If you are looking for a guide on how to use a handheld sewing machine then you are in the right place. below you will find a step by step video and photo instructions for how to use one. I promise it is so much more useful than a handheld sewing machine instructions PDF or handy Stitch manual!
At the end of these instructions, I will even provide a link to the video I made showing you what to do if your portable sewing machine is not working or not stitching.
**This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may get a commission if you choose to click through and make a purchase. It doesn’t cost you any extra if you make a purchase and I sincerely thank you!
How to Use a Handheld Sewing Machine Step by Step Instructions
I will be using the Handy Stitch mini sewing machine in the video, but the setup and function are the same for the Singer handheld sewing machine as well as many other brands.
You may also find the mini sewing machine tutorial helpful.
I purchased mine from Amazon but they are also found on eBay and may also be sold locally too. In Australia, you can purchase these at Cheap as Chips where they are called Sew Maxx Portable Sewing Machine. They go by various other names too. My goal here is to provide education on how to use this machine as many beginning sewers purchase these to do an odd sewing project here or there or some quick sewing repairs, but then find that these machines can be temperamental. They function very differently from a traditional sewing machine.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive sewing machine that may last a bit longer check out my tutorial on how to use the FHSM 505 Portable Mini Sewing Machine here.
Please note: This is not a handheld sewing machine reviews type post, but if you would like something like that then let me know 🙂
Video Tutorial for handheld Sew Machine
You can watch the handheld sew machine video here on YouTube
Step by Step Photo Instructions
Your machine will probably come with thread in it already, but I will be unthreading my machine and showing you how to thread it up from the beginning. This will be particularly helpful if you need to change thread colour.
Step 1 – Load 4 AA batteries into your machine. Be sure to have your machine locked before you do this!
Engage the lock to ensure you don’t accidentally press the power button while you are threading up the machine. You can also load the AA batteries in after the machine is all threaded up as well.
Load in the AA batteries into the bottom of the machine. I like to use rechargeable batteries so I’m not spending more on batteries than the actual machine costs, but use what works best for you.
Step 2 – Attach your desired thread using the spool pin
The Handy Stitch comes with a short thread spool and a longer thread spool or thread spindle. The short thread spool can be used with thread wound onto a bobbin or you can use the longer thread spool if you want to use a standard spool of thread.
In the video I am loading on some thread on a bobbin, but you can also see me demonstrate how to use the larger spool.
Tip: Be sure not to drop the tiny spring located on the spool pin holder. These things can disappear into Never Never Land if dropped onto the floor. I’m speaking from experience!
Step 3 – Pass the thread through the first thread guide
The first thread guide will be a little notch above the thread spool pin. Pass the thread through from the bottom and out through the top.
Step 4 – Run the thread through the tension disks
Guide the thread so it is running through the two tension disks. This will help give you a tighter-looking stitch. The knob here can be used later if you need to adjust the tension at all.
Step 5 – Place thread through the hook on the needle arm
This has to be one of the trickiest steps as the hook under the needle arm is hard to get to. I encourage you to watch the video instructions if these instructions are not clear.
Step 6 – Thread the needle
To thread the needle you must ensure the tip of the thread is being threaded from the back of the needle and out towards the front.
To make this task easier, I recommend using the needle thread that comes with your handy sewing machine.
Step 7 – You are now ready to use your mini handheld sewing machine!
These a few extra tidbits you should know about this machine before you sew with it. The wheel you see on the side is called the rotary wheel. This enables you to manually bring the needle up and down. You can use it in any direction.
You also have a fastening plate and this holds the fabric in place while you are sewing. This can be lifted up to place the fabric under it. Beware!! If you do not have the lock in place this is when you can accidentally make the machine sew. I’m speaking from experience. You don’t want to go sewing your finger now!
How to Use Hand Sewing Machine Step by Step
Now that your machine is all threaded up it is ready to sew.
I like to sit my machine on a tabletop so my left hand can operate the power button and my right hand is guiding the fabric.
You can lift up the fastening plate slightly to slip your fabric underneath (like in the photo above). Unlock the machine and then press the power button to start sewing!
The Chain Stitch
From the top of the fabric, it will look like a standard straight stitch. If you flip the fabric over you will see that this machine actually sews using a chain stitch. This is why it can sew using only one thread as opposed to two threads like on conventional sewing machines. A chain stitch is where the needle goes down taking the thread through the fabric. There is a hook underneath which catches the thread as the needle travels back up. When the needle comes back down the needle catches the previous loop and the process happens all over again creating the chain stitch.
Now because this machine uses a chain stitch you need to be careful how you finish your stitching with this machine. If you leave it, it will all unravel at the slightest pull.
To avoid your stitching unraveling, hold the last stitch with your finger and thumb and continue to stitch until you have about 6″ (15cm) of excess thread.
Once you have enough excess thread you can snip the thread away from the machine.
Turn your fabric over. Here you will see the chain stitch. Find the last loop and pull that loop until the thread tail comes through to this other side. Just doing this step alone will prevent your stitches from unraveling.
If you want to secure the stitching even more then you can tie the thread around the previous stitch and secure it with a knot. In the video, I show you an easy way to do it using the needle threader provided.
Use This Sewing Machine to Hem Pants
If you are wanting to use this mini hand held sewing machine to hem pants then I recommend these few extra bits of advice.
Ensure the needle is in the highest position and the machine is locked. Lift up the fastening plate and place your pant leg under the needle where you want to start sewing.
Unlock the machine and start sewing. It may be a bit tricky when you come to the end of the sewing, but you will need to detach the thread from the bottom hook to enable you to pull the thread and remove the fabric from the machine. The rotary wheel may come in handy here.
Depending on the type of sewing you are doing, this handy machine could be the answer.
If you find your handheld sewing machine is not stitching then you might like to check out the video. Here you will see the needle size as well as what to do with the needle if your machine is not sewing. This quick-fix works the majority of the time!
I hope you have found this tutorial useful and you now have the confidence to sew.
Until next time, happy sewing!