Master Your Sewing Machine!

In every issue of Love Sewing we include our useful ‘Master Your Sewing Machine’ guide as all sewing machines work on the same basic principles and have many common features.  One of the most important aspects of skillful machine sewing is to fully understand how all the features, knobs and buttons on your machine can actually help you improve your sewing!

The best thing to do when you are first learning to sew with a machine, is to read the original instruction manual for your sewing machine. If you buy a second hand machine, before you part with your money, do a quick google search to see if you are able to download the instructions or message the seller to see if they are included!

This is our guide to mastering your Sewing Machine!

Master Your SEWING Machine

See the numbers on the image above to locate the area of your sewing machine we are referring to!


Master Your Machine

Each machine model offers a range of features and functions, but all have these fundamental elements in common. Use this handy guide and you’ll know your way around yours in no time

1 Thread guides

Two threads make up each stitch. The top thread from the spool of cotton and passes through these guides to regulate the tension of the thread before feeding it through the needle. The second thread comes from the bobbin.

2 Speed Controller

A slider that sets the speed the machine will work at when the pedal is pressed, allowing control and precision when sewing.

3 Reverse Function

Use this to set the machine working in a reverse direction, to move backwards across a stitched line. This function is used when securing the threads at the start and end of a line of stitching.

4 Needle and Needle Clamp

The needle is removable to allow you to select from a variety of types and sizes to suit your project. The needle is held in place by the clamp. Most machines include a tool for tightening and loosening the clamp to access the needle.

5 Presser Foot

Holds the fabric in place as you work. Can be removed and replaced with the type required for a specific sewing task, ie zips.

6 Bobbin Case

Inside the removable cover is the bobbin case, which houses the bobbin. The bobbin is wound with thread and provides the second thread for each stitch.

7 Feed Dogs

These moving parts lie underneath the needle plate. With spiked teeth that protrude from the opening, these help to move the fabric through the machine.

8 Needle Plate

The metal plate directly below the needle and presser foot. The small opening allows the thread from the bobbin to pass through while the needle enters to make the stitches. On the plate are guide markings to assist straight sewing and measuring seam allowances.

9 Tension Control

This dial regulates the tension of the stitches by determining the speed at which the thread passes through the machine. Messy stitches, or loops of thread or knots on the right or wrong side of the fabric are a common sign that the tension needs to be reset.

10 Bobbin Winder

Winds thread from the cotton spool onto the bobbin, ensuring that the thread is fed evenly onto the bobbin and maintains the correct tension.

11 Spool Holder

This pin runs through the centre of a spool of thread, allowing it to feed smoothly through the machine.

12 Screen

Displays the relevant information regarding the stitch style, width and length that has been selected.

13 Hand Wheel

Manually operates the mechanics of the machine, moving the needle up and down and engaging the feed dogs.

14 Stitch Selector

Allows you to select from the different stitches on the machine and includes a menu from which you make your selection. The stitch is selected by moving the wheel to the correct symbol.

15 Stitchlength and Stitchwidth Selectors

Use to increase or decrease the length or width of your stitch. The shorter the stitch, the more stitches are worked across the line of sewing, making it stronger. The width only applies to stitches where the needle moves to the left and right, ie zigzag. For decorative stitches, the bigger the width the better.

16 Free Arm

Can be removed to recreate a narrower working space, which is used when sewing smaller items or inserting sleeves.

17 Accessory Drawer

Use to store alternative presser feet, spare bobbins and maintenance tools.

Trouble with your Sewing Tension?

Check that both the machine and bobbin are correctly threaded. If these aren’t exactly right, this can cause incorrect tension. Also check that the thread on the bobbin is wound correctly. If it’s too tight or too loose, it won’t feed through the machine and make even stitches.

Another good tip is to use the same thread in the machine and the bobbin – even slightly different threads can unbalance the tension




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