Friday, 25 October 2013

The Absolute Basics of Sewing: Threading a Sewing Machine

No better place to start than the very beginning.
To those of you that are pro's at sewing, I apologize. To those of you that have only ever seen a sewing machine from a distance, this is what you'll need to know before you start making couture gowns (or circle skirts, for that matter.)

First: Meet your machine.

Sewing machines are a bit like cars; they're all different, but they basically all function in the same way. Once you've gotten used to using one machine, you should be able to figure out how to use just about any sewing machine.

Set your sewing machine up. Plug it in. Read the directions.

Second: Thread your machine.

In this (hopefully) easy-to-follow step-by-step guide, I'll show you how to thread your machine.
Again, the machine that I'm showing you on may be slightly different to your own, but fear not, all of the doohickies look pretty much the same, so you should be able to find the applicable doohickey and follow along without much difficulty.

So grab some thread, and here we go!

Step 1: Pull Up Your Spool Pin.

I didn't realize this one when I was first learning and couldn't figure out why my thread kept flying all over the place when I tried to sew.
Now pop your thread onto your thread holder, and let's continue.

Step 2: Winding a Bobbin.

The bobbin is a small spindle of thread that sews on the bottom of your fabric. Without it, your machine won't sew, so don't skip this step.

This is a plastic bobbin and his buddy the bobbin case.

Bobbins can be metal or plastic, these days they're usually plastic, but in the future you will see me working with metal bobbins as I'm going to start using my Nana's antique sewing machine... but more on that later.

Keeping your thread spool on its spool pin, pull the loose end of the thread out and pull it around the bobbin winder tension disk from the far side to the side closest to you.

When you look closely, you'll find a little hole in your bobbin.
Thread the bobbin through the small hole by going through the inside of the bobbin so that the thread pops out the top.

Put the bobbin on the bobbin winder, making sure that you hold on to the thread so that it doesn't come out.

Push the bobbin winder over to switch your machine into bobbin-winding mode.

Press gently, slowly and consistently on your foot pedal and the bobbin will begin to wind.

Once you feel that you have enough thread on your bobbin (making sure not to over-fill it) stop and cut the thread.

Congratulations! You now have a wound bobbin! If you feel the need to reward yourself with a sticker or cupcake, please do so now.

Step 3: Threading Your Machine.

Once again, pull the loose end of your thread from the spool. Pull it through the thread guide.

Then you follow the arrows (most basic sewing machines have these friendly, idiot-proof helpers to guide you through threading.)

Now you'll need to thread the thread take-up. He might be hiding like the cheeky little bugger that he is... in which case, turn the balance wheel until the thread take-up rears his oddly-shaped head.

Then bring the end of the thread down to the needle.

Now for the part that is going to annoy you for the rest of your life, just as it has mine! 
Threading the needle. 
Now get the thread moist- yep. spit.-, then try and put it through the needle hole. And when it doesn't work the first four times, swear loudly and then proceed to try threading it again until you can finally pinch it from the other side and pull it through.

Take a breath. 
You've threaded your machine. Almost. You can take a swig of whatever relaxing elixir you're able to procure for yourself and take a break before moving on.

Step 4: Threading the Bobbin

Hopefully you haven't dropped your bobbin and had the whole thing unwind itself into a big, knotted mess, and can continue with the bobbin you wound at the beginning of this tutorial.

Remember Bobbin Case, Bobbin's cuddle buddy? Find him.

Now, take your bobbin and pop it into to bobbin case so that when it is facing you it makes a 'q' shape.

On the side of the bobbin case you'll find a tightly fitted flap. 

Pull the thread around that flap so that it pops out the hole of the bobbin case.

Now open the bobbin compartment. This may be on the side of the sewing machine or the front, but inside it will look the same.

Pop little mister bobbin case into the hole, making sure that the arm of the bobbin case fits in its slot.

Go back up to your top thread and hold on to its end.

While keeping hold of the top thread, turn the balance wheel so that the needle comes down. This will bring the top thread around the bobbin casing. Continue turning until the needle comes back out.

Now pull firmly on the top thread and the bobbin thread will have looped around it and will pull out the top.

Now you can close up your bobbin housing and...


You've threaded a sewing machine! 

BOOYAH. You are the master of machines. You are the commander of crafts. You win at life.


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