Think of a sewing machine as an engineering marvel that is propelled by a variety of parts. This post will help you understand how each part works and helps the machine operate.

Feed Dogs

Saw shaped teeth that move the fabric through the machine. As the needle stitches, the feed dogs grab the fabric, moving it under the presser foot. The term 'drop feed dog' means that the feed dogs can be used in either the up or down position. When the feed dogs are down or “dropped”, you can use the machine for work such as machine embroidery where the fabric can be moved freely under the needle.
 

Presser Foot

The presser foot holds the fabric in place against the feed dogs so that it doesn’t move about while you are sewing. You can buy specialised presser feet for different jobs.
 

Needle Plate

The needle plate is the part of the machine which fits over the feed dogs on the bed of the machine, with a hole that the needle passes through.
 

Knee Lifter

A knee lifter is a lever which can be pressed with your knee, allowing you to lift the presser foot and drop the feed dogs without taking your hands off the work. This is useful for quilting, sewing around curves and applique.
 

Free arm

A free arm is a cylinder on the bed of the machine which allows you to sew items such as sleeves and trouser legs. This usually works by detaching a piece on the base of the machine, leaving the arm protruding.
 

Bobbin

A bobbin is a small spool for holding thread. Sewing machines use two threads to make a stitch: The needle thread, coming downwards from the top of the machine and the bobbin thread coming upwards from under the needle plate. Thread is wound onto the bobbin before you begin sewing, then fitted into a bobbin case and put into place.
 

Stitch Selector

On more basic machines, the stitch selector is usually a dial which allows you to select different stitch types. On computerised machines this is done by pressing a key or using a touch pad.
 

Integrated drop feed

The teeth drop down, making it easier to move the fabric freely - useful when quilting or embroidering.
 

Integrated dual feed

if you’re sewing 2 pieces of fabric together, such as quilting, this handy feature ensures a smooth, equal feeding of both fabrics. Only available on Pfaff Sewing Machines.
 

Lock stitch facility

This helps when you’re starting or ending a stitch or embroidery, as it stops it unravelling.
 

Needle plate

The needle plate is the part of the machine which fits over the feed dogs on the bed of the machine, with a hole that the needle passes through.
 

Twin needle

This gives parallel rows of stitches if you’re after a more decorative or stronger seam