What Are the Different Sewing Machine Parts?

Sandi Johnson

Sewing machine parts vary, depending on manufacturer, model features, and even the era in which the machine was manufactured. Although specific features may be different, certain parts remain universal for all machines. In terms of different types of sewing machine parts, specific parts typically fall into the same four categories based on function; needle areas, thread areas, operational controls, and mechanics. A machine's pressure foot and needle area houses numerous parts, as do operational control panels and components. Threading features, including bobbin winding and thread tension, involve dozens of parts, as does the machine's operational mechanisms.

The needle area of a sewing machine directly interacts with the fabric and features several parts including, a needle gauge, needles, the needle clamps and the feed dog.
The needle area of a sewing machine directly interacts with the fabric and features several parts including, a needle gauge, needles, the needle clamps and the feed dog.

No matter what era or manufacturer produced a particular machine, all sewing machines include similar parts in the needle area. A pressure foot surrounds the machine's needle to hold material flat during stitching. Needle clamp screws hold a particular needle in place, but also allow for replacement of needles in case of breakage or when a change in needle gauge is warranted. The feed dog, resembling a short row of teeth, helps move fabric as the operator sews. Plates cover the bobbin, but allow the needle to pass through during stitching.

The presser foot holds fabric in place on a sewing machine.
The presser foot holds fabric in place on a sewing machine.

Directly related to the needle area, all machines feature a number of parts relative to thread. Spools provide the ability to supply thread during stitching but also provide a means to wind thread on a bobbin. Old treadle machines as well as newer machines have spool parts that allow the machine to assist with winding thread on bobbins. Bobbins, an important thread part, supply a second stream of thread for underside stitching. New machines feature automatic spool stops and other high-tech sewing machine parts to manage threading.

Operational controls vary from the simplest thread tension levers to complex computerized user screens. Most commonly, these parts include thread tension dials, stitch width and length dials, foot controls, and the handwheel. Handwheels allow the operator to manually control various aspects of sewing, including direction, individual stitches, and back stitching. For new computerized sewing machines, the operator seldom sees the actual sewing machine parts involved in various projects, only controlling such functions from a computer screen. Foot controls, however, are a prominent operational part for all machines, controlling when and at what speed the machine stitches.

Mechanical sewing machine parts are the heart of all sewing machines, from old non-electric treadles to new computerized machines. Electric sewing machines have a motor, which consists of dozens of smaller parts. Treadle machines have a variety of parts involving bands, gears, and pulleys. Identification and repairs involving these delicate parts are typically left to trained professionals.

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Discussion Comments


@spotiche5- Old sewing machines are really neat, so you shouldn't give up on your repairs. I think that you have two options for fixing your family heirloom.

First of all, you could call the company that manufactured your sewing machine to see what the customer service department recommends. You might be able to order new sewing machine parts, or the company might even offer repairs if you send the machine to the repair department. Be sure to ask for possible costs before you send your machine in for repairs to make sure it fits your budget, since fixing an older model can be expensive.

If this solution isn't an option, you need to look for a sewing machine shop that sells parts and does repairs. Since sewing machines aren't as popular as they use to be, this type of business could be difficult to find. Do an online search or look in a large city for a shop that could help you fix your machine.


The control panel of my old sewing machine has stopped working, and I'm having a hard time finding the parts to fix it. It is a family heirloom, so I don't want to give up on these repairs. I'm looking for some advice to help me find a solution for my sewing machine problem.

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