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Beginner’s Guide to Sewing: Sewing Machine Parts Reference Guide

which part is which

Ever been completely bewildered by your sewing machine? So many buttons and knobs and little parts – which parts is which???

We understand. We were once there, too. So, to go along with our Beginner’s Guide to Sewing, we’ve made this little reference guide to elaborate on those parts we went over in the videos- plus a few extras.

It’s all alphabetical so you can quickly find the part name.

Letter BBobbin:  A stitch is formed buy looping the bobbin thread and the needle thread together like this:


HBR/Wikimedia Commons

The bobbin is essentially a second spool of thread. Different machines use different bobbin sizes, so it’s important to consult your manual or locate your machine in our database list before buying new bobbins.

Bobbins list of machines compats

You’ll notice that some bobbins are plastic, while others are metal. There are people who swear by metal bobbins, as they tend to be more resilient .  Speaking of resilient, a bobbin that is nicked, bent, cracked, or damaged in anyway needs to be thrown out. Even the slightest damage will affect how the thread  is pulled off the bobbin.

Bobbin Case: Your bobbin’s home. It’s composed of a hook rotary system that needs to be cleaned every few projects. When you turn the hand wheel towards your body, you’ll notice the shuttle system move. As the needle thread is pulled around bobbin case, it wraps around the bobbin thread, and pulls it up through the needle plate.

bobbin case

Bobbin Cover:  For front loading bobbins, you remove the storage compartment to reveal a flip-down cover. Most top loading bobbin machines have a clear clip-in cover.

bobbin cover

Bobbin Tension: As if tension wasn’t confusing enough, the bobbin has its own tension system, though you don’t ever really need to touch this as a beginner. Just keep it at the factory setting for now. As you gain more experience and become more comfortable, you can mess around with the bobbin tension. (i.e. for shirring fabric with elastic thread).

That being said, we demonstrate how to check the bobbin tension and adjust it in Episode 5: Troubleshooting and Maintenance.

Bobbin Winder: The majority of sewing machines have a built in bobbin winding system, as shown in the video. This loads the thread on to your bobbin for you, instead of having to hand wind. The key is to make sure the thread spool is feeding to the bobbin smoothly. A proper bobbin is wound evenly, just like a spool of thread. No one end should be thicker than the other, nor should any knots or tangles have formed. Once you see a tangle form, unwind the thread and start all over again.

bobbin winding

Tip: Wind your bobbin at a medium speed. If you go too fast, it can stretch the thread out, making the thread more susceptible to breaks, as well as warping the appearance of your seam.

You’ll notice that some of the bobbin stoppers have a little screw on the top. By slightly unscrewing, you can adjust the fullness of your bobbin. For instance, there is no need to fill a bobbin to the brim if you only plan to use that thread color for a seam or two.

bobbin stopper

Button Shank Plate: This is used to attach buttons to heavy fabric, like denim. It can also be used when sewing over thick seams, like when sewing jeans, as it prevents uneven stitches.

button shank plate

letter D

Darning Plate: On some machines, the needle plates can be changed out for specialty plate. For instance, if a machine (like the Brother in our video) doesn’t have a “drop feed dogs” lever, one can simply install the darning plate to achieve free motion sewing.

Darning Plate

Letter E

Extension Table: This is the removable/free arm sewing bed. To remove, you simply ‘pop’ it out of place. Buy removing this section, you are able to more easily sew circular projects, like hems and cuffs. Very often, this part doubles as a storage compartment.  For front loading bobbin machines, you must remove the extension table to access the bobbin.

extension table bed

There are also accessory extension tables you can use with your machine.  When sewing larger projects, especially quilts, it’s helpful and often better, to support the extra bulk with an additional extension table. However, you can also use your arm or flip the extra fabric over your shoulder.  If not supported one way or another, the weight will pull the fabric to the side, making sewing more difficult and stretching the fabric.

extension table extra

Letter F

Feed Dogs: These are those metal teeth located within the needle plate. When sewing, these teeth grab on to the fabric and pull it through the machine. Many machines have the option to “Drop Feed Dogs”. This means the feed dogs are lowered into the machine, thereby disengaging them.

feed dogs

But why would you want to disengage/drop the feed dogs? Because when doing free motion sewing/darning/quilting,  you move the fabric freely and in any direction or shape you want. If the feed dogs were to remain in use, you’d be fighting against their pull, which damages the machine and creates ugly stitches. If you machine doesn’t have a drop-feed option, you would simply install a darning plate (see Darning Plate).

Felt Cushion: This is placed on the spool pin under the thread spool. It’s suppose to make the spool pin spin better. I say suppose to, because I’ve never actually used one on the account that I’ve always lost it straight out of the box.

felt cushion

Foot Controller/Pedal: This little pedal is how you control the needle. Be wary of a lead foot; you don’t always have to go max speed. In fact, I recommend sewing slowly until you get more experience under your belt. As you sew more and more, you’ll operate the foot controller as well as you operate a gas pedal – or even better, if you’re like me.

foot controller

Foot Pressure Dial: A pressure foot dial lets you customize how much physical pressure is apply by the presser foot on to the fabric. This is especially helpful for very lightweight and very heavy fabrics, as adjusting the pressure makes for better seams and fabric control.

Letter G

General Purpose/Zig zag Foot: For basic sewing, you’ll use the zigzag foot/all purpose foot/general purpose foot. It has the wide opening to accommodate a zig zag. You’ll use this foot to do straight stitching, satin stitches, and a ton of decorative stitches. It’s basically your go-to foot.

general purpose foot

Letter H

Hand wheel: The first functional sewing machines used a hand crank to stitch the seams. This hand wheel is mostly used to bring the bobbin thread up through the needle plate and to raise/lower the needle for position changes/pivoting corners. When turning the hand wheel, make sure to turn it towards your body.


Letter L

Lint Brush: Yup, you’ll have to dust. If you want to keep your machine operating smoothly, try to clean out the lint every few projects. Certain fabric, like those with a pile (velvet) need to be cleaned out after every project, because the lint builds up so badly. You don’t have to use the brush that came with your machine; many people have a combination of tools to cleans the best possible.

Tip: You can use pressurized/compressed air to clean the lint from your sewing machine. Spray away.

Letter N

Needles: There are a TON of different types and sizes. Here’s the thing, needles are really important. You have to use the correct needle for your fabric, the fabric weight, and the task to be successful. It’s so important, we made a whole flow chart to help you pick the correct needle by answering “yes” or “no”. Plus, knowing you already have the correct needle is one less troubleshooting step.


TIP: You’ll hear you need to change your needle after every project. Unless you are using super cheap needles, you can use the needle for more than one project. With quality needles, you can get a good 15 hours out of them. Once you gain more experience, you’ll be able to recognize when the needle is dull and needles to be changed. This usually happens when the thread is bunching and stitches are uneven despite the  tension being perfect.

Needle Plate: This metal plate covers the feed dogs and bobbin casing. Nearly all needle plates come with some kind of etchings to act as a seam allowance measuring guide. The etching help keep seams straight.

needle plate

Needle Threader: These come in very basic to completely computerized and automatic. Many people have difficulty threading the eye of the needle. By having a needle threader, you prevent eye strain and making threading your machine more efficient, as a needle threader is usually much faster than the old fashion “squint-and-pray” method.

Letter P

Presser Feet: Oh, boy. Where do I start? These are special attachments that are either required (i.e. walking foot for quilting) or make sewing significantly easier (i.e. binding foot). As a beginner, you’ll use the general purpose foot (also called a zig zag foot or all purpose foot) and walking foot the most. Presser feet attach to the machine shank, which is either “High”, “Low”, or “Slant”.  Snap on presser feet are great, because they are easy to install. They are used by clipping into a Snap-on Shank Adapter. All new machines come with their own snap on shank adapter.

presser feet

snap on adapter

When shopping for presser feet, you must first know what type of shank your machines has and the maximum stitch width. For instance, if your maximum stitch width is 7mm, a 5mm presser foot isn’t technically compatible with your machine. However, you can still use a 5mm presser foot, just need to test your needle position by carefully, manually turning the hand wheel and watching where the needle touches. Of you don’t test first, you may break your needle on the presser foot. Nobody likes small, flying metal shards.

We have a library of presser feet videos demonstrating what each foot is used for and how to use it. Be sure to browse if you’re curious.

Letter R

Reverse Button: All machines have one of these. It’s because the start and stop of every seam needs to be back-stitched in order to lock in the threads. By  reinforcing the first few stitches, you prevent the seam from busting opening when tension is applied.

reverse lever

TIP: If the start of a seam is going to crisscross with another seam, like when piecing quilt blocks, you don’t really need to repeatedly back stitch; it just takes too much time. Also, if you’re sewing a basting stitch (or any seam you know you’ll rip out) don’t back-stitch, because it’s harder to removed stitches that have been reinforced.

Letter S

Screwdrivers: All machines come with tiny screwdrivers to remove the shank screw and to remove the  needle plate.  The screws are very small, so make sure to keep track of them. They tend to roll away.

screw drivers

Seam Ripper: This little tool has a sharp, hook-like end that slides under the stitch and cuts the thread. Or, you can use it to pull out each stitch, eventually removing the whole seam in one piece.

a seam ripper

Spool Pin and Holders/Caps: The spool pin is what holds your thread spool. Some are vertical, some are horizontal. A spool holder/cap is a little stopper that secures the spool in place. Without the holder, the thread spool would be yanked off while sewing.

spool pins

Start/Stop Button: Technically, this feature allows you to sew without using your foot controller. But, really, it’s used to start and stop automatic sewing, like machine embroidery and automatic buttonholes.

Stitch Selection Dial: Some machines have a very basic knob that turns to select the stitch, while others have multiple buttons or are completely computerized on a touch screen. The stitches are numbered on your machine, but in most manuals it has both the stitch number and the name of the stitch (satin, stretch, zigzag), as well as the tension, length, and width setting.

stitch selection dial

Stitch Length: Increasing makes the stitch longer, which is great for basting stitches or when sewing very heavy fabric. The longer your stitch length, the more you’ll need to lower the tension. The opposite goes when reducing the stitch length, like when creating a satin stitch. The shorter your stitch length, the more you need to increase the tension.

Stitch Width: This determines how wide or narrow you want your stitch.  Generally, machines are either maxed out at 5mm wide or 7mm wide. Meaning that the widest zag zag stitch you can make is either 5mm or 7mm. This is important, because you never want to install a 5 mm wide presser foot on a 7mm sewing machine without first testing you needle position and width by manually turning the hand wheel.

Tip: When sewing a straight stitch, you can change the needle position by adjusting the stitch width.

Letter T

Thread: There are so many different types of thread on the market. As a beginner, you’ll start out with All Purpose Polyester thread. Polyester thread won’t shrink, stretch, or loose it’s color (at least not for a long time). It’s very strong and easy to use. No fuss or fluff, and it can be used with virtually all fabric.

As you continue your sewing journey, you’ll love learning about new thread, like metallic, embroidery, clear, and nylon. There’s even glow-in-the-dark thread!

Tension Knob: Tension is one of the scariest things to learn for new sewists. But really, it’s just a game of tug and war. As you’re learning, try to stick within the automatic tension range; after all, mastering a straight stitch is hard enough.

Tension Auto

Remember, most manuals  list the tension settings for each stitch. If you do need to adjust the tension, do it 1 or 0.5 intervals at number at a time.

Here’s one way to think of it; imagine a dog on a leash. If little Spot wants to run 10 feet (i.e., a long length) in front of you, you’ll have to loose your tension/grip on the leash, right? If you want him to stay close to your heels, you’ll have to tighten your hold on the leash.  It’s the same thing for tension. The further the individual stitch needs to travel, the more ease it needs, thus less tension.

The longer/wider the stitch, the less tension, because the stitch has a longer distance to travel.

The thicker the fabric, the less tension, because you need more thread for each stitch to do through a thick piece of fabric.

The opposite applies when sewing a short/narrow stitch and thin fabric.  A balanced stitch will only show the needle thread on one side, and the bobbin thread on the other side.

tension solution

If you’re feeling brave, play around and see what happens. Put opposite colored thread in the bobbin and in the needle and adjust the stitch and tension settings.

If the bobbin thread is visible on the top of the fabric, then the needle tension is too tight.

If the needle thread is seen on the bottom of the fabric, then the needle tension is too loose.

Tension Disks: The thread is passed though these plates as part of threading your machine. Make sure you literally floss the thread between the disks. These two metal plates are pushed together when the stitch tension is increased and pulled apart when the stitch tension is lowered.

Thread Cutter (built-in the machine): Many modern machines have a tiny blade attached to the left side of the machine to conveniently cut thread tails instead of looking for scissors after every seam. More advanced machines will have a automatic thread cutter built into the bobbin area. You simply press a button, and the thread tails are trimmed to roughly 1/4 an inch.

Thread Nippers: These are just small scissor you keep next to your sewing machine. At the end of a seam, just clip the thread tails. Of course, if your sewing machine has a built in thread cutter, you can skip these.

thread nippers

Thread Take up Lever: Always make sure your thread catches on this when threading your machine. It’s kind of difficult to see, but if you move it to the highest position by turning your hand wheel, it’s much easier to visualize.

thread take up lever

letter Z

Zipper Foot: There are adjustable zipper feet, invisible zipper feet, and standard zipper feet. I can’t emphasized enough how much you have to use these foot when installing a zipper. Watch this zipper foot video to learn more.

Zipper Foot

195 thoughts on “Beginner’s Guide to Sewing: Sewing Machine Parts Reference Guide”

  1. Please let me know where I can obtain a small pin that goes in the cylinder under the hand wheel. It sticks thru a couple of small plates with holes and is screwed into the cylinder. The needle bar will not go up or down without it. It broke off inside the cylinder so I probably will have to find the cylinder also. I need a parts list to get the right part numbers for ordering. Thank You so much. I have a Bernina Record, 930 electronic.

    1. i have a brother pc 8200. when i try to sew the safety feature comes on and machine will not sew. it says check threading or bent needle. i have taken it to a repair shop and they say the bobbin stopper is broken and they cannot find a replacement. I have not ever heard of this and can you explain. the machine was sewing great until this happened.

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    1. Hello Hani!

      I am sorry to report, I have been unable to pull up any information on your machine. If you have a broken bobbin case, please email us pictures and we will be happy to see if we can offer any suggestions. Our email is [email protected].

      1. Hello? When you are adjusting the fullness of the bobbin winding, do you slightly unscrew to lessen the fullness and tighten to increase?

        1. Hello Tami!

          As each machine is different, I suggest speaking to a technician regarding your question before adjusting anything on your machine.

        1. Hello Anna! Please call us with your budget and we can see what we have to offer and if it has the features to complete this task. Our number is 888-824-1192. We look forward to hearing from you.

      2. Hi! I have a singer 403A and I don’t have a straight stitch throat plate or presser foot. Can I use my general purpose throat plate with a straight stiti h presser foot? Or do you know where I can purchase a straight stitch throat plate and foot? I can’t seem to find one anywhere! Thank you so much from a newbie!

      3. Have a Rex 345-3L sewing machine lost manual to hurricane Harvey need to replace a part but can’t remember what the part is called can you help?

      4. Hello I received a White Multi-tasker 2200 from my mother-in-law and it appears to have never been used. As I prepared and tested it I found the “stitch width” dial moves during operation from original setting 1 to much wider as I sew. Settings are for cotton simple, pressure regulator at 2, stitch A straight, stitch length 2. As I have not used a machine for 30+ years it could be ‘user error’. Thinking of applying duck tape. Any thoughts?

        1. Hello Patrick! I am sorry to report, we have very little information on your machine. We still offer a few generic parts; however, I do not see the replacement part you are needing.
          You may benefit from bringing it to a local technician. They may be able to offer some suggestions.

          1. Thanks for responding. I set the stitch width to zero and the dial has not moved. My first project, pillow case, is completed and I’m lovin’ it. I’ll test a few zigzag stitches to see if stitch width is still an issue or if it simple needs to be at zero when doing a straight stitch. Next up curtains for RV. Cheers

        2. I have an old vintage sewing machine the machine name is stretch and Stitch it works great I’m just having a problem with the tension and the stitching the can’t figure it out

        3. Hi, somehow the piece inside the hole in the sewing machine, into which the foot pedal attaches, is broken. The metal piece fell out. Is it possible to replace this? thanks!

        4. Hi, I have a American Home machine that is about 2 years old. Both spool pins broke off (the machine fell over and snapped them off half way) and I have had a terrible time trying to find any information on parts or anything! The only thing I’ve found close is Kenmore 652205006 Sewing Machine Spool Pin, it LOOKS exactly the same. The problem is, I can’t find instructions on install a metal snap in spool pin anywhere. Is it easy to install them? Any help you can give me would be very appreciated 🙂

          1. Hello Rebecca! I am very sorry, but we do not have any of those instructions available. I would recommend searching YouTube for more information. I am sorry I could not be of further assistance.

        5. I have been wanting to quilt for years and I’m finally taking the plunge. This is hands down the BEST guide I’ve come across. Thank you so much for this.

          1. I need the spring that goes in the bobbing holder for a UFR 505small sewing machine from Wal-Mart husband lost it

            1. CustomerService

              Hello, Judi. Unfortunately, we do not have any information on a UFR 505. I would recommend reaching out to the manufacturer directly.

          2. What an awesome guide! I especially appreciated the explanation of how tension works with stitch length. I have been sewing on the same little Singer Genie since I got it as a high school graduation present in (ahem) the 1970s, but never quite understood the relationship, even though I managed to sew my own wedding dress in the 1990s on the same machine. I’m taking the old girl in for a tune-up very soon and will definitely be back here if I need any parts or accessories.

          3. Hi, I’m new to sewing and have a Frister Rossmann Cub3 sewing machine, I find that it will only do straight stitching, the stitch width control doesn’t seem to work and I cannot zigzag or do any of the special stitches. would there be something I can do to repair this problem.
            Thanks and regards, Ian Watson

          4. I have a Euro Pro sewing machine which uses the double spool pin that slides in on the back. Do you know where I can find that part. Mine has been displaced. Thank you.

          5. Hi : I have a White model 675 I bought new almost 40 years ago. It never missed a beat, but I am now having an issue with the stitches. I will only do a —/\—- stitch : I can’t get it to do a straight stitch ; it will do the stretch stitches, but not a plain, old ordinary straight which is all I want. Any suggestions?

            1. It sounds like you may benefit from speaking with our technician. His name is Dennis. He can be reached at 888-824-1192 ext. 307 or [email protected].

              Please note, he offers free technical advice in addition to working in our store. If he is unable to answer immediately, please leave your name and number, the make and model of your machine, and the problem that you are having, and he will get back to you just as soon as he can.

          6. Thank you. I like the example of the dog release the leash to go further and adjust leash to stay closer. The best analogy. Thank you.

          7. I was very pleased to find this great site.
            I wanted to thank you for ones time for this wonderful read!!

            I definitely savored every little bit of it and I have
            you bookmarked to look at new information in your site.

          8. I’m shopping around as we speak…I think I’m more confused than when I started. Like you I started with my mothers Singer Genie. I’m off to a dealer this weekend. Hopefully they can help me. I found one on the walmart site but I’ve heard bad things about their machines being made with plastic parts to cut down on the cost.

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          10. I have an old singer that folds down into a cabinet the number looks to be AJ963526. My question is under the bobbin there was two little clips that came up from under the bobbin that hold it in place they are each held on with one screw. I’m not sure what the clips are called but one has broken. Any help would be appreciated on what they are called and where I can get a replacement.

            1. Hello Bruce. Using the serial number you gave me, your machine is a Singer model 201 and it was manufactured on November 6th of 1950. We do not have those clips available for that machine. I did find a part number if that might help you. The part number for those clips is 45279. I am sorry I do not have more information. I hope this helps!

          11. Hello Sarah, thanks so much for this detailed guide to my sewing machine. Just started sewing and expecting my sewing machine in the mail. So reading up on the parts before it arrives has been quite educating and is giving me some heads up.

            The needle infographic though, can you repost or relink to the side diagram about different types of needles? I discovered the image only links to the needle selection pdf but not the needle types and the one on this page is too small to see. I hope you understand…lol


            1. I understand! At this time, we do not have an infograph produced with that information; however, if you email a request for the ‘Color Code Chart’, I will be happy to send you an attachment that contains this information. Our email is [email protected].

          12. The original plastic bobbins that came with my Sears Kenmore Sewing Machine model 17892 are lost. The owner’s manual lists the part number as 6868. I’ve heard that bobbins must be an exact match to your machine or sewing quality will be compromised. Is there a solution to this dilemma? Thank you.

          13. We have a kenmore model 48, and don’t know if it take a certain size bobbin case. We have one, but it doesn’t snap/hold in place when seeing. Is there a spacific size.

          14. I have a Kenmore sewing machine, model# 385.15516000. I loaned it to someone and I swear the threadcutter is backwards as the blade is facing the front instead of the back of the machine. It is on the inside of the cover where the light is and looks removable. I don’t want to force it and break it if it should not be removed but I can’t find anything about this part online or in the manual. I hope you know and can help me as I have Xmas gifts to sew. I can’t ask the person that used it or I would have. Thank you.

            1. Hi, Ann! This sounds like a question for our repair technician, Dennis. He can walk you through how to replace your thread cutter. Please call us at 888-824-1192 and ask for Dennis. He’s very knowledgeable!

          15. I just bought a Janome 3128 and the stitch selector dial does not select the correct stitch. For example, when the zig zag stitch is selected (D, E, F, or G) it stitches H, I or J. Hope it’s an easy fix.

          16. I have a Kenmore Model 1703 sewing machine and I am trying to find a quilting foot for it. It is at least 45 years old but still works great. If I am measuring correctly it has an extra long shank (1 1/2 inches). I tried the RWA2 quilting foot, but it didn’t work. Any suggestions?

          17. Where can I get a detailed description of the upper thread assembly for a Model 118 Consew? I ordered and received a 7028 spring from you, but can’t quit get it together correctly.

            1. Hi, Fred! I will see if we can get a service manual in for you. You can also give our technician, Dennis a call. He has a great bit of experience with those machines. You can call us at 888-824-1192 and ask for Dennis.

            1. Hi! The pattern selection dial on your machine is located on the side of the machine. It’s below the hand wheel. With your needle up in the highest position and your presser foot lifted, you turn the pattern selection knob until you see the desired stitch selected in the stitch selection window on the front of your machine.

            1. I have a second hand Singer 507 that I bought 3 years ago but have only just got out to play with! It was already threaded with red cotton on a metal bobbin and on the needle thread on top, which was perfect for the bunting I was making. The thread on the bobbin ran out before I had finished the job, and the manual the dealer gave me in for a slightly different model which shows the bobbin winder at the front of the machine, whereas mine has a plastic bobbin held on the top by a metal screw. Last time I used a machine was in the 1970’s! I have never seen a plastic bobbin before! Can I use an ordinary screwdriver to undo the screw to pass the thread through the hole in the bottom and remove it when it’s full, or do I need a “special” tool? Help!

              1. Hi, Kate! I’m a little confused by your question. You shouldn’t need a special tool to wind your bobbin. Also, I wouldn’t use a plastic bobbin with your machine. I think metal will work better. I will check with our product team and see if we can find the proper manual for your machine.

              2. Hi Sarah,
                I have an old Singer Minx Model # 2660.
                Could you please, help me find its Manual.
                I will be grateful.

              3. Hi Sarah, happy to find your site. I have been having problems with my old Singer so I thought I’d try using my mom’s old Domestic 464. It was sewing just fine but since my mom died 5 years ago I thought I should go ahead and oil it. Today, when I tried to sew it was as if the gears got bound somewhere. I had left the top off so I could look at the gears. I checked the belt tension and it was good. I took the belt off to be sure the motor ran free and it does. I can move the wheel by hand but the wheel and belt turn but the needle doesn’t move up and down but a little. When I turn the wheel a bunch of times, the gears will kind of give a “whump” and things will move freely for a brief time. I have a compressor and I can blow the machine out tomorrow but it really didn’t look that dusty or dirty. I oiled all the moving parts in the head and underneath the machine. I greased the gears. I’m at a loss as to why it stopped running freely. HELP PLEASE

                1. Hi Sarah, I wrote earlier about using my mom’s Domestic the oiling it and at that point it stopped working. I kept trying it. I washed the belt and I used alcohol on the bully part of the motor, but still it wouldn’t run normally. Well, yesterday I tried it and it ran just fine. So, I wanted to let you know so if someone else had the same problem after oiling that if they have patience and wait a few days, (it took about 4 days for this machine) that maybe the excess oil will run out and it will work again. All the best and thanks for your website!

                2. hi Sarah, i’m a newbie who recently bought the singer 44s classic & i’m having serious bobbin threading issues. when i wind it per the instructions around the “bobbin winder tension discs” it creates a strain in the flow from spool to bobbin-more often than not-it doesnt allow the bobbin to spin. the thread gets sandwiched between the flat disc and either the top part or the bottom part because there is some kind of spring action in there. its going in the correct order of the arrows (thread going around the right towards me-cutting across to the left & then behind in a clockwise fashion.) is there a way to loosen it or what am i doing wrong?

                3. i have a457 singer i need to know what a part is called my wheel if i take it off to replace the belt the belt also raps around a little pullie small black plastice in side is a little piece that goes inside of that pullie i need that part now when i put that back on will my sewing machine sew because right now without that piece it dont sew no stiches because its slipping if you have that part and the number for that piece i can order it.i would appreciate it .p

                4. Hi Sarrah! Are you familiar with the Singer Disc-o-Matic 974 sewing machine? Which part is the “safety latch moter”? Many Thanks!

                  1. Hi, Mark! I’m so sorry. Neither I or our lead technician, Dennis, are familiar with that term. I looked at the parts list for that machine and don’t see the term “safety latch motor”. Do you have any more information I can use to find the part you need?

                5. Hi , I have a new butterfly JH9180 but I have not been able to get different stitches such as zig zag and other decorative stiches on it, was just able to get the straight sewing alone.

                  1. Hi! You may have to take it to a dealer or local repair shop to have the stitch gears assessed. I don’t have any information on that machine. With my machines, if I have a straight stitch plate installed, it won’t let me use zigzag stitches.

                6. Hello, I just came across a Vintage sewing machine and have no idea where the bobbin goes or how to load, can you help? Signature old really old machine….

                7. hi Sarah,I just bought a White Multi-Tasker 2200 used and it is missing a nob on the side that makes the bobbin spin.I plan to call the retail store Monday,just wondering if u could give me a insight sooner.

                8. Hi Sarah, I have recently bought a sewing machine called sew 4 fun, it has a snap on adaptor, assume it’s low Shank. Is it possible to find a darning foot that’s suitable for this machine, because I would like to try the free motion sewing, so I don’t know whether I can find a darning foot that’s suitable for this machine.

                9. I have a Singer Tradition – refurbished. When I first started sewing (about 5 months ago) what I”m about to ask you about happened a lot. Lately not so much. Except tonight. I can’t figure it out. And since I’m a beginner, I don’t know if it’s me….or the refurbished machine. It’s a front-loading bobbin. I’m holding the tails – and about the 2nd or third stitch, it gets bound up. I have to take the bobbin out, AND move the little arms to take off the circle thing, and then take off the half moon thing (that fits in line with the other half moon thing – together the bobbin case sort of fits into the two of them, so if I just put in or take out the bobbin in its little case, I’m not disturbing this assembly), and unwind the thread which seems to have gotten caught up and wound around itself. I can’t find the names of the pieces, but I can send you a picture. When it happens, it happens multiple times and no matter what I do, it doesn’t rectify itself – until the next morning, when it’s as if nothing happened. I found your site trying to learn what the parts are called to see if I could find any inkling as to what is happening. Thank you.

                  1. I fixed it – sort of. I still don’t know what the problem is / was, but I remembered somewhere in some beginner’s tips and tricks thing,the blogger instructed to just rethread. When it’s all wonky and you can’t find the problem, rethread. So I did. That took care of the issue – whatever it was. I guess I’d been doing that before too, but it had been so long since the problem had occurred, I’d forgotten the simplicity of the solution. Thank you.

                    1. Hi, Judi! It could be a number of things, but usually, thread nests are caused by either a scratched needle plate, a scratched bobbin case, a bad needle, or a threading issue. If you change the needle and rethread and it still happens, check your bobbin case. If you run your fingers along all sides of the bobbin case and the hook assembly, do you feel and rough areas? Even the smallest burr will wreck havoc.

                      1. Sarah – thank you so much for this. I’ll mark it for future reference. In the meantime, I’ve been exploring the site, videos and blog posts and there’s hugely great information here so I’ll be visiting and re-visiting everything quite often. Everything is so well explained (not always the case, and really frustrating when you’re a beginner) and I’m excited to dig in, once I get my initial project under the way, am bored, and ready for something new!

                        1. Hi, Billy! There are a few reasons. By lowering the presser foot when not in use, you eliminate the risk of accidentally hitting the lever and having the presser foot slam against the needle plate. Having a piece of fabric acts as a barrier between the two metal pieces. Also, it’s safest to have the needle down and inserted through the piece of cloth fabric.

                          1. Interesting! I have Googled a lot of beginner tips and tricks, and so am doing the cloth scrap under the needle (those lists have been super helpful), but didn’t know that extra info about having the needle down and inserted through the fabric. So I’ll start doing that. Thank you! In 7th grade I took home ec (just gave my age away I think LOL). Half was sewing and half was cooking. Afterward, I made two dresses on my mom’s very very old singer. Now 40+ years later and a beginner again, I not only appreciate Google and the internet, but whatever I learned in home ec that seemed to make my memory of sewing a lot easier than I’ve been finding it!

                        2. I have an older Pfaff 1222 (was cleaned; refurbished three years ago). The needle is sewing in place, as if the feed dogs are dropped (they’re not). It probably needs a gear that controls the feed teeth but I don’t know what part or parts that it needs. Can you help?

                        3. Hi Kate, please can you help me with video or instruction on how to fix the elastic that connects the leg and the machine together. I just got a butterfly Ja2-1 machine. Anticipating your quick response

                        4. I am looking for the little springlike finger positioner thing that keeps the bobbin case in place. I have a Babylock BLSO, thank you

                          1. Christine Williams

                            Hi Sarah – I just bought a vintage Kenmore carrying case for my vintage 1970’s Kenmore machine. It has a bed extension stored up inside the lid, which is held in place by a small metal clip that has two prongs that seem to hold it fast to the inside of the case. I have no idea how to remove this, and never noticed it in my old case back in the ’70’s when I used the machine. Can you enlighten us as to how to remove this? We’re afraid to use too much force, the bed is held tightly to the case and we’re afraid of breaking it. thanks!

                                    1. Hmmm… I think your best option is to speak with our technician. He has more experience with those machines than me. Please give us a call at 888-824-1192 and ask to speak with Dennis. Thanks!

                                  1. Hi Sarah, I have a Janome machine,’Allure’ model,6years old. It was working fine till recently but suddenly it has started giving problems. It doesn’t stitch properly. It is skipping some stitches, even if the top seam looks fine its gathering too much thread below the fabric and the seam is also very loose. I can easily remove the top thread and all the seam comes out easily. Not sure what is the problem. I have been using no.14 needle till now. I tried changing the tension but doesnt help. I try to clean the bobbin case and oil the machine regularly. Can you please suggest something? Thanks, Nilima

                                    1. Hi, Nilima! If you’ve completely removed the bobbin and the bobbin case and dusted between all the nooks and crannies – but are still having issues, it may be time for a new bobbin case. When these issues occur, it’s usually because there’s a nick or burr on either the bobbin or the bobbin case. Unfortunately, I don’t have any information on that machine, as it’s not an American Janome machine.

                                  2. I have a singer esteem 2. The automatic feeder seems to be broken. When i pull the lever down it keeps getting jammed

                                  3. Sarah, maybe you can help me? I am wanting a manual for an OLD Brother Sewing machine, model 130656. I can’t find anything on it anywhere. Thank you.

                                  4. I have a brother 6000 series sewing machine. Every time I turn on machine the needle goes to the left. If I forget that it does that and start to sew it breaks my needle on the presser foot. Any suggestions on how to make it stay in one position when I turn it on?

                                  5. Hi not sure if you can advise me. I have been given a very old(1966)Bernina 5?? Machine. I oiled it but it looks as if it’s been worked to death Are any of these parts still available and could I purchase some from yourselves?

                                  6. Hi,

                                    I purchased a replacement bobbin winder part from you for my Brother CE1100PRW machine. I managed to install the new part but it not longer snaps into place against the wheel. I was wondering if you might have a schematic or picture of the machine in the area of the bobbin winder? Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

                                  7. I have a Singer Quantum 9910. I have been missing the screw like thing that the thread passes through before going into the needle. What is this called? I’ve tried all kinds of names, but can’t come up with a name in the search engine to buy a new one. Can you help?

                                    1. Hi Stacy! This most commonly occurs when thread has accumulated behind the bobbin case. It can also be a lack of oil. Hopefully, you can get your machine back to working quickly. Best of luck!

                                  8. Question: I am just learning how to sew and just purchased a second-hand Brother LS2125i. According to the purchase date (receipt was included with the machine) the machine is 8 years old. The problem is the thread keeps wrapping itself around the screw that’s attached to the thread take up lever when the machine is running. Why? It seems to get in the small space between the screw and the lever base. The upper threading looks correct. I can run it for about 15 seconds, then either the bobbin thread knots up under the fabric, or the top thread breaks and the middle part of that thread line is tightly wrapped around that screw. I am sure the original owner could not figure out why the upper thread kept breaking (we removed that screw and there was a lot of thread pieces wrapped tightly in it). Is this a tension setting, or a manufacture/design defect?

                                    1. I would suggest taking the machine to a technician. If you’d like to speak to ours for advice, you can call 888-824-1192 extension 307. His name is Dennis!

                                    2. Hi! There could be a number of problems, but I believe they can be easily fixed. First, when you thread your machine, are you able to pull off about a yard of thread smoothly without anything getting caught?

                                        1. Hi again! Can you send us a picture of the thread wrapped around the screw? You can send it to info @ sewingpartsonline.com or upload to our facebook page.

                                          1. I was hoping not to run the machine again until I could figure out the problem. We removed the screw, and cleared out all the thread. I’d rather not have to do that again. I’m not sure if that is breaking the upper thread, or if the thread is breaking for another reason, thengetting wrapped around that screw. The bobbin also tangles up. Maybe that is breaking the thread? We did clean the machine and oil it as instructed by the manual even before we threaded it and ran it the first time. It seems to run great for about 10 seconds, then I stop it, remove the test material, pull the threads out again to start again, and then the breakage happens. I did pull out about 3′ as you instructed with no problems. I did not run it though, as I waited for your response first. Besides taking a picture, is there any other test I can perform?

                                            1. If you’ve already switched out your needle and thread, I have a feeling you may have a burr on either the needle plate or the bobbin case. Run the tip of your finger along all the surfaces of your needle plate and bobbin case. It should be perfectly smooth. Any knick, even the slightest, will cause thread to break and nests to form.

                                            2. Hello, I’m wondering if perhaps you might know how I can replace a tiny screw on a singer over lock professional 5 machine. The little screw that holds the needle in the machine is missing. It goes in spot C”. Hoping there’s an easy way to get another one. Thanks for any advice you may have. I’m hoping it’s easy to replace.

                                            3. I have a New Home sewing machine manufactured in 1967. The knob on the hand wheel will not loosen so when I fill a bobbin my needle goes up and down. How can I get this loosened? Which way should I be turning the knob?

                                              1. Hi Deb

                                                What is the model of your New Home? A lot of times the handwheel will simply pop outward (away from the machine) for winding the bobbin, then you pop it back in for sewing. Other times there’s a circular lever inside the handwheel that you can press on one side for winding the bobbin, then press the other side for sewing.

                                              2. Hi Sarah,
                                                I checked the entire bobbin, bobbin casing, and the needle plate, and do not feel any burrs or knicks. I also looked carefully and felt around in the area of the thread take up lever including that attached screw. and did not find any burrs, scratches or gouges. I ran the machine on new test fabric several times now, and so far the top thread has not broken, but the bobbin ends up with multiple threads on the second time I run it. I cannot and do not go in reverse at all. I can run a straight stitch forward and stop at the end of the fabric after which I can pull both threads out with no problem. I find I have to remove and reload the bobbin before running it again or the bottom threads will mess up. I cannot pull the fabric away due to several threads coming up from the bobbin on the second run if I haven’t removed and reinserted the bobbin, however there is no knot ot or bird nest, but I also cannot pull it free when I stop. I can see several threads holding the fabric from underneath when I do stop. After removing and reinserting the bobbin again, I can pull both threads freely and run it for several seconds, but only once. What is happening? What else can I check?

                                                I really do appreciate your assistance. 🙂

                                                1. Your machine is really giving you a rough time! We have a repair technician here who has been working on machines for over 20 years – I think we need his help. Can you please call us and ask to speak with Dennis?

                                              3. Hi there I am a beginner and have purchased a mini multi-purpose sewing machine model FHSM-505 VIDA,my problems are the lower bobbin won’t catch the upper thread. Tried to rest the lower bobbin case back in line but every time you put the needle down it jumps back out of place and jams. The feeder dogs same to jams. Was wondering if you have any suggestions on how I might fix it.
                                                Linda from Scotland xxx

                                              4. If I am in the wrong place for questions, please ignore this. I”m a grandma who took home-Ec in Jr. High and have done basic sewing (curtains, Barbie doll clothes..) until about 20 years ago. NOw I can’t even get the darn thing threaded but if I do, then I have another problem that I’m hoping you can answer. First of all, the last time I attempted to sew, the adjustments were off and there was a messy bobbin thread stitching. So I put it away until my granddaughter asked if she could use my machine in a How To class she signed up for. My daughter took the machine to a Sewing Center to see about the adjustments. They told her it needed over $200 in parts and labor so they sold her a new one. Now that I have it back, when I press the pedal, there is a whirring sound but the hand wheel (if that’s what it’s called) doesn’t move. There is another, smaller “wheel” on top of the big wheel on the right side. IT’s the one I loosen to load a bobbin. If I manually turn the smaller wheel the needle will go up and down but no matter what I try, I can’t get the larger wheel to turn. It worked fine before it got inspected at the sewing center. I assume it’s an easy thing that I don’t know about. Any clue?

                                              5. Hello! I am trying to replace the needle plate on my Singer 44S Classic. I ordered the new needle plate online and it is identical to the one needing replacing. Trouble is, when I started taking the old needle plate apart, the black plastic underneath section held loose pieces that fell out and I can’t seem to get them back together. I thought about going to Wal-Mart, buying a new one, opening it, checking out how it was put together and then returning it. Can you send me a picture of what the underside of the needle plate is organized? You know how that little trap door to the bobbin opens up when you slide the lever to the right? What I’m trying to do is get that particular mechanism to work again. Thanks for any help you can give.

                                                1. Hi Lindy, if you’ll follow this link you should find a snapshot from the Singer 44S Parts Schematic. It shows all the parts of the needle plate and where they connect. You can also speak to our technician by calling 615-229-7171 and asking for Dennis at extension 307. Needle Plate Image

                                              6. Hi SARAH;

                                                My name is ahmad.
                                                hope you are doing well.
                                                actually i need to carbon pile that is using in foot pedal in swing machine. do you know how could i order it??


                                                1. Hello Ahmad

                                                  You can contact our customer service team at (888) 824-1192. If you give them you make and model they may have a parts breakdown they can send you.

                                              7. Hi there. I came across your site and after so much time searching, I am hoping that you can direct me. I was given an older sewpro zz-401 simple sewing machine (which isn’t turning out to be so simple). After many videos, and near-fixes, we now realize that the belt (or 2?) fell apart & need replacing. I am not having any success at finding where/how to replace. Any leads or suggestions? Thanks so kindly!

                                              8. I have a white machine…the other day while sewing a pair of denim jeans I broke the needle and then I noticed it no longer picks up the bobbin thread..I think something broke off the grabs up the thread…any thoughts? [email protected]

                                                1. Hello Tammy

                                                  Sounds like your needle may have hit the bobbin case and broke something down there. I would take the machine to a technician. They’ll be able to open it up and tell you exactly what’s wrong and what parts need replacing.

                                              9. I have a Janome 3128 that I absolutely love. I make neckties and doo-rags and this mid size machine is just perfect. Anyhow, I’ve watched videos on maintenance of a machine and they all talk about oiling certain parts. However, in my manual, it mentions nothing at all about oiling any of the parts. Is this true ? It just seems reasonable that over time, certain parts should be oiled. What parts should I be oiling?
                                                Plus, I’ve been unable to open the area where the light bulb is located. There’s only one screw but after removing that screw, that piece just doesn’t want to come off, and I don’t want to force it. What am I doing wrong ?

                                                1. Hello Sharon

                                                  On some machines you can disengage the feed dogs (for button sewing, etc.) I would suggest checking your manual to see if your machine has this capability and if so how to reengage the feed dogs. If it does not have this capability I would suggest taking your machine to a technician.

                                              10. OLAYINKA.J.MOSHOOD

                                                I have. 205RB industrial machine.new one.but it felt down in my hand.the problem now is that the neck broken.i mean the area where the belt stay to go down to make motor roll.if I see the picture of it I know.it I need it.tell me the price then I will go for it.

                                              11. I believe my problem is the shuttle. sometimes when I try to bring up the thread from the bobbin it clangs. I tried to take it apart and had a really REALLY hard time. I finally got it together but it is not working right the sewing stitches are really messed up. Help please!!!! I have a Singer model 384 13012000. I just cannot figure out what is causing the problem!

                                                1. Hi again! Sorry I missed this message! I think you might have a burr or scratch on the shuttle or the bobbin case somewhere. I hate to say it, but you might want to take it in to your local sew and vac shop for a diagnostic. Do you have a local sew and vac shop nearby?? If not, please give us a call and ask to speak with Dennis. He is our AMAZING repair tech – he can walk you through a solution. He’s the BEST!

                                              12. Hi there:) I am truly a beginner and trying to teach myself. I was giving a brother\project runway, and was so excited to finally be able to get started with this adventure. Then I noticed it was missing a few things lol. The extension table and accessories; no biggie, I can buy some new ones over time. The spool pin and the piece that holds the spool pin, a little more necessary; if I dt wat to wind bobbins by hand 🙁 so my question is what is the piece that hold the spool pin called and where can I get a replacement? Thank you in advance.

                                              13. Pingback: Sewing Machine Parts Reference Guide | Sewing Class

                                              14. HI! I noticed you didn’t say anything about presser foot lifters. I have a 1966 Singer model 348 and I’m a beginner meaning I’ve literally only ever touched a machine once. And I can’t figure out how to lift the presser foot lifter! There seems to be a little metal thing stopping the lever from lifting up all the way. Is that MEANT to be there?? How do I do this!? Please help me.

                                              15. I am a beginner sewer, so my question may be silly. I just bought a Brother JX2517. When the presser foot is in the up position should it be secured? I can easily move mine with ease, as if it may need to be tightened. Is this normal?

                                                1. Hi Cynthia! It’s not a silly question at all! A general purpose will move up and down, but shouldn’t be able to move side to side. You can secure it by tightening the presser foot screw.

                                              16. Hi i have a riccar sewing machine yrs1992 and I don’t know how to use it.i need the manual and I don’t know where to get/find in can you please help me with this problem

                                              17. I would like to buy a book on upgrading patterns. I love the videos, but I can’t keep running back and forth from my office to my sewing area (total knee replacement). P let me know if you have a book on the beginner’s guide to sewing book, all 20 episodes.

                                              18. Wow, I was mesmerized by the moving image of how a bobbin and needle work together. I’ve honestly never understood how a sewing machine actually worked. I wondered and was amazed at the simplest seam, but I could never watch the inside at work. My mother still uses the same machine that she bought after college in the late 70’s. She has always said that machines were made more reliable back then. It’s in good shape, and I hope if it ever breaks that she will be able to find parts to fix it. It becomes less likely as digital machines become more popular.

                                                1. Yup, older machines were often made much more durable. They were built solid. There are still amazing machines available now, but they’re pricey.

                                              19. June van den Noort

                                                Have new Bernina Sewing Machine and I need to know how to use it. Manual with machine, not helpful. Thanks, June

                                              20. I’m 88 years still sew work in a art gallery paint on clothing and sew small children clothes to sell your information is very helpful sometimes a review is good
                                                thank you for your program l

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