Make Friends with Your Sewing Machine


threadThe one thing that will empower you most with your sewing machine is getting comfortable changing your thread and threading your bobbin.


Once you realize it’s no big deal, it completely changes your relationship with your machine, because you’re no longer scared of it.sewingwoman

You don’t have to conquer all the basics of sewing to enjoy your machine. But if you stop dreading changing your thread, you’ll start using your sewing machine as a creative tool (yay!) and actually enjoy it. Big projects and small–white thread and black. You won’t care, because changing your thread is super easy.

So set your timer for 20 minutes , park yourself in front of  your sewing machine and just try it. (Believe me, this is better than waiting to try it once you’re in the middle of a project that you care about, are in a giant hurry or both. And weirdly, those things always seem to go together…)

You’re Not Alone–Because I’m Here in Video Spirit!

To reduce the pain and suffering of this task, I’ve created a video (below) of how I thread my own machine, refill my bobbin, and draw up the bobbin thread. Maybe watch it a couple-three times before working with your machine. I hope it functions like a fabulous bravery pill that enables you to give yours a go.

There is One Other Teeny-Tiny Thing

I must admit that you’ll still kind of need your manual so you can figure out exactly how to do it on your particular machine. I know, you hate the thought of reading the manual–you sort of hate me right now for just saying the word “manual”. Don’t worry, I get it. I also hate reading any manual. (Just ask my husband. He’s somewhere rolling his eyes right now at the thought of me reading a manual!)

But you’re not really reading the manual, you’re just following the little (well, sort of little ) diagram for threading your machine. Ignore the rest.

And all that mumbo jumbo in there will make more sense this time anyway (after watching my video), so thank goodness for that. Because even though our machines are set up a little differently from each other, the principles behind how they work are the same. So your bobbin might be side loading, or you might have a few more curlique bits that your thread has to go through, but it’s all little details. Deep inside, our machines were separated at birth.

So watch my video, find your timer, and get your brave on:

And after that timer rings, lean back, unclench your shoulders, breathe, and bask in the golden light of your courage–you did it! And if you don’t have it quite figured out yet, that’s okay, too, because you’re  a lot closer than you were 20 minutes ago.

One Last Truism

The only other thing you need to do is not put your machine away. A sewing machine needs to be out. Okay, you can put the cover on it if you want, but don’t put it in the closet. If it’s in the closet, it’s as good as gone.  Remember, if you didn’t want to sew something, you wouldn’t have a sewing machine!

Did you try this and it worked? Leave a comment and let us know! Still struggling? That’s okay, let’s commiserate! Are you a great sewer who can attest to how easy it is to change your thread and how much fun it is to sew–leave a comment for your fellow creatives who are new to sewing to inspire them!

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  1. Laura says:

    So, I didn’t even watch your video, but I read your blog post and it inspired me to go stich one small seam in my curtain project.

    Then, guess what? My bobbin ran out! And I had to unthread the needle to wind the bobbin (because that was the only spool I had of that color). So I wound the bobbin (that’s the scariest thing for me), inserted the bobbin (also a little scary), and threaded the machine.

    Then I sewed a bunch more!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Liza says:

    It seems that setting up the sewing machine is the toughest task for most people!!! But once they get the hang of it, sweing’s really not all that scary. (I worked as a seamstress for many years through graduate school, and have been an avid sewing maven since childhood.)

  3. Patricia says:

    It’s a little reassuring that I am not the only one who LOATHES her (inherited) sewing machine. It defeats me every time I take it out (once every 3 years). Threading the thing, and refilling those %^&** bobbins are the worst. I’m always lost before I can even get started.

    Thank you–your video is very clear and I think I might actually be able to do it this time.

  4. Sarah says:

    Yay! @Patricia, so glad to hear this! It’s great to conquer threading your machine–good luck! (Let us know how it goes…)

  5. Patricia says:

    Thanks Sarah!

    It’s 20 minutes after my first post. Since then, I loaded the bobbin—piece of cake, thanks to the video. Then I sort of maybe threaded the machine (I’m not sure because my Janome 6000 is different).

    But no luck pulling up that bottom thread. I swore a whole bunch, rewatched the video, and now I’m going to give it another try.

  6. Patricia says:

    Well, thanks to the excellent video, I managed to get the bobbin loaded and the thread in place (maybe, my Janome 6000, for which I have no manual) looks a little different than the one in the video).

    But I can’t get the machine to sew forward. It just keeps bunching up the stitches in one place.

    Oh WHY didn’t I listen to my mother in 1974 when she tried to teach me this stuff????

    I will just have to hand stitch the thing. I’m lousy at that too but at least I feel like I’m in control of the needle and thread.

  7. Sarah says:

    Oh Patricia!
    I’m so sorry this is frustrating! It’s terrible to feel at the mercy of a machine.
    One thing about Janome machines that no one tells you is that you have to use a janome bobbin–I wonder if that is the culprit. If you’re not sure what you have, maybe just order a janome bobbin?
    Also, did you check your stitch length? If it’s set at its lowest setting, it might be why it’s having trouble moving forward–or if you’re starting right at the very edge of the fabric–that can be hard.
    If you do try again, use a scrap you don’t care about that’s an easy fabric to sew–a simple cotton or muslin would be good. Silk can bunch (so tightly woven) and velvet is tricky too.

    Even though you’re frustrated, remember that you did actually make some significant progress–you threaded both the bobbin and the machine–so really, you’re almost there! I think you should really pat yourself on the back for that–it’s hard to suck it up and attempt something that feels confusing and difficult. Kudos!
    Also, do you think this is your manual? :
    Here’s another link:
    Hope this helps!
    Let me know how it goes if you try again!

  8. lisedaddy says:

    another great video. you managed those important close-ups.

  9. [...] If threading your sewing machine often stops your sewing efforts, watch my clear how-to video. [...]

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