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Your First Steps in Learning to Sew

Step 1 - Learn the Main Parts of a Sewing Machine

learn the parts of the sewing machine



Always read the manual and watch a DVD if they were included with your machine. Don't get overwhelmed and don't even worry about threading it at this point.  When learning to sew the very first thing you will want to do is to get acquainted with some features on it and learn to control your fabric and stitch a straight line. This is how I teach all of my students to start and where we are going to begin!

There are many parts to a machine, but to begin with, I only want you to concentrate on knowing a couple of them. The following features you need to know where they are, and what their functions are:


Foot pedal on a sewing machine. The Foot Pedal - The pedal is  kept on the floor. This pedal is where your foot controls how slow or fast you sew. Of course you will want to sew very slow at first.  Once you get the hang of it, then and only then sew at a medium speed.
The Hand Wheel - The hand wheel is normally on the right hand side of the machine.  This should ONLY turn towards you.  It feels awkward turning it that way at first but don't worry, you will get used to it.  If you continually turn it the wrong way you will grind the insides and break your machine. So remember... only turn the hand wheel towards you.

The hand wheel's job is to move the needle up and down. This moves fast when you are sewing.  And you can move it by hand if you need to move the needle up or down.



The Pressure Foot - The pressure foot has several different purposes.  One, is to hold pressure onto your fabric and help control the fabric as you sew. Two, to use as a guide when you are sewing.  Most quilts and crafts and some clothing seams are sewn using the pressure foot as your guide.

And three, to help keep fingers away from the needle.  When sewing your fingers should never touch the pressure foot.  If they do, you know you need to move your fingers further away from the needle area.

The Pressure Foot Handle - This handle lifts up and puts down your pressure foot.  Make sure you lift it and lower it gently. Your pressure foot handle can be found either behind or on the right side near the needle area.

Feed Dog - The feed dog are the little "teeth" looking rows of metal in the photo.  They move up and down as you sew and "grasp" the fabric and push it back, getting your fabric ready for the next stitch.

Bobbin case - The bobbin case is where the bobbin is placed.  Some times it can be on the machine and visible as shown. Other times it can be hidden within the machine. Either way, it is easily accessible.

Stitch selector - Most machines these days have this button, however, some of the older machines that only do straight stitch may not have this button. This allows you to pick different stitches like straight, zigzag, embroidery, button hole, etc.  For regular sewing it should be set to straight stitch.

Stitch Length - Every machine has an area where you can adjust the stitch length.  Sometimes you made need a tight stitch where there are many stitches close together, and other times you may need a very loose stitch where the stitches are large and you can take them out easily.  These would be a "temporary" stitch and you would set your stitch length button on the higher number... in this case 4.

On most machines for an average stitch, the stitch length should be set at 2.5.

Reverse button - This button is different on every machine and is placed in different areas on the machine so yours may not look like the ones in the photo. The purpose of this button is to sew in reverse or backwards, basically sewing over what you just sewed.  The reason for this is to reinforce your stitching at the beginning and the end of a seam so that it doesn't fall apart.

Tension - The tension button is used to determine the tension each stitch has.  Find the normal tension and leave it be for the most part.  Only when working with super thin or super heavy fabric you may need to adjust it. This button is a big "no no" for my students and they are not allowed to touch it.  We only allow instructors to touch or adjust the tension on our sewing machines.

COVER YOUR MACHINE - It is so important to keep your machine covered to protect it and keep it clean.





Your First Steps in Learning To Sew

Steps 1 - 2 - 3






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