Friday, February 3, 2012

Sewing Machine 101 {meant to inspire you!}



Here she is! Isn't she beautiful!  I don't mean to be selfish, but this tutorial is not just for you, it's for me!  You know, just in case I forget - I've got my own instructions in easy to follow picture format!  Your machine may be a little different, but keep your manual handy in case you need it as a reference. This 101 is meant to show you how VERY EASY it is to teach yourself how to use a sewing machine, despite the length of the post. It's meant to inspire YOU to get that machine YOU'VE always wanted, right?

But don't be afraid! It only took me less than two hours to learn how to use the machine, and that was just a few weeks ago! It took me about four times as long to make this post! Now, that's not to say that I didn't run into snags, but you know! I even had a few tangles from the bobbin, but after playing with the tension - fixed it right on the spot! {using the manual} Go me!

AND...I've already gotten two simple projects under my belt: Everyday Napkins & Napkins into Pillows!

So let's start from the top. Let me introduce you to the presser foot, presser foot lever, and release.

AND please, I know, I should have fixed my manicure first, right??? No judging!

If you are facing your machine and the opening is on the left, then the presser foot is directly behind you on the back of the sewing machine. Push it down, the presser foot lowers {the position for sewing}. Lift it up, the presser foot below raises.  See here:






Okay, let's take a look at the presser foot. Below it is detached because I'm going to teach you how to reattach it! First, raise your presser foot lever (see above). Next place presser foot underneath the cut out as shown, making sure the pin and cut out line up. Then all you have to do is pull down the presser foot lever to engage the cut out in the presser foot! See:





Life up the presser foot lever and you got it on there! Now to release the presser foot, just lift that little silver pin, and the presser foot will drop. Like this:




Now that you've met the presser foot and lever, it's time to wind a bobbin!

Let me introduce you to your horizontal spool pin, thread {duh}, and spool holder. Take your thread and place it on the spool pin so the thread comes over the top facing you {see picture}. Then secure it with the spool holder. If the thread spool is smaller than this, you can flip the spool holder to hold with the other side.




Next, going clockwise {on my machine}, follow the path on your machine around the bobbin winder tension disc. Thread bobbin as shown and place on the spindle. Push to the right to lock.




Hold the thread end {like picture above} and press the foot control pedal to wind bobbin.




When full, cut the thread, pull bobbin to the left and remove. Cut thread to remove bobbin from machine. Keep it handy because we will need it soon!




See the thread on top of the bobbin {above, right}. You can cut that off. You've wound it tight!  Now we are going to open the hinged cover to put the bobbin in the machine. Remove the bobbin case by pulling the silver lever.




This was a tricky part for me so hang on! Hold the bobbin case with one hand. Thread should be in a clockwise direction. Pull thread through the slit and under the finger. It will be in that hole in the bobbin case. Hold the bobbin case by the silver latch and insert back into the shuttle.






THE BOBBIN IS READY! Before we learn how to thread, you will need to know how to insert and change a sewing needle. Loosen the needle clamp screw. Insert needle as high as it will go and then tighten clamp screw again to secure. Change needles when you notice: bent, blunt, or damaged needles!




NOW we will learn how to thread your needle! On my machine, and I imagine most machines, it's practically spelled out for you on the machine in numbers:

BUT...

FIRST, TURN POWER OFF so you don't skewer your fingers! Keep in mind - the handwheel controls the height of the sewing needle as you turn it. Raise the needle with the handwheel {located on the right of your machine} to its highest position. ALSO raise the presser foot by lifting the presser foot lever {on back of machine}.




Okay, now we are ready to thread! First put the thread spool into the spool pole and secure with holder. Make sure thread is coming off the spool like in my picture below {from the back}. Pull yourself some slack and then thread through {1} the upper thread guide,  guide thread around thread guide, pulling thread through pre-tension spring {2}. Thread tension module{3} by leading thread down right channel and up left channel {4}.




Okay from {4} we are going to head north {up}.  After you've turned the corner, lift the thread up and pass it from right to left over the take-up lever {5}. NOTE: if you can't see the take-up lever, then you need to use the handwheel on the right side of the machine and turn it until you can see it.  Once it's hooked on there, it's time to head towards the needle. You are almost done!!! WHOO HOO!




Okay, take a deep breath, last step! Take the thread and pass behind the wire needle clamp guide {it will be open in the back to hook the thread on}. Pass the thread through the hole in the bottom of the needle from front to back and pull thread off to the side.




Now, hold the upper thread in your left hand, and with your right hand, turn the handwheel towards you to lower, then raise the needle.  IT'S MAGIC! You will see the bobbin thread come up from underneath the presser foot. Gently pull the upper thread {the one through the needle} to raise the bobbin thread up through the needle plate hole. It will come right up with it, just tug on it until you have both ends {the upper and bobbin threads}.



Lay both threads to the back of the presser foot {upper thread needs to go through the opening in the front of the presser foot before pulling back with the bobbin thread}

C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S!!!  You are ready to sew!!!




This is where machines differ. Here is my reverse lever {important for securing stitches} and the settings I use for stitch width and length. Make sure to check your manual for proper settings. This is a basic tutorial so I am sewing a basic straight stitch. Whew, right?




With the presser foot lifted {refer to beginning of lesson for presser foot location} put your fabric underneath. Then using the presser foot lever, lower the presser foot to secure fabric. Your threads will still be in the back of the machine.  Press your foot pedal and sew an inch or so. Then press and hold the reverse lever and sew back the same distance to secure stitch {called a backstitch}. Let go {of the reverse lever} and YOU ARE SEWING!



When you get to your endpoint, reverse stitch again to secure your stitch. Lift the presser foot {using lever} and pull the fabric off to the left. If it worked, and didn't tangle the bobbin, then your two threads {upper and bobbin} should follow the fabric out to the left! Just cut near the fabric, and pull the threads back into position! Your machine is ready to sew again and SEW ARE YOU!!!!




Now, if you have tangles in the bobbin thread, sometimes you can just gently lift it and pull to the side and you will see the two threads still. If not, cut the threads and adjust your tension settings based on your machine manual or see instructions below for my Singer. You may need to re-thread the machine and start all over once you adjust the settings. I had to do this a couple times and haven't had an issue since! Settings will depend upon the type of stitch as well as the type of fabric.


According to my manual, basic thread tension setting is "4." {According to my manual, 90% of sewing is completed in 3-5 range.} To increase the tension, turn the dial to the next number up. To reduce the tension, turn the dial to the next number down. 



To adjust the bottom thread tension, you need to test it first. Remove the bobbin case and bobbin {still together} and hold it suspending it by the thread. Jerk it once or twice. If the tension is right, the thread will unwind by about an inch or two . If the tension is too TIGHT, it will not unwind at all. If the tension is too loose, it will unwind like the picture above or keep on going. To adjust, you need to turn the small screw on the side of the bobbin case. {Remember: Lefty loosey, righty tighty.}

In short: adjust the tension, re-thread  your machine {if necessary}, and sew down a piece of scrap fabric to test it before completing your project. 

SOME THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND {per my manual}:

  • Proper tension settings are important to good sewing.
  • There is no single tension setting appropriate for all stitch functions, thread or fabric.
  • A balanced tension is usually only desirable for straight stitch construction sewing.
  • For zig-zag and decorative sewing stitch functions, thread tension should be generally less than for straight stitching.

LOOK AT YOU...SEWING ALL BY YOURSELF!!! Or maybe you just read through this and are heading out to get your very first sewing machine! IF SO - don't get your machine at Tar-you know where. I went to an actual sewing machine store with a seasoned refurbishing sewing machine veteran running the place. He suggested this refurbished machine because it's older and Singer at that time still made the machines with metal parts {he even had a machine cut in half to show me!} He said many of the new Singers  are made of plastic and so refurbished, in my case, was the way to go! And...it was in my price range.  I may just go back there and give him a great big HUG!

And WHEN you do dust off that machine or buy yourself a shiny new one - PLEASE leave me a comment and let me know how it went! I'd be so pleased to hear your good news!!!

UPDATE: My Mom gave me a wonderful book for my birthday to help me with my new hobby! It's a book of projects that only use one yard of fabric! And I especially love it because it has beautiful photographs :)





52 comments:

  1. This is soooo amazing!!! Thank you MUCH for sharing this on Once Upon a Weekend!

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  2. Sarah- I have a machine that I have never used. I might have to get it out of the basement and try to sew something!

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  3. My sister just got a machine for her birthday on the 10th and this tutorial would be great for her! The photos are so detailed and clear; impressive job!

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  4. Pinning this - thanks for the great reference. I think I have the same machine as you, and I need to start putting it to use!

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  5. One day I will learn how to use my sewing machine. It is on my bucket list. Thank you for this post!!

    -Heather @ www.made-famous-by.com

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  6. You truly are giving me some serious hope!! Love that you've made the steps so easy and photographed them (and labeled them) so nicely!! Thank you again for coming to hang out and link up at Mop It Up Mondays!! Have a fabulous week!

    {HUGS},
    kristi

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  7. What an awesome tutorial! I have a beautiful Brother sewing machine with lots of bells and whistles, that sits on a shelf in my sewing room because I'm afraid of it! I have no idea what to do with it. Maybe this will help me learn to sew and not be afraid of the machine. Thanks so much!
    Lynn

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  8. Great tutorial! Such a handy reference guide!

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  9. You Rock!!! Thank you so much for this!

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  10. I'm positive this tutorial was made for me.. hehe THANK YOU!!!! xoxo

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  11. love the tutorial, knowing me though i would probably sew my sleeve to the material!

    would love for you to check out my blog if you have time!
    Just Tututiny

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  12. This is a great tutorial for new new sewers! I'm going to feature it on my blog tomorrow...stop by and grab a "Featured" button!!

    XO! Kathryn
    destinationcraft.blogspot.com

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  13. lovely for beginners or refresher course! great job with the photos! so very glad you linked up to our party - love having you part of it each week! xo

    www.NorthernCottage.net

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  14. I need this beginner's course! Thank you - great instructive post.

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  15. Great tutorial! Thanks for sharing it at my party!!! Hope your week ahead is GREAT!!!

    XO, Aimee

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  16. What a great and detailed tutorial! Perfect for beginners! Thanks for sharing at Terrific Tuesdays.
    Rachel

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  17. Wow! You put a lot of effort into this tutorial. Whenever someone asks me how to fill a bobbin, thread the machine, etc... I'll refer them to this post. Thanks for sharing.

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  18. Woot! We're your 100th followers! Sweet!

    Hey, I was wondering if we could link to this post in our "Sewing 101" tab? If not, that's totally fine. Let me know.

    2craftycousins(at)gmail.com

    Nat

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  19. thank you for such a wondeful tutorial!! i just got my first machine for my birthday in feb and was so scared i'd break it trying to learn...then i found this on pinterest. you're a lifesaver! i'm hooked on this site!

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  20. This is such a great blog post and I found it super helpful! I hope you don't mind me giving you a shout out for new sewers on my blog! http://wineandglue.blogspot.com/2012/04/put-bird-on-it-first-attempt-at-sewing.html

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  21. Very good tutorial! I am going to share it with a friend that I am helping learn to sew. She is a couple thousand miles away, so this will be helpful to remind her how to do the different things that I have taught her!

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  22. Very good tutorial! I am going to share it with a friend that I am helping learn to sew. She is a couple thousand miles away, so this will be helpful to remind her how to do the different things that I have taught her!

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  23. Great tutorial. Something I just learned last week is that thread for a horizontal holder is wound differently than thread for a vertical holder. Who knew? Anyway, you had the right thread in your pictures. I just thought you would be interested in that! If I can find the link to that info, I'll share it here.

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    1. Thanks Laurie! I've never had another machine, so that would be good information to include!

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  24. I keep getting my thread caught up. How do you change the tension on the machine? I have the same machine as you.

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    1. I added a section at the bottom of this tutorial for you to show you how to adjust the tension settings of both your upper and lower thread. Your upper tension setting will be around 4, but then you will need to check the tension in your bobbin case {lower thread} by testing it per my added instructions. That's where my thread kept getting caught up. It was too loose in the bobbin case!

      If you are still having difficulty, please email and me and I'll try to help you! dwelljoy@gmail.com. Thanks!

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  25. Thank you so much for posting!! I have had a sewing machine in my basement for almost 5 years and have always wanted to figure out how to use it! I finally did it thanks to your post!!

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    1. Amanda! It's comments like yours that make my day and give me a reason to keep writing. I'm glad I could help you dig out and learn to use your machine!

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  26. Sorry for being the weird blog stalker, but I love you for this!! You even have the same machine as me this is so helpful!! Thank you thank you!!

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  27. I love the way you explain stuff about sewing. Now I am more inspired to study about it. But then where should I start? Should I buy sewing machine or buy materials for sewing? I hope you can help me on this. Thank you so much!

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    1. Hi Tess! If you are interested in sewing, definitely head to a sewing shop where there are staff there to help you pick out a machine and accessories you will need. Follow your manual {or these instructions if your machine is similar} and use scrap fabric to practice, practice, practice! Then find your first project and head to the store to pick out some fabric! If you are looking for a good project book that uses only one yard of fabric, my Mom bought me this book: One Yard Wonder {see new link in post} Good luck! And if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to send me an email and I will help you if I can! dwelljoy@gmail.com. Thanks for stopping by!!!

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  28. I have a Singer machine that I got for my 14th birthday; I am 52 now. A couple of years ago, I took it to a repair shop, to have it looked at because I hadn't used it in so long. I wanted to know if it was worth having fixed, or should I just buy a new one. The man there, a seasoned gentleman, told me the same thing - the new machines have all plastic parts. When they break, they have to be replaced; they can't be repaired. He told me that if he had the choice, he'd hold on to the one I had. He cleaned it for me and set it to rights. I took lessons way back when I got the machine and I have sewn a little here and there through the years. My only child just left for college (today!! sniff-sniff) and I have decided to teach myself to sew, again. Thanks so much for your tutorials. I am looking forward to future projects. I made my daughter a shower wrap from a beach towel - it cost me just $6 vs the ones that started at $15 in the stores. So, I am on my way! I am sure I'll be back here in the future for help. Thanks for your help!

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  29. THIS MADE MY NIGHT!! Thank you so much for providing such an easy to follow tutorial complete with step by step pictures. I've had many battles with my machine when it came to threading it & I haven't used it in awhile because it was such a headache at times. I found this post while browsing Pinterest & it inspired me to dust off my machine & try again... I got it threaded on the first try with no headache at all!!! =) I'll definitely be back to check out some of your other posts. Thank you again!

    Smiles, Ashley

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  30. I had just recently dusted off my machine and had no luck with it! Came across your tutorial on Pintrest and I'm going to have to try again. I THINK I see the step I missed that might have been causing me problems. I kept ending up with a broken top thread or bobbin barf. UGH. Wish me luck!

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    1. Valerie, Thanks for stopping by and leaving me a comment! I was so intimidated when I first sat down with my sewing machine - and making that tutorial really helped me learn and not forget what I was doing! I do wish you the best of luck and hope you come back to let me know how it went.

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  31. Got my sewingmachine for christmas and unpacked it today. (its a singer 8280). I never sewed before, and your tutorial really helped and made me proud, yeah! :D

    But i got some starting problems... the bobbin thread on my stich kept beeing to loose and I couldnt figure out why. Even adjusted it to the max tension....
    until I figured out that I had forgotten to put it through the SLIT 'doh!!! :D

    But now I did the perfect stitch and I'm so happy! lol!
    thank you so much for the tutorial!

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  32. Ok, I just got a New Machine, I have never ever in my 25 years touch a Sewing machine, and thanks to this I master it pretty well...So a thousand THANK YOUS!!

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    1. Jessibeth - you are so very welcome! I just worked on a project today and had to reference my own tutorial at one point! Time for me to work on regular projects :) What did you make?

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  33. Lay both threads to the back of the presser foot

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  34. I can't wait to try this! I've had a sewing machine for about a year now, and sad to say it's still in the box. I'm so glad a came across this tutorial on Pinterest. I has inspired me to get it out and start to learn! I LOVE that you included pics for us visual learners! Thanks!

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  35. Does anyone know how to thread a vintage, foot pedal, Singer? I would like to begin making items but can't get pat the threading.

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    1. Can you send an image to me and I will post it? dwelljoy@gmail.com. Hope we can help!

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  36. Thank you so much! I just got my grandmother's 20-something year old Bernina 1130 and wasn't sure where or how to start. This was super helpful and easy to understand! I know my grandmother would be so glad to know that I'm learning to sew on the machine she loved and made so many things for me on!

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  37. @Raquel above: I'm worse than you! I've had my sewing machine for over two years now. I have spurts where I get so excited and swear I'll start sewing, but I've had 101+ SaHM excuses pop up by now. With the help of Sarah's guide, I hope to start sewing within the next few days! I was thrilled to power the monster up the other day. Best of luck! -R

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  38. This is amazing -- the steps as well as the pictures that go along with them! I have been planning on getting my friend a sewing machine to get his fashion dream started so I went online for sewing machine basics. Never thought I'd see myself wanting to learn how to sew myself but I am excited to go out & explore different machines and fabrics. Thank you very much, this is very informative and you make it seem so easy! I hope that it is as easy as you have made it look. I will definitely refer back to this page!

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    1. Your friend is very lucky to have a friend like you! There is no greater gift than supporting the dreams of a friend! Thank you for taking the time to comment on this post - I wish you the best of luck in your sewing adventures!

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  39. This is a good, clear tutorial, well done! May I just add a couple of things?

    1. If you go to the 'up,up/down,down' photo (for want of a better illustration caption!), take a look at the metal shank which holds the needle, you'll see a notch. Most machines have this. It's an integral thread cutter. It means you don't have to waste loads of cotton pulling the work out from under the needle before you can snip it off, you can just trim off any stray threads after trimming with the 'notch'. Just pull the threads dwon the shank and into the notch and they will be sliced off. My new machine not only has this, but a thread cutter on the side too. Go me!

    2. We were always told in school to make sure you start and finish with the arm at the front of the machine to the top (by pulling the lever at the side towards you), that way the machine will have finished a cycle of work. If you try to pull the work out with the front arm still in a lowered position, the machine will be mid-cycle and you'll bring a load of thread out with it and wonder what you've done wrong.

    All in all, a great tutorial!

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  40. My nine year old Great Niece got a sewing machine for Christmas! I think I'll share this with her grandmother (my sister) and she can learn the beginning steps!

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  41. Tutorial done very well. It is also important to begin sewing by bringing top thread and bobin thread to the back and hold onto it for the first couple of stitches. This will help keep the thread from pushing into the bobbin and bunching underneath. Also, regarding setting the tension if you put the zig zag stitch at 2 stitch length and 2 stitch width and try to balance the tention, it will be.balanced when there are knots at each corner of the zig zag. Then set machine stitch wherever you want and tension should be correct

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  42. Tutorial done very well. It is also important to begin sewing by bringing top thread and bobin thread to the back and hold onto it for the first couple of stitches. This will help keep the thread from pushing into the bobbin and bunching underneath. Also, regarding setting the tension if you put the zig zag stitch at 2 stitch length and 2 stitch width and try to balance the tention, it will be.balanced when there are knots at each corner of the zig zag. Then set machine stitch wherever you want and tension should be correct

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  43. Hi! I read this post the day before I picked up my very first sewing machine and it was so helpful. I am teaching myself to sew. The other day I made my very first thing - a pair of pj pants for my son! I was so proud. Made them all by myself with no actual instruction how AND they turned out pretty cool seeing as I only JUST got my machine! Did I mention I was proud?! Thanks for the post! :-)

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Thanks for taking the time to read and leave notes :)