How to Thread a Sewing Machine Step by Step

How to Thread a Sewing Machine Step by Step

Threading a sewing machine is like riding a bike: easy once you've done it successfully once or twice. Sewing machines vary, of course, but the basic principle is the same. They create stitches by interlocking the upper thread (from a spool that winds through the needle) with the lower thread (that comes up through the bobbin).

1 Using the handwheel (or the "needle up" button), raise the needle to its highest position.

How to Thread a Sewing Machine Step by Step

2 Raise the presser foot to disengage the tension discs. This will ensure that the needle doesn't "unthread" when you turn on the machine and begin stitching.

How to Thread a Sewing Machine Step by Step

3 Place a spool of thread on the spool pin on the top of the machine. If your machine's pin is horizontal, add the cap to firmly secure the spool.

How to Thread a Sewing Machine Step by Step

4 Take the thread between your thumb and forefinger and pull it across the top of the machine and through the first thread guide. The thread should unwind easily from the spool. If it doesn't, check the spool to find where the tension or snag is occurring.

How to Thread a Sewing Machine Step by Step

5 Pull the thread to the front of the machine, down through the tension assembly, and around the next thread guide. Make sure the thread has passed between two tension discs as well as the hook that may be attached to the left side of the tension dial.

How to Thread a Sewing Machine Step by Step

6 Pull the thread up and through the hole or slot in the take-up lever.

How to Thread a Sewing Machine Step by Step

7 Pull the thread back down through any remaining thread guides and place the thread from the front through the back of the needle eye. Some machines have built-in needle threaders that make quick work of threading the needle. To thread a machine needle manually, follow the groove in the needle shaft to determine from which direction (left to right or front to back) to thread the needle. Raise the presser foot so that you'll feel slight resistance when pulling the thread through the machine.

How to Thread a Sewing Machine Step by Step

8 Lower the presser foot and gently pull the thread to check and ensure that the tension discs are engaged.

How to Thread a Sewing Machine Step by Step

9 Insert a wound, full bobbin, taking care that its rotational direction is correct and that the bobbin tension spring is engaged. If applicable, close the throat plate.

How to Thread a Sewing Machine Step by Step

10 Raise the presser foot and hold the upper thread (needle thread) while lowering and raising the needle one time to loop the upper thread around the lower thread (bobbin thread).

How to Thread a Sewing Machine Step by Step

11 Gently pull the end of the upper thread to bring the lower thread up through the needle hole in the throat plate. Pull several inches of both the upper-thread and lower-thread ends under the presser foot together, toward the back of the machine.

How to Thread a Sewing Machine Step by Step

Although he violated Elias Howe's patent (and later paid for it), American inventor Isaac Singer improved upon the design of the twothread sewing machine and was responsible for popularizing it.

Quick Reference: The Parts of a Sewing Machine

1. Spool pin. Holds a spool of thread that feeds the upper thread

2. Bobbin winder spindle. Small pole to hold bobbin during the winding procedure

3. Bobbin winder stop. Stops the loading process once the bobbin is full

4. Stitch-width dial. Allows you to control the size of zigzag stitches

5. Stitch-length dial. Allows you to control the length of the stitch

6. Handwheel. Allows you to raise and lower the needle manually (useful for jams and for inserting or releasing projects from the machine)

7. Pattern-selector dial. Allows you to choose the stitch pattern by symbol

8. Reverse-stitch lever (or button). Allows you to run the fabric through the machine backward

9. Power button or switch. Controls on/off mechanism

10. Bobbin-winder thread guide. Directs the thread while the bobbin is being loaded

11. Thread-tension dial. Allows you to control the tension on the upper thread

12. Thread take-up lever. Moves up and down; it's where the upper thread is guided through

13. Needle-clamp screw. Locks sewing machine needle in place

14. Presser foot. Holds the fabric firmly in place and is controlled with a lever at the back of the machine

15. Bobbin cover. Holds the bobbin in place and keeps dust and debris off the thread

16. Bobbin-cover release button. Allows you to open the cover and gain access to the bobbin

17. Feed dogs. Pull fabric toward you during the sewing process

18. Needle. Pushes and pulls thread through the fabric to create stitches

19. Needle plate, or throat plate. A metal plate located underneath the needle and presser foot; its openings allow the needle and feed dogs to make contact with the fabric

How to Thread a Sewing Machine Step by Step

Troubleshooting Common Sewing Machine Problems

The good news is this: Many of your problems will be related to poor maintenance or neglect of your machine. Needless to say, the amount of maintenance needed depends on how much use your machine gets. As with any appliance, you should carefully read the owner's manual and follow recommendations for care and maintenance. If you don't have it, go online to download or order a copy, or check directly with a local dealer.

As with most equipment, the best measure you can take to prevent your machine from malfunctioning is to keep it clean. Cover your machine when not in use. Dust, lint, and pet hair are enemies of a smooth-running sewing machine. Use compressed air to blast away dust particles, especially dust and lint from fabric as you sew (never blow because the moisture from breath can gum up the machine). Have a store of pipe cleaners, muslin squares, and sewing machine oil. Use the pipe cleaners for swabbing out crevices. Slide squares of clean muslin between tension discs (be sure to raise the presser foot). For more specific problems, try the following tips before spending money at the repair shop.

Breaking needles?

• Use the right size needle and thread for your fabric.

• Center the presser foot and make sure it's secure.

• Never pull the fabric through the machine. Let the machine feed it.

• Make sure your needle is securely fastened.

• Remove straight pins before sewing or position them so they don't run under the needle.

Noisy machine?

• Try cleaning and oiling, as oil may have dried and gummed up the machine.

• Check to see if thread is caught or is too tight in the bobbin case.

• Check the belt, and tighten or loosen as needed.

Seams puckering?

• Check to see if the tension is too tight.

• Check your stitches; if they are too long, the fabric can pinch and gather.

• Try a new or sharper needle.

• Make sure the upper thread size and bobbin thread size are the same weight and made of the same fiber.

• Avoid pressing down too hard on the foot while using lightweight fabric; a slower pace keeps light fabric from bunching.

Upper thread breaking?

• Make sure the tension isn't too tight.

• Check to see if your needle is dull or bent.

• Use the right size needle for the thread. Too small a needle will cause bunching as the thread slides through.

• Your thread could be old or of poor quality, causing knotting, stripping, and lint deposits in the machine.

Lower thread breaking?

• Make sure the tension isn't too tight.

• Use the right size needle for the thread. Too small a needle will cause bunching as the thread slides through.

• Check to see if the thread in the bobbin case is stuck or tangled.

• Take care not to pull the thread too tightly while winding the bobbin.

• Check for a possible sharp edge, or burr, on the throat plate that could be cutting the thread.

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