How does a sewing machine work – updated in 2023

How does a sewing machine work

If you are looking for a detailed guide to how a sewing machine works, you have come to the right place. Sewing machines are helping people sew different clothes, garments, embroidery, etc., that have shaped the world. 

But the main point of discussion here is the working principles of a sewing machine. Therefore, I tried my best to describe everything in detail. 

Read the blog posts to get the details of everything, including the sewing machine’s interior, so you know which parts do what. 

How does a sewing machine work – follow the below guide to learn it

Preparing The Sewing Machine

The first thing you need to do before you start sewing is to turn on your machine. Depending on the brand of the sewing machine, electric plugs are located at different locations on the sewing machine’s body.

Connect the electric wire from the main power supply to the sewing machine plug. Press the on/off button. By doing this, you will be able to start the sewing machine. 


A sewing machine cannot sew unless you don’t connect a foot pedal to it. Connect the wire of the foot pedal to the foot pedal motor, and then connect the motor to the sewing machine. Then you can get started sewing. 

The Threading Process

Threading is also the most crucial process; you must have an appropriate sewing thread. Depending on the type and brand of sewing machines, you can thread each differently. 

However, let me tell you how to thread a sewing machine in simple words. 

  • Insert a specific sewing thread into the spool pin on top of the sewing machines, then pass it through the thread guide. 
  • Next, pass the thread through the thread tension regulator, then through the eye of the thread take-up lever, and finally, insert the thread into the needle.
  • The upper thread is now complete. Sewing requires more than just the upper thread. 
  • Two threads are needed, one from the needle and the other from the bobbin. 

Let’s learn about the bobbin thread below. 

  • Be sure to wind the bobbin evenly so there are no twisted fibers, etc. 
  • After winding the thread on the bobbin, insert it in the bobbin case, then in the bobbin holder in the bobbin compartment. 
  • Sewing machine brands offer two bobbin loading mechanisms: top-loading and drop-in. 
  • Slowly rotate the handwheel so that the needle connects the threads of the bobbin with the threads of the needle. 

Adjusting the Needle

The sewing needle is the main component of a sewing machine. Regular sewers should be familiar with sewing machine needles and their parts. 

Note these points… 

  • Choose the correct type of needle for the fabrics you will sew before you begin sewing. 
  • To keep the needle from falling, insert it into the needle holder, then tighten it firmly with the needle screw clamp. 

If you don’t use the correct needle, there are higher chances of skipped stitches, sewing machine jamming, etc.

Setting up the Presser foot

Presser feet play another vital role in sewing machines, and different presser feet have other functions. In general, the presser foot flattens fabrics and applies pressure against the feed dog to allow the feed dog to feed materials continuously.

Place the presser foot in the presser foot holder and then tighten it with a screw clamp, the same as a needle. 

The Last Step

Now it is time to place the fabrics on the sewing machine. 

Take up the presser foot through the presser foot lever, also take up the needle, then place the fabric underneath the presser foot and needle on the throat plate and needle plate.

You can make precise stitches by positioning the fabric precisely on the needle.


  • The last step is to start sewing. 
  • Now lower the presser foot and needle, adjust the feed dog, thread tension, stitch length and width, etc., press the foot pedal, and your sewing machine will start sewing. 
  • The more you press the foot pedal, the faster your sewing will be, and vice versa. 

Depending on the type of sewing machine, most domestic sewing machines produce 650 to 1000 stitches in a minute. However, industrial can go to as high as 1600 SPM since they are used for mass-level production. 

Understanding the interior of a sewing machine mechanism – a detailed guide to sewing machine operation

Machines have belts, drive shafts, cranks, rods, and other moving parts that work together to operate them smoothly. 

In addition to these parts, the sewing machine motor and electricity power the needles, presser foot, feed dog, bobbins, etc., to make dresses for you. 

What each part does, let’s discuss.

I have provided a labelled image to help you understand which part I am referring to.

Parts And Their Names

image 2
1Electric Motor
3Hand Wheel
7Second Belt
8Bottom Mechanism
9Bobbin and Bobbin Case

How does a sewing machine work? The answer begins with the machine’s power source, which varies depending on its type. In the past, machines were operated by rotating hand wheels, but nowadays, they are driven by electric motors (1). (see the picture) 

These motors are connected to a foot pedal to make a sewing machine work. 

The motor will start and drive a belt 2 stretching between two disks by pressing the foot pedal. On one side of the disc, the belt is connected to motor 1, and on the other side, it is connected to the hand wheel 3, allowing them both to rotate, thereby transferring energy to other parts of a sewing machine. (see the picture)

The handwheel in a sewing machine attaches to the upper drive shaft 4, which transfers the movement to a crank 5 (which raises and lowers the needle 6 vertically) and a second belt 7. This allows the sewing machine’s workings to coordinate perfectly at the bottom and top. (see the picture)

Finally, there is the bottom mechanism 8, which contains the bobbin and the bobbin case 9. To make a stitch, the upper thread from the needle connects with the lower cord as it goes down to the bobbin. The feed dog then pushes the fabrics forward, allowing other fabric parts to be sewn.

How does a sewing machine make stitches?

Pressing the foot pedal causes the needle to move up and down to pierce the fabric. This process is so fast that we cannot see it with regular eyes. Therefore, I mentioned an animated diagram that explains this:

How stitching works

how stitching works
Credited to Wikipedia

Using two threads – one in the needle and one in the bobbin – sewing machines from stitches. 

The needle slides up and down through a plate, and the bobbin and shuttle mechanisms rotate back and forth below the plate. 

Threads from the needle and bobbin are intertwined when the needle moves towards the bobbin.

The bobbin thread is guided by a hook, as shown in the animation above. Top and bottom thread lengths must be balanced for the top and bottom threads to lock between the fabric layers, forming the same line of stitches on top and bottom.


How does a sewing machine work? I hope this query is now clear and fully understandable. Due to the advancement in the world of technology, different sewing machines are made, each with its capabilities. 

Be sure to read until the end so that you can catch everything. 

Thank you for reading.