How to: Sewing Basics

Have you ever thought about wanting to sew but just didn’t know how or where to start? Here’s a basic guide to sewing that will tell you all of the supplies and advice you should know when learning to use a sewing machine.

There are so many different types of sewing machines to choose from but they all have about the same basic functions. For beginners, I suggest a sewing machine that does not have any of the high-tech special functions that are not necessarily needed. The sewing machine that I have is a Brother LS2350. I highly suggest this brand just because it has worked great for me and it didn’t take me long to figure out how to first use it.

The most important part of learning to use a sewing machine would be to learn what all of the knobs, buttons, and pieces do. Some machines have more functions, but these are just the primary functions.

Functions of Sewing Machine:

1. On/Off Switch: Turns machine on and off; when on, the light switch turns on.

2. Spool Holder: This is on the top of the sewing machine and it is where the spool of thread is held.

3. Bobbin Winder: This is also on the top of the machine and it is where the empty bobbin is placed and clicked in to be filled with thread.

4. Bobbin Stopper: This stops the bobbin when it is full.

5. Hand Wheel: Lowers/raises the needle when turned.

6. Thread Guide: There are usually numbers/pictures to explain how to thread the sewing machine correctly.

7. Sewing Needle: Creates the stitches in the fabric.

8. Needle Clamp and Screw: Holds the needle in place.

9. Presser Foot: Holds the fabric pieces down so the stitches can be made on both sides of the fabric.

10. Needle Plate: Metal plate surrounding feed dogs that are marked with lines to act as a sewing guide.

11. Feed Dog: Rough metal pieces under the presser foot that move the fabric through the machine.

12. Bobbin Cover: Compartment in front of the needle plate that protects the bobbin from dust.

13. Thread Tension Discs: Knob near the threading that can increase/decrease tension put on the thread. The average is usually indicated on the knob and if it is too high/low then the stitches will be too tight or too loose.

14. Stitch Angle: Places needle in the middle or to the left/right sides.

15. Stitch Width Dial: Determines if the stitches will be straight or zigzagged.

16. Stitch Length Dial: Determines the spacing in between stitches.

17. Reverse Stitch Lever: Held down to reverse the direction of the stitches.

18. Bobbin Housing: Holds the bobbin and it is found in the bobbin cover. The bobbin allows stitches to be made on the bottom side of the fabric.

Supplies Needed:

  • Sewing Machine
  • Spool of desired thread color (probably would need 2 spools to fill bobbin and have some leftover)
  • Bobbin (if you don’t have one already filled)
  • Sissors
  • Sewing Machine Needle (if needed)

The sewing machine I bought had a needle already in place along with a bobbin full of thread. However, I will still be going over how to do both of these. If you already have a needle in the sewing machine and a full bobbin, skip down to the section named “Threading your Sewing Machine”

How to Replace/Insert Needle:

  1. Start off by taking the presser foot off of the machine and then loosen the screw that holds the needle.
  2. Take the needle out of there is already one there and put the new one in with flat side of needle facing away
  3. Tighten the screw that holds the needle and replace the presser foot.

Filling a Bobbin:

  1. Place the spool of thread on the spool holder and the bobbin on the bobbin winder.
  2. Follow the instructions on your sewing machine for placing you’re threading to fill a bobbin. The bobbin should have a piece of thread going through the top bobbin hole facing away from you when finished.
  3. After it is all set up, turn on the machine and press the foot pedal while holding the piece of thread coming out of the bobbin. Do this until the bobbin is completely full.
  4. Cut the thread coming from the spool and your bobbin is now full!

It is important to thread your machine accurately so it works correctly. If it isn’t threaded how it should be, then the machine will most likely not work correctly and it could break.

Threading Your Sewing Machine:

To thread your sewing machine, you will mainly need to look at your threading guidelines that are either numbered or pictured around the top/top left of your machine. If you do not understand how to thread it after looking at these, then you should find a video to explain how to thread your exact sewing machine brand and type. In order to thread a Brother LS2350 sewing machine, you would need to follow these steps:

  1. Place the spool of thread on the spool holder and first wrap the thread around the tip of the metal piece on the far top left as pictured on the machine and bring the thread down into the opening slit right below it.
  2. Bring it down and wrap it around the thread tension knob and bring it up to the top of the left slit.
  3. Bring it down again and be sure that it wraps around the metal hook inside of the machine. It will be a lot easier to see this hook if your machine light is on, and turning the hand wheel can help to get it around the hook.
  4. (*You should turn the machine off if it is on when doing this step to be safe*) Put the thread into the eye of the needle so the thread comes out of the back of it.
  5. Put the thread into the middle of the presser foot and put it aside so it is out of the way when sewing.

The bobbin with thread is important because it allows the bottom part of the fabric to be sewed together. The threading that was done above will only see the top part of the fabric and it will not be held together without the bottom stitching.

How to insert the Bobbin:

  1. Fill bobbin with desired thread color and place into metal bobbin holder. Pull yarn into open metal spot on top of holder.
  2. Put into holding compartment and place the bobbin cover back on.
  3. (*Sewing machine needs to be threaded to do this) Turn hans wheel to lower the needle into the machine where the bobbin is.
  4. Keep turning until the entire needle is seen again and there should be another thread coming out from the bottom; pull that thread out and put it aside with the other thread.
  5. You have successfully threaded the bobbin!

After you have followed all of these steps (successfully placed a needle into your machine, correctly threaded the machine, and placed/threaded the bobbin), then you are ready to begin sewing! I suggest turning on your machine and practicing the types of stitches you can do by changing the stitch tension, width, length, and angle to see what works best for you and your sewing machine.

I hope this article about sewing helps you along your journey and hopefully you will become an expert sewer in no time!