A Beginner’s Guide to Using a Sewing Machine

Are you fascinated about learning the magic of sewing? Your dream of becoming an expert seamstress begins with learning the basics of the sewing machine. You need to get familiar with all the important components of sewing machines and their uses.

Right from the power switch to the presser foot, learn everything about the sewing machine before practising your sewing tutorials. You should read and check manually every item on the machine as given in the machine’s manual.

Don’t rush through your sewing journey and take time to learn the basics perfectly.

In this beginner’s guide, we will discuss a sewing machine’s anatomy, threading a sewing machine, how to use a sewing machine, sewing tutorials, and sewing projects.

Different Sewing Machine Components

Power On/off Switch

Begin by knowing how to power on/off the machine. The power switch is located on one side of the machine.


Check out the light bulb present in the needle area. Place your machine at a location where you would like to sew. Check if the light is sufficient for you; otherwise, you may need to shift your machine nearer to a window to ensure extra natural light.


The foot pedal is an important part of your sewing machine that works like your car accelerator. It operates the machine when you press your foot against it.

It comes with a speed regulator that ensures you don’t press too hard and break the speed limit.


Learn about the length and width buttons, including zigzag and decorative stitches. While some advanced sewing machines may allow you to independently get the length and width, the cheaper machines feature pre-set stitches and lengths.

Get yourself used to the various settings, including the buttonhole settings.

Tension Wheels 

The tension wheels are found at the top or front of the sewing machine. These help in providing nice and even stitching without any loops.


The sewing machine’s needle is an important part of sewing accessories that comes with a small screw that helps in holding the needle securely in its place. Learn about how to change the needles in your sewing machine.

Bobbin and Bobbin Tension Screw

Get introduced to the lid that exposes the bobbin and the bobbin case. The bobbin tension screw is usually found on the bobbin case of the front-loading machines.


Oiling is an important part of your home sewing machine maintenance routine. Ensure to get three correct oil for your machine. Read about the oiling guidelines in your sewing machine’s manual.

Threading a Sewing Machine

Threading a sewing machine includes the upper threading and the lower threading.

While the upper threading and sewing machine tension is associated with the needle, the lower threading and tension are related to the bobbin.

Lower Threading 

Ensure to read your sewing machine manual carefully as various machines come with different bobbins and casings. You may insert the bobbin either from the front or the top of the machine.

The front-loading bobbins are inserted into the case first and then loaded into the machine. Simultaneously, the top-loading bobbins are designed to fit directly into the case attached to the machine.

You should learn about how to properly wind a bobbin. It is usually done by keeping your main thread on the spool pin and winding it across the bobbin winder and around a thread guide. The bobbins come with a hole at the top for inserting the thread.

Learn to wind by pushing the bobbin winder across and disengaging the flywheel to stop the up and down movement during winding.

Upper Threading

Observe your sewing machine’s upper threading and trace the steps the thread goes through by following the machine’s manual.

The thread begins its journey at the top of the machine, where there is a spool and goes down to the bottom to the point where the thread meets the needle.

The path taken by the thread from the spool to the needle through the hooks and tension wheels is usually the same in most sewing machines.

Ensure to enter the thread into the needle from the front to the back direction. Also, pull it nicely with slight tension but don’t make it too tight.

How to Use a Wewing Machine?

The process of using a sewing machine can be summarized in the following steps.

Join Upper and Lower Threads

Once you are done with upper and lower threading, join both the upper and lower thread together and kick-start your sewing journey.

Locate the large wheel on the right side of your machine and turn this flywheel towards you. This will ensure that the top threaded needle travels to the bobbin area.

Observe how the upper thread easily pulls the lower thread to the machine’s upper level and curls around it. Until you can view the lower thread emerging, you should continue to turn the flywheel towards you.

Now gently pull the lower thread out and keep both the threads together at the back of the machine.

Begin Stitching

If you are stitching for the first time, it’s better to practice on a sample fabric piece. Use a piece of stiff cotton as it is easy to sew, and it is easily available in bulk quantity.

Alternatively, you can also use a calico fabric. It is a cheap and cream-coloured fabric that is a little stiff. You can easily make notes on this sample as it is light in colour.

It is recommended to test the machine on a double piece of fabric because the extra thickness is much easier to work with. Moreover, the sewing seams and articles for your home need double-fabric.

Before you start pedalling, ensure that your foot pedal has speed control. Ensure to set the speed to slow. In case your machine does not have any speed adjustment, you can gently keep your foot on the pedal during sewing.

Keep your sewing machine on a straight stitch with a length of 3.0 and a width of 0. It is an ideal setting for your first seam. In case you don’t have adjustable settings, you can choose a medium-length straight stitch.

Follow these steps for sewing your first fabric.

Lift the Foot

By using a lever, lift the presser foot and keep your sample fabric underneath. Depending on the sewing patterns, you need to decide how far from the raw edge you need to sew.

As you are a beginner, you should put the fabric at a 15 mm distance from the foot’s right side. This makes it easy for you to sew.

Pull the Threads

You should pull the threads for ensuring that these don’t get angled and prevent you from sewing forwards. Entangled threads in the dog’s feet may also cause issues with your machine performance.

Lower the Presser Foot

Ensure that you have lowered the presser foot. It is one of the common mistakes made by beginners.

Release the Threads 

When you start stitching, hold the threads for a few stitches and then release the threads as you get used to stitching.

Do Back-Stitching

Once you have completed a few stitches forward, you should press reverse and do backward stitching to where you have started. It will strengthen your stitches.

After this, you may release the reverse stitch and continue to stitch forwards.

Secure the Seam 

Once you have completed the forward stitching, you should press reverse again and complete backward stitching. This will secure the seam.

After completing all these steps, pat yourself on the back as you have sewn your first stitch line. You can check all your stitches and pick any improper stitches by using a seam ripper.

Check the Tension of the Stitched Line

Check the tension of your stitched line and make any adjustments if required. Observe your stitched sample fabric and assess if it appears smooth and nice or it has loops emerging from the bottom of the top.

Experiment a lot with a variety of fabrics and use different stitches possible with your sewing machine. Ensure to read your machine’s manual carefully and learn to sew the decorative stitches, buttonholes, zig-zag stitches, etc.

You will find that there are numerous ways of showing your creativity on fabric using a sewing machine.

Beginner Sewing Tutorials

You will find numerous beginner sewing tutorials available on various sewing websites, blogs, youtube videos, etc. Also, you will find many sewing machine lessons in your sewing machine manuals.

You should learn and practice a variety of stitching techniques for honing your craft of sewing.

Beginner Sewing Projects

After learning the basics of using a sewing machine, you should try these skills on easy sewing projects. It would help you to build your confidence and develop more experience in using the machine perfectly.

Always use a piece of waste fabric or sample fabric for stitching in the beginning. Once you have mastered the technique, you can apply the skill to the fabric to complete sewing projects.


Learning sewing skills and trying it out on your new machine ensures pleasurable creative experiences. With discipline and commitment, you can develop it as your hobby or get into a professional sewing career.

Like any other craft, developing sewing skills takes time and patience. You need to practice with various sewing projects and keep improving on your mistakes. Moreover, you should also learn about sewing machine troubleshooting and the art of cutting fabrics.


Preksha is passionate about writing articles that will inspire readers to make better choices. You will find her eating desserts for lunch, dinner and any time of the day. Also, she is the chief playlist engineer for any road trip.

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