Your sewing machine is finally home, and you are excited to get started. Whether it is a new or pre-owned machine, you need to set it up right to use it properly. While different sewing machine models may have particular set up instructions, the steps offered in this article will work for most types of sewing machines.

1. Go Through the Machine’s Paperwork

Look at the quick-start guide, instructions manual, safety instructions, warranty information, and registration documents. New machines should come with a manual that contains this information.

If you purchase or borrow a pre-owned machine, request the previous owner for the manual. Otherwise, check the company’s website for the pdf manual of the particular sewing machine model.

Safety Instructions

The safety instructions are particularly important. Most new machine owners may ignore them and assume that they know by common sense safety precautions such as:

  • Only use the machine for its intended purpose
  • Do not place your fingers on the moving parts
  • Switch off the machine when not in use or when doing routine maintenance procedures such as lubricating or changing the needle
  • Do not operate the machine with a damaged cord

However, without reading the instruction manual, you will not know about safety warnings such as using the machine new aerosol products can cause a fire.

Quick-Start Guide

The quick-start guide offers you the fundamental information to get you started with using the machine. These include how to power the machine, setting up the bobbin, threading the machine, and more.

Instruction Manual

The instructions manual offers critical information such as labeling the parts of the machine, how to assemble the removable parts of the machine, an overview of the sewing machine’s accessories and how to assemble and use them and also troubleshooting guidelines for the various issues you may encounter when using the machine.

Warranty Terms and Registration

This section of the paperwork offers you the terms and conditions for the machine’s warranty including, the length of the warranty, what the warranty covers, and whether or not the warranty is transferable. It also offers instructions for warranty registration.

In some cases, a warranty registration form that you fill and either submit to a local store, mail to the manufacturer’s address, or scan and send to the manufacturer’s customer support team.

2. Familiarize Yourself with the Machine

bobbin with threads isolated on table surface

Take some time to know the parts of your machine and the purpose that they play. Look at the instructions manual part’s section to help you identify the parts on the machine.

With that said, below is an overview of the parts you will find in all sewing machines:

  • Bobbin. It is wound with thread for underside stitches. There are two types of bobbins: drop-in-style or front-loading
  • Bobbin case. Holds the bobbin for insertion in the machine. Bobbins and bobbin cases are specific to a given sewing machine model; therefore, they are not interchangeable.
  • Bobbin cover. It is usually a side plate or bobbin cover that is removed to give you access to the bobbin and the bobbin case.
  • Needle. Used to make the stitches. There are different types of needles suitable for the various stitching styles.
  • Needle clamp. Holds the needle in place.
  • Throat plate. It is a metal plate located between the needle and the presser foot that has an opening that allows the needle and thread from the bobbin to pass through for stitching.
  • Presser foot. It is a metallic plate that keeps the fabric in place when being stitched.
  • Feed dogs. These are small teeth located between the presser foot and throat plate that pull the fabric through and guide it when stitching.
  • Tension regulator. It controls the tension of the upper thread to produce uniform stitches.
  • Take-up levers. The upper thread passes through it, and it moves up and down continuously when sewing.
  • Bobbin winder tension disk. Guides the thread between the winder and spool.
  • Bobbin winder. An empty bobbin is placed here, and the winder rotates, allowing the bobbin to wind with thread.
  • Spool pin. Holds the spool that has the top thread.
  • Flywheel. A knob that is used to raise or lower the take-up lever.
  • Stitch selector. Enables you to select the stitching style you will be applying. Some machines have buttons, while others have a knob that you align for your preferred sewing style.
  • Foot controller. Controls the sewing speed.

Other parts found in some sewing machines include reverse-stitch buttons, menu screen, stitch width-selector, and stitch length-selector.

3. Insert the Needle

sewing machine needle close up focus

If you work on medium and lightweight fabrics, insert a universal needle; otherwise, insert a bigger and thicker needle for heavy-weight fabrics.

To insert the needle, ensure that the machine is powered off. Set the presser foot on a low position and turn the flywheel anticlockwise to raise the needle to the highest point.

Hold the needle with the flat side facing the machine’s backside and push it high up the needle clamp. Tighten the needle clamp screw to hold the needle in place.

4. Attach the Presser Foot

presser foot close up

Like with the needle, ensure that the machine is turned off. Most machines come with different presser feet for the various sewing styles. Check the instruction manual to identify the standard foot, zipper foot, or buttonhole foot, choose one, and follow the provided guidelines to install it. Depending on the machine’s model, you may need a screwdriver and/or lever, while others have a Snap-on mechanism.

5. Power the Sewing Machine On

Once you have familiarized yourself with the different parts of your machine and attached the presser foot, needle, and any other necessary detachable parts, it is time to power it on.

white electric sewing machine close up focus

Connect the power cord to a manufacturer’s recommended power source. Most sewing machines have an electrical cord that is connected to the foot controller.

Once plugged in, switch on the socket and check that the machine is receiving power. The power light should come on. Some machines have a start/stop button or lever that you need to put on after switching the socket on.

The most important step when setting up a sewing machine is reading through the instruction manual. While the general steps discussed above will get you started, there may be crucial setup steps specific to your machine model, which you can only find in the manual.