Sewing Machine Guide For Beginners

In this tutorial, we will be featuring a beautiful basic Janome sewing machine.

Note: Keep in mind that every machine looks different, but that yours is likely to have a lot of these same parts. Have your user’s guide or manual handy so that you can refer to it since your machine is probably a little different.

Say hello! Here’s the machine. Sit down in front of yours and let’s get started.


1. First off, find your power cord and your on/off switch:

2. The power cord is attached to the foot pedal. The foot pedal goes on the floor where your foot can comfortably reach it:

3. On the front of the machine you will find several knobs. On this particular machine there is a knob with letters-when you turn that knob you change what type of stitch you are doing-straight stitch, zigzag, and other types of stitches.

Below it you will find another knob which changes the length of the stitch. This knob will tell you if they are tiny, close together stitches or long, farther apart ones. To the right of both of these you find a stitch guide which shows what stitch options this machine has (and again, you would select which stitch you want to use by turning the knob at the top):

4. On the side of the machine is little wheel that turns. That’s called the hand wheel and will make your needle go up and down:

5. OK, here’s an important part of your machine. This is the reverse stitch lever. When you want to sew backwards, or in reverse (and you will often), you will pull this down:

6. Up near the top of the machine is a dial that adjusts the width of a stitch. For a straight stitch this wouldn’t matter, but for a zigzag this would determine if it’s a big, fat zigzag stitch or a small, narrow one:

7. On the far side of the machine is a knob that adjusts the tension of the presser foot. I don’t usually even touch this on my machine, but there it is, so now you know what it does:

8. This metal part on your machine is called the presser foot. You will lower it (there’s a lever just to the right and above it) to sew and then raise it to remove the fabric.

9. A few other fun features-here’s a little built in measuring tape:

10. And did you know that the front part of the machine comes right off (and usually has storage inside). This will be handy when you are sewing things like hems on pants and other small areas:

Note: So, how do you thread this thing? That’s going to be VERY important. I want you to practice this at least 10 times before we start the lessons. Now I can’t teach you how to thread your machine because every machine is different. Your manual will show you how. But most machines are at least somewhat similar. For this machine though, here is how I threaded it.

- You start off by putting your spool of thread on the spindle at the top of the machine:

- Make sure you have the spool holder in place to keep your thread from flying off (that’s the plastic thing you see on the left of the thread up there).

- Take the end of your thread and somewhere on the top of your machine will be a few nooks and crannies for you to pull it through that will look something like this: (and see how the machine even has a little guide to help you?)

- Now you’ll go down to the right of the grey part with your thread, loop it at the bottom and then go up the left side:

- Then through the little “thread take up lever” (that’s what it’s called) at the top:

- And back down one more time toward your needle. You are now going to thread it through a few things. First this: (see the little metal piece right below the white part of the machine?)

- Then this: (another little piece of metal-this one right at the top of the needle)

- And finally, thread the needle.

- Practice that a few times. You will get so that you can do it with your eyes shut.

Note: Now, you also need to thread your bobbin.

- Before you sew you will need to wind your bobbin. You actually need to do this before you thread your machine for a project. What you need to do is take one of your empty bobbin cartridges and the thread in the color you need.

- On your bobbin cartridge there will be a little hole to stick the end of your thread through. You’re going to need to look at your own manual again to see how to do this for sure on your machine. It will involve putting your thread on your spindle, wrapping it around something like this: (see the little silver button on there, you would wrap it around that once, as shown in the diagram on the machine)

- And then through the hole in the bobbin cartridge. Place the whole cartridge on this:

- Keeping hanging onto the end of that thread even while your bobbin cartridge is on that bobbin winder. Slide the bobbin winder to the right. It is now ready to wind.

- Keep hanging onto that thread and push down on your foot pedal. It should start to wind. As it starts, grab a pair of scissors and snip the thread you are holding and then let the bobbin keep winding until it is full. Slide it back to the left and remove it.

- To insert the bobbin into your machine you will need to take off your bobbin cover and place your bobbin into the slot for it: (this part might look VERY different on your machine-if so, grab your manual):

- Your manual will tell you which direction your bobbin spool should turn. For this machine, it should turn clockwise, so I want to line my bobbin up like this before I put it in:

- Then I would place it down into that little hole for my bobbin and pull the thread through the little slot (see my diagram above) to get it secured into place.

- Give the end of the thread a gentle pull and your bobbin should turn in the direction indicated.

- Now, thread your machine. Using the hand wheel (or down/up button if you have one), lower your threaded needle all the way down and back up again and it should catch the bobbin thread and pull it up with the needle thread. Pull both threads to the side and close your bobbin case.

- You are now set to sew!

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