Skip to Content

What are The Parts of a Sewing Machine and Their Functions?

What is a sewing machine? It is a machine that stitches two or more layers of material together with the use of thread. It can also be used to add buttons and for quilting. It is a complex machine that has various components and functions. Today, we’ll learn about some of them. 

What are the main parts of the sewing machine?

Sewing machines have two main parts, the upper part, and the lower part when it comes to a lock stitch sewing machine. The upper part is categorized into three sets, head, arm, and bed. The cabinet and stand make up the lower portion of the sewing machine.

Upper Part

  1. Head: This is the entire sewing machine without a stand or cabinet.
  2. Arm: This is located on the curved part of the head which contains the components and mechanisms needed for operating the needle. The arm contains the following parts: spool pin, thread take-up lever, thread guide, pressure bar lifter, needle bar, and clamp, pressure foot, bobbin winder, stitch regulator, balance wheel, and belt.
  3. Bed: This is the flat part underneath the arm resting above the feed dog. Parts that are under the bed: feed dog, slide plate, bobbin, shuttle, and bobbin case.

Lower Part

The hinges of the cabinet have drawers and screws to hold the head. The lower part holds the band wheel, pitman rod, belt guide, dress guard, treadle, legs, and cabinet. 

Parts of the sewing machine and their functionality(list)

Modern sewing machine models have changed a lot. Some parts may be different more or less but all of them have some basic functions and parts. Here is a more elaborate description of many of the parts. 

Upper parts:

Spool Pin and Holder:

This is one of the most essential components of a sewing machine. It can be found in every sewing machine.  It’s called a Spool pin because it holds a spool of thread. In most sewing machines, you’ll find it in the upper part.

The spool holder controls the direction of the thread and holds the spool. It can be either in the vertical or horizontal direction. In some sewing machines, there is more than one Spool holder. This is when a decorative stitch is required.

Hand Wheel:

Also known as the balance wheel, looks like a large knob that is located on the right side of the machine. This comes with every sewing machine. It controls the movements of the needle by raising and lowering it.

Most beginners start their sewing work using the Hand Wheel manually to have greater control over the needle. However, in computerized, the hand wheel moves automatically along with the needle. You will still have the option to move it manually. 

Bobbin Case and Cover:

The bobbin case is used to hold the bobbin. It wraps and provides tension for the lower bobbin thread when the thread is pulled around.

And its hook catches the previous needle loop. Through this, a stitch is formed. All the bobbin cover does is protects the bobbin case when you are sewing by covering it. 

Bobbin Winder:

This is used to control the bobbin, it attaches the thread into the bobbin without any tangles and twists. This is located on the top of the sewing machine and near the bobbin. Every sewing machine has this component.

Always be cautious about the speed while winding the bobbin, because any more than medium can make it stretch and break. There’s a bobbin winder stopper as well which stops winding the bobbin when it reaches its limit. 

Needle Clamp and Screw:

The function of a needle clamp is to hold the needle tight and in the right position and it is attached to the needle bar, connected to the bobbin. You can also use it to adjust the position of your needle and doesn’t require any installation. 

Sewing Needle:

Needles come in different sizes and types depending on your sewing machine and your knitting style. It is used to form a stitch by pushing the thread through the fabric.

Some of the common types are universal, embroidery, ballpoint, denim, wing, leather, metallic, quilting, self-threading, serger, twin needle, sharp, and many more. We will look more into this and its types.

Pattern Selector:

Modern sewing machines come with this function. It lets you select the type of stitch according to your project. There are three main types such as straight stitches, zigzag stitches, and embroidery types.

This facility is very easy to use. You will either have a dial that you have to turn to select your desired pattern or you will have a menu screen that lets you press on the pattern. 

Presser Foot/Walking Foot with Lever:

This function is not available in old sewing machine models. On them, you have to adjust the presser foot lever manually. It is typically located at the back of the sewing machine.

It enables you to adjust the amount of pressure exerted on the presser foot and controls the part that holds the cloth down when you are sewing. 

Thread Reverse Lever:

This component allows you to make stitches in reverse which is especially needed when making strong stitches on fabric.

Some advanced sewing machines might have a button for it or else there will be a lever that needs to be pulled down. 

Thread Take-Up Lever:

This lever pulls out the thread back again after a stitch is made by moving up and down. This is a very important feature because it pulls the thread back to its position.

Otherwise, it will have some thread left out from your previous work which can damage your stitches. 

Face Plate:

This is the component that makes it simpler to oil parts of the needle bar that need oiling. Other parts include the bar plate and take-up lever.

Lower parts:

Band Wheel:

This component makes sure that the balance wheel goes through the belt connection. It comes with a crank that ensures that it moves. 

Belt guide:

It makes sure that the belt is held in the right position. 

Pitman Rod:

It holds the foot pedal onto the band wheel crank. 

Foot pedal or treadle:

This is used to operate your machine using your feet instead of your hand. It is a feature in many modern sewing machine models.

It allows you to do other work with your hand while sewing. It is detachable so you can use and remove it as you wish. 


It supports the entire sewing machine and its components as well as the cabinet. 

What is a sewing machine bobbin?

It is a small item made out of metal, wood, or plastic that holds the thread below the needle. It feeds the thread to stitch. 

What is a sewing machine walking foot?

A sewing machine walking foot is basically the sewing machine foot. It helps to feed the layers of fabric evenly under the needle and make them move smoothly.

What is a sewing machine serger?

They are different from a sewing machine. It puts fabric together with an overlock stitch. It cuts through the fabric, unlike a sewing machine where it only sews.

What is a sewing machine-free arm?

All sewing machines have a free arm which is used to sew tube items such as sleeves, cuffs, etc. It can be found at the bottom of the sewing machine alongside the needle and feed dogs. It is detachable as well. 

What is a sewing machine cam?

Cams are pieces that let the machine know how to make a certain stitch. Each comes with only one pattern and they are detachable. It also has a cam follower and cam stacks. A cam follower is a rod that connects the cams to the machine. Cam stacks are stacks of several cams. 

What is a sewing machine feed dog?

This teeth-like structure is found beneath the needle plate of a sewing machine and placed in pairs. Its main function is to ensure that the cloth keeps moving when you are using the foot pressure and sewing.

It is also one of the most important parts of a sewing machine and available in every sewing machine. It enables you to focus on other sewing needs as you are sewing. 

What is a sewing machine needle?

As a beginner, it can be tough to figure out which type of needle is right for you. There are many different types all around the world.

A needle is essential for every knitting project. You can use different sizes of these types depending on the weight of the fabric. Here are some of the main types. 


This means it can be used for every type of knitting project. But you may want to use other types for more precise and delicate work.

Some sewing machines don’t work with these needles as they prefer a rounded shank whereas universal needles have a flat one. 


These needles have rounded edges and are mostly used on woven fabrics and don’t cut the threads of the fabric. 


These have sharp and strong shafts which are used to penetrate through dense fabrics such as denim, jeans, and sometimes even cotton. 


It makes a tiny hole on the fabric while sewing which is kept open by the stitch. They are also referred to as hemstitching needles which are used on hems and borders. They are used for decorative finishing on linen and cotton.


These needles have triangular points which makes them make large and clean holes through thick fabric such as leather, suede, or hard vinyl.

Triple or Twin:

These come with a single shank and create two or three rows of stitches at once. Your sewing machine should have a throat plate hole that is wide enough for this needle. You will also require more than 1 thread spool. 

Understanding and knowing all the parts of your machine will help you work with your sewing machine a lot better. Just pay attention to the manual, it’s the best way to learn about your sewing machine version. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can Sewing Machines Be Recycled?

Can Sewing Machines Do Overlocking?

Does Sewing Machine Oil Get Old or Go Bad?

Do Sewing Machine Needles Get Dull?

Are Sewing Machines Dual Voltage?