How To Lower The Needle On A Sewing Machine

Sewing is a skill that most people find intimidating, but when it comes to mastering a sewing machine, it takes some patience and practice to learn the basics. Understanding how to lower the needle is essential, as it is an important part of set up before starting a project. Changing the needle’s position is necessary to accommodate various kinds of stitch patterns and fabric types.

The first step to lower the needle on a sewing machine is to unplug it from its power source. If a thread is left in the machine, firstly remove the looped thread by turning the wheel away from you in a counter-clockwise direction. When the wheel stops at the highest needle position, the needle will automatically be lowered.

The second step is to access the needle. To do that, turn the wheel clockwise until the needle is in the highest position. Then, use a screwdriver to loosen the screws that fasten the needle plate cover. Gently lift the cover to expose the needle and needle plate. There should be an indicator on the plate to identify the highest level of the needle.

The third step is to adjust the needle. Review the instruction manual of the specific machine to know how exactly how to lower the needle. Usually a tiny thumb wheel or a lever is used to move the knob. Gently turn the knob to lower the needle. As a rule of thumb, it is recommended to lower the needle three millimeters lower than the height indicated on the needle plate. This will prevent the needle from coming into contact with the needle plate and damaging the fabric.

Fourthly, after adjusting the needle, the needle plate cover must be put back into place and the screws and must be tightened back. Lastly, the thread needs to be inserted in the eye of the needle, making sure that the thread comes in contact with the needle point. After all these steps have been completed, the sewing machine is ready to be used.

Lubricating the Sewing Machine

In order to keep the sewing machine in perfect condition, it is important to lubricate it regularly. After some time, it will start to run slower and make strange noises. This is the indication that the moving parts need to be oiled. It is important to use the right kind of oil, otherwise oil residues will contaminate the fabric. The instruction manual of the machine should be consulted before applying oil to the moving parts.

Oiling a sewing machine requires the same procedure as when lowering the needle—the machine needs to be unplugged and all the thread needs to be removed. The needle plate cover needs to be lifted and the needle needs to be adjusted to its highest position. Then, the wheel must be turned counterclockwise to expose the oil holes, which are usually located in the shuttle. Take a few drops of oil and gently drop them in the holes. Make sure that the oil does not come into contact with metal parts.

Most sewing machines have an oil reservoir that needs to be filled with oil every couple of months. The oil will reach the shuttle through metal tubes or flexible tubes, or it may drip directly from the reservoir onto the metal parts. The oil reservoir needs to be refilled or the tubes need to be cleaned when the machine is making unusual sounds.

The last step is to put the needle plate cover back into place and secure the screws. The machine is now ready to be used.

Cleaning a Sewing Machine

To keep the machine working properly, it is important to clean it on a regular basis. Unplug the machine and open the needle plate cover to check the feed dogs and the wheel. Use a brush to remove lint and other small particles from the wheel. When finished, the needle plate cover should be put back into place and the screws tightened.

To clean the bobbin and the bobbin case, unscrew the bobbin but make sure to keep track of the washers and the spring. Remove lint from the bobbin and bobbin case using a brush. When all lint has been removed, reassemble the bobbin and the bobbin case.

The last step is to clean the oil holes. To do that, turn the wheel counterclockwise to expose the oil holes. Apply a few drops of detergent into the hole and use a dry cloth to remove any dirt that may have accumulated in the hole. This will ensure that oil can flow freely, thus protecting the machine from any damage.

When all these steps have been completed, the machine can be put back together, the power can be reconnected and the threads can be inserted. The machine is now ready to be used.

Preventing Damage

The most important step to preventing damage to a sewing machine is to unplug it from its power source when making adjustments. If a loose thread is stuck in the machine, make sure to remove it before lower the needle. It is important to use the right kind of oil and lubricate the machine regularly.

It is essential to use the right kind of thread and needle when sewing. Using the wrong needle can cause jams, breakages and damage the fabric, whilst using the wrong thread can cause tension problems and skipped stitches. The needle and thread should be chosen according to the fabric type, thickness and stitch pattern.

Finally, never forget to adjust the tension when changing thread and needle size. To do that, the tension dial has to be moved clockwise to increase and counterclockwise to decrease. This will prevent the thread from being too loose or too tight and damaging the fabric.


A good maintenance schedule is key to keeping a sewing machine in top condition. It includes regular oiling, cleaning, and checking. Every 6 months the machine needs to be opened and all its parts should be inspected to identify any potential problems and make sure that the machine is working properly. This is especially important for free-arm machines, as their parts are often exposed to dust and lint.

It is essential to read the instruction manual before attempting to make any adjustments to the machine. This will ensure that all adjustments are made correctly, thus avoiding any potential damages that may arise from ignorance. In case of technical problems or difficult adjustments, it is recommended to consult a professional for advice.

It is also a good idea to store the machine in a well-ventilated area, such as a closet, where dust and humidity levels are low. This will help to avoid any damages caused by dust, humidity or other environmental factors.

In summary, maintenance and proper usage are key to keeping a sewing machine in top condition. Understanding how to lower the needle and maintaining it regularly is essential for proper set up and operation.

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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