How to Use a Brother Sewing Machine

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Brother sewing machine model XL-3022.
Brother sewing machine model XL-3022.

The Brother sewing machine is a very popular brand, offering basic models suitable for beginning sewers to deluxe models with the capability to perform hundreds of stitch functions. The range of models available is as large as the range of prices, which runs from about $100 for the most basic machine to several thousand dollars for the brand’s top-of-the-line model. Regardless of the particular model you have, some of the things you need to do to operate your Brother sewing machine are universal.

Things You'll Need

  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Bobbin
  • Needle

Insert a needle. Turn the wheel on the side of the machine to raise the needle bar to its highest position. Loosen the needle clamp located on the side of the needle opening. Hold the needle with the flat side facing toward the back and push the needle up as far as it will go into the needle opening. Tighten the needle clamp. Never attempt to sew with a bent or dull needle. A dull needle will make very poor-quality stitches, and the machine likely will not even operate if you try to use a bent needle.

Thread the machine. Place a spool of thread on the spool holder located on the top of the machine. Follow the diagram drawn on the machine to direct the thread through the proper series of loops and guides until it reaches the needle. The path the thread takes will vary by model, but it will always have to pass through a tension device (usually a pair of small discs), a thread take-up lever that raises the needle up and down, and the needle at the bottom of the machine. To finish threading the machine, insert the thread through the needle. (For more detailed directions on threading a Brother sewing machine, see the Resources section.)

Insert a bobbin. The bobbin is a small disc of thread that is put into a bobbin case or holder and then put into the bottom of the machine. The bobbin holds the bottom thread that interlocks with the top thread to create a seam when sewing. The machine will not make stitches without a bobbin. The manner of loading the bobbin varies by Brother model, but it always is inserted in the bottom portion of the machine, usually under a flip-out or sliding door.

Choose a stitch pattern. Brother sewing machines offer a wide variety of utility and decorative stitch patterns. A picture of the stitch usually is located on the front of the machine. Computerized models allow you to select a stitch pattern with the touch of a button. On manual machines, turn the dial located on the front or side of the machine until the picture of the stitch you want to use appears in a viewing window.

Balance tensions. The top and bottom tensions of your Brother sewing machine must be in balance to make good-quality stitches. If the tension is not equal, the stitches will appear loopy on one side of the fabric, or the fabric will bunch up as you sew. A numbered tension dial usually is located on the top of the machine, which controls the tension of the upper thread. The bobbin case usually has a tiny screw which can be turned slightly to adjust the tension of the bottom thread. The bobbin thread rarely has to be adjusted. A balanced tension normally can be achieved by adjusting the upper thread tension dial.

Insert the power plug into the side or back of the machine. This plug is attached to an electrical cord with an outlet on the one end to plug into a power supply and a second cord that leads to the foot pedal. Insert the electrical plug into a wall outlet. Place the foot pedal on the floor and depress it to make the machine operate.

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