How to use a Sewing Machine: Step-by-Step Tutorial

Do you want to learn to sew? do have a sewing machine but don’t know how to use it? Or are you looking for a step-by-step tutorial on how to use a sewing machine?

If you do, this post will walk you through it right from the start till the end.

Today, in this post, I’ll talk about everything needed to get started with a sewing machine.

We will discuss the types of sewing machines, important parts and how different parts of a sewing machine work, what are the Do’s & Don’t, and what are the important tips that can help you get started with your first-ever sewing project today.

Read this post till the end, you’ll have a fair idea about how a sewing machine works and how you can use it too.

What is a Sewing Machine?

Before you want to learn to operate any appliance, it is important that you could understand what that appliance is all about and how it works.

It is not everything, some basic stuff about the appliance would not only help understand different parts but also let you become familiar with it.

When it comes to a sewing machine, is one of the most common types of appliances which we find in many houses as often we need to repair torn or ripped jeans, shirts, dresses, bags, etc.

Though it is a common appliance, we normally don’t know what a sewing machine is or I should say we don’t know the formal definition of a sewing machine.

According to the Wikipedia

sewing machine is a machine used to stitch fabric and other materials together with thread.

So a sewing machine is a machine or an appliance that is used to stitch together two different pieces of fabric with the help of a thread.

How does a Sewing Machine work?

The below video explains pretty nicely how a sewing machine works or how the stitches are formed with the help of a sewing machine and the thread.

The formation of a single stitch is a few-step process that is repeated over and again and we get a nice seam.

Here is how a single stitch is formed.

  1. The needle (assuming needle threading is done already) which has the thread passes through the fabric.
  2. When the needle punches the fabric with thread in it, the hook extends from the rotatory shuttle takes the thread, and moves in such a way that it creates a loop.
  3. While the loop is created, the bobbin which is placed inside the rotatory shuttle supplies another thread and locks the one coming from the Needle.
  4. Then the needle moves up and tightens the thread to form a nice stitch. The same process is repeated over and again and we get the fabric sewn together.

Get to know your Sewing Machine

Take a look at the below image to understand the different parts of a typical sewing machine.

Though modern sewing machines will have more parts but these are the basic ones that everyone should know.

Out of them, there are some really important parts which we will discuss below.

Image Credit: Wikipedia


The Needle is the smallest part of a sewing machine but the most important one.

The needle is attached to a needle bar with the help of a screw and it punctures the fabric at the time of sewing.

There are different types of sewing machine which is used for different kind of materials.

There is a number given to each sewing machine based on the material.

For example, if you have to sew a thin fabric, you need a needle suitable for such fabric.

However, for thick materials such as Canvas, Denim, or even leather, you need a different needle.

According to the American sizing system, the needle size varies from 8 to 18 with 8 being the finest and 18 the largest.

The general rule about the sewing needle selection is, that the lighter the material, the lower the number of needles better.

If you have to sew thick material, you’ll need a larger number of needles for the same.

For example for chiffon, you will need a 9-number sewing machine, and for Canvas/Denim, you will need a 16-number sewing machine.

Needle Bar

The needle bar is something, the needle is attached to.

The needle bar helps to move the sewing machine up/down when you sew the material.

The needle is attached to a Needle bar with the help of a screw.

Metal Needle Plate

The needle plate plays an important role at the time in sewing light or heavy material.

This is something where you spread the fabric for an easy and comfortable sewing experience.

It helps you manage your crafting project at the time of sewing.

Presser Foot

Presser’s foot holds the fabric tight so that you get nice and clean stitches.

It also helps with pushing the fabric backward as you continue to get stitches.

There are several types of presser foot to serve different purposes.

For example, if you have to make a buttonhole, there is a presser foot for the same.

The presser foot can be changed pretty easily as well. Some sewing machines come with several types of presser foot as accessories.


The bobbin is yet another important component of a sewing machine as it supplies thread from the bottom needed to make stitches.

Threading a bobbin is pretty simple with some sewing machines as they come with an easy bobbin winding system.

It is enclosed in a case called the shuttle and it is the next one we’ve to discuss.

Bobbin case (Shuttle)

The shuttle or the bobbin case keeps the bobbin rolling inside it and supplies the necessary thread for making stitches.

Thread feed

The threading system of a sewing machine is important for stitching without trouble.

The thread before reaching to needle passes through various channels and one has to go sequentially.

If any channel is missed, you may not get nice stitches, sometimes it may lead to the breaking of the thread as you sew.

Thread Tension Settings

The optimum settings of thread tension should be done for a sewing machine otherwise it will break the thread every now and then.

If the thread tension is too low, you will see the thread is released accessively which will result in uneven stitches, specially the bottom one.

However, if the thread tension is high, you will notice the thread is breaking every now and then.

Hence, it becomes very important that optimum thread tension is maintained.

Stitch length controller

The stitch length controller lets you set the length of the stitches.

For a mechanical sewing machine, you will see a big rotatory dial fixed on the front side of the sewing machine which can be rotated clock or anticlockwise to change the stitch length.

For a lighter fabric, it’s good to have smaller stitches however for heavy material such as leather, the bigger stitch length is preferred.

Stitch select dial

One of the important features of a sewing machine is the number of built-in stitches.

There are different low-end sewing machines that come with very few built-in stitches some high-end sewing machines such as SINGER 9980 have up to 600 built-in stitches.

The mechanical sewing machine has a dial to change stitches however, the computerized sewing machines have a touch panel for selecting stitches.

Reverse stitch lever

Most of the sewing machines that come with a reverse stitching feature come with a reverse stitch lever.

It helps you reinforce the stitches so that it doesn’t get ripped easily.

It is very useful for materials like leather which needs to be sewn tightly.

Stitching speed Controller

Stitching speed is controlled by a rotatory dial in a mechanical sewing machine.

However, the computerized sewing machines come with an LCD screen display which can be used to control stitching speed.

You just have to tap the screen to increase or decrease the stitching speed.

Some high-end sewing machines such as SINGER 4423 are capable of sewing with a speed of 1,100 stitches per minute.

On/ Off button

The on/off button lets you sew the material without using a foot pedal.

Just press the ON button and the sewing machine will start electronically.

To top the machine, press the OFF button.

How to use a Sewing Machine

To get started with your first sewing project, make sure you thread the machine by following the manual that came with the sewing machine.

The instruction manual explains every single step needed to feed your sewing machine with thread.

It also explains what channels the thread should pass through.

See: Best Sewing Machine for Beginners

Once you thread the machine and also the bobbin is threaded and placed in the shuttle. You are ready to start sewing.

Step 1– Pick up the fabric you want to stitch.

Step 2– Pull the presser foot lever up (which is generally opposite to the presser foot (on the back).

Step 3– Place the fabric below the presser foot where you want to start stitching. Pull the presser foot lever down so that the fabric is ready to be sewn.

Step 4– The metal plate has the guidelines given on it for straight stitches. Make sure you hold the fabric in line with the lines given on a metal plate.

Step 5– Once everything is ready, press the pedal, and the machine will start making stitches and move the fabric backward. Adjust the stitch’s speed based on how fast/slow you want to stitch.

Step 6– When you reach the endpoint and have to take a 90-degree turn, make sure the machine is stopped with the needle down (inside the fabric).

Then pull the presser feet lever up, rotate the fabric 90 degrees, and push the lever down.

Start stitching straight again until you finish the end of the fabric.

That’s all!

Accuquilt Dynamic Promo

What are the Best Sewing Machines for beginners?

Since you are reading this article, there is a high chance that you are a beginner and want to learn to sew (though this is always true).

If you are willing to purchase a sewing machine that is beginner-friendly, we’ve created a list of the best sewing machines specially for beginners.

We are the experts and have handpicked sewing machines for those who want to get started with sewing stuff. You can find in this post

Types of Sewing Machines

There are three types of sewing machines that are currently being sold.

It totally depends on the choice of the people and which type of sewing machine they want.

While it depends on the preference of the user, there could be a huge difference in the price of these sewing machines.

Let’s see.

This is the most common type of sewing machine for beginners.

Such type of sewing machine has manually controlled features that make it a bit less costly than other types of sewing machines.

You will see the big rotatory dials for selecting the stitches, adjusting the stitching speed, or adjusting the width & length of the stitches.

Such sewing machines are relatively heavier and bigger in size in general.

Such type of sewing machines is the most advanced sewing machines as they have a computerized system for accessing and controlling different features.

Such as a computerized sewing machine will have an LCD touchscreen display on the front which shows the current stitch’s style, length/ width of the stitch, etc.

If you want to change the settings, you will have to tap the button on the screen.

They are somewhere middle of the computerized and mechanical sewing machines.

They have the On/Off button to start/ stop the machine. They can be computerized or mechanical with those big dials.

Among all, computerized sewing machines are the most advanced sewing machines and they are futuristic as well.

Though, they are relatively costlier than other types of sewing machines.

The computerized embroidery machines can be connected to a computer via a USB cable and the embroidery design files can be transferred to a machine’s built-in memory.

Some of them come with an embroidery card system as well which can be placed in the slot given on the machine.

If anyone needs advice about the sewing machine model they are going to purchase or has any other queries, get in touch with us through the comment section or through the Contact Us page.

Sewing Machine Infography - How to use

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top