How to set up a Sewing Machine | For Beginners


How to set up a sewing machine for beginners. Step by step photo directions on how to set up a Singer sewing machine for those just learning how to sew.

How to set up a sewing machine for beginners

When face masks became mandatory, I had exactly four hour to make my husband a mask before he woke up for night shift and was expected to show up to work prepared.

So as the kids were eating cereal and I saw the message through facebook, I didn’t hesitate.

I broke out the old sewing machine and started the project. 

How to set up a sewing machine for beginners

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Just kidding. I didn’t have a sewing machine!

What I had was a nice little sewing kit with a needle and thread along with clothes we were going to donate. 

I found a shirt that didn’t have pink or flowers on it and two hours later it was something that was the equivalent of “Hey, it works!”

Small sewing box with random thread

A week later I mentioned to a friend how I wish I had a sewing machine and low and behold she had two!

Turns out when she PCSed the plug for her sewing machine went missing and was found later that year. Been there right? Like the time I found my lamp shades in the dog food container after we moved.

The next day we did a drive by trunk exchange and controlled the urge to give each other a hug. 

Back at home I took the machine out of the bag, placed it on the table and said “oh crap.”

Singer sewing machine

This machine was legit. It had bobbins, knobs, dials, slits at the top. My daughter came over at one point and the entire bottom slid off!

Ok, all I need to do is make a face mask. We can do this! 


Map of sewing machine

Guide map of sewing machine


The bobbin is going to be placed in the lower part of the machine. The thread from the bobbin is caught by the top needle, making a stitch. 

How to get thread on the bobbin

Slide your thread on the horizontal spool pin and follow the bobbin thread guide. 

Thread guide

Place the thread on the bobbin spindle through the center hole from the inside out.

Thread bobbin spindle

Place the bobbin on the winder spindle with the end of the thread facing up. Push the bobbin to the right, locking it into place. 

how to put thread on the bobbin

While holding the small tail of the thread, lightly push the foot peddle to start spooling the thread. 

Once you have enough for your project, click it back to the left and cut your thread. 


Once you wind the thread, we’ll need to place it in the spool case. Open the bottom part of your machine and lift the tab, pull out the case. 

thread bobbin

DO NOT! I repeat DO NOT move those black levers out of place or all heck will break loose. Ok not all heck, but that is a pain to get back into place.

Place your bobbin into the spool case.

thread bobbin holder

Give the thread a little tug to make sure that it is spinning in a clockwise motion. 

Putting the case back into the machine, hold the little tab and snap into place. You will feel it snap and it might take a try or two to get it right. 

Thread bobbin


To thread the top portion of the sewing machine, follow the upper thread guides. 

For this particular model we will go around #1, down #2, up to the right of #3 and making sure our thread hooks on as we go from right to left from 3 to 4. If that silver hook is not visible towards the top, turn the handwheel on the right on machine towards you until it comes into view. 

Upper thread hook

Once you thread down to #4, place the thread behind the hook right above the needle. 

At this point you may have a needle threader, but for the rest of us, squint and try to thread the needle. 

Place the thread between the pressure foot and hold it to the side.


With the pressure foot raised, turn the handwheel towards yourself, raising and lowering the needle. This will allow the thread to catch the bobbin thread. Bringing it up in a loop. 

How to thread a sewing machine

Take both pieces of thread and place them towards the back of the machine. 

At this point you are set up to start practicing. Be sure to lower the pressure foot before you begin and to hold both piece of thread taught towards the back of the machine, until you get it started and a feel for it. 


A reverse stitch strengthens your beginning and ending stitch. Once you have several stitches started, hold the reverse lever and slowly place your foot on the peddle, stitching over the ones you have just completed. 

Back at the beginning, let go of the lever and continue with your work. 

Repeat and do the same for the stitches at the end. 


If your pressure foot comes loose or off, just tighten it back into place. 

the pressure foot of the sewing machine
pressure foot

Thread cutter

On the side of the machine you have a thread cutter. 

Thread cutter on side of machine

Your thread may get caught. You’ll have to adjust the pressure foot pressure. You may need to change the stitch length, but all those things came with time and practice. 

Learning how to set up a sewing machine was the easy part. But if you play around and you stick with it, you might just find it to be a lot of fun. 

Although I never enjoyed making masks, I’ve found out that I really enjoy making envelope pillow covers! So I may not be a pro, but we all have to start somewhere. Best of luck!

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How to set up a sewing machine for beginners

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