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Sewing Machine for Beginners: A Short Guide

A sewing machine can be an intimidating item for those who are not familiar with its usage and some of the elements of this device that was our grannies’ favorite hobby. Keep the fear away, rescue your machine from that old closet or put it on your Christmas list, find a comfy corner at home, learn how to use it and you’ll become a sewing fan! Let’s learn the basics.

Getting to Know the Machine

When you see a sewing machine for the first time it can be a little bit overwhelming, there are so many little mechanical parts that it could be confusing if you have never used one before, so it is quite important to familiarize yourself with each part of the machine and roughly understand how it works before jumping into the real deal.

Grab your machine’s user’s manual at home and get familiar with it!

Powering it up

Any sewing machine will have two chords. One is the power chord that goes plugged into the wall socket and the other is the foot pedal chord. In most machines, both plugs are close to each other and right next to the on/off switch, usually placed at the right inferior corner of the machine.

The foot pedal

There’s a lot of sewing terminology, so get ready. The foot pedal goes on the floor where you can comfortably reach it with your dominant foot, many low-end machines are pretty basic and don’t have a speed control, in that case learning how to control the pedal is mandatory.

The knobs

Right on the front of the machine, there are a lot of knobs with numbers and lines, those are the stitch options the machine can make. Check the user’s manual, in there, there’s a diagram showing how to adjust the knobs and the positions for every type of stitch and the length of it. On top of the machine is a little dial that adjusts the width of the stitch, makes the zigzag stitches big and fat or small and narrow.

The wheel on the side is called the hand wheel, it makes the needle go up and down. Also, you’ll find the reverse stitch lever to sew on reverse, the knob to adjusts the tension of the presser foot (a metal piece that keeps the fabric in place for the needle while you sew, like the one on the picture). Some machines have fun complements like built-in measuring tapes, embroidery features, and even an accessory to sew buttons.

The threading part

This is the tricky part for many seamstresses, how to thread the machine’s needle and the bobbin, check the video links for detailed instructions, it’s easier than it looks and the procedure is similar for any machine model, ancient or new. Once your machine is correctly threaded the sewing can start, it’s highly recommendable to practice on a piece of fabric before beginning any major project, adjust the pedal, get used to the speed, learn how to switch stitches, set all the stitch features and get yourself comfortable with your machine.

Hopefully, this little guide will help some new seamstresses to get familiar with their machines, and maybe the experienced ones get excited about investing in a new one (maybe even a computerized one!).