One has to look out for engineers: they begin with the sewing machines and end up with the atomic bomb. Marcel Pagnol (1895-1974).
Buying a good sewing machine to learn how to sew can be quite expensive, but if in addition to releasing overflowing creative ideas, you want it to be good quality as well as easy to use, you'll have to be prepared to put the price up.
When you are a beginner, setting up your first sewing machine to do your first project can be overwhelming. Taking sewing classes can help you to learn quicker.
Yet using a new machine is not rocket science.
Whether one has a mechanical or an electronic sewing machine, the operating mode differs very little, except that the latter allows you to do automatic adjustments (and is therefore easier).
No need for tears, setting up your new toy simply requires a certain technique, with one simple touch and a flick of the wrist, using it will soon come to us automatically.
How to thread the sewing machine needle - for the sewing thread to go through -, insert and fill the spool, insert the sewing needle, turn the reel then use the speed controller.
How do I adjust the stitch selection panel so I can sew different types of fabric and use my sewing patterns?
Those who read this post are most likely wondering how to sew to make their own clothes and accessories, a handy tote bag, skirt, summer dress, helm a pair of trouser hem, make curtains to hide from the neighbours, etc.
Here is our Superprof mini-guide to learn how to use your new sewing machine.
Looking for sewing classes London?
Getting to Know the Parts of a Sewing Machine
Even with an affordable machine from Lidl, you need to read through all the instructions before starting to use it.
Sewing with a machine that is easy to use will still be faster than making hand-stitched shorts!
Because all sewing machines work with a lockstitch: the fabric is sandwiched between the upper and lower thread.
Here are some steps to help you learn the different parts of a sewing machine so you can stitch any type of fabric.
- Locate the bobbin winder, a metal spindle where you insert the spool of thread,
- Find the thread guide, used to guide the sewing thread to the wheel (on the left side at the top of the machine),
- The balance wheel: to the right of the bobbin winder,
- The stitch selection panel, to choose the stitch programme (length, direction),
- Locate the thread take-up lever, into which the thread must be inserted,
- The tension adjustment: allows you to adjust the tension of the threads being sewn,
- The needle clamp screw, to insert/remove the needle from its base,
- The presser foot: to hold and guide the fabric when the machine is running,
- The presser foot lifter: practice pulling it from top to bottom, from bottom to top,
- The needle plate,
- The feed dogs: it is a metal guide on the needle plate that moves the fabric during sewing,
- The bobbin case: under the machine, place the spool of thread which feeds the bottom thread to the needle.
That's it, all you have to do is make your adjustments - especially for a mechanical sewing machine - and settle down to start working.
To do this, place the machine on a flat, clean, tidy and well-lit surface: a table, desk, or other appropriate piece of furniture.
Position the sewing tool with the needle on the left (for good visibility).
Now you can begin.
Why not learn how to make a sewing pattern!
Sewing Lessons Setting Up the Sewing Machine
When you start, everything seems difficult, but sewing and embroidering won't be so tedious once you get your machine set up: provided its settings, perhaps more than your own skill, produce good seams.
A bit like a plumber, even with plenty of experience, he can not do good work if his tools aren't up to scratch.
Here are four basic settings that you will use for all sewing jobs (repairing a zip, darning trousers, sewing leather, making bags, etc.):
Inserting the needle
To correctly fit a sewing needle or a double needle, the flat side of the needle must be directed backwards, with its groove in the direction of where the thread is coming from.
Raise the needle bar upwards.
Unscrew the needle clamp screw, then push the needle all the way into its base (with your left hand). Finally, tighten the clamping screw with a small screwdriver with the other hand.
Learn all you need to know about selecting and using the right needle for your sewing projects...
Preparing the bobbin
A sewing machine uses two sources of sewing thread:
- The top thread,
- The bottom thread, which comes from the bobbin.
Place the Singer (or other brands) bobbin in the reel.
Feed the sewing thread through the thread guide and into the bobbin. Turn on the wheel: the bobbin fills up and the wheel stops automatically when it is full.
The bobbin can now be placed under the needle plate in the bobbin case while leaving the end of the thread outside.
Threading the sewing machine
Now, the thread should go down to the needle.
The modern industrial sewing machine now has an marked path, which makes it easier to thread than an old sewing machine.
Take the thread of the spool, follow the thread guide to the left and go down along the slit provided for this purpose, go up to the top of the thread take-up lever, and back down towards the thread guide of the needle.
Put the thread through the needle threader, then turn the handwheel toward you to move the needle back and forth so that it picks up the thread from the top and the bottom.
Some Tips Before you Start Sewing Class
After selecting the stitch programme with the needle at the top (zigzag, straight, length and width), you can start practising:
- Always practise on thin, easy to sew fabric,
- Place the fabric under the needle,
- Lower the presser foot,
- Start sewing by sliding the fabric forward.
So seams don't break easily, beginner sewing classes will always teach an important part of securing a seam: the reverse stitch.
Find more useful advice for your sewing projects...
This is done at the beginning and at the end of the work.
To do this - depending on the type of machine, there should be a reverse button on the body of the machine - sew a few stitches forward, then press the reverse button to make a few stitches in reverse.
The machine changes the direction of thread feed. Then continues forward. This reinforces the seams.
Some tips for releasing the fabric:
Reassemble the presser foot,
Cut the thread with the thread cutter (behind the presser foot).
To learn more, this very educational article will help you understand how a sewing machine works.
And now, everything is ready: all you have to do now is practise! This is where we take out our colour coded fabrics.
Discover what you can sew out of fabric remnants from other completed projects!
Get Started: Learning to Sew on the Machine
To put fabrics together and make clothing, accessories or sew decorative fabrics, one must ALWAYS respect the seam allowance.
This is usually 1cm, or 1.5cm. This prevents the edge of the fabric from fraying with wear.
Begin by attaching the folded edge of the fabric with safety pins, and then removing them as the fabric is put through the machine.
If you want to switch to another part of the fabric without rotating - for example, to sew at a right angle - you have to turn the upper handwheel on the righthand side of the machine to raise the needle.
So you can move the fabric at will and rotate it for other different stitches.
Start step by step: practice first on leftover fabrics, then try to make a small accessory when you feel confident enough.
For example, a pillowcase or cushion cover.
Taking time, getting organised and practising will enable you to progress, improve your level, gauge the speed of the machine and guide the fabric under the needle.
One last tip: It is important to have your Pfaff, Singer or Husqvarna sewing machine handy, to test the seam with all the different stitches of the machine.
You do not have to overcast, or buy a serger machine to cut a buttonhole: this will come to you over time.
Check out these other ways to learn how to sew:
Discover online sewing tutorials to help you learn how to sew...