Preparing Your New Sewing Machine to Sew

Mar 30 21:00 2004 Mary Wilkins Print This Article

A few weeks ago I wrote a column on how to choose your sewing machine. If you have made your choice, we will continue on with getting your machine ready to ... the machine is ... that

A few weeks ago I wrote a column on how to choose your sewing machine. If you have made your choice,Guest Posting we will continue on with getting your machine ready to sew.

Threading the machine is something that is pretty basic, yet a little different on every machine. It is VERY important to refer to your manual when first learning the procedure. If the threading isn't correct, nothing else will work either.

Here is a basic rundown of threading a sewing machine. Remember, each machine is different. This is just the general idea.

1. Put your spool of thread on the spindle on top of the machine.

1a. A vertical spindle or post - position the spool so that the thread runs clockwise as you sew.

1b. A horizontal spindle - the spool is held in place by an end cap. If your spool has a small cut in it, be sure to have the cut to the right.

NEWBIE TIP: If your spool is brand new and there are labels covering the holes, uncover yhour holes completely to allow the spool to turn easily.

2. Pull thread to the left of the spindle and thru your first thread guide.

3. Draw thread down thru your tension guide. (It is extremely important to have your presser foot UP when threading your machine.)

4. Draw thread thru the next thread guide.

5. Insert thread thru the take up lever.

6. Bring thread thru next thread guide.

7. Finally! - thread your needle. Most needles are threaded from front to back, some from left to right.

Practise threading your machine. It is no small chore if you are a beginner, but after a while you will be able to do this with your eyes closed.


Follow the instructions from your manual carefully when winding your bobbin.

If your bobbin case is built in, the bobbin will be wound in place with the machine fully threaded.

Removable bobbins are wound on the top or side of the machine. Your machine must be threaded before bobbin filling.

Your bobbin thread must be drawn thru the tension spring. For wind in place bobbins, this is already taken care of. You MUST make sure this is done if you are using a bobbin that already has thread in it.


Balancing your tension is a huge issue when you first start to learn about your sewing machine. There is nothing that will cause you more grief than your tension.

Your stitch is formed by interlocking the bobbin and needle thread. Every time the needle goes down, a hook catches the needle thread and wraps the bobbin thread around it. It is a tug of war that must be synchronized for a good stitch result.

If your needle thread tension is stronger, your bobbin thread will be pulled to the top of your fabric. If your bobbin thread tension is stronger, the needle thread will be visible on the underside of your fabric. When the tension is just right and evenly balanced, the stitch will lock in the middle, halfway between the top and bottom of your fabric. This is what you want and have to find. It might take some playing around with your tension guide, but worth the extra bit of time it takes.


The easiest way to test your tension is to thread your machine and put one colour thread in your machine with a totally different colour in your bobbin. Neither one should match your fabric. You need to examine your stitches.

If your tension is too tight, you will see your bobbin thread on top.

If your tension is too loose, you will see your top thread on the bottom of the fabric.

If your tension is correct, you will see machine thread only on the top of the fabric and bobbin thread only on the underside of the fabric.


BEFORE you start adjusting your tension, make these three checks. This is very important.

1. Be certain your machine is threaded properly. Even long time sew-ers can miss a thread guide.

2. Be sure your bobbin is properly installed.

3. Make sure your needle is inserted properly.

After going thru the three checks, you may have to adjust the tension in order to sew a good stitch. Check your manual to see how this is done. Each time you have adjusted, sew a line of stitching. You should only have to make small, slight adjustments to correct your stitch.

If after what seems like an eternity of changes, you still don't have a balanced stitch, leave your machine. Don't even look at it for a few hours, maybe a day or so. Then go back and try again. It could be you are tired, frustrated or distracted. It happens to all of us.

Or, it could be that your bobbin needs adjusting. Most sewing machine manufacturers don't want you to adjust your bobbin tension. If your manual doesn't cover this area, then it is best to take your sewing machine in to a dealer or reputable repair man.

Happy Sewing!

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Mary Wilkins
Mary Wilkins

Mary is the mother of three grown children and grandmother to six perfect grandchildren. She is also owner/editor of http://sew-whats-new.

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