Parts of a Sewing Machine and Their Functions

Last updated: October 24th, 2022

A sewing machine forms the base of the garment industry no matter whether it is small or large. It is a uniquely designed tool invented to reduce human effort and produce various garments and utility clothes. Sewing machines stitch different fabrics together and form a garment.

No matter whether you are an amateur or a professional tailor, knowledge about basic parts of a sewing machine is essential for efficient use of the machine. Knowing various parts of the sewing machine helps you when something goes sideways while working with it. If you have lost your manual, don’t worry, as this article lists all the basic parts of a sewing machine along with its functions.

Peek Into The History Of Sewing Machine

Before jumping into the list of sewing machine parts, let us see where it all started. The birth of a sewing machine occurred with ideas from many minds. In 1790, Thomas Saint got a patent for a machine that produced chain stitches and used the machine to stitch and sew.

In 1832, Walter Hunt combined ideas (eye-pointed needle and a locking stitch) and developed a machine. Followed by him, many developed various sewing machines. In 1846, Isacc M. Singer invented the revolutionary sewing machine with a straight needle and became popular across the world.

Sewing Machine Parts List

Now that you have completed the history class, let us begin the anatomy of a sewing machine and break down each part of a sewing machine. Though there are different sewing machines, the parts remain the same for most of the models. There are three types of sewing machines: manual, automated, and handheld.

Manual and automatic machines are widely used for professional sewing while handheld machines are used for domestic small scale sewing. There are lots of types that fall under each of the above-mentioned categories. Define your purpose of the sewing machine and select a high-quality sewing machine.

Spool pin 

The spool pin is a small dowel that holds the thread and this is where the thread comes from. Some sewing machines come with multiple spool pins for various thread spools. The spool pin makes it easier for you to thread your machine and it keeps the thread coming as you want it to.

Thread guides

The thread guides are little guides and openings that are present on your machine to guide the thread from the spool spin to the needle. The thread guides make sure that your thread moves correctly and prevents tangling of the thread.

Bobbin winder spindle

A bobbin is a little cylinder-shaped ring that comes with or without flanges. The bobbin holds the thread that is being wound around it. The bobbin binder spindle is the component where you place the bobbin when you want to wind the thread around it. You press the spindle down and lock it by pushing it to the side and then start to wind it.

Bobbin winder stopper

The bobbin cannot hold lots of thread beyond its capacity. The bobbin winder stopper gives you a helping hand in controlling the amount of thread wound onto the bobbin. The stopper stops winding thread to the bobbin when it has reached full capacity. If your machine doesn’t have this part, pay attention to the amount of thread that is wound to the thread.

Needle clamp screw

The needle doesn’t stay in a place by itself. You have to secure them in a place by fastening the needle clamp screw. Make sure that it is fastened tightly to prevent the needle from falling. The older models have a bigger screw while the latest models have small screws to fasten the needle.

Bobbin winder tension disc

This part comes as a great help when you wind more of the thread to the bobbin. If the thread has to work properly, you have to set the right amount of tension. You have to put the bobbin on the bobbin winder spindle and pull a long piece of thread and wind it around the tension disk. This makes sure that the thread is kept tight and it doesn’t get tangled.

Take-up lever

This is also known as the thread take-up lever. The take-up lever is one of the most pivotal parts of a sewing machine. The top thread should always pass through part before sewing starts. If you don’t follow this, you will get stuck due to bird nesting when you start sewing. The thread take-up lever goes up and down as the stitches are formed; don’t get alarmed by this motion. Every time the take-up lever goes up and down, your stitches become tight. When you fail to the take-up lever, the stitches don’t get tighter resulting in bird nesting.

The stitch selection dial

The stitch selection dial allows you to select the pattern of stitch from various options that come in-built with your sewing machine. This is also known as the functions button. This feature comes with the latest model machine and you can’t find this in most of the older machine models. You can turn the dial and select the pattern of stitch that has to be produced.


The bobbin holds the lower thread that is required to produce the stitches. Once the sewing machine needle is threaded, turn the handwheel to take up the bobbin thread. The bobbin thread is secured in the bobbin case. The type of bobbin case differs based on the type of sewing machine.

For a top-loaded machine, a plastic or metal bobbin case is used. For frontloaded machines always use a metal bobbin case.

The stitch width dial

The latest sewing machine models come with options to choose between various stitch length and width. You can control the zig-zag stitch without much effort.

Stitch-Length Selector

This dial is used to set the length of the stitches produced. It is available on manual and electronic sewing machines. The measurement of the stitch will differ based on the machine you get. Check the manual to know how the stitch is measured in your machine. This helps in controlling the length according to the requirement.

Reverse stitch lever

In the latest machines, you can either find a reverse stitch lever or reverse stitch button. It is used at the start or finish of a seam. At the start and end of a seam, using the lever takes the fabric back and forth a few times to produce multiple stitches without lifting the footer up and down. This prevents the start and end of the seam from getting separated.

Presser foot

The presser foot keeps your fabric in a place when you sew and doesn’t let the fabric slip away. As the name suggests, it will press down on your fabric and keep it in a position. Various feet are used in different sewing machines such as the zipper foot is used to stitch a zipper.

The handwheel

The handwheel is an important part of manual sewing machines which present on the side of the body. This knob is also called the flywheel. The handwheel is moved to raise and lower the take-up lever. When you are working with the handwheel, make sure that you turn it towards you.

Presser foot lifter

This is a small handle that is used to lift the presser foot. When you want to remove the fabric or want to change the needle, it is used. Make sure that the presser foot is up when the machine is threaded. The presser foot has to be lowered before you start sewing. Various presser feet include:

  • all-purpose feet
  • zipper foot
  • buttonhole foot
  • button sewing foot
  • blind hem foot
  • satin stitch foot
  • open toe foot
  • overcasting foot
  • embroidery foot
  • rolled hem foot
  • straight stitch
  • walking foot

Bobbin cover

The lower parts of your sewing machine have to be protected for the machines to last longer. The bobbin cover protects your bobbin by covering it.

Bobbin cover release button

This is a button that is used to release the bobbin and have complete access to the bobbin.

Feed dog

Also known as feed teeth it has a pretty straightforward function. The feed dog feeds cloth through the sewing machine as you sew. This is done, by a rotating up-and-down motion that pushes the fabric away from you, as you are sewing. The feed teeth perform the rotatory motion every time the needle moves up and down to push the fabric a bit further.


The needle doesn’t need any explanation as it is the crucial part of a sewing machine that forms the stitches. The shape and size of the needle differ based on the type of sewing machine.

Built-in needle threader

This is found in most modern sewing machines. The threader will automatically thread the needle.  

Needle plate

The needle plate is the part located right under the needle and is present under the presser foot. it pushes the fabric forward as are sewing. It helps in pushing the fabric back when the reverse stitch mode is used.

Speed controller machine

You can find this dial in lots of sewing machines. It is used to adjust the speed at which the stitches are produced. The speed of the machine can be controlled according to your need.

Foot pedal

The foot pedal helps in performing various functions such as starting, running, and stopping the machine. When you press the foot pedal, the machine starts running, and when you stop pressing, the machine also stops. The foot pedal is made of either plastic or metal.

These are the common parts for most sewing machines. The parts might differ based on the type of the sewing machine and some machine has extra parts to help complex sewing processes.

Overview Of Sewing Machine Accessories

A sewing machine is assisted by various accessories; let us take a look at some common accessories;

  • Brush: it is used to clean the machine. Don’t use an air blower to clean the sewing machine as it will push dirt and girth further into the machine. You can either use the brush to clean the sewing machine or use a vacuum.
  • Seam Ripper: this is a standard accessory for tailors to remove stitches. The seam ripper has a curved blade-like structure on one end, which is pushed through the stitches.
  • Screw Driver: it is used to fasten the needle
  • Extra bobbins
  • Quilting bar

Maintenance Of Your Sewing Machine

Now that you are familiar with the common sewing machine parts, it is essential that you know something about maintenance to extend the life of your machine. If you use the sewing machine daily, lack of maintenance might result in serious problems. Here are some tips on how to maintain your machine

  • Keep the machine covered when you are not using it. This prevents dust from finding its way into the machine.
  • Dust the machine regularly using a brush and don’t forget the bobbin case.
  • Change the needles regularly: if you are a professional tailor, and use the machine a lot, then you have to change the needle from time to time. If the needle is blunt or dull, it can skip stitches or produce looped threads.
  • Once you have fished dusting, it is time to oil the machine. The sewing machine oil is a special lubricant formulated to keep various parts of the machine running smoothly. The lubricant prevents friction while sewing and eventually reduces long term wear and tear.
  • To apply the oil, rotate the handwheel slowly back and forth and observe the places where moving parts touch and friction is produced. Put little oil in the moving parts for its perfect working.
  • Once you have finished oiling, take a small muslin cloth and absorb the excess oil to prevent oil spoiling the fabric.
  • Send the machine for annual servicing: Though you clean the machine regularly, you must send the machine for annual servicing to a professional service center. They will separate the machine and thoroughly clean it.


Complete knowledge of the sewing machine is required while you are working regularly or starting to work with a sewing machine. The knowledge will reflect on your project as it improves your efficiency. 

WRITTEN BY Aman Sharma

Aman Sharma is a content writer who specializes in creating compelling, informative content. His writing style is engaging and easy to read, making it perfect for online readers. Aman is also an expert in social media marketing and knows how to use social media to promote your content.

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