Blog, Sewing for Beginners

How to Learn to Sew with a Sewing Machine

By Jessica Strohlson

The ability to sew is a great skill and can be extremely fun or relaxing for anybody that participates. Many consider sewing to be one of the world’s oldest art forms that has stuck around for centuries with good reason.

If you are looking to learn to sew or only have done hand sewing and you’re interested to learn how to sew with a sewing machine, you’re in luck. Anybody who is willing to commit to learning is able to learn to sew with a sewing machine.

How to Pick the Right Sewing Machine

Before you jump into learning how to sew with a sewing machine, you’ll need to purchase one. And prior to purchasing one, you’ll need to weigh your options to find the best fit for you. A high-quality machine can be an investment that will last you a lifetime, so it’s important to find the right fit.

The criteria you’ll want to consider are: budget, skill level, and the type of sewing that you’re looking to complete. 

The main two types you’ll want to look into are mechanical and electronic machines.

A mechanical machine uses manually used knots and dials to make changes to the straight stitch, the position of the needle threader, and the clothing or fabric feed. More advanced models are able to do decorative stitches. This is an excellent option for beginners, as it has foot automation and threading involved and you’re able to do a significant portion of the maintenance at home. It’s also the least expensive option.

Electronic machines are a bit more precise than mechanical machines and allow for more complicated stitches. They’re equipped with an automatic threader and a screen to see what you’re doing better. Some are also equipped with the ability to do embroidery and you can pay more for faster speeds and efficiency. 

What You’ll Need to Learn to Sew 

If you’re looking to sew, you’ll definitely need the necessary tools and materials to sew at all and to have an amazing final product with minimal hassle. Therefore, it’s important to have them ready in advance to save yourself the frustration of starting a project and then realizing you aren’t ready because you’re missing something.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Sewing machine
  • A manual for the sewing machine 
  • Fabric to practice sewing
  • Sewing needles
  • Threads with different colors and sizes
  • Scissors
  • Sewing accessories
black and white sewing machine image

Steps to Learning to Sew with a Sewing Machine

1. Study the Manual

Sadly, it’s common for consumers to entirely skip over reading the manual of a product. However, you won’t want to do that here. One of the best ways to learn about the parts of a sewing machine and how they function with one another is by reading the manual. Manuals offer information on what items to not place in your machine, maintenance tips, the functions of your machines, and lots of other necessary information.

It’s important to remember that each sewing machine is not created exactly the same. Some are more technological and others are entirely manual. If you have a more complicated machine, you’ll definitely want to study this information or you may become very lost when you start to sew. 

If you’re unable to find it, which is a possibility if you purchase an older sewing machine, don’t worry. You’ll still be able to look up the name of the model and likely find it online. Otherwise, it should come with your sewing machine or be available on the manufacturer’s site.

2. Study Your Machine

As mentioned before, each machine is its own, and there are hundreds of different available models with unique performance and parts. However, there are certain things that are universal among sewing machines, such as the ability to connect fabric with a stitching mechanism through a spool pin and needle. The used thread is connected to another string of thread through the bobbin, with a circular spool placed beneath the needle.

The needle, under which the fabric is placed on a metal plate, is connected to a needle bar manipulated by a motor. The fabric is then held down using the presser foot on a bar, which is able to be adjusted depending on the thickness of the fabric using the foot lifter.

The pieces called feed dogs continue to move the fabric forward as the needle works, and the thread moves through the tightening arm and tension disc assembly. If you turn the disc assembly, the thread will be tightened or loosened.

Lastly, each machine will have bobbin winders to equip bobbins with thread and hand wheels to move the needle around. Any other functions are specific to the machine you choose to purchase.

Overall, these are the parts that are common to see in sewing machines:

  • presser foot, foot lever, foot lifter
  • needle, needle screw, needle plate
  • feed dogs
  • cover plate
  • thread guides
  • spool pins
  • bobbin, bobbin winder
  • control knobs
  • other model-specific buttons
beginner sewing project example

3. Start Practicing!

Practice with No Thread

You’ll want to start with sewing a straight line as this is the easiest stitch. However, when you’re a beginner, even a stitch will pose a bit of a challenge as you become accustomed to properly holding the fabric while it slides and stretches and ensure that the stitches remain straight. 

Therefore, you’ll want to start practicing sewing straight on paper without any sort of thread. It’ll make it much simpler to transition to sewing properly on fabric without much of a struggle. 

Practice altering the length of the stitch using the stitch length adjustment button and controlling the speed and direction. To change the direction, you’ll need to raise the pressure foot, turning the paper around the needle.

4. Start Stitching

Once you’re done practicing with paper, it’s essential to change the needle you’re using as it’ll become blunt.

You’ll want to look at your manual to learn how to change the needle, thread the machine, and wind the bobbin. If you’re still confused or need more information after reading the manual, there are plenty of online resources, such as blogs and videos that will assist.

Now, practice stitching on fabric that is compatible with the thread you’re using, lowering the needle and turning the balance wheel towards you. Again, use your manual and online resources to ensure that you’re doing the process correctly.

Here are some tips to remember:

  • Make sure the fabric you use is flat; you may need to press it.
  • Never stitch past the edge of the fabric you’re using.
  • Gently move the fabric rather than pulling.
  • Use multiple speed settings.
  • When done sewing, finish with the needle at its highest point
expert at sewing teaching


Learning to sew can be incredibly fun, fulfilling, and useful. All it takes is a high-quality machine, drive, and a want to improve your skills to produce excellent projects and repair any tears.

The best part is that you can learn from the comfort of your home and quickly develop your skills.

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