How to Set Up a Sewing Machine

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Things You'll Need

  • Sewing machine

  • Bobbin

  • Thread

  • Scissors

Once you learn where the thread goes, you'll be able to thread your sewing machine in seconds.

Once you learn how to use it, a sewing machine can be a do-it-yourself decorator's best friend. Sewing knowledge will allow you to make or modify curtains, pillows, bedding or tablecloths. Before you can start sewing, you need to get your machine set up to use. Most modern sewing machines use upper and lower thread to create interlocking stitches. Threading the machine takes practice and precision, as incorrect thread tension can damage the machine.


Step 1

Place a spool of thread on the spool holder pin at the back right corner of the machine. Pull the thread to the left so the spool turns clockwise.

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Step 2

Pass the thread through a metal hook called the thread guide. Locate this guide on top of the machine in the middle. Gently pull the thread back to the right, passing under a metal disc called the tensioner.

Step 3

Insert the end of the thread through the hole on the top of a bobbin. The thread should enter near the spool and come out the top.

Step 4

Place the bobbin on the bobbin winder shaft, located at the front right of the machine. Hold the loose end of the thread as you turn the hand wheel towards you to wind thread around the bobbin a few times. Cut the end of the thread at the top of the bobbin.


Step 5

Push the bobbin shaft to the right to set the machine in bobbin winding mode. Turn the machine on and step on the foot pedal to begin winding the bobbin. The bobbin will begin to spin slowly when it is nearly full. When it is full, turn off the machine, remove the bobbin from the shaft and trim the thread.


Step 6

Turn the hand wheel to raise the needle. Open the bobbin case, generally located under the needle plate at the bottom left of the machine. Insert the bobbin so the thread comes off the bobbin on the left side and slide it under the spring on the left. Replace the cover.

Step 7

Remove the upper thread from the tensioner disc. With the thread on the spool, pull the end to the left to catch under the thread guide, then pull it forward toward the front of the machine.


Step 8

Guide the thread through the gap in the front of the machine, catching a guide at the bottom. Pull the thread upward to pass through the thread take-up lever. Pull the thread down toward the needle.

Step 9

Pass the thread behind the needle bar guide in front of the needle. Thread the needle from front to back, pulling about 3 inches of thread under the presser foot toward the back of the machine.


Step 10

Turn the hand wheel towards you so the needle drops down and brings up the bobbin thread. Pull both threads under the presser foot toward the back of the machine.

Step 11

Turn the machine on to start sewing.


Use a needle threader if you have difficulty passing the thread through the eye of the needle. You must evenly wind the bobbin. Skipping a thread guide can affect the tension, resulting in lopsided winding. Do not place an unevenly wound bobbin in the bobbin case; it can break a needle or jam the machine. Different sewing machine models will have slight variations in thread guide locations and requirements. Consult your machine's manual for specific instructions.


Never thread the machine while it is on. If your foot slips on the pedal, moving parts can cause serious injury.


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