Anatomy of a sewing machine
- Two small discs, connected by a shaft around which thread is wound. This thread is used to form the underside of each stitch.
- Can be made of metal or plastic.
- Machines have a hollow underneath the throat plate into which the bobbin can be placed.
- Some machines have a 'drop in bobbin' which allows you to place the bobbin directly into this hollow just as it is.
- Others have a bobbin case, which require you to load the bobbin into metal casing, thread the thread through it, and then insert the case into the housing.
Bobbin Winder & Tension Disc
- The winder is a small pin that the bobbin is placed on in order to have thread wound onto it.
- Thread is pulled from the spool through the tension disc in order to be wound neatly and firmly onto the bobbin.
- Small teeth set into the throat plate that grab the fabric and feed it through the machine.
- Their speed is controlled by the pedal.
- A large wheel on the side of the machine that can manually control the needle.
- Used to reposition the needle, or make single stitches with precision.
- Pierces the fabric with thread, and creates stitches by forming loops with the bobbin thread underneath.
- Held in place by a needle clamp.
- A that sits on the floor and activates the machine when pressed down on.
- The harder you press, the faster the machine will go (though most machines have a dial or slider which can be adjusted to control the machine's maximum speed).
- A lever operated piece of metal or plastic keeps fabric flat and taut while sewing, and allows it to be moved along evenly by the feed dogs.
- There are a variety of different feet for different purposes including buttonholes, zippers, and other specific tasks.
- A button that, when pressed, causes the machine to sew in reverse.
- Narrow lengths of plastic or metal set on top of the machine, onto which the spool of thread is placed. They hold the thread in a way that allows it to rotate easily and release thread as the machine is operated.
- Most spool pins are vertical, but some are horizontal. These require a stopper to hold the spool in place.
Stitch Selection Mechanism
- Means by which stitch type can be selected (eg. zig zag, straight, etc.)
- Depending on machine can be:
- Computerised with buttons
- Computerised with touch screen
- A small blade for cutting thread at the end of a piece of sewing. This eliminates the need for scissors.
Thread Guides & Take Up Lever
- Parts of the machine through which thread passes as it travels from spool to needle.
- They regulate the tension, and help feed the thread through the machine properly.
- Most machines will have numbers printed on them to indicate how you should run your thread through these parts of the machine.
Throat (or Stitch) Plate
- Covers the bobbin housing, and mechanisms
- Usually has ruled stitch guides for measuring width of seams and seam allowance.
Apart from standard home sewing machines, there are a few specialty machines that can be used by sewists with particular interests and skills.
Overlocker or Serger
- Particularly useful for garment making as they create edges, seams and hems very quickly and neatly.
- Overlockers cut fabric while sewing, trimming excess fabric as they go.
- Their stitches oversew the edge of the fabric giving a professional finish, and preventing fabric from fraying.
- They can sew with two to five cones of thread at once, allowing them to make a range of stitches and finishes.
- Can create seams that can stretch with knit fabrics.
Long Arm Machines
- Machines that have an extras long distance between the needle and the body of the machine.
- Makes it possible to sew large and bulky projects such as quilts.
- Machines that can be programmed to create custom embroidered details on fabric.