Anatomy of a sewing machine
Getting to know your sewing machine
Welcome to our post on the Anatomy of a sewing machine for sewing beginners.
Without a doubt, we believe that the Anatomy of a sewing machine is the first thing you should learn on your sewing journey. Although Sewing machines may appear complicated at first, you will however find that once you know the parts and functions, it all fits together rather easily.
Furthermore, not only will this post talk you through all of the buttons and symbols on you machine, but also includes detailed photos to help you learn much easier.
Anatomy of a sewing machine
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Front of sewing machine- Anatomy of a sewing machine
To begin our guide on the Anatomy of a sewing machine, we will take an overall look at the most common features.
On the whole, sewing machines come in all different shapes and sizes. Despite this, you will find that the anatomy of the sewing machine is pretty much the same throughout and therefore this guide will suit majority of the machines out there. Although my machine is digital, the parts are more or less universal. However, I will also add photo’s of another machine to try make it easier.
Below, we have outlined the most important parts found on the front of your machine.
Additionally, throughout this post we will be using:
Brother FS180 QC (digital machine) and also the Brother LS14S. In my opinion, I have always found that Brother sewing machines are very reliable and easy to take care of.
A- Stitch choice- Anatomy of a sewing machine
First we will start with the stitch choice. Somewhere on the front of your machine you will find a small library of all the stitches that your machine can produce.
Additionally, your sewing machine may also show you what that stitch would like like with a double needle. Generally speaking, this will be shown in a different colour. However not all machines will have this.
More often than not, each of your stitches will have a number or letter that corresponds to a number or letter on your dial. In order to select your stitch, simply turn your dial to the letter or number for that stitch. Alternatively, If you are using a digital machine, you will find an up and a down button near your screen, use these buttons to programme in your selected stitch.
Reverse stitch (back stitch) lever/button-
Next on our anatomy of a sewing machine guide, we come to the reverse stitch lever (or button). Again, it is important to note that this can be found in a few different forms and also places.
Although most non digital sewing machines will have a lever, you may also come across a button instead.
The reverse stitch lever in regards to the sewing machine anatomy is universal, all machines will have one.
On the whole, this is an extremely important part of your sewing machine as it helps to keep your stitches in place and ensures that they don’t pull out. Furthermore, pressing your lever or button will cause the machine to stitch in reverse.
In addition to this, unless stated differently in the pattern or when you are creating a basting stitch, a back stitch (reverse stitch) should be done at the beginning and the end of all your stitching
C- Stitch selector- Anatomy of a sewing machine
As mentioned above, another important part of the anatomy of a sewing machine is the stitch selector. More often than not on non-digital machines, this is usually found as a dial with corresponding numbers or letters. However, if you have a digital sewing machine like us, this will be on a small computer on the front of your sewing machine and is usually adjusted using up and down arrows.
In order to use the dial, simple turn it until you have reached the stitch that you would like and then start sewing.
As well as this, we also suggest that you try out all of your stitches when you begin with your machine, as this will show you each one better.
Needle place and feed dog. Anatomy of a sewing machine
Once again this part of the anatomy of a sewing machine is a universal part, as all sewing machines will have these. First of all, the needle plate is a small flat metal plate that lies below the needle and presser foot. In addition to this, you will also find a small hole in the needle plate this is for the bobbing thread to come through.
As well as this, It is also common for the plate to have small lines on either side of the hole. Overall, the purpose of this is to help as a seam guide, indicating how far away from the edge you are.
Presser foot and needle- Anatomy of a sewing machine
Next we come to the presser foot and needle.
Ultimately, the needle is responsible for making the stitches in your fabric by pulling the thread through. Furthermore, It is important to note that needles can come in all different sizes for different fabrics weight’s and types. As well as this, you can also buy twin needles, which is two needles is one.
To find a full range of twin needles with next day delivery available, click HERE
In most cases, the presser foot is removable and interchangeable. Generally speaking, the foot holds your fabric in place whilst you are sewing.
As well as this, you can buy a unique presser foot for almost every project. For instance: you can buy them specifically for zippers, invisible zippers, hems, rolled hems and much more.
-Stitch tension – Anatomy of a sewing machine
Another part in our anatomy of a sewing machine guide, we come to the stitch tension. As a rule, the tension dial is usually found close to or above the needle. However, you may also find it on the top or side of your machine as well.
Whilst going through your machine, your thread is pulled along the tension disks controlled by this dial. As a results, your top thread and bobbin should work together to for a uniform stitch. Additionally, you will need to adjust the tension to fit with the fabric that you are using.
Over all, we suggest you practice different tensions to find the best one before you start your project.
Adjusting your tension
In order to adjust your stitch tension, start by turning your dial. Adjusting your tension to the highest number will increase the tension, or pressure, on the thread. Some machines will have tension that automatically adjusts, but often you will have to adjust it yourself.
Bobbin winder- The anatomy of a sewing machine
Once again, we come to another universal sewing machine part. To sum it up, this is a small plastic stopper that will aid in winding our bobbin.
In addition to this, the purpose of this is to wind the bobbin. Although some machines may stop automatically when your bobbin is full. However, Its important to note that not all machines will have this part.
Further more, ensure that you check your sewing machine before winding your bobbin as you may need to stop winding when the bobbin is full.
Bobbin spool holder- Anatomy of a sewing machine
Next on our guide to the anatomy of a sewing machine, we come to the bobbin spool holder. This small peg will hold your bobbin spool when you are winding thread onto your bobbin. Once your bobbin is on the pin, push towards the stopper and you will hear a small click. This indicates that your bobbin pin will spin. Generally speaking, the needle shouldn’t move whilst this is winding
I- Spool holder- Anatomy of a sewing machine
Another part of our anatomy of a sewing machine guide is the spool holder. First, it is important to point out that this differs for the bobbin spool holder as this is for the top thread that goes through your needle.
Additionally, some machines may also have 2 spool holders, although these are commonly used alongside a twin needle (or double needle). As mentioned above, if your machine is programmed for twin needles. Furthermore, you will find your twin needle stitch selection next to the other stitches and they are usually displayed in a different colour.
J- Bobbin winder tension disk- Anatomy of a sewing machine
Next on our anatomy of a sewing machine guide, we come to the bobbin winder tension disk. Again, this is another part used when winding your bobbing. As a rule, the tension disk holds the thread whilst you wind your bobbin and ultimately helps avoid your thread getting tangled. As well as this, it also ensures that the thread is would tight enough around your bobbin.
K- Thread guides- The anatomy of a sewing machine
Another important part of your sewing machine is the thread guide. On the whole, you will find that there are several thread guides found around your sewing machine and these hold your thread in place. As a result, your thread won’t become tangled and your stitches will stay tight.
L- Hand wheel- The anatomy of a sewing machine
Moving on further into the anatomy of a sewing machine we come to the hand wheel. The sewing machine used in this image is a
In short, this wheel is used to manually move your needle up and down. For instance: After you finished sewing, and your needle is still down in your fabric, use the wheel and turn until the needle is at its highest point.
On the other hand, if using a digital sewing machine, a very common feature is automatic needle placement, for example; you can set your machine to always finish with the needle up or alternatively to always finish with your needle down.
M- Power socket- The anatomy of a sewing machine
Although this is a simple part of your anatomy of a sewing machine guide, it is however very important. On the whole, this is a Slot for the electrical plug. Occasionally you may find that the plug and the foot pedal are connected to the same power socket and plug. Although, most machines will have a separate hole for the foot pedal.
N- Stitch length dial/display- The anatomy of a sewing machine-
Another universal part of your sewing machine is the stitch length dial/display. Again, this is a very important part of the sewing machine anatomy. In short, this is used to select the length you would like your stitches to be. In order to understand this better, we suggest that you use a scrap piece of fabric to test different stitch lengths. Generally speaking, the higher the stitch length, the longer your stitches will be. However, if you are using a zigzag stitch, the length selected will change how wide apart or close together your zigzags are.
Bobbin spool and bobbing holder- Anatomy of a sewing machine
Last but not least, we come to the spool and the spool holder. Although these are parts of the sewing machine that you don’t necessarily see, they are equally as important. On the whole, these are usually found under the needle plate.
Once the bobbin spool has been wound with your chosen thread, carefully put the spool inside the spool holder and drag loose thread through the small gap. After this, keep pulling the thread until it sits in the small hole on the outside of the bobbin.
Again, the way you insert this may vary with the type of machine you have.
To Sum up our anatomy of a sewing machine guide
To conclude, we hope that you have found this anatomy of a sewing machine guide useful and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to message us or comment below. Keep visiting our site for new guides, tutorials and free patterns. Up next, we are going to cover how to thread your sewing machine and bobbin and a whole section on how to perfect your stitches before you start sewing.