How to Sew With a Sewing Machine

Most people look at a sewing machine and have no clue where to start. I’m here to tell you it’s not as hard as you think it is.

It’s all about these three steps: how to thread the machine, how to wind and load a bobbin, and how to start the machine. There are a few little steps in between to make sure your machine is in good shape, but those are the main three you need to learn.

How to Wind and Thread Your Bobbin

It is very important that you wind your bobbin before you start threading your machine. Since winding your bobbin uses the same starting place, it’s best to begin with this so you don’t have to unthread your machine after all the work you put into threading it. First thing you need is an empty bobbin. It will look like this:

Bobbins come in plastic and metal. I personally like metal because they are easier to thread, and they are better for heavy-duty sewing, but some machines get really messed up if you use metal. I would look up your model and check if they recommend plastic or metal before you choose. I use a Singer Stylist sewing machine, and that is what I will be demonstrating on. The next thing you need to identify is where your bobbin peg is. This is where you’re going to put your bobbin so that it can be filled with thread. Should look like this:

You should place your bobbin on this peg. On your machine there should be instructions on how to properly thread the machine to wind the bobbin, but I will give a quick step-by-step. The most important step is to make sure you have thread on your spool pin. I will be using pink thread for this demonstration. Now you start to thread it.  

This is how it should look when you’re winding your bobbin. I thread through all the thread guides to the left. Then go down and over to the right around the metal circle piece. After you have that threaded, you need to thread your thread through the bobbin. If you have a plastic bobbin, there should be one hole on the top of the bobbin where you can put the thread through. If you have a metal bobbin, you can choose any of the holes along the top of the bobbin.  DO NOT thread the bobbin from top to the bottom. It should always be bottom to top. At the end it should look like this:

 

Now you can wind your bobbin. Before you start your machine, make sure you are holding onto the top thread as the bobbin is winding. This is so the thread doesn’t get tangled in the winding process. To start the machine you either have a start button or a foot pedal.

   

For the button you just press it and it will start winding, press it again to stop the winding. For the pedal you press down on it with your foot to wind the bobbin and then take your foot off of it when the winding is done. It should like this when it’s winding:

You’ll know it’s done winding once the tread is touching the plastic piece to the right of the bobbin peg. Next you have to put the bobbin in the machine so that you can sew. Before you can get the bobbin in place, you need to figure out if you have a drop-in bobbin or a bobbin case. 

Drop-in:                                                                     Bobbin Case:

 

Drop-in bobbins are much easier than bobbin cases. So, if it’s your first time sewing I suggest getting a machine that has a drop-in bobbin. If you already have a machine and it has a bobbin case, you can use this video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1R8SUCBq5I.

It shows how to properly put in the bobbin to the bobbin case and how to insert it into the machine. I will be showing step by step how to do a drop-in bobbin. 

You want to set the bobbin inside the machine counterclockwise. DO NOT put the bobbin in clockwise. This will mess up how your machine picks up the threads, and it won’t make clean stitches. In the next photo you’ll see where to move the thread tail of your bobbin. It should look like a small metal notch. This is a very important step. If you don’t, your threads will be loose and won’t loop correctly.

And there you’ve completed step one!

How To Thread Your Machine

Each machine is a little different when it comes to threading it, but for the most part your sewing machine will have symbols for you to follow. The key thing to remember is that almost all sewing machines thread from right to left. So as long as you continue going toward the left side of the machine and not skipping any of the thread guides, you should be okay. Your threads should look similar to this in the end:

Step One:

   

Step Two:

The important part here is to get the thread around the top thread-guide hook. It should move when you turn the handwheel. The handwheel will be on the right side of your sewing machine. You will know if it’s the right knob if the top thread-guide hook moves up and down. If you don’t thread through this thread guide properly, your stitches won’t loop at all. 

The next part is threading the needle. Needle position varies from machine to machine. You can either have a front-to-back needle or right-to-left needle. The machine that I have has a front-to-back needle, which means you thread it through the front to the back. It’s the same concept with a right-to-left needle. It will look like this in the end:

  

Now the last step is getting the bobbin thread to the surface of the machine. How you do that is by turning the handwheel a few times until you get a loop that looks like this:

After you have formed the loop, you are going to use a pin to help pull the end of the bobbin thread out, so that you have two separate threads going towards the back of the machine. 

The last step is to put the bobbin covering back on the drop-in bobbin, and your machine is ready to start sewing.

How To Start Sewing

This last part is the easiest step. Now you should already know how the foot pedal works, or if you have a start button. Before you step on the gas though, you must put down the presser foot. Your machine will have a lever that pulls down to put the presser foot down. 

Lever up:

 

Lever down:

Once that is done you are free to start sewing. Now you can stick with the default stitch it starts  with or you can set your sewing machine to a different type of stitch, using the panel on the machine. The Singer Stylist has a list that shows what number correlates with what type of stitch:

You use the two up arrows to change the number, and the rounded arrow keys are used to change the length and width of your stitches. If you start with a straight stitch, then the width does not matter since there is no width to a straight stitch. Width only matters for zig-zag stitches. The length matters for both zig-zag and straight stitches. This is how far apart your stitches are. Take your time trying to figure out what works best for you. Here’s a good rule of thumb: the shorter the stitches, the tighter your seams will be, and the longer the stitches, the looser the seams will be. Looser stitches are easier to break, so just be careful. The last thing to note is once you’re done with your stitching, always backstitch. How you set the backstitch will either be a button or a lever.

Button:

 

Lever:

The reason why you back stitch is to lock your stitches in place so they don’t unravel. After that you’re done. 

I know it looks like a lot of work, but sewing is really easy once you have the basics down. It’s also a really good life skill to have, in case you get a random tear or hole in your clothing. 

Kayla Homeier

Hi! My name is Kayla Homeier and I’m a second year fashion design major.

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