How Does an Electric Sewing Machine Work?

An electrical sewing machine also has mechanical parts, when you pedal you are pumping power to the mechanical parts. The needle goes into the fabric and passes through a hole in the needle plate taking the thread with it, a hook catches that thread of the eye of the needle and then wraps the thread around the bobbin case.

Look out for a supplier who can guarantee service and spare parts for your purchase.

Think about the thickest fabric you are likely to use

Thick fabrics

  • Benefit from a high presser foot lift and adjustable foot pressure
  • Good needle penetration and a long stitch length
  • The machine should be sturdy as well; if it is lightweight you may find your machine won’t sit still!

Stretchy fabrics

  • Top loading is better for stretchy stuff
  • All good machines will offer good stretchy stitches
  • You will need it for knitted fabrics

N.B Top loading = bobbin is dropped in at the top next to the needle plate

Light fabrics

  • An adjustable presser foot pressure is very important for silks and satins because feed marks can look too large and ugly if the foot pressure is too high

Understanding stitches and button holes

Functional stitches are used for;

Basic forward stitching such as straight stitch, zig-zag, blind hemming, they are used in putting garments together and general fabrics

Decorative stitches are used for;

Pretty embroidery, binding and quilting and many more creative purposes

Stretch stitches are used for;

  • Putting together knitted and/or stretchy fabrics, they have a bit of give or stretch so the thread doesn’t break

Buttonholes can be;

  • Standard, keyhole and stretch, you could have up to 20 different types with your machine!

Drop feed

This is used for free machining, like embroidery , darning or quilting, some machines can lower the dog feed teeth which enables free movement of fabrics in any direction. Using the correct foot for the job is easier as it hops up and down, allowing movement when you need it and holding it down when you need it. Using this foot gives better thread tension and helps the needle stability so less breakages and less work replacing broken needles!


  • Using the right needle for the right job is always a good idea if you want results and no damage to your machine
  • Needles need to be inserted perfectly, if the needle is not in correctly it will not sew a stitch
  • There is a different needle for every different job you can think of but best to have some standard universal size 10, 16 and ball point needs to hand to cover most projects

Spare parts

A good branded machine should last a long time with good availability of parts for many years.

Fortunately it is usually just the simplest parts that need replacing such as the spool pegs, bobbin cases, gears, belts, foot controls and motors.

Purchasing a good machine with a good warranty suddenly seems like a good idea, it is less likely to go wrong, will have good availability of replacement parts and will not be expensive.


Most problems stem from wrong usage, little errors in threading, needle in the wrong way round, cleaning and oiling, or lack of!

So we can see that the old saying “a stitch in time saves 9” and why it is so good to know that is very true when it comes to your sewing machine!

One more little tip

When you are ready to start a new project, do a little test of tension, needle and stitches on a spare off cut of the same fabric.  That is another stitch in time, to make sure all is good before you even start to cut out your pattern.

Make sure your tension is correct before you begin, it will be most frustrating to find that you have to mess about with needles, thread, bobbins and tension before you can start sewing your newly cut out fabric.  It may delay you and you will not have that LBD ready in time for the ball!

Now if you plan to buy a sewing machine have a look at this complete comparison of Brother, Singer & Janome sewing machines at SewingMachine.Today, which are all top rated brands among sewers!