Sewing Machine Parts
by Mrs. Moriya Chesler
Understanding Your Sewing Machine
One of the early lessons in a sewing course is to get yourself familiarized with your sewing machine. If you have an instruction manual that comes with your sewing machine, you can take a look at the description of your machine and its parts and notions. If you do not have a sewing machine manual, then it is important for you to learn the parts of a standard sewing machine and their functions.
One of the most exciting features of this course is to be able to document what you have done, both digitally and physically. You can start creating a digital scrapbook for your participation in this course. It will contain digital pictures of your work that you collect and compile for posterity. You will also create a physical scrapbook that contain the sewing samples that you will do in this course.
Your First Assignment
Your first assignment will be to take a digital photo of your sewing machine that you will be using for this course and label its parts and describe their functions. You can use a photo editing software of your choice and have fun with it.
The terminology of the sewing machine parts will be as follows. Your machine may not have all the parts.
Spool Pin — holds a spool of thread.
Bobbin Winder Spindle – holds the bobbin during winding.
Bobbin Winder Stopper (if any) – stops winding the bobbin when it is full.
Bobbin Winder Thread Guide (if any) – a thread guide for winding your bobbin.
Stitch Width Selector – controls the width of your stitch, useful for creating a zigzag stitch.
Stitch Selector – controls the selection of stitches.
Stitch Length Selector – controls the length of your stitch, shorter stitches for fine fabrics, longer stitches for heavier fabrics, basting, easing and gathering.
Hand Wheel – a large knob usually on the right side of your machine to manually lift and lower the needle up and down.
Reverse Stitch Lever or Button – a lever or button that you push to sew in reverse.
Power Switch – a switch that powers your machine on or off.
Thread Tension Dial – usually a dial that controls the tension of your upper thread. If set too low, the upper thread loops on the underside of the fabric. If set too high, the lower bobbin thread appears on the top of the fabric.
Thread Take-up Lever – the upper thread has to pass through this lever; when it’s correctly threaded, the thread moves up and down with the needle.
Presser Foot – when lowered, this foot holds the fabric in place while sewing.
Bobbin Cover – for modern machines with top-loading bobbins, this cover protects the bobbin while sewing.
Bobbin Cover Release Button (if any) – for modern machines with top-loading bobbins, this button releases the bobbin cover.
Feed Dogs – a set of teeth that pulls the fabric forward while sewing.
Needle – your sewing machine needle.
Needle Plate – sometimes called a throat plate, is a metal or plastic plate under the needle that has holes for the needle to pass through and feed dogs to appear to pull the fabric forward while sewing.
Needle Clamp Screw – allows you to loosen or tighten the sewing needle in place.
Foot Pedal – most sewing machines come with a foot pedal that you press to advance the stitching and control your sewing speed. You don’t have to label this part.
Sample Sewing Machine and its Manual
You may be able to find your sewing manual online if you can’t find your hardcopy version. For example, the model on the left is Janome My Style 100 and it’s manual can be found here. Turn to page 3 of the manual to find the sewing machine structure and its parts clearly labelled.