The excitement when you finally get a green signal to put your hands on a sewing machine for the first time to sew something is unparalleled.
The happiness is momentary when you realize you don’t know how to use a sewing machine.
Yes, there are several knobs, keys and settings involved, yet the process is uncomplicated.
Remember your first bicycle ride or car drive? It’s the same with sewing for the first time, a few wrong moves, a few bumps before you became an expert.
In this article, we will walk you through the entire procedure of using a sewing machine. Once you know about the basics of the sewing machine available to you, the ride will become further easy and dauntless. Read on.
Understanding of Basic Parts
To know how to use your sewing machine accurately, first, you need to get acquainted with its anatomy. Although sewing machines are getting modernised day by day, some components continue to exist in every model. These are:
On/Off Switch: The first thing that you need to know is how to start/stop the sewing machine. Pressing the “On” switch will start the sewing machine and allow you to steer it without the help of a foot pedal.
Needle: The needle is responsible for actual sewing. However, you need to make sure the needle attached to the machine is suitable for the material you plan to sew. According to the American needle sizing system, the needle size ranges from 8 to 18; 8 being the finest is for delicate and thin fabrics while 18 being the thickest and largest is for thick and tough materials. For instance, 9 number is for chiffon and 16 is for Denim/Canvas.
Bobbin: Bobbin supplies the necessary amount of thread for producing stitches on fabric. It comes encased in a shuttle. Beginner level sewing machines employ an easy and quick bobbin winding system for users’ convenience.
Thread Feed: There’s no such thing as stitching without a thread. Sewing machines have a proper threading system consisting of several steps. Usually, the threading channel is highlighted with step-by-step instructions to reduce error. You have to pass the thread through every listed part to ensure fluid and neat stitching.
Thread Tension: This ensures picture-perfect stitches. Thread tension needs to be adjusted if you want to deliver nice stitches. Low thread tension will produce loose and uneven stitches, while high thread tension will break the thread after every few stitches.
Stitches: Every sewing machine is capable of producing a fixed number of different types of stitches. Entry-level and low-end sewing machines have a limited collection of built-in stitches with pre-set stitch length and width. Alternatively, high-end models carry a vast inventory of stitches along with settings for width and length.
Speed Controller: The speed of a sewing machine means the number of stitches it delivers in a minute. Beginner-friendly models have lower speed, while advanced models like Singer 4423 have a stitching speed of 1100spm (stitches per minute). Some models contain settings for speed control. In a mechanical sewing machine, a rotatory knob is responsible for speed adjustment. On the other hand, speed settings are present on an LCD screen in a computerised sewing machine.
Presser Foot: A presser foot holds the fabric flat on the stitching area so that it doesn’t get puckered with the rise and fall of the needle during sewing; the presser foot is raised or lowered with the help of a presser foot lever. A presser foot has different types, with each designed for a specific purpose. For example, there’s a presser foot for buttonhole stitch as well as quilting stitch. Many machines include several presser feet in accessories that come along with them.
How to Use Your Sewing Machine
- First thing first, you need to place the sewing machine on a flat and sturdy surface. For instance, on a desk, table, counter or any other such flattened surface. Make sure it has a power source nearby.
- Usually, machines come pre-installed with a needle. However, sometimes it snaps or needs to be switched with the one in a different size. In that case, insert the flattened side of the needle in the hole found under the main arm of the machine. Tighten the needle pin to hold the needle securely in place.
- Fill the bobbin with thread and place it inside the bobbin case.
- Now, thread the machine. Follow the path printed on the machine for threading. If the threading channel is not specified, you can get help from the user’s manual to accurately thread the machine.
- Plug the switch of the machine and press the ON button. On/Off switch is absent in some sewing machines; they turn on the second they’re plugged in. Many models incorporate a built-in bulb. It lights up to inform you that the machine is powered on.
- Place the foot pedal on the floor where your foot can comfortably reach and press it. Now, plug that in the machine too.
- As you’re sitting for sewing, you already know what fabric you want to use and what article you want to make from it. So, select the stitch and set its width and length. Always keep the needle raised while setting the stitch. Experienced sewists will advise you to do a test sewing on some scrap material after stitch selection to check the stitch delivery.
- If available, set the speed to the level you can comfortably control.
- Raise the presser foot to place the fabric under it. Use the presser foot lever to lower the foot so that the material is trapped. Make sure the fabric is in alignment with the lines on the metal plate in the stitching area.
- Everything is ready and in place. Now, it is time to start sewing. Meaning, it is time to press the foot pedal to force the machine to start producing stitches on the fabric. Your machine might also have an On/Off button that you can press to get the machine running. In that case, you will not need the foot pedal.
- Stop the machine when the stitches reach the desired endpoint. Pull the lever up to guide the fabric in the right direction. Drop the lever and start sewing again. Stop and repeat the action till you finish the article.
Note: when you’re sewing a narrow corner, leave the needle inside the fabric and only raise the presser foot. Turn the fabric in the required direction and then drop the presser foot on the cloth to resume sewing.
Congratulations, now you officially know how to use a sewing machine accurately. Pick the simplest project in the beginning. The step-by-step sewing guide we shared above will help you steer your machine without getting overwhelmed. The information about key parts of the sewing machine with their functions will further make this learning journey easy for you.