Sewing machines can be intimidating.
I mean they are a pretty powerful motor driving a sharp pointy thing up and down rapidly.
I want to demystify the machine a little bit.
On a sewing machine, the stitch is made by two threads: The top thread, and the bottom thread.
The top thread is kept on the spool you bought it on, and is threaded from the top of the machine through a series of guides, levers, and tensioners to the needle.
The bottom thread must be wound on the bobbin. (Sometimes this is referred to as the bobbin thread). Every machine I’ve used had a method of “automatically” winding the bobbin for you. The degree of automation is dependent on the type of bobbin and age of the machine.
The bobbin sits under the needle plate (the big piece of metal that the needle passes through). and is usually accessible by opening up a door or something.
Refer to your manual for your machine’s threading specifics.
Fabric Control Parts
The fabric is sandwiched between the presser foot (on top) and feed dogs (on bottom).
There is a little lever somewhere that allows you to raise and lower the presser foot. You must sew with the presser foot down or your stitches will be crap.
On some machines, the pressure of the presser foot can be adjusted.
The feed dogs do the work of moving your fabric through the machine. You don’t have to pull.
Stitch Control Parts
Machines typically have the ability to select stitches and control the length and width of those stitches. Depending on the machine, these controls can be manual dials or electronic buttons, or touchscreen.
Sewing Control Parts
Machines have a handwheel which allows you to raise and lower the needle manually. This can be helpful when starting stitches. Or threading the machine.
And the actual sewing is controlled by a foot pedal which acts a lot like a gas pedal in a car. The harder you push, the faster it goes.
Check out this article for a deeper dive into the machine parts.