Operating a sewing machine is comparatively simple. Anyone can learn to do it well and proficiency is merely a matter of practice. You will get the most satisfaction out of sewing if you own your machine and learn to use it well. Machines may be operated either by electric motor or by foot treadle. Practice first on paper and then on cloth.


The upper part of the machine is called the head, and the large wheel on the right is the balance wheel. This is connected to the drive wheel, underneath the table, by a belt, and the two wheels turn together. The balance wheel is turned towards you to make the needle go up and down.


The presser foot holds the material in place as you sew, and is lifted and lowered by means of the foot lifting level. The needle, which falls between the toes of the presser foot, is inserted into the needle bar and tightened in place with a small screw. The needle must be inserted properly, straight up into the needle bar, with grooved side to right or left, depending on your machine.


The machine is usually threaded in this order: spool pin, thread guide, tension disks and spring, take-up lever at highest point, thread guides, needle. The needle is always threaded from the side on which the last thread guide is, along the groove into the hole. Check your manual for exact details for your machine.

Use the same kind and size thread on the bobbin as on top of the machine, except for special effects. To wind the bobbin, wind some thread around it by hand until there is enough tightness so thread does not slip off, insert bobbin into bobbin winder, put thread on spool pin. Loosen the large screw in the center of the balance wheel so that needle no longer goes up and down, push winder into place back against wheel, run machine slowly to wind bobbin evenly, not so full that it fits into shuttle tightly. Tighten screw in balance wheel when finished.


In old type treadles, there is often a long bobbin and a shuttle into which it is inserted. Put the bobbin into the shuttle, holding the top in place with one finger of left hand. With right hand, pull thread down through slit to bottom where it catches in a spring and up again into center. Put shuttle into shuttle case, point first, flat side up. Pull up bobbin thread by holding upper thread in left hand. Turn balance wheel towards you slowly until needle goes down and up, catching bobbin thread in a loop. Pull up loop, and put both threads back through toes of presser foot. Close slide over shuttle case.


New treadle and electric machines have round bobbins which are wound in a manner similar to that described. See that small piece of metal on winder fits into hole on side of bobbin.


If the machine has no automatic bobbin winder release, be careful not to wind the bobbin too full or too tight or the thread may break in stitching. It is a good practice not to wind on a bobbin partly filled with thread. You may be deceived later about the amount in the top winding and forget what kind of thread is underneath. If you lack bobbins and must wind on top of another thread, be sure the thread ends underneath are caught under the new thread and not left loose to tangle and cause the new thread to break.

Always be sure the machine is wiped clean before you start to stitch.


At all times, start to stitch with a practice piece of fabric to be used for the garment. Select proper size needle and thread. Never allow a stitch to be taken without cloth under the needle. Watch beginning and end of stitching lines for this. Stitch a short line and check size of stitch and tension. Stitch regulator at right will change the size of stitch by your moving the lever up and down or turning dial.


Now you understand the sewing machine, it is time to start sewing your own garments!


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