this function.

Stitch Length Dial 

The stitch length dial controls the length of the stitches. Either long or short stitches as desired.

The Needle Clamp Screw 

This is a metal stud kind of screw found at the right side of the needle. It is required in holding a firm grip on the needle to ensure smooth sewing.

Hand Wheel

This tool is usually located on the right-hand side of the machine. This’s function is to raise and lower the needle when required.

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Sewers Guide on How to Use a Sewing Machine

The first step to ensure a smooth sewing ride is the sewing machine setup. This will define how good your sewing machine will run.

Setting up a Sewing Machine

First off, place the sewing machine on a flat surface, a table preferably. Then get a suitable chair to sit on, the chair’s height should be appropriate for the height of the table. The machine’s power cord is usually connected to the foot control pedal, the foot control pedal should be placed on the floor next to your right foot, then the cord extended to an electric switch. Double-check that everything is in order before turning on the power button of the machine

Threading your machine may seem a little bit complex at first try but constant repetition will make it easier.

Step 1: How to Thread a Sewing Machine

The spool of thread resides on the top of the machine but must be attached to the needle. To do this, lift the needle to its highest point by turning the hand wheel towards you, continue this hand movement until the needle is high enough. Stop turning the handwheel When you see the take-up lever. Next, raise the presser foot to release the tension.

Put the machine thread in a thread spool holder on to the spool pin or spindle. Pull the thread from the spool through the upper thread guide then through the tension guide disc. Note: Using the arrow or number like thread guides inscribed on the body of the machine pass thread down to the hook of the threader then into the eye of the needle.

Step 2: Wind the Bobbin for Lower Threading 

Place the spool of bobbin thread on the bobbin winder. Note: Using the arrow or number like guides inscribed on the body of the machine, pull the thread spool’s thread round the inscribed guide on the machine’s body towards the bobbin itself. Place the bobbin on the winder, hold the thread end securely and then step on the foot control pedal and wind until the bobbin is full. The bobbin usually stops winding once it’s full.

Video: How to Thread a Sewing Machine

In this video, you will find similar parts to that of your machine. Watch closely for a better understanding of how to thread a sewing machine.

Step 3: Inserting the Threaded Bobbin

Turn the machine’s handwheel towards you to raise the needle to give way for the bobbin area, insert the already threaded bobbin into the bobbin case and then insert it back into the bobbin area.

The bobbin in some sewing machines is found underneath the sewing machine while in others it found slightly below the needle plate. It is either plastic or metallic in looks. Different machines have unique directions in which the bobbin is to be placed to best fit, either clockwise or anticlockwise. It is advisable to check the user manual for better understanding. 

Step 4: Installing the Sewing Machine Needle

The machine needle should be inserted with the flat side of the shank towards the back, the direction of the groove of the needle should face the same direction the needle is to be threaded. Insert your needle properly and make sure it goes inside the needle bar or clamp then secure by tightening the metal screw on the needle bar.

Step 5: Thread the Sewing Machine

Raise the needle to its highest point by turning the handwheel towards you. Then place the thread on the spool pin. Draw the thread from the spool through the upper thread guide Then pull out the thread. To draw up bobbin thread, hold the upper thread with the left hand and turn the handwheel towards you in a one-time rotation this will lower the needle and then bring raise it again but this time the lower thread from the bobbin follow along with the upper thread from the needle. Gently pull out both threads together and place them behind the presser foot.

Step 6: Plug the Foot Control Pedal into the Machine

When you have plugged the foot pedal in, turn on the machine by plucking it into a socket, a light bulb will indicate that the machine is turned on. 

Step 7: Turn on the Stitch Selection Dial

Using the help of the user manual, select the appropriate stitch for sewing. Place your fabric under the Needle, positioning it, turn the handwheel towards your direction so the Needle will enter the fabric.

Step 8: Make a Choice of the Appropriate Fabric

Raise the presser foot lever and insert the fabric after which you bring back the presser foot lever on the fabric, then pull the handwheel towards you to lower the needle into the fabric.

Step 9: Guide the Fabric with Your Hand

Press down gently on the Foot Pedal and start sewing. Note: The harder you press down on the pedal the higher the speed, so you may want to be careful and slow, so you don’t ruin your fabric. In sewing, slow and steady wins the race. With time you will learn how to operate the presser foot better and work with any speed you desire.

Step 10: After Stitching, Press Down the Reverse/Reinforcement Button

This will serve to secure the sewn stitches. Release the foot control pedal from underneath your feet.

Now you are ready to sew and experiment on more samples and projects

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Tips and Tricks on How to Use a Sewing Machine

Fabric Choice

The choice of fabric for sewing is as important as the result of the sewing project-let me explain. The choice of fabric is very important when considering how to use a sewing machine because this will affect the output and the process generally. Fabrics come in different weights and textures. The light, medium and heavyweight fabric. They all serve their purposes and have a different machine suitable for such purposes, so it’s advisable you choose a fabric that resonates with your machine, so you don’t overwork the machine and yourself.

Stay Away from Poor Thread

The use of quality threads is your best bet if you want to achieve good results on your sewing projects. Using poor quality threads will affect the outcome of your stitches.

Choice of Sewing Machine Needle

Machine needles come in different types each according to different purposes. Bad choice of needles results in jump stitches which are quite frustrating, and the endpoint is always stitched ripping. Also, avoid old needles as they are blunt and can damage your fabric and cause jump stitches too. Invest in quality needles to make optimal use of the machine.

Proper Maintenance

Implementing proper maintenance on the sewing machine will help you in the long run by increasing the machine life span and productivity in general. Always use appropriate machine oil to lubricate the parts of the machine as instructed in the user’s manual. Make sure to cover up the machine after use to avoid dust and particles from entering and settling in the machine.

Routine Check

Performing routine checks on your machine are vital for longevity. Find a very good sewing machine repair handyman to perform routine checks on the machine from time to time to avoid having to deal with technical problems later. Better safe than sorry.

It is always advisable that beginners should start sewing with the straight-line stitch by sewing on fabrics with striped lines, this strip will serve as a guide in sewing straight line stitches.

Safety Precautions

Always ensure your hand is at a reasonable distance from the sewing machine needles to prevent accidents.

Always make sure to turn off your sewing machine when changing machine needles.

Ensure the use of appropriate lightening when sewing on your sewing machine to avoid error on projects.

Understanding how to use a sewing machine might be quite difficult at first but these guides should get you started. With constant practice of the few steps already outlined in this article and obedience to the instructions on your user manual, be sure to increase your assurance level in no time.

I look forward to you creating beautifully crafted designs of your own because using these basic step-by-step written analysis, tips and tricks will make your first sewing projects a walk in the park.

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