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22 Sewing Machine Parts and Functions Explained

The sewing machine will be your great ally when carrying out sewing projects since it allows you to carry them out quickly and neatly tasks.

That is why before starting to sew, it is very convenient to know each of the machine parts and the functions they perform, become familiar with it, and better understand its operation and, therefore, the use that you will be able to give.

22 Sewing Machine Parts Functions Explained

All sewing machines, whatever their model and sophistication, have several basic and common components that must be known to use the machine fully. Let’s see what they are!

#1. Bobbin winder shaft: It allows to load the bobbin quickly and uniformly. It has a brake (bobbin winder stop) to control the amount of thread that is loaded.

#2. Retractable spool pin: It is a retractable pin that holds the upper thread bobbin when you are sewing or loading it.

#3. Horizontal spool pin: It holds the thread. Some machine models do not have this part and instead have a stitch display.

#4. Bobbin winder tension disc: Adjusts the upper thread tension when the bobbin is loaded.

#5. Pressure regulator: Serves to regulate the pressure between the presser foot and the feed.

#6. Thread take-up: It supplies the needle with the amount of thread necessary to make the stitches. It moves down and up.

#7. Thread tension control: It allows you to vary the upper thread’s tension depending on the type of stitch used. It is an important component since the thread tension’s correct use is decisive to have perfect stitches.

#8. Face cover: Provides access to the machine shaft for greasing. Inside there is also a light bulb that illuminates the part of the needle to facilitate sewing.

#9. Reverse stitch lever: When pressed, the direction in which the machine sews is reversed, i. e., the machine starts to sew in reverse. It is used for finishing off and preventing stitches from unraveling at the beginning and end of seams.

#10. Needle plate/Stitch plate: It has a central hole through which the needle is inserted to make the stitch while acting as a transport mechanism that advances the fabric. It can be removed.

#11. Extension table: Increase the sewing surface for better fabric handling on the machine, and you can add it or remove it. When removed, some models allow access to the bobbin case, and inside, it usually contains a space to store the most common accessories of the sewing machine.

#12. Stitch selector: It allows you to select the stitch with which the machine will sew based on the codes contained in the stitch display.

#13. Stitch length control: It allows you to regulate how long the stitch will be when we sew. Normally, the number indicates the length in millimeters of the stitches, and when it is at 0, the needle does not advance, always striking the same place.

#14. Stitch width selector: Used to adjust the stitches’ width in the zigzag stitches (not all the machines have this element and those without it usually have different stitch widths incorporated in the stitch selector.)

#15. Handwheel: On non-electric machines, it must be turned by hand to raise and lower the needle and allow the feed dogs to move. In electric machines, it is operated by the pedal.

#16. Plug socket: It allows you to connect the machine to the electrical current. The connection cable to the electrical current fulfills a double function. On the one hand, it has two plugs that allow the machine to be connected. On the other, it carries the connection with the pedal, which is the mechanism that moves the steering wheel and controls the speed of sewing.

#17. Power/Light switch: Turns the machine on and off. When you turn it on, the bulb that illuminates the needle operates.

#18. Presser foot lifter: Raises the presser foot to release the fabric. Some models of machines have two types of lifts, and the first is to achieve a normal elevation that can be left fixed by leaving the lifter in it; the second is only held manually and allows manipulation of the needle shaft to be able to change some presser feet.

#19. Needle: It is the element that is responsible for piercing the fabric so that the union between the two threads that make up the seam, the upper and the lower, takes place.

Additional info: Depending on the type of fabric and its thickness, different needles are adapted to each case. We want to comment on a detail that influences whether or not the machine can sew, and it is the type of stem that the needle has.

There are needles with a flat trunk, which are the most common, and others around the trunk.

We must be very clear about what type of needle our sewing machine uses because if we use the wrong needle, it will be impossible for the machine to work.

The needles with a flat trunk have the back of their upper part, the one that is housed in the machine, a flat surface, and those with a round trunk are the same on both sides.

To make a correct seam, it is necessary that the needle is appropriate for each case and that its tip is well sharp and not bent or oxidized. When any of these problems occur, it is necessary to renew the needle.

#20. Presser’s foot: It is the component responsible for holding the fabric while it is being sewn. There is an immense variety of presser feet to the different needs we have when we sew: sew zippers, sew buttons, make buttonholes, sew ribbons and laces, etc.

#21. Bobbin cover release button: When you press it, you will find the lower thread bobbin. To remove it, you must pull the tab of the hook.

#22: Pedal/Foot control: A fundamental part of the machine since without it, it does not work. It is plugged into a power outlet and, when you step on it, depending on the pressure you exert, the speed at which the machine sews will vary.

Sewing Machine Accessory Parts Function Explained

Any sewing machine has several accessories that allow it to do a wide variety of different tasks. There are general-purpose accessories that fit any machine. We show you the most common ones.


This is an essential accessory since it is usually used before using any maintenance oil. It is a small brush with a straight head with stiff bristles that allow cleaning small spaces.

For cleaning, whether of dust or remnants of thread or fabric, it is not recommended to use an air blower since, instead of removing it, you run the risk that these remains get inside the machine, causing that with time machine does not work as it should.

If you don’t want to use the brush, you can replace it with a small vacuum cleaner to suck up the dust.

Seam Ripper

Its name is obvious, and it is used to remove the stitches from a seam, break some stitches, tear a stitch, and open buttonholes.

It has a sharp point that allows us to catch the stitches that we will remove or break. Depending on which of the actions we carry out, we will turn the tip from one side or the other.

It has a tiny blade to cut the threads when we tear, cut certain stitches, and open buttonholes.

Some models of seam ripper have a truncated tip that at the end has a plastic ball to prevent us from tearing the fabric when unstitching.


Depending on the brand, it is usually included, but it never hurts to have an additional one. They are smaller than normal, so they sometimes get lost or worn out. They are ideal for fastening the needle.

Extra Bobbins

Depending on the brand and model of the sewing machine, they usually come with extra bobbins.

Some bobbins are plastic, while others are metal. Some people prefer metal bobbins as they tend to be stronger. However, the metal bobbins offered by some brands deteriorate quickly.

The extra bobbins that some sewing machines bring are usually made of plastic.

Quilting Bar Guide

The quilting bar guide is used with a presser foot, which has a support that helps to hold it. It is placed on the screw of the needle bar, and the guide is inserted into the foot and serves to always sew at the same distance.

When sewing, use special pins or hooks to make quilts so your fabrics do not move. To work more comfortably, you can place the extension table on your sewing machine to expand your work area.

Now, remove the standard foot from your machine and remove the presser foot holder. You can do it with the screwdriver. Proceed to attach the special quilting foot and position the quilt guide to the extent you want to sew.

Done!, now you will have uniform seams.

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