13 Steps to Use A Sewing Machine For Beginners

If you are new to sewing, and you have got your sewing machine without an idea of how to go about it. This article will provide with in-depth details on how to use a sewing machine and the basics about a sewing machine that you absolutely need to know.

How To Use A Sewing Machine For Beginners

The first thing to do is to raise the presser foot and place the part of the fabric you want to sew under it. Use the foot pedal to start the sewing and control the speed of sewing while you move the fabric appropriately under the presser foot. Turn a corner by raising the presser foot while the needle is down, turn the fabric in the desired direction, lower the presser and continue sewing.

Sewing is really not a very difficult activity, but for starters, it is important that you are close to your machine manual. It will help you a lot. There are different parts of a sewing machine that you have to know, understand their functions and where they are on the machine. Once you have this basic knowledge, it will be easier to relate with the machine and learning to sew will be more fun. Examples of different parts of the machine are spool pin, bobbin winder, stitch adjustment buttons, tension dial, presser foot, needle plate, feed dog, etc. All of these are useful in sewing a fabric.

Steps to Use a Sewing Machine For Beginners

Firstly, it is important to know that there are different makes of sewing machines, and they are all different from one another. So, there might be a little variation with how things work on your machine. It is therefore, important that you have your manual with you and use it for verification.

To use a sewing machine, you must first find the power cord and the on/off switch to put it on. The power cord is usually attached to the foot pedal which goes to the floor, where your feet can reach it comfortably.

There are usually some knobs at the front of the sewing machine. The knobs allow you to choose the type of stitch that you want to make, whether it is a straight stitch or a zigzag stitch, etc. Below that knob, there’s another one which allows you to choose the length of the stitch you are making – it might be tiny stitches, long or close together stitches, or far apart stitches.

The steps involved in using a sewing machine are quite simple.

1. Select A Straight Stitch And A Medium Stitch With The Knobs

As mentioned before, the stitch are at the front of the machine. You can select the stitch by rotating the knob for stitch type on the machine until it clicks on your preferred option. While setting the stitch, make sure that the needle is up and not on the fabric because it may move the needle. If you have a difficulty making this selection, consult the machine’s manual. The straight stitch is the most common type of stitch used for most seams. The next common type is zigzag stitch which is mostly used to prevent fraying at the edge of the seam.

2. Get A Scrap Material To Practice On

For your first time sewing, you should use a simple, woven material, and not a knit material. You should also not use a heavy fabric for your first experience with the sewing machine, they are usually harder to sew.

3. Put The Fabric Under The Needle

Make sure that the most part of the material is towards the left side of the machine. If you crowd the right side with the bulk of the material, it can cause your stitch to be messy.

4. Lower The Presser Foot On The Fabric

The presser foot has a lever that is used to raise it up or lower it, at the side or behind the needle assembly. Use this lever to bring the presser foot down on the fabric. If you pull the fabric after putting the presser foot on it, you will notice that it has a firm grip on the fabric. While you are sewing, there’s a feed dog under the fabric which the machine uses to advance the fabric at the right speed. So, you don’t have a need to pull the fabric along the machine as you sew. This can bend the needle and damage your sewing. You only need to adjust the stitch length on the machine and the machine speed.

5. Hold The Loose Ends Of The Two Threads

As you start to sew, you need to hold these ends, at least for the first few stitches that you make, to prevent them from going into the fabric. You only do this for a while. After stitching a short distance, you can drop the ends, and then use your hand to control the machine and the fabric.

6. Press The Foot Pedal

This part of the machine is used to control the speed of the machine. The harder you press on it, the faster the machine will go. But for first time use, it is advisable that you press it gently, just enough to keep the machine going, and not run excessively.

  • There are some machines that have a knee bar instead of a foot pedal. In that case, push it to the right with your knee.
  • You can also get the machine to work by using the balance wheel at the top right side of your sewing machine.
  • Use your hand to keep the fabric in a straight line or turn a curve as the machine steers it away from you by itself. The only difference between sewing on a straight line and sewing on a curve is how you guide the fabric with your hand. You should try practice both.
  • While the material is going under the needle, do not pull it or force it. This might cause the needle to break or stretch the material. The stitches can also be clogged up in the bobbin. Press the foot pedal harder if you want the machine to sew faster or you change the stitch length.

7. Find And Use The Reverse Lever

This lever reverses the direction in which the machine sews. Ideally the machine sews away from you but if you use this lever, the direction will be reversed, and it will sew towards you. This button is mostly spring-loaded, so, you might have to hold it down to sew in the reverse direction. Once you have gotten to the end of a seam, sew a few stitches back and forth to finish the seam and keep it from being loose.

8. Move The Needle To The Highest Point Using The Hand Wheel

After doing this, raise the presser foot. The grip on the fabric is loose, and it is easy to pull the fabric out. You should check the position of the needle if the thread pulls out while you’re removing the fabric.

9. Cut The Thread

There are some machines that have a small notch behind the post holding the presser foot. To cut the thread, you only have to hold both ends of the thread and draw it down over the notch in these machines. Not all machines have this mechanism, in which case you will have to make use of a scissors to trim the thread.

10. Try Sewing A Seam

The purpose of sewing is mostly to join 2 fabrics together, so, you should already start using layers, and pins as part of your early learning process. Pin the right sides of two fabric together near the edge. The seam will go 1.3cm to 1.5cm from the edge.

  • Pin the right sides of the fabric together, so that the seam allowance will be on the inside. The right side of the fabric is the side that you want to be on the outside when you are done sewing the piece. If the fabric is printed, the right side is usually the side that has a brighter color.
  • Place the pins at right angle to the line of the seam. You can sew over the (straight) pins and remove them later without any damage to the fabric, the machine or the pin. But to be safer, remove the pin just before your stitching gets where it is.

11. Moving To Other parts Of The Fabric

Using the hand wheel, move the needle to the top of its travel before you start working on a seam, then remove the fabric from the machine when you get to the end of the seam. This lifts the needle, giving you a chance to move to other parts of the fabric that you are working on.

  • The thread may not move when you pull the ends if the needle is not at the top of its travel.
  • Look at your sewing machine for lines indicating seam allowance. The seam allowance is the space between the stitching line and the edge of the fabric. Generally, it’s usually about 1.3 cm to 1.5cm. You can use a ruler to measure both sides of the needle. Although, it should be marked on the throat plate of the machine. Otherwise, you should mark it yourself with a masking tape.

12. Practice Sewing A Sharp Corner

Lower the needle into the fabric where you want to sew a corner. You can lower the needle with the hand wheel, then raise the presser foot. After that, rotate the fabric to the new position while the needle is in it. After putting the fabric in the new position, lower the presser foot and continue the sewing.

Then, after you have practiced the use of the sewing machine with scrap materials and you start feeling comfortable on the machine, then you can start to try out little projects like sewing a pillowcase or a cloth gift bag. To secure your stitch after you’re done stitching, stitch back and forth on a line to prevent the stitch from being loose.

To use a sewing machine, there are certain processes which you have to understand such as the adjustment of a stitch length, how to thread the sewing machine, how to thread and insert the bobbin, how to insert the needle securely. Some of these processes are explained below;

How to Thread a Sewing Machine For Beginners

The top of the sewing machine is where the spool of the thread is usually located. But you can only use it by unwinding it and attaching it to the needle. This is done by pulling the thread through the thread guide at the top of the machine, and then pull it down and around the take-up lever. The machine should have arrows and small numbers printed on it to show you how you’re to thread it.

There is usually a pattern that the thread follows. It is usually, “left, down, up, down, into a hook and through the needle.” Another way to learn to thread the machine is using the thread guides usually provided between the following parts; “spool pin, tension, take-up lever, and needle.”

You can thread the needle from the front to the back or from the left to the right. If it is threaded already, you should get a clue of the direction from it. If it is not threaded, then the thread guide before the needle is usually close to the direction that you must thread the needle from.

How To Thread And Insert The Bobbin

There are two thread sources in a sewing machine. There’s the top thread, and the lower thread that is stored in the bobbin. If you want to wind the bobbin, there’s a bobbin winder at the top of the machine where you can place the bobbin spool. Following the guide, you should take the thread from the thread spool and wrap it around the guide and to the bobbin. Turn the bobbin winder on. It will wind the bobbin till it’s full, then it will stop.


After you are done winding the bobbin, there’s the bobbin cage just below the needle at the underside of the sewing machine. When the bobbin case is in-built, the bobbin simply drops in. In this case, there’s a small notch in the front of the case that you need to pass the thread through before pulling it to the left. But you have to leave that end of the thread outside. You will need to bring it up through the hole in the needle plate when you’re done threading the top thread.

How To Install A Needle Securely

Needles can only go into the machine through one way. They have a flat side through which they usually go in toward the back. One side of the needle, usually opposite the flat side of the shank, has a groove. When installing the needle, this groove must face the direction from which the needle will be threaded from when threading the machine. This is the groove that the thread rides in while going up and down through the fabric. Insert the needle into the post before tightening the thumbscrew securely.

If you have any problems installing the needle on your sewing machine, you should ask people around you that are able to do it for help, and also refer to your machine’s manual.

Learn Sewing Machine Parts


Needle is an essential part of a sewing machine as it moves in and out of the fabric to sew it. While without a needle, it is just not possible to use a machine, it’s all useless. Almost all the machines are already equipped with a needle, but if not, you can buy your own different sized needles. Usually, the standard needles are 75 or 80 sized which you also can swap for different fabrics. To sew denims or heavy textiles, 110 or 120 number will go whereas for cottons or linens, the standard size is the perfect choice. Read the machine manual to get a better understanding of the needle size your machine needs for various fabrics.


Another important attachment is foot that holds your fabric properly in place and is located beneath the needle. Plus, a lever is there which moves up and down to secure the needle and fabric before sewing. To position the fabric, move the lever up and once done, move it down. Ranging from zipping, quilting to sewing, different speciality feet are available but typically the presser foot is the most used.


Well, bobbin winder is a small spool that sits beneath the outer machine casing. You can find it below the needle and foot in a hidden area underneath the sewing area. This is extremely important as all the sewing is done with the thread loaded in the bobbin and while sewing, the top thread meets with bobbin thread to create a stitch on the fabric.

Tension dial

Hold up tight and read it carefully. Since all the sewing machines have a dial or knob to adjust the tension of thread. To determine the tension, you can adjust how tight or loose the stitches will be. Having too tight tension pulls the needle to the right and with too loose tension, the thread will loop on the fabric’s bottom. Every fabric has a different tension setting which you can check out from the manual.

Thread spool

Thread spool is at the top of the machine that allows a series of loops before it reaches the needle. To avoid any tangling and maintain even thread tension, it is helpful. Plus, to adjust the tension that your fabric needs, the machine will have a numbered dial that you can raise or lower down.

Stitch selector

With this, you can change the stitch types according to the dress or craft you are going to make. With every fabric, the stitch can vary which you can select to create decorative stitches. Typically, basic straight stitch and zig zag pattern is used for most assignments.

Hand wheel

With the hand wheel, the needle is moved up and down to sew the fabric. Sometimes when thread gets tangled, turn the wheel towards you and untangle it. See the manual guide to see how it works for your machine as this is the generic method.

Stitch length

You can change the length of the stitches to create different patterns. To create quick lines, a long stitch is used whereas for regular sewing, a length of 2 or 2.5 is preferred by most sewers.

Reverse stitch

Isn’t it a wonderful option? Sewing machines are featured with reverse stitching button mostly to sew in the reverse direction. To start with sewing, you can really learn from reverse stitching it looks beautiful and also to finish off the sewing, you can move forward and backward.

On/off button or switch

An obvious thing to use the machine is by switching it on first. In the modern sewing machines, you will probably see a light after switching it on. Next, to start sewing, use the foot pedal of the machine which will move the needle on the fabric. Make sure to adjust the fabric securely in place to avoid needle breakage or thread tangling. Put pressure on the foot pedal accordingly i.e. gentle press is for slow stitching while hard press runs the motor faster.

Is It Hard To Learn To Sew For Beginners?

When you don’t know what to do with the machine in front of you, sewing can be quite overwhelming, especially since you don’t have an idea where or how to start. But sewing, really isn’t hard. It is in fact, very fulfilling. You can use this skill to create beautiful and lasting memories, gift for a friend and make everyone, yourself inclusive happy.

With time and practice, you’ll soon become a pro at sewing, and you’ll realize how simple it has always been all along. What’s more? Even as a beginner, sewing can be a lot of fun. There’s a lot of excitements in sewing as you start to create your own sewing project while you learn. The different steps from making the first stitch to completing your first project all come with different levels of excitements.

What Is A Good Sewing Machine For Beginners?

There are different reasons and criteria for selecting a sewing machine as the best for beginners or even veterans. Factors such as budget, lightweight, heavy duty, compact and overall characteristics are considered.

For best budget, the best sewing machine is Janome Graceful Gray Basic. It has helpful accessories and is very affordable. The best lightweight sewing machine is Brother XM2701 Sewing Machine. It comes with 27 built-in stitches.

The best heavy-duty sewing machine is Singer 4423 Heavy Duty Extra-High Sewing Speed Sewing Machine. It’s ideal for people working with very rugged fabric. But the best overall sewing machine is Brother cs6000i 60-Stitch Computerized Sewing Machine.


When you learn using a sewing machine with this guide, we would love seeing you stitching beautiful and a huge assortment of clothes pretty easily. Since we are here to give you drawn out sewing guides, you will quickly learn how to sew dresses, pillowcases, denims, frocks, curtains and handmade crafts etc. Once you get comfortable, we will write more guides to take your sewing to a next level. What’s more, you will soon be able to make money through your sewing expertise.


Hello, I am Jessica Flores, and you are welcome to my website. I am a professional fashion designer and a seamstress. I always carried a passion for craftwork. My love for craft grew along with time. I have spent years researching and practicing in this field to gather colossal experience.

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