An Introduction to a Mechanical Sewing Machine

Introduction to a mechanical sewing machine

This video is for you if you have just bought a mechanical sewing machine or you have one sitting in the cupboard that you have never touched (mainly because the idea of using it is scary!)

or watch this video on YouTube

The following information is what you will find in the video. Just incase you want to read instead.

Introduction to a mechanical sewing machine

Plug It In and Turn It On!

On the side of your machine you should see the plug or plug holes for the foot pedal and the power cords. Plug it in and turn it on! Go on!

The Hand Wheel

You will find the hand wheel on the right side of the machine at the top. The hand wheel lets you manually make the needle go up and down. handy for starting your sewing with the needle in the down position and also great for doing that extra stitch. You always need to remember to turn the hand wheel towards you. If you turn it away from you it will make the mechanics in the machine go backwards and that’s not good for the mechanics of the sewing machine.

The Spool Pin and the Thread Guides

The spool pin is where you put your spool of thread and the thread guides are where you need to place your thread on the machine to help with tension and successfully sewing a great stitches. It is really important to make sure your thread is going through the hole at the front of the take up lever. If it isn’t, this can lead to all kinds of problems with your sewing machine, which will make you feel like locking your machine away and never ever using it again!

Tension Discs and Tension Dial

The tension discs help form even stitches by applying a certain amount of pressure to the thread while you are sewing. The tension dial allows you to adjust this pressure depending on what type of sewing you are doing. Usually, you turn the tension dial to a higher number to bring the tension discs together and apply more pressure to the thread or you turn the dial to a lower number to decrease the amount of pressure applied to the thread. Proper tension relies on you threading the sewing machine the right way as well as every thread guide helps with forming that perfect stitch. You can read more about tension discs here.

Needle Bar

The needle bar holds your needle in place and takes the needle up and down when sewing. There is a screw on the needle bar that you can loosen, which allows you to change your needle over.

Presser Foot

The presser foot is the part of the machine that you can lower down to hold your fabric in place while you are sewing. There is a lever on the back of your sewing machine that lets you lower and lift your presser foot easily. The presser foot also has interchangeable feet depending on the type of stitch you are doing and the type of fabric you are using. There is a whole range of feet to use on your machine. But we’ll go into that in more depth in a later lesson.

Feed Dogs

The feed dogs help pull your fabric through the sewing machine at a nice even rate. They are kind of like little teeth sticking out from the plate of the sewing machine and they grip the fabric nicely. Depending on your project, you may use a walking foot which also had feed dogs built into the foot.

The Bobbin

Depending on your machine, you may have a top loading bobbin or a front loading bobbin. Once you have wound your bobbin with thread, you then put it into the sewing machine to form the stitches on the underside of your fabric. All the steps for loading the bobbin with thread and inserting into your sewing machine will all be covered soon in this learn to sew series.

Stitch Guide

Mechanical sewing machines are all slightly different when it comes to the stitch guide. Some machines have a wider selection of stitches to choose from whereas your basic mechanical sewing machines may only have a dial to adjust the stitch selection.

Reverse Stitch Lever

The reverse stitch lever is a lever you will find on your sewing machine to help you stitch backwards. This is really useful for securing your seams in place and stopping them from coming undone at the beginning and the ends of you seams. You can usually identify this lever by looking for a curve symbol with an arrow on one end.

Stitch Length Dial

You may have a dial on the front of your sewing machine that allows you to adjust the length of your stitches. A 2-3 stitch length is usually the most common stitch length used for general sewing. Smaller stitches can be used when sewing softies and you may use a longer stitch length when wasting to do a basting stitch. This dial can usually be recognised by a dashed type line.

Stitch Width Dial

You may also have a dial on your sewing machine that allows you to change the width of your zigzag stitch. This is usually recognisable by a zigzag symbol somewhere on your sewing machine.

You may have other dials or features on your sewing machine, but these are the basics that you meed to know to get you on your way to understanding the basic features of a mechanical sewing machine. Hopefully I have reduced the fear factor with getting the sewing machine out and getting to know it a bit better. A few more lessons in the learn to sew series and you’ll be a sewing pro in no time! So go on. Get that sewing machine out and introduce yourselves. Making friends with your sewing machine is the first step to getting past that beginning sewer stage.


Posted on

16 May, 2015

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