Can you believe it?!
You’re this close to actually getting to the fun part…
Sitting down in front of your sewing machine and practicing how to sew!
It has been quite been a journey! So far, you’ve learned…
- the essential sewing tools and supplies you need to begin;
- how to buy the perfect sewing machine for you;
- the anatomy of your sewing machine;
- the ergonomics of sewing; and
- how to wind and insert a bobbin.
Stay with me as we learn…
- How to change your sewing machine needle
- How to thread your sewing machine
- How to draw up your bobbin thread
Let’s start with a few reminders…
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Threading: The Rules
I know that I’ve shared these rules with you before, but they bear repeating…
Rule #1: Learn your machine. Learn your machine. Learn your machine. And the best way to do that is to read your manual from cover to cover! Then, keep it right next to your sewing machine always!
Rule #2: New project, new needle. Period.
Rule #3: When your sewing machine becomes demon possessed (and it will), make sure it is clean. Then, unplug it. Plug it back in. And rethread! This has successfully chased those sewing demons out of my sewing room nine times out of 10 so that I can get back to sewing.
But before we learn how to thread our machines, let’s learn how to change our sewing machine needle…
How to Change a Sewing Machine Needle
This is ridiculously easy!
First, check the quality of your new needle by doing two things:
- Check your new needle for defects by holding the butt of the needle between the fingers of one hand and running the fingers of the other hand up and down the entire length of the needle’s shaft.
- Next, place the needle on a flat surface to check the clearance. The clearance between the needle and the flat surface should be consistent from the shoulder to the point! See the image above for clarification.
Yes, even a new sewing machine needle can have defects!
Now, you’re ready to insert your new sewing machine needle. And all you have to do is…
- Turn your sewing machine OFF and unplug it!
- Then, remove the presser foot so that you can remove and insert the new needle easily and without incident.
- Next, loosen the needle clamp screw just enough to release the old needle. (On my machine, I turn the needle clamp screw towards me to loosen.)
- Wrap the point of the old needle with Scotch tape and discard.
- Now, hold the needle with the flat side of the shank facing backward or away from you.
- And push the needle up into the needle clamp as far as it will go.
- Finally, turn the needle clamp screw to tighten.
Wasn’t that simple?!
Pro tip: And how do you know when a needle is past its expiration date? Well, you can hear it. That is, you will hear THUNK, THUNK, ThUNK each time a dull needle pierces the fabric.
The Spool Pin
Your machine will have either a vertical or a horizontal spool pin or both.
On my Janome DC2014, it has a horizontal spool pin but provides an adapter so that I can add a vertical spool pin. See the image below:
Horizontal spool pins require that you use a spool cap. Remember not to jam it up against the spool of thread. Instead, make sure you leave a little breathing room. This allows the thread to unwind freely as you sew.
On my machine, when using the horizontal spool pin, the thread must unwind from the BOTTOM of the spool.
And if I am using the vertical spool pin, then the thread must be placed on the spool pin so that it unwinds from BEHIND or from the LEFT the spool.
Threading your machine properly is critical to producing a lovely stitch or any stitch at all. Therefore, I recommend you ALWAYS check your owner’s manual on how to properly place the thread on the spool pin.
How to Thread Your Machine
As I’ve said before, it is critical to thread your machine properly!
And since I know that you don’t want any of that, you’re going to commit to learning how to thread your machine properly from the start.
Many sewing machines provide helpful diagrams right on the machine that tell exactly how to correctly wind your bobbin and thread your machine.
So if you’re going to do this right, you need to open your manual to the page on threading your machine and follow along with me.
And if I remember correctly, your manual should be right over there next to your sewing machine…
To begin, FIRST, raise the presser foot to OPEN the tension discs and allow the thread to fall in between them! Do NOT skip this step!
Make sure the needle is at its highest position by pressing the Needle UP button, or turning your handwheel TOWARDS you to bring the takeup lever to its highest position.
SECOND, turn the power OFF and unplug it.
Now, you want to use the same type of thread for your needle thread as you used on the bobbin.
While all sewing machines take a similar path, you really do need to refer to your sewing machine manual to learn what direction your thread needs to unwind from the spool.
Also, if your machine uses a horizontal spool pin, make sure that you use the proper size spool cap for the size of your spool of thread.
Now, here’s how I thread my Janome DC2014…
Okay, you’re almost home…
When you arrive at the last thread guide by the needle, go ahead and lower the presser foot.
And then, guide the thread through the tiny eye of the needle from front to back. Or, you could use the automatic needle threader if you have one!
I know that it seems like a lot of steps. But once you’ve done it 10 times, you’ll see how simple threading your machine is.
How to Use the Automatic Threader
If you’re lucky enough to have a sewing machine with a built-in automatic needle threader, first, please say, “Yay!”
This feature comes standard on many modern machines. And it is a favorite of mine!
FIRST, for this to work, you have to make sure that your needle is in the highest position before you begin. You can do this by either pressing the Needle UP button. Or, you can turn your handwheel TOWARDS you to bring the takeup lever up to its highest position.
Now, gently pull the lever of the automatic threader straight down and back as far as it will go. It’s kind of hard to see in the image below. But if you look close, you can see that an itty bitty hook has entered the eye of the needle.
Now, bring the thread around the needle threader as depicted in the image above.
Release the automatic threader. See the loop?! Just grab it with your fingers and bring the remainder of the thread through and towards the back of your sewing machine.
You’re sewing machine needle is now threaded.
Wasn’t that simple?!
Pro tip: If you’re manually threading your sewing machine needle, you could also use a cute little needle threader like the one below!
Drawing Up the Bobbin Thread
This the final step!
Once you’ve properly threaded your sewing machine, the only thing left to do is bring the bobbin thread up.
And this is super easy too.
Three more steps, and BOOM! Shaka laka! Your sewing machine is threaded:
- Lift your presser foot.
- Hold the needle thread with your left hand. Lower your needle either by turning the handwheel one full revolution TOWARDS you. Or, you could press the needle DOWN button to lower it. Then, press the needle UP button again to raise the needle back up. At this point, you should see a loop of bobbin thread.
- Now, just pull the bobbin thread completely through to the above of your throat plate.
And voila! You’ve drawn your bobbin thread up.
At this point, you’ve essentially taken your first stitch.
Now, wasn’t that simple?!
Pro tip: Some computerized machines will automatically draw up the bobbin thread for you when you take the first stitch. Now, that’s way cool!
How to Unthread Your Sewing Machine
Unthreading your machine is so easy too.
- Make sure the needle is at its highest position by pressing the Needle UP button or turning your handwheel to bring the takeup lever to its highest position.
- Lift the presser foot so that the tension discs are disengaged.
- Clip the thread near the spool of thread.
- Then, pull the thread out from the end near the needle.
That’s it. That’s all!
There are four steps to threading your machine: (1) Wind your bobbin; (2) Thread your machine; (3) Insert your bobbin into the bobbin case; and, finally, (4) Draw up the bobbin thread.
Now, you can wind your bobbin, change your sewing machine needle, thread your machine, draw your bobbin thread up, and unthread your sewing machine. These are all critical skills for producing high-quality stitching and sewing fuss free!
So I recommend that you repeat the above until you are dreaming about them in your sleep and can complete them with your eyes closed.
How many times is that, you ask? Why 10 times ought to be just about right!
Next time we see each other, we’ll be learning about stitch type, stitch length and stitch width.
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