sewing machine parts

A sewing machine is a mechanical or computerized device that uses many sewing machine parts such as a needle, two threads to stitch any fabric together and many more parts. Thomas Saint first invented the sewing machine in 1791 to stitch leather and canvas. Since then, sewing machines have changed and developed a lot. There are mainly two types of sewing machines; electrical sewing machines and manual sewing machines.

Manual sewing machines are used for domestic purpose or in small tailoring shops as it needs manual and physical power to regulate. Electrical sewing machines are widely used in clothing factories and the fashion industry. The mini electrical sewing machines are now taking place in domestic uses too as it saves our time and energy. But to maintain an electrical sewing machine, you need to have proper knowledge about its parts and functions. Here is a brief description of all the sewing machine parts and their function.

The Name of the Parts and Their Functions

Handwheel/Balance Wheel

The wheel, situated at the right side of your sewing machine, is the handwheel or the balance wheel. It is used to uplift, or lower the needle. There is a clutch knob inside the wheel for safety purposes. When the knob is pulled out it restricts the needle from going up and down while you are winding the bobbin. You can find the handwheel both is manual and electric sewing machines.

Thread Guide

This can come in many shapes like a hoop or a metal disc. Its work is to give direction to the thread so that it can feed through the machine properly.

Spool pin

It is located at the top of the sewing machine. Its work is to hold the spool of thread vertically or horizontally so that the thread can feed smoothly in the garment.

Spool Cap

Its work is to keep the spool of thread in a proper place while the machine is working. It is attached to the spool pin and helps the thread package to unwind properly.


It is the small spinning package that holds the bottom thread while stitching. You need to be careful and evenly distribute the thread in the bobbin to avoid irregular stitching.

Bobbin Case

The bobbin case holds the bobbin. It is generally round in shape and is located usually under the needle plate.

Bobbin Winder

It can be both inside and outside the sewing machine. New electronic models have bobbin winder inside. In many machines, it is located on the top. It has a bobbin pin to hold the bobbin, a thread guide for proper winding of thread in the bobbin, and a start/stop lever. It helps in the winding of thread on the bobbin evenly so that it can work simultaneously with the top thread. Some of them have built-in thread cutters.

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Bobbin Cover

This metal-plated and the hinged-door-like covers are used to protect the bobbin. It also helps to keep the bobbin in place. When you want to replace the bobbin you just need to open the bobbin cover and replace or clean the bobbin area.

Bobbin Cover Release Button

To release the bobbin cover and remove the bobbin inside you will have to push this button.

Feed Dog

It is a tooth-shaped metal strip that locates under the stitching plate. The metal strip goes up and down to push the fabric while stitching. Feed dogs control the stitch length of your garment.

Presser Foot

These are spring-hinged metal attachments used to hold the fabric flat while stitching. It prevents the fabric to go up and down with the needle while stitching. There are three types of presser foot shank; high shank, low shank, and the slant shank presser foot used in different sewing machines.

Pressure Foot Lifter

The pressure foot lifter mechanism is used in both manual and electronic machines. When we apply pressure, the cable attached with foot pedal and presser foot increases tension and the presser foot lifts. In electronic machines, it is located above the pressure foot at the backside of the machine. When we raise it the fabric will stop feeding through the machine.

Presser Foot Pressure Control

Its work is to adjust the amount of pressure a presser foot will put on the fabric while it is feeding through the needle. A heavy fabric needs more pressure than a light fabric. You can adjust the pressure by turning the pressure control dial, generally located at the back of the machine. There are 4 levels. Level 1 and 2 is used for heavy materials like denim and level 3 and 4 is used for thinner fabrics.

Take-Up Lever

It is located above the pressure foot in a sewing machine. Its work is to pull the thread from the spool and feed it through the garment and then lift the thread back after one stitch is done.

Stitch Length Dial

This mechanism helps you to select the stitch length you want to put on your garment. To change the stitch length you need to turn the handwheel to raise the needle. Then you can turn the stitch selector dial select the stitch length you want. There is a range from 0 to 4, 0 is the shortest length while 4 is the longest. By changing the range you can fix the amount of fabric that will feed through the machine at a time.

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Pattern Selector Dial

You can select the pattern of stitching you want by gliding this dial. With this, you can change from a straight pattern to a zigzag pattern in one turn.

Stitch Length Regulator

This computerized stitch length regulator was mainly used in large free motion stitching machines. But now manufacturers start making it for miniature models too. The computer sensor of the stitch regulator senses the motion and direction of the fabric and adjusts the stitching speed accordingly. Thus you can move the garment in any direction without working about the rising or lowering the presser foot.


This tiny thing is one of the most important sewing machine parts. Needle carries the top thread and feeds it through the fabric to make a knot with the bobbin thread. There are various shapes and sizes of needles available for different fabrics. For instance, number 9, or 11 can be used for thin fabrics like silk or chiffon, and number 16, or 18 is used for heavyweight fabrics like denim.

Reverse Stitch Lever

It is situated beneath the needle and moves back and forth to feed the fabric in the machine. If you push the lever then the machine will sew in the reverse direction.

Thread Cutter

It is located beside the needle area. With its help, we cut the thread and remove the cloth once it is stitched. To use the cutter you need to lift the presser foot first.

Needle Clamp and Needle Clamp Screw

The needle clamp fixes the needle with the sewing machine. Its work is to adjust the movement and speed of the needle. We can loosen or tighten the needle clamp screw to insert or remove the needle.


It is the free space between the needle and the machine housing where you put the garment for stitching. The need for a larger throat is mainly for stitching bulky materials like quilts or winter jackets.

Throat Plate

You can also refer to it as a needle plate or stitching plate. Well, it is located under the needle and the presser foot. It is a smooth removable metal plate that glides your garment freely while stitching. The slots of the throat plate allow the feed dogs to grip and push the fabric while stitching.

Foot Pedal

The use of a foot pedal in manual machines is to control the speed of the machine. The more you push the pedal with your foot the faster it will work. Not only manual sewing machines but even the automatic machines have foot pedal options with it. But new machines do not require it as there is a control or power button and speed adjustment mechanism in the modern automatic machines.

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Power Switch

It is the function that will off or on your electrical sewing machine. Generally, it is located on the right side of the sewing machines.

Tension Disk

The function of the tension disc is to adjust the flow of the thread in the needle. It maintains the smoothness of stitching. There are two types of tension disc; direct and indirect. In modern high-speed machines, you can adjust the tension with a dial. Proper tension setting will straighten the thread and give you even stitching.


It is the out cover of your sewing machine. The main use for it is to keep the inner mechanism protected, dust-free, and intact.

Sewing Light

This thing is much needed when you want to stitch at night without disturbing your kid. You do not need other lights to switch on as this mini sewing light will allow you to see the stitching. It will also give your eyes extra ease while threading the needle.

Which Sewing Machine Is For You?

If you are a beginner, then a manual sewing machine is best for you to learn about its mechanisms and functions. It is less expensive than electrical ones. It will keep you physically fit too. Once you learn its functions properly, then try for electrical or computerized ones for faster outputs. Nowadays, manufacturers are producing convenient sewing machines that can be best for beginners. There are many embroidery sewing machines for the ones who have an interest in designs. The use of a Serger or overlocker sewing machine is primarily for industrial purposes for the overlining of garments. This type of sewing machine makes the edging of handkerchiefs, curtains, pillow covers, and the elastic seaming or hemming of lingerie.

No matter what type of sewing machine you are using, this knowledge of sewing machine parts is going to help you to learn about its functions properly. A beginner should learn first and then try his hand on the machine for a comfortable beginning. A professional also needs to revise his knowledge frequently to know about the new features of the modern sewing machines. To gather information and practice hard.


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