How To Gather Using A Sewing Machine

Parts of the Sewing Machine

Sewing machines are complex tools that require a basic understanding of their parts before getting started. The necessary components of a sewing machine are the bobbin, feed dog, needle, presser foot, and the most important: the thread. Knowing the basics is the first step in understanding how to use a sewing machine to stitch. The bobbin is a small spool that holds the bottom thread for stitching. The feed dog is the component which moves the fabric along as the stitches are sewn. The needle pierces the fabric and is the component which holds the top thread in place. The presser foot is a component which holds the fabric in place while sewing. The thread is what passes through the needle and holds everything together.

Threading the Machine

Threading the sewing machine is an essential part of the process. This requires taking apart the bobbin case as it should not be threaded while attached and going through the process of winding the bobbin. When winding the bobbin, it’s important to make sure the thread is not tangled. Once the bobbin has been successfully wound, it’s time to insert it into the bobbin case. This is easily done by pushing the case into the opening and making sure it is securely in place. When everything is in the correct place, the machine is ready to be threaded.
To thread the machine, start by unwinding the thread from one of the spools and guiding it through the tension discs. After the discs, pass the thread through the take-up lever, which is then pulled and pushed to ensure the tension is correct. Next, pass the thread through the eye of the needle and pull up the lever. Finally, adjust the tension discs one more time to ensure the thread is secure.

Choosing the Fabric and Pattern

Choosing the fabric and pattern for your sewing project is the fun part! The fabric choice is based on the type of garment you are making and the type of thread and needle used. Guidance from fabric experts and experienced seamstresses can help you choose the best fabric for your project. For a successful outcome, the stitches have to be cut along a specific pattern and grain. To create the pattern, experienced seamstresses suggest using a commercial pattern, or improvising with a retraced pattern from another garment.

Getting Started Sewing

Now that you have your fabric and pattern, the actual sewing can begin. The fabric, pattern and thread are the essential items you will need. Start by lining up the edges of the fabric and pinning them together. Place the presser foot down to the right of these pins. This will enable the fabric to move smoothly as stitching progresses. Depending on the type of stitch desired, select the appropriate stitch length and width on the machine’s control panel. Then start stitching. When the stitching is finished, carefully remove the pins and ensure that the stitches are secure.

Finishing Techniques

In addition to the regular stitch work, there are numerous techniques to make the sewing project look complete and intricate. This can be done by using a decorative stitch for hemlines, zigzag stitch for buttonholes and seam finishes, embroidery adds color and detailing to simple garments or an overlock stitch to neaten raw edges.
Using a sewing machine isn’t just about sewing fabric together – it’s a creative way to add individual touches to almost every project.

Changing the Needle and Presser Foot

From time to time, you may need to change the needle or presser foot of the sewing machine to complete a project. To do this, turn off the power of the machine and unplug the power cord. Carefully loosen the thumbscrew and remove the old needle, then thread the new needle in the desired direction. Align the new needle in the same position as the old one and tighten the thumbscrew to secure it.
To change the presser foot, increase the height of the needle as much as needed and slide off the old foot. Then, place the new foot on the presser foot lifter and lower the needle into the presser foot. To ensure the new foot is centered, move the needle to the left and right to connect the foot to the needle.

Mindful Sewing

Mindful sewing is a process of self-discovery whenever a person uses their sewing machine. During the project, a person’s body, mind and emotions become intertwined as they focus on their creative project. The mindful sewing process can help to reduce stress, enhance creativity, and empower original thinking. Mindful sewing has become a popular hobby for people of all ages, allowing them to enjoy the creative process of making clothes, quilts and home décor items.

Cutting the Fabric with the Sewing Machine

Most sewing machines have a cutting blade built-in, usually located on the underside of the presser foot. This is used to make quick precision cuts when needed. Before using this cutting method, make sure everything is ready such as the pattern and fabric. Once that is done, open the cutting blade and make sure the needle is in the highest up position. Now, while making sure the presser foot and blade stay in a straight line, slowly guide the fabric through and make the desired cut. This is a great way to save time by using a sewing machine instead of scissors.


Stabilizers are non-woven materials that support the fabric, enabling it to stretch without losing its shape. They are used for projects that require specific shapes, such as embroidery, applique and collages. Stabilizers come in various weights to achieve the desired firmness. Heavy weight stabilizers are used for projects such as quilting and denim apparel. Medium weight stabilizers are useful for projects with small details and fine fabrics, as well as bags and purses. Lightweight stabilizers are used for lacy and breathable fabrics, as well as adults’ and children’s apparel.


One often overlooked aspect when it comes to working with a sewing machine is sense of transparency. Transparency comes in many forms, such as learning how to use the tools correctly, having access to resources to learn more about sewing techniques, and having access to clear, detailed instructions for sewing projects. Transparency of the process is crucial, so it is important to make sure you have a clear and detailed plan of action before beginning any project. Transparency includes asking questions and familiarizing oneself with the basic skills and techniques.

Be Open to Change

When working on a sewing project, it is important to remain open to change. Projects can look differently than envisioned, but that is perfectly okay. It is not necessary to set restrictions on yourself and the project. When beginning a project, start with a realistic outlook and avoid trying to create the perfect garment right away. If a project calls for adjustments, do not be afraid to make those changes accordingly.


Gathering with a sewing machine can be a fun and creative way to make garments and accessories. Knowing the basics such as the different parts of the sewing machine, threading the machine, and choosing the fabric and pattern is the first step to confidently and successfully using a sewing machine. From time to time, you may need to change the needle and presser foot for better results and to make sure that the project is done well. Additionally, mindful sewing and being open to change will help any sewing project become successful. With patience and practice, anyone can become a competent sewer.

Geoffrey Kirby is an experienced author and sewist who has been creating sewn projects for over 20 years. He has a passion for teaching beginners and inspiring more advanced sewists both online and through his writings. Outside of writing about sewing, Geoffrey loves to explore new techniques and styles of sewing that incorporate upcycling fabric remnants into sweet items with personality.

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