How to Use a Sewing Machine

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How to Use a Sewing Machine

One of the most useful skills on the homestead is sewing! I was taught how to sew by my mom when I was young. She bought me and my sisters sewing machines when we went to college. I’ve used my sewing machine many times over the years and it has definitely come in handy! But I’ve realized that using a sewing machine is not something many people are familiar with. So I wanted to share my knowledge on the topic. “How to Use a Sewing Machine” is a quick overview on the topic.

If you are interested in more details, sewing terminology, How to Sew a Button, How to Sew a Hem etc. check out my Timeless Sewing Guide. It provides all you need when learning how to use a sewing machine!

Using a Sewing Machine: The Basics

Winding the Bobbin

It is of utmost importance to use the bobbin spool that is made for your machine. In my Sewing Machine from A-Z section in my Timeless Sewing Guide, I mention how bobbins come in several different sizes and shapes and one size does not fit all. Use the guide on the top of the sewing machine to wind your bobbin correctly.


Start by running the thread from the large spool of thread (on the spool pin) to the empty bobbin spool on the winding shaft (the dashed line is for bobbin threading). The winding shaft should have two positions. One to the left, used for sewing and one on the right, used for winding bobbin.

Once the end of the thread is around the bobbin spool, use the foot control to load the thread. Special care should be taken when winding a bobbin. The bobbin should be equally full on the top and bottom of the spool and should be free of tangles. The bobbin will rub the bobbin winder when it is full. Once the bobbin is full, move the winding shaft to the left, cut the bobbin from the spool of thread and its ready to load.

How to Use a Sewing Machine

How to Use a Sewing Machine

Note: Thread usually matches the sewing project and the bobbin should also match.

Threading the Machine

Once the bobbin is full, it is time to thread the machine. All machines do not thread exactly the same, but most machines have a guide on the body of the sewing machine (usually on the top). The solid line indicates the needle threading process and serves as a walk through on how to thread the machine. The thread should start on the spool pin. The bobbin will also need to be loaded and threaded before beginning.

Top Loaded Bobbin and Needle Threading

Step 1. Turn on the machine

Step 2. Raise the presser foot using the presser foot lever

Step 3. Raise your needle by turning your hand wheel counterclockwise

Step 4. Remove the spool cap which keeps the thread on the spool

Step 5. Place a spool of thread on the spool pin

Step 6. Slide the spool cap back onto the spool pin and be sure it’s on as far as possible

Step 7. Guide the thread behind the thread guide cover

Step 8. Then under the thread guide plate

Step 9. Then back up in order for the thread to go through the take-up lever

Step 10. Following the thread path indicated by the machine, being sure the take-up lever is in the raised position

Step 11. Pass the thread behind the needle bar thread guide, as the thread comes down through the end of the thread path

Step 12. Lower the presser foot and thread the needle

Step 13. Trim the thread using the thread cutter on the machine

Step 14. Ensure at least 2 inches of thread is pulled through the needle

Step 15. Open the bobbin casing and add the full bobbin spool. The bobbin case will go into the bobbin shuttle.

How to Use a Sewing Machine
Step 16. Once the bobbin is in position turn the hand wheel counterclockwise until the needle goes into the throat plate. Turn the hand wheel again, to bring the needle back up.

The bobbin thread will be looped in the needle thread. Pull the bobbin thread out along side the needle thread and trim.

Front Loaded Bobbin and Needle Threading

Step 1. With the needle and presser foot up, open the hinged cover on the front of the machine.

Step 2. Pull the tab on the front of the bobbin case and gently remove the bobbin case from the sewing machine.

Step 3. Remove any bobbin that might already be in the bobbin case.

Step 4. Lay the bobbin in the bobbin case. It should fit in the bobbin case with the thread in the clockwise position.

Step 5. Place the thread in the small slit at the top of the bobbin case, and slide it to the right until it clicks into place in the slot under the finger.

Step 6. Once the bobbin is in place, pull the hinged latch and put the bobbin case into the machine.

Step 7. The needle should already be threaded thus allowing the bobbin thread to be pulled from the bobbin case. Turn the hand wheel counterclockwise  until the needle moves down into the throat plate.

Step 8. Turn the hand wheel again until the needle comes back up to its highest position. At this point, stop turning the hand wheel and pull on the upper thread until you see a small loop of thread below the presser foot.

Step 9. Gently pull that bobbin loop out and trim.


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