How to Use a Sewing Machine

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Although all sewing machines share the same basic components, the details vary from brand to brand. Taking the time to familiarize yourself with your specific machine will save frustration down the road.

Things You'll Need

  • Sewing machine
  • Sewing machine needle
  • Empty bobbin
  • Spool of thread
  • Thread snips
A basic sewing machine
A basic sewing machine (Image: Creativebug.com)

How to Thread a Sewing Machine

Step 1

The first thing you need to do is wind a bobbin. Make sure you are using the right size bobbin for your machine. Check the owner's manual if it's available, or simply snap the bobbin into the machine to make sure it fits.

Find an empty bobbin.
Find an empty bobbin. (Image: Creativebug.com)

Step 2

Place the thread onto the spool pin of your machine and follow the thread guides for the bobbin winder. (The thread guides produce the correct amount of tension as the bobbin winds.) Thread the bobbin by inserting the end of the thread through a hole in the bobbin, and then place the bobbin onto the bobbin pin.

Thread the bobbin
Thread the bobbin (Image: Creativebug.com)

Step 3

Engage the bobbin winding mechanism, usually by pushing the bobbin pin into position or pushing a nearby toggle. While holding onto the thread tail, push the foot petal, which will start winding the bobbin. Hold onto the thread tail until there is enough thread on the bobbin that you can let go and it will continue to wind. Keep winding the bobbin until the bobbin is full. Then cut the thread a few inches from the bobbin.

Wind the bobbin.
Wind the bobbin. (Image: Creativebug.com)

Step 4

Thread the machine. Newer machines usually have numbers you can follow to thread the machine through the guides. Machines vary, so check your manual and be sure to hit every guide – if you have problems while sewing, it’s often because the machine is threaded incorrectly. When you get to the take-up guide, turn the hand wheel until the take-up guide is at its highest point.

Follow the thread guides.
Follow the thread guides. (Image: Creativebug.com)

Step 5

When you get to the needle, pass the thread through the guide at the top of the needle and then through the eye of the needle, from front to back. Then run the thread through the “toes” of the presser foot and toward the back of the machine.

Thread the needle.
Thread the needle. (Image: Creativebug.com)

Step 6

Sewing machines have either a front-loading or top-loading bobbin, but the principles are the same. If you have a front-loading machine, remove the front casing to reveal the bobbin case and insert the bobbin into the bobbin case. If you have a top-loading bobbin, remove the cover and drop the bobbin into place. Lead the thread tail through the grove to pull bobbin to the side.

Place bobbin into bobbin case.
Place bobbin into bobbin case. (Image: Creativebug.com)

Step 7

Pick up the bobbin thread by turning the hand wheel toward you one time. This will cause the upper thread to catch the lower thread in a loop. Pull a few inches of both threads toward you and then sweep them through the toes of the presser foot to the back of the machine. Now you are ready to sew!

Pick up bobbin thread and start sewing.
Pick up bobbin thread and start sewing. (Image: Creativebug.com)

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