Let’s get acquainted with the parts of a sewing machine.
I have a labeled picture of the front of a sewing machine and a labeled picture of the threading components of the same machine. Then I have a written description of each part and its function.
Although, all sewing machines are similar, this is a basic, beginner sewing machine with very few extra adjustments. Be sure to look at your owner’s manual, to get to know your sewing machine and where these parts are located, before you begin sewing.
Then, take a look at How a Sewing Machine Works at the bottom of the page.
Parts of a Sewing Machine:
Spool Pin- This is where you put your spool of thread to feed the sewing machine. It is located on the top of most sewing machines and can be vertical or horizontal.
Sewing Machine Arm- Top part of the sewing machine shaped sort of like an arm. Some machines have longer arms for specialty sewing, such as quilting.
Tension Control- This wheel or knob controls the tension of your thread to help the machine make proper stitches.
Thread Guide- Helps guide your thread where it needs to go, before it goes through the take-up lever, for the sewing machine to work properly.
Take-up Lever- This is a movable thread guide that moves up and down, pulling the thread from the spool at the top of the machine and feeding it through the bottom.
Reverse Control- A button or lever you push to make your machine sew in reverse.
Thread Cutter- Most sewing machines have a built-in thread cutter, on the side or back of the machine, near the needle area. To cut your threads, run them across the shielded blade.
Presser Foot Lever- A small lever, located above the presser foot (can be on the side or in the back), that is used to rise and lower the presser foot so you can place your fabric under. It also engages/disengages the feed dogs.
Presser Foot- This sewing machine foot helps keep your fabric in place while you are sewing. It works in conjunction with the feed dogs to help guide your fabric through the machine.
Needle Throat Plate- Flat metal plate, located below the presser foot with openings for the needle and feed dogs go through. Remove for cleaning inside the machine.
Bobbin Cover- This is a sliding plate cover for your bobbin housing. It covers your bobbin and helps keep dust and debris from getting inside.
Sewing Machine Bed- This is bottom of the sewing machine where your fabric rests as you sew. Part of the bed is removable to make a small arm to use for sewing on sleeves or other small items.
Bobbin Winder- A bobbin is the little spool of thread that fits into the bottom of your sewing machine. Your bobbin thread usually matches the thread you are sewing with. The built-in bobbin winder allows you to wind new thread onto an empty bobbin. It is located on the top of this machine, but can be in different locations on others. We will cover how to wind a bobbin in a later lesson. A Bobbin Winder Tension Disc is located at the top of the machine. It helps keep your thread taut while you are winding your bobbin.
Stitch Selector- This will move the position of the needle and adjust the style of your stitches. Modern sewing machines feature many built-in stitches, such as straight stitch, zigzag, blanket, blind hem, etc.
Hand Wheel- Turning this wheel will allow you to adjust your needle in or out of your fabric manually. Always turn the hand wheel counter-clockwise toward you. The hand wheel also has a knob or button that stops the needle from going while winding a bobbin.
Spool Cap- (Not Shown) This machine doesn’t have spool cap, but some do. On a horizontal spool pin, it slips onto the end of the spool pin to hold the spool in place while you are sewing.
Parts of a Sewing Machine, Threading Components:
Thread Guide- Helps guide your thread where it needs to go, before it goes through the needle, for the sewing machine to work properly.
Presser Foot Screw- Tighten or loosen this screw to remove or install the presser foot from the presser bar.
Presser Foot- See above.
Feed Dogs- Metal strips with small metal teeth, located below the needle throat plate that “walk” and push your fabric along under the foot as you sew. You control the speed of the feed dogs with the amount of pressure you put on the foot pedal. Stitch length, adjusted by the stitch selector, is determined by how much fabric the feed dogs feed through the machine at a time.
Needle/Throat Plate- See above
Bobbin Case- This is where you place your drop-in bobbin when threading your machine. It has a little door covering to protect the bobbin.
Seam Gauge- Measurement lines marked on the needle throat plate that help guide you to sew a straight stitch at the proper width.
Needle- The needle pokes the upper thread through your fabric to link with the lower thread and make a stitch. Select needle sized based on the type of fabric you are sewing.
Needle Screw- Tighten or loosen this screw to remove or install a needle from the needle clamp.
Needle Clamp- A small clamp that holds the needle in place.
Foot Pedal- (Not shown) This is a pedal that is set on the floor that controls power to your machine. Push on the foot pedal to give your machine power and make it sew and control its speed. It is similar to a gas pedal in a car.
Now that you know the parts of a sewing machine, take a look at this fun animation of How a Sewing Machine Works. The second animation is how the machine above works.