Anatomy of the Sewing Machine

Its important to Know the Parts to fully appreciate your new machine.

In this post we’re going to talk about the main parts of the machine required for regular use. This will help familiarize yourself with the common parts needed to operate and sew successfully.

Every new machine comes standard with a copy of the Instruction Manual. If you lost your manual, no need to worry, simply download a new copy by following one of the links provided here.

Janome Canada Customers Click Here Janome USA Customers Click Here

Or, visit or home page, scroll to the bottom of the page and click Support – then Download Manuals

Every manual has a section that lists the Essential Parts– Here you will find a diagram of your machine with names of each individual part, plus all the standard accessories included.

Please note, often times accessories are stored in the Extension table, also known as the Accessories Storage Box.

Know Your Machine

While the location of parts on a sewing machine may vary by model, most machines have all the same essential parts. Think of sewing machines like a car; even though all cars are different, they still have the same basic parts. For instance, the steering wheel, brake pedal, windshield wipers, turn signals and other essential functions in order to operate it. The only difference is that the sewing machine can take you so much further without ever leaving the room! lol!  

Why is this important?

Well if you’re new to sewing, it’s good to have this foundation plus it will make it easier in the future when you get to the more advanced stages of quilting, garment assembly, crafting, or whatever it is you plan to do with your machine.

It will take uncertainty out of if you or your machine is up for the task.  

Think of it like the machine’s glossary. You know where everything is, and then it’s just a matter of putting it all to use. Plus, you’ll sound like you know what you’re talking about when explaining to others. And, you won’t have to use lines like this one…..

“Lift the thing over there and turn that knob, oh, and remove the thing-a-ma-jig” Sound familiar? lol!

So, get to know your machine. After all, it’s now part of the family. Here is a great diagram of a basic mechanical machine that you can save or print. Keep in mind this is only an example of the main features.

  • Handwheel – Large dial on the right of the machine, this makes the needle go up and down, always turn this towards you.
  • Power Switch – For safety, the power should always be turned off when threading your machine or cleaning.
  • Reverse lever/button – Ase this for backstitching to keep seams from opening.
  • Presser Foot Lifter – Always lift before threading your machine as this allows the tension discs to remain open so the upper thread slips in between the discs.
  • Presser foot– The presser foot sits on top of the fabric to keep it flat while the Feed Dogs underneath gently move the fabric under the foot.
  • Feed Dogs – These small yet important metal “teeth” pull/ feed the fabric through the machine. Its important to always keep them clean.
    • Drop Feed Lever – drop feed lever is not a standard item on all machines, but it will allow you to drop the feed dogs down so that they no longer feed the fabric.
  • Snap on presser feet– Janome offers a variety of presser feet to help with any type of sewing you plan to do. They simply snap directly onto the presser foot bar.
  • Needle – Janome machines were designed and tested using Janome needles. Therefore, using genuine Janome needles guarantees optimal performance from your machine. Janome offers a variety of needles specific to type of sewing required. View our handy Janome Needle Guide HERE.
  • Needle Threader– This is a convenient feature on many machines allowing you to easily thread the needle. It’s especially useful for thinner threads which may be harder to see to thread by hand. Allows be sure to have the needle in the highest position before using the needle threader.
  • Needle Clamp – A small screw which holds the needle in place. Never overtighten as it will strip the screw threads.
  • Needle Plate – The needle plate is a flat, often metal piece located under the machine’s needle and presser foot. The needle goes through a small opening in the needle plate to draw up the bobbin thread below.
  • Workspace – The workspace is generally the amount of space located to the right of the needle. Longer arm machines mean more workspace, and a larger area to fit big items like quilts.  
    • Extension Tray/Table – having a removeable extension table/ accessory tray gives you the ability to do free arm sewing, such as shirt cuffs, waistbands, pant legs, etc.
  • Tension Control – There are times when the thread tension will need to be adjusted. For example on very thick or multi layered projects, lowering the tension will help keep consistent stitches.
  • Take-Up Lever – The part that “goes up and down while you sew” This part pulls the thread from the spool, and feeds it to the machine. Easily overlooked when threading, always be sure to have the needle in the highest position which will bring the Take-Up Lever into view.
  • Thread Guide – This allows the upper thread to feed smoothly from the spool.
  • Bobbin Winder Tension Disc – When threading a bobbin its important to have the thread feed smoothly and with consistent tension. Gently tug on the thread to ensure it’s between the tension discs.
  • Stitch Selector – Also known as the pattern selector dial, turn this dial to select a desired stitch pattern, Janome machines offer a variety of straight, stretch, and decorative stitches.
  • Stitch Length Dial – Turn this dial to increase or decrease the stitch length. The higher the number the longer the stitch.
  • Spool Pins – Rest your thread spool on the built-in spool pin to allow the thread to feed smoothly and consistently.
  • Bobbin Winder Pin – Attach an empty bobbin here to begin winding the bobbin.
  • Bobbin Winder Stop – When the bobbin has been completely wound it will automatically stop by the pressure exerted from the bobbin winder stopper.
  • Foot Control/Foot pedal – The foot control works just like the pedal in a car. The harder you press the faster it will go.
    • Knee lifter – Some machines come equipped with a knee lifter. This is a handy addition that can lift and lower the presser foot, simply by pushing against it with your knee or thigh.

*Not included in the above, Some machines have a two-in-one power cord/foot pedal combo. Longer cords and foot pedals are not available. Janome has designed these power supply cords for optimal performance and safe operation.

These are the basic parts found on most sewing machines. For more details and specific parts always refer to your machine’s Instruction Manual.

Until next time…..

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2 Responses to Anatomy of the Sewing Machine

  1. You’re knocking it out of the park again… great post, and great concept for the year!
    Cheers from Maine, Sarah


    • janomeman says:

      HI Sarah! Happy New Year! Thank you sew much for your feedback. We’re very excited to share the Janome Jump Start series each month and are glad to know our readers are enjoying it, too! Happy Sewing!

      Liked by 1 person

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