How to Use a Sewing Machine for Beginners step by step

How to Use a Sewing Machine

Before anything else, you need first to set up your machine. 

Setting Up Your Sewing Machine 

Step 1: Position The Machine On A Counter, Desk, Or Sturdy Table 

Find a chair of a comfortable height as the table you select. Set up your machine to have the machine's body on the right side and the needle end on your left side.  

However, don't plug in the machine yet as you first need to check some things and familiarize yourself with the various parts.  

Step 2: Fix the Needle Securely in Place 

Many sewing machines are sold with the needle secured in place, but if yours doesn't or your needle snaps, begin by twisting the hand dial until the needle lever reaches its highest position. Underneath the arm of your machine, there will be a hole where you fix the needle.  

Since needles for sewing machines feature a flat side, ensure that you insert it facing the back of the device. Secure the needle by twisting the needle pin, then try bringing the hand dial towards yourself. You should observe the needle coming down then going back up again. If the needle doesn't fall out when you do this, you'll know that it is fastened appropriately.  

Step 3: Wind the Bobbin and Insert It 

A sewing machine has 2 sources of thread, a lower thread, and a top thread, all of which are housed in a bobbin. Wind your bobbin by placing a spool of bobbin over the bobbin winder on the upper side. Grab the spool thread, twist it across the guide, and then go to the bobbin. Turn on your bobbin winder and wait until the bobbin gets full, then stops automatically.  

Once your bobbin is done winding, insert it into the bobbin cage underneath the needle on the bottom half of your machine. Sometimes the bobbin case is housed inside the machine.  

Step 4: Threading a Sewing Machine 

You can find the spool of thread over the top of your machine; however, it needs to be unwound and joined to the needle. This is done by grabbing the thread and yanking it up across the thread guide on top, then down around the take-up lever.  

Your sewing machine should have small arrows and numbers printed on it to show how to thread your machine. The thread usually follows the following standard pattern: spool pin first, then tension, take-up lever, and finally through the needle, following the thread guides found around those parts. You can thread the needle from the right, the left, or front to back.  

Some machines come with an already threaded needle which gives you a hint of the direction, but if yours doesn't, find the final thread guide before your needle – it will be positioned around where you need to thread your needle.  

Step 5: Bring Both Threads Outside 

With your left hand, pull the needle thread tight towards you. Using your right hand, turn the wheel to form a full needle down/up rotation. Yank the needle thread on your left hand upwards; when you lead your threaded needle upwards, the bobbin thread gets caught and forms a loop over the needle thread.  

Bring the tip of your bobbin thread upwards after tugging on one side of the newly formed loop. Alternatively, you can simply let go of the needle thread, slip some scissors between the plate, and presser foot to yank out the bobbin thread that is looped. Now you should be having 2 thread ends, one sticking out from the bobbin and the other from your needle.  

Step 6: Plug In Your Sewing Machine and Switch It On 

Most machines feature an in-built light that lets you know when the machine is powered up. If your sewing machine includes a power switch, it's usually found at the back or on the right side.  

Some devices without a separate switch only need you to plug them in to turn them on. Plug in the pedal as well by placing it in a comfortable position on the machine below your feet. 

How To Sew with your Sewing Machine  

To sew, follow the following steps: 

Step 1: Position the Fabric for Sewing 

Twist the hand wheel to lift the needle, then use the presser foot lever to bring the presser foot up. Slip your fabric underneath the needle where you'd like to begin sewing.  

The plate usually includes an indicator guide for measuring seam allowances in most machines. Line the edge of your fabric with this guide to help maintain an equal distance from the edge while you sew. 

Secure your fabric in position by lowering the presser foot, then lower the needle through your fabric by twisting the handwheel towards yourself. You can now begin sewing! 

Position the Fabric for Sewing

Step 2: Start Sewing 

Start sewing by pressing the pedal foot. Feed your fabric below the presser foot while controlling your sewing speed using the foot pedal. If you must add a bit more tension to support your fabric, slide it through the presser foot once more. 

How to Use a Sewing Machine

Step 3: Learn to Sew a Sharp Corner 

You can turn a corner very easily, even without exhausting the thread. Lower your needle down through the fabric using the handwheel. Lift the presser foot.  

Spin your fabric to another position with the needle still in the fabric. Lastly, bring down the presser foot on the newly positioned fabric and continue sewing.  

Learn to Sew a Sharp Corner

Step 4: Finishing the Stitching Line 

Once you are done making a stitching line, make a couple of stitches backward and forward over the line to finish it securely. To stitch towards the back, push the reverse stitch lever and then stitch frontwards by releasing the lever.  

Raise the needle, lift the presser foot, then pull the fabric out carefully as it will still be attached to the threads.  

Clip off the threads.  

Step 5: How to Practice Sewing a Seam 

Pin together 2 fabric pieces almost by the edge with the right sides facing each other. The seam should be around 1.3cm (1/2 inch) - 1.5cm (5/8 inch) from the edge. You may sew a single fabric layer to prevent your edges from fraying; however, since the purpose of almost every sewing machine is to attach 2 fabric pieces to each other, then you will have to get comfortable with sewing multiple layers and using several pins.  

To add a seam allowance, pin the fabric with the right sides facing each other. This way, the seam allowance will be secured inside the fabric. The side of your fabric that you'd like to be on the outer side once you finish the design is called the "right" side. For fabric that is printed, it is typically the side where the colors seem brighter. On the other hand, the right side for solids may not be that obvious.  

Position your pins to be perpendicular to the line where you'll put the seam. You may stitch right over straight pins and take them out later without causing any damage to the fabric, machine, or the pins themselves.  

Since you are just getting started, though, it's safer to take the pins out right before you get to them while sewing because accidentally striking a pin can dull your needle or even break it. Make sure to pass up on stitching over the pinheads.  

Step 6: Switching to Another Section of the Fabric 

When you reach the end of a seam, lift the needle using the handwheel, then take the fabric off the machine. When the needle moves up, you can switch to another section on the fabric. If the needle hasn't reached up to the place where it is housed ("top of its travel" in sewing terms), the fabric can get stuck in the thread when you yank on the ends.  

Your sewing machine should include lines indicating the seam allowance – the standard space between the stitching line and the fabric's edge. The line should generally be used at 1.3cm (1/2 inch) or 1.5cm (5/8 inch). You can measure on both sides of the needle using a ruler.  

Now that we have gone through the basics of sewing with a sewing machine, how about trying out some fun beginner-friendly sewing projects to take your new machine for a spin! 

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