All sewing machines have the same basic purpose: they make a lockstitch using an upper thread and a bobbin thread to connect two layers of fabric. All sewing machines have a feed dog that pulls fabric through the machine, a presser foot to hold the fabric against the feed dog, and a needle to go through the fabric to connect the threads.

General sewing machines

. Make a lockstitch connecting an upper and lower thread

. Can be mechanical or computerized

. Have either a top-load or front-load bobbin

. The bobbin has either a rotary hook or an oscillating hook

The sewing machine may have one basic straight stitch, several basic utility stitches, or many utility and decorative stitches. It will have settings to adjust the stitch Length and may also have settings to adjust the type of stitch, stitch width, and needle position.

Sewing machines can be mechanical or computerized. Mechanical machines use gears, belts, and cams to change stitches and move the parts of the machine. Dials and Levers adjust the settings. Computerized machines have buttons to control computer chips and circuits that adjust the settings.

Machines come with either a front-Load [a) or a top-Load (b) bobbin. Bobbin mechanisms are either a rotary hook or an oscillating hook. Rotary-hook bobbins, found on older machines and new high-end machines, spin in a continuous circle. They tend to be quiet and have few thread jams. Oscillating hooks, found on Lower-priced machines, rotate back and forth. Both rotary and oscillating hooks are available on either top-Load or front-Load machines.

Insider secrets

All machines thread the same way in the same sequence of steps: spool pin, upper thread guides, tension disks, U-turn, thread take-up level, lower thread guides, and needle.

Embroidery machines

  • Embroidery/sewing combo machines and embroidery-only machines are available
  • Stitch elaborate designs at the touch of a button
  • Work with an embroidery hoop to move the fabric
  • You can buy designs on cards, disks, or from the internet

Embroidery machines are computerized and can stitch elaborate designs at the touch of a button. Some are embroidery and sewing combo machines while others are embroidery-only machines. If you already have a sewing machine that you love, consider purchasing an embroidery only machine because this will be less costly than a combo.

Like sewing machines, embroidery machines use a needle thread and a bobbin thread to form a Lock stitch. They work with an embroidery hoop that attaches to the machine bed. The hoop then moves the fabric as the needle stitches out the design Embroidery machines have digital displays to adjust the settings and some have Large touchscreen capabilities. Using the powerful editing capabilities, you can enlarge, rotate, and mirror image a design. The memory function allows you to save and combine different designs. Embroidery machines come installed with many designs; additional designs can be added using insertable cards or disks. Most also have a USB port so that you can Link up a computer to the machine and download designs from the Internet.

Serger/ overlock machines

  • Uses loopers instead of bobbins
  • Creates a chain stitch that can stretch
  • Can have two-, three-, four-, and five-thread capabilities
  • Used to stitch and finish a seam in one operation
  • Can be mechanical or computerized

Sergers are also known as overlockers or overlock machines (b). They make a chain stitch, cut and neaten the fabric, and stitch and finish the seam allowance in a single operation (a). They can be used for seaming, hemming, and edging’ Sergers are also extremely useful for sewing knits because a chain stitch can stretch. Sergers operate much faster than general sewing machines and can create very professional results.