Parts of a Sewing Machine: What’s What and What’s It Called?

The term “Parts of a Sewing Machine” refers to the individual components, elements, and mechanisms that make up a sewing machine.

These parts work together to enable the sewing machine to perform various sewing tasks, such as stitching fabrics, creating seams, and embellishing textiles. Understanding these parts is essential for anyone using a sewing machine, as it allows for effective operation, troubleshooting, and the utilization of the machine’s features and capabilities.

These machine parts can vary depending on the make and model of the sewing machine, but the fundamental components are typically consistent across most sewing machines.

Parts of a Sewing Machine: What's What and What's It Called?
Photo: wikipedia

Understanding the various components of a sewing machine and their names is essential for both beginners and experienced sewers. This knowledge empowers individuals to operate their sewing machines effectively, troubleshoot issues, and take full advantage of their machine’s capabilities.

In this article, we’ll delve into the world of sewing machine parts, explaining what they are and why knowing their names matters.

Revised Intro – An Overview of Sewing Machine Parts: Why Knowing Every Detail Matters

Have you ever found yourself staring at your sewing machine, wondering, “What are the parts of a sewing machine, and what are they called?” It’s a question that many sewing enthusiasts, both new and experienced, have pondered. The world of sewing is a tapestry of creativity, where fabrics transform into art, and every stitch tells a story.

Whether you’re just embarking on your sewing journey or you’ve been stitching for years, understanding the “Parts of a Sewing Machine” and their names is more than just a curiosity—it’s a key to unlocking your sewing potential.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll navigate the intricate landscape of sewing machine components. We’ll demystify the terminology and empower you with the knowledge you need to become a proficient and confident sewer. Our journey will take us from the essential needle and bobbin to the sophisticated technology of modern machines. Along the way, we’ll explore bobbin cases, thread guides, balance wheels, and feed dogs, ensuring that no part remains a mystery.

Whether you reside in the bustling heart of New York City or the serene landscapes of Montana, this exploration is your passport to sewing mastery. So, grab your spool of thread and bobbin, and let’s embark on this enlightening journey of discovery. Welcome to the world of stitching, where every part has a name, and knowing those names empowers you to weave your creative tales seamlessly.

In-Depth Guide: What Are the Parts of a Sewing Machine and What They’re Called

Exploring Sewing Machine Components in Depth: A Comprehensive Guide, In this comprehensive guide, we embark on an illuminating journey through the intricate landscape of sewing machine parts and their nomenclature. With precision and clarity, we unveil the names and functions of each component, empowering you to not only understand but also master your sewing machine.

Whether you’re a seasoned sewist or a curious beginner, this comprehensive breakdown will enhance your sewing skills and deepen your appreciation for the versatile tool that is the sewing machine. Join us as we demystify sewing machine anatomy and bring clarity to its essential components… 

1. Basic Components: The Essentials

Needle: The sharp tool that delivers thread through the fabric. There are different types for various fabrics and tasks.

  1. Function: The needle is responsible for creating a path through the fabric to allow the top thread to intertwine with the bobbin thread, forming a stitch.
  2. Varieties: Needles come in various sizes and types, chosen based on the fabric’s weight and type. For instance:
    • Universal Needles: Suitable for general sewing on woven and knit fabrics.
    • Ballpoint Needles: Ideal for knits and jerseys as they slide between fibers without causing snags.
    • Jeans/Denim Needles: Thick needles designed for heavy fabrics like denim.
    • Embroidery Needles: Designed with a larger eye to accommodate specialty embroidery threads.
sewing machine Bobbin; photo amazonBobbin: A small spool that holds the bottom thread, working in tandem with the needle’s top thread to create stitches.

  • Function: The bobbin supplies the bottom thread, which gets pulled up by the needle to form a lock stitch with the top thread.
  • Placement: Bobbins are placed in the bobbin case below the needle. Some machines have a top-loading bobbin, while others have a front or side-loading bobbin system.
sewing machine Presser FootPresser Foot: This part holds the fabric in place while sewing. Many variations are available for different tasks.

  1. Function: Holds the fabric flat against the machine’s bed, ensuring consistent stitch length and preventing puckering.
  2. Varieties: There are various specialty presser feet for different sewing tasks:
    • All-Purpose Foot: General sewing on most fabric types.
    • Zipper Foot: Helps sew zippers neatly.
    • Buttonhole Foot: Aids in making buttonholes.
    • Blind Hem Foot: Used for invisible hems on garments.
sewing machine Foot PedalFoot Pedal: Like the gas pedal of a car, this controls the sewing speed.

  • Function: By pressing down on the foot pedal, the machine is powered, and the sewing begins. The harder you press, the faster the machine sews.
  • Note: Some modern machines come with a start/stop button that allows sewing without the foot pedal.
Throat Plate (or Needle Plate): The metal or plastic plate under the needle with guides to help maintain straight stitches.

  • Function: It’s a semi-rigid surface with markings to help guide the fabric at a consistent seam allowance. It also has holes or slots to allow the needle and feed dogs (the metal teeth underneath the throat plate) to move freely.
  • Varieties: Some machines come with interchangeable throat plates for different tasks, such as straight stitch or zigzag sewing.

2. Stitch Formation & Adjustment

sewing machine Stitch Selector of SINGER 7258 Stitch Selector: Allows you to choose different stitch types, from straight to zig-zag or decorative.
sewing machine Stitch Width and Length DialsStitch Width and Length Dials: Adjust the width and length of your stitches for different sewing needs.
Tension Discs: Control the thread tension, ensuring even and consistent stitches.
sewing machine Thread Take-Up LeverThread Take-Up Lever: Helps regulate the flow of the thread from the spool to the needle.

3. Thread Management

sewing machine spool pinSpool Pin: Holds the thread spool in place as it feeds into the machine.
sewing machine Bobbin WinderBobbin Winder: Winds thread around the bobbin before it’s placed into its compartment.
sewing machine Thread GuidesThread Guides: These metal loops guide the thread from the spool to the needle, ensuring smooth flow and preventing tangling.

4. Fabric Guidance & Handling

sewing machine Thread GuidesFeed Dogs: Positioned beneath the throat plate, these metal teeth move the fabric forward as you sew.
sewing machine Seam GuideSeam Guide: Markings on the throat plate to help maintain even seam allowances.
Reverse Lever or Button: Enables backward sewing, often used to secure stitches at the beginning or end.

5. Delving into the Inner Workings

sewing machine MotorMotor: The power source of the machine, driving the needle and feed dogs.
sewing machine Hand WheelHand Wheel: Positioned on the machine’s side, allowing manual control of the needle movement.
Take-Up Lever: As the name suggests, it takes up the thread slack as the machine forms stitches.

6. Exploring the Exteriors

Face Plate: Positioned on the side, it conceals the machine’s oiling points and some inner workings.
Slide Plate: Can be slid open to access the bobbin, easing thread changes and maintenance.
Sewing Machine Free ArmFree Arm: Useful for cylindrical items like sleeves, offering a narrower section of the machine bed.
Accessory Compartment: Built-in storage for essential accessories like bobbins, needles, or presser feet.

7. Overlooked Yet Crucial Components

sewing machine Thread CutterThread Cutter: Often built into the machine, it quickly cuts thread ends.
Needle Clamp: Secures the needle in place, ensuring no slippage during sewing.
Bobbin Tension Screw: Adjusts the bobbin thread tension.

8. Advanced Components & Features

 Automatic Needle ThreaderAutomatic Needle Threader: Threads the needle, eliminating manual effort.
sewing machine Drop-in Bobbin SystemDrop-in Bobbin System: Allows easier bobbin installation and removal.
sewing machine Knee LifterKnee Lifter: Raises or lowers the presser foot using the knee.
Speed Control Slider: Adjusts sewing speed without the foot pedal.

9. Specialized Components for Tasks

Buttonhole Foot: Designed for sewing buttonholes.
sewing machine Walking FootWalking Foot: Ensures fabric layers move evenly, preventing puckering.
sewing machine Zipper FootZipper Foot: For sewing close to zipper coils.
sewing machine Darning PlateDarning Plate: Covers feed dogs for tasks like free-motion quilting.

10. Enhancing Experience: Advanced Features

sewing machine StartStop ButtonStart/Stop Button: Starts or stops the machine without the foot pedal.
sewing machine Automatic Thread CutterAutomatic Thread Cutter: Trims threads at a button’s push.
sewing machine Needle UpDown SettingNeedle Up/Down Setting: Determines the needle’s position when the machine stops.
sewing machine LCD DisplayLCD Display: Provides vital information like stitch selection and adjustments.

11. Fine-tuning Your Machine: Calibration and Adjustments

sewing machine Tension Control KnobDialTension Control Knob/Dial: This allows for the adjustment of the tension discs. Depending on the fabric and thread you’re using, you might need to increase or decrease tension for optimal stitches.
Stitch Balance Adjuster: For machines with decorative or stretch stitches, this ensures the stitch’s two sides are symmetrical.
sewing machine Pressure AdjusterPressure Adjuster: This alters the presser foot’s pressure on the fabric. Lighter fabrics might need reduced pressure, while heavy ones may require more.

12. Care, Maintenance, and Common Accessories

sewing machine brushesBrushes: Small brushes are often included to help clean lint and dust from under the throat plate and other nooks.
sewing machine OilersOilers: Tiny oil dispensers with elongated nozzles help you oil hard-to-reach parts.
sewing machine screwdriversScrewdrivers: Useful for changing needles, removing throat plates, or other maintenance tasks.

13. Furthering the Stitch Variety

sewing machine Stitch CardsChartsStitch Cards/Charts: Some machines feature an on-board stitch reference chart, giving a visual representation of each available stitch.
sewing machine Pattern SelectorPattern Selector: On computerized machines, this allows for the selection of decorative or utility stitch patterns.

14. Enhancing Sewing Techniques

  • Twin Needle Capability: Some machines can accommodate two needles, perfect for parallel rows of stitching or decorative twin needle techniques.
  • Automatic Button Sewer: As the name suggests, this function allows for sewing buttons onto garments seamlessly.
The Treadle Sewing Machine Manual: The Ultimate Guide on Understanding Treadle Sewing Machine Parts and Functions and How to Use Paperback – October 6, 2021by Boris Joseph (Author)
The Treadle Sewing Machine Manual: The Ultimate Guide on Understanding Treadle Sewing Machine Parts and Functions and How to Use Paperback; by Boris Joseph (Author); amazon

15. Embroidery and Specialized Tasks

  • Embroidery Hoop Attachment: For machines that can embroider, this hoop holds the fabric taut while the machine embroiders a design.
  • Monogramming Foot: This specialized foot aids in embroidering monograms or other intricate designs.

16. Into the Modern Age: Advanced Machine Innovations

  • USB Ports: On some cutting-edge machines, USB ports allow for the transfer of custom designs or stitch patterns.
  • LED Lighting: A welcome feature in newer machines, offering clearer visibility with cooler, energy-efficient lighting.
  • Automatic Thread Tension: High-tech machines can auto-detect fabric type and adjust thread tension accordingly.
  • Customizable Stitch Sequencing: Some machines let you combine and store sequences of stitches for unique design patterns.

What are the parts of a Single sewing machine?

We already explained above basic parts of the sewing machine, Here’s a list of some less common or specialized parts of a Singer sewing machine:

  1. Knee Lifter
  2. Thread Spool Stand
  3. Quilting Bar
  4. Walking Foot
  5. Embroidery Unit
  6. Buttonhole Sensor
  7. Bobbin Sensor
  8. Thread Sensor
  9. Drop Feed Lever
  10. Needle Threader
  11. Thread Cutter Button
  12. Extension Table
  13. Stitch Width Safety
  14. Thread Tension Dial
  15. Speed Control Slider
  16. Thread Stand
  17. Needle Plate Cover
  18. Button Sewing Foot
  19. Rolled Hem Foot
  20. Gathering Foot

These parts may be found in specific Singer sewing machine models designed for particular sewing tasks or with advanced features.

Related: A Comprehensive Guide to Every Part and Accessory

What are the parts of a Brother sewing machine?

We already explained above basic parts of the sewing machine, Here’s a list of some less common or specialized parts you may find in a Brother sewing machine:

  1. Drop Feed Lever
  2. Needle Plate Cover
  3. Knee Lifter
  4. Quilting Bar
  5. Monogramming Foot
  6. Button Sewing Foot
  7. Blind Stitch Foot
  8. Gathering Foot
  9. Darning Plate
  10. Zipper Foot
  11. Bobbin Case
  12. Buttonhole Sensor (in some computerized models)
  13. Thread Sensor (in some computerized models)
  14. Extension Table
  15. Stitch Guide Foot
  16. Bobbin Winding Tension Disc
  17. Spool Cap
  18. Embroidery Hoop (in embroidery-capable models)
  19. Hoop Holder (in embroidery-capable models)
  20. Embroidery Needle Plate (in embroidery-capable models)
  21. Embroidery Foot (in embroidery-capable models)
  22. Thread Stand
  23. Presser Foot Adjustment Dial
  24. Presser Foot Height Adjustment
  25. Thread Tension Discs
  26. Free-Motion Quilting Foot

These less common or specialized parts are often specific to certain sewing techniques or functions and may be found in Brother sewing machines with advanced features or designed for specific sewing tasks. Read More Brother Sewing Machine Parts.

What are the parts of a Janome sewing machine?

We already explained above basic parts of the sewing machine. Certainly, here’s a list of some less common or specialized parts you may find in a Janome sewing machine:
  1. Drop Feed Dog Lever
  2. Start/Stop Button (for sewing without the foot pedal)
  3. Reverse Stitch Button
  4. Needle Up/Down Button (to control the position of the needle)
  5. Thread Cutter Button (for automatic thread trimming)
  6. Thread Tension Dial
  7. Speed Control Slider
  8. Stitch Width Adjustment
  9. Stitch Length Adjustment
  10. Needle Threader
  11. Presser Foot Lever
  12. Presser Foot Adjustment Dial
  13. Free Arm
  14. Extension Table
  15. Bobbin Winder
  16. Thread Spool Pins
  17. Thread Guides
  18. Stitch Reference Chart
  19. Stitch Selection Buttons (for computerized models)
  20. LCD Display (for computerized models)
  21. Bobbin Sensor (in some computerized models)
  22. Thread Sensor (in some computerized models)
  23. Needle Plate Cover
  24. Buttonhole Foot
  25. Walking Foot
  26. Overcasting Foot
  27. Quilting Foot
  28. Darning Foot
  29. Blind Hem Foot
  30. Zipper Foot
  31. Open-Toe Foot
  32. Satin Stitch Foot
  33. Ruffler Foot
  34. Binder Foot
  35. Gathering Foot
  36. Embroidery Unit (in embroidery-capable models)
  37. Embroidery Hoop (in embroidery-capable models)
  38. Bobbin Case
  39. Hoop Holder (in embroidery-capable models)
  40. Hoop Template/Grid (in embroidery-capable models)
  41. Spool Cap
  42. Bobbin Holder (for bobbin winding)
  43. Thread Stand
  44. Needle Plate Insert (for specific sewing tasks)
  45. Stitch Plate (for straight stitching)

These less common or specialized parts are often specific to certain sewing techniques or functions and may vary depending on the specific Janome sewing machine model and type of Janome sewing machine.

How can a deep understanding of sewing machine components empower you to become a more skilled and confident sewer?

A deep understanding of sewing machine components is a valuable asset for anyone looking to become a more skilled and confident sewer. When you grasp the inner workings of your sewing machine and the functions of its various parts, you unlock a world of possibilities for improving your sewing skills and boosting your confidence. Here’s how this knowledge can empower you:
  1. Better Stitch Control: Understanding the role of components like tension control, thread guides, and feed dogs allows you to achieve precise control over your stitches. You can adjust the tension to prevent loose or tight stitches, ensuring your seams are even and secure.
  2. Efficient Troubleshooting: When you encounter sewing issues or malfunctions, your knowledge of the machine’s parts will help you identify and resolve problems more efficiently. Whether it’s a jammed bobbin or uneven stitching, you’ll be better equipped to troubleshoot and fix issues on your own.
  3. Choosing the Right Needle and Foot: Different sewing tasks require specific needles and presser feet. Knowing which needle type is suitable for various fabrics and which foot to use for specific techniques ensures you achieve professional-looking results.
  4. Exploring Advanced Features: Many modern sewing machines come with advanced features and stitches. Understanding your machine’s components and controls enables you to explore these features confidently. You can experiment with decorative stitches, buttonholes, and other functions that enhance your sewing projects.
  5. Mastering Specialty Techniques: With a deep understanding of your sewing machine, you can venture into specialty techniques like free-motion quilting, appliqué, and embroidery. You’ll know how to adjust settings, choose the right accessories, and execute these techniques flawlessly.
  6. Enhanced Creativity: When you know your machine inside out, you can unleash your creativity. You’ll have the confidence to take on complex projects and tackle creative challenges, from designing your patterns to customizing garments and home décor items.
  7. Improved Efficiency: Knowledge of your machine’s internal mechanics, such as the bobbin winding system and thread path, helps you work more efficiently. You can wind bobbins quickly, change threads smoothly, and minimize downtime during your sewing sessions.
  8. Longer Machine Lifespan: Proper maintenance is essential to prolonging the life of your sewing machine. Understanding how to clean, oil, and care for its components ensures it remains in prime condition, reducing the likelihood of costly repairs or replacements.
  9. Confidence Boost: As you become more proficient in using your sewing machine, your confidence as a sewer naturally grows. You’ll take on more challenging projects with ease, and the satisfaction of creating beautiful, well-crafted items further bolsters your confidence.

So, a deep understanding of sewing machine components is a gateway to becoming a skilled and confident sewer. It not only empowers you to harness the full potential of your machine but also opens up a world of creative possibilities. With this knowledge, you’ll embark on sewing projects with confidence, achieve professional results, and enjoy a rewarding and fulfilling sewing journey.



Mastering the art of sewing begins with a deep understanding of the tool that brings your creative visions to life—the sewing machine. In our in-depth exploration, we’ve meticulously dissected the various components of this remarkable device, unraveling their names and functions. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting on your sewing journey, this comprehensive guide has provided the clarity and confidence needed to navigate your sewing machine with ease.

From the essential needle and bobbin to the intricate feed dogs and tension controls, we’ve left no stone unturned. Armed with this knowledge, you’re now equipped to tackle any sewing project with precision and expertise.

As you continue your sewing endeavors, remember that each part of your sewing machine plays a crucial role in the beautiful garments and creations you craft. Embrace the power of this versatile tool, experiment with its features, and let your creativity soar.

With your newfound understanding of what the parts of a sewing machine are and what they’re called, you’re well on your way to becoming a master of the craft. So, thread your machine, select your stitch, and let your sewing journey continue with confidence and creativity.

FAQs about Sewing Machines and Their Parts

Q: Where can I buy sewing machine parts?

A: You can buy sewing machine parts from various sources including:

  • Official brand websites of popular sewing machine manufacturers like Singer, Brother, and Janome.
  • Online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, and Etsy, where multiple vendors offer both new and vintage parts.
  • Specialty online stores like SewingPartsOnline or SewingMachineParts.Net.
  • Local sewing machine repair shops, which often carry parts and might offer advice on installation.

Q: What are the main parts of a sewing machine?

A: The main parts of a sewing machine include the needle, bobbin, foot pedal, thread guide, hand wheel, stitch selector, tension discs, presser foot, feed dogs, spool pin, bobbin winder, and slide plate, among others.

Q: What are the 3 major parts of a sewing machine?

A: The three major parts of a sewing machine are:

  1. The Head: This is the primary functional component that most people identify as the sewing machine. It includes the arm, bed, head frame, needle, and presser foot.
  2. The Base or Bed: This is the flat portion of the machine that rests on a table or cabinet, and it supports the fabric as it’s fed through the machine.
  3. The Stand: It supports the head and typically contains a foot pedal for operating the machine.

Q: What are the lower parts of a sewing machine?

A: The lower parts of a sewing machine primarily refer to components found below the bed or the base of the machine. These include the bobbin, bobbin case, bobbin winder, feed dogs, and the shuttle hook mechanism.

Q: What are the parts of a sewing machine under the bed?

A: Under the bed of a sewing machine, you’ll typically find the bobbin assembly which includes the bobbin, bobbin case, and the shuttle. Additionally, the lower feed dogs and various drive mechanisms are located beneath the bed.

Q: What are the upper parts of a sewing machine?

A: The upper parts of a sewing machine include components that are primarily located above the bed or base. These components include the needle, needle bar, presser foot, thread take-up lever, tension discs, hand wheel, stitch selector, and spool pin.

Q: Which sewing machines have metal parts?

A: Many high-quality and vintage sewing machines are made with metal parts. Brands like Singer and Pfaff have produced models with all-metal interiors. If you’re searching for sewing machines with metal parts, it’s a good idea to look for older models or specifically ask for “all-metal” or “heavy-duty” machines. However, remember that even some modern machines with plastic components can be robust and long-lasting. Always check reviews and specifications before purchasing.