How to Use a Manual Sewing Machine

by | Oct 2, 2018 | Crafts | 0 comments

Sewing machines have come a long way from the treadle run units, which did not require electricity to operate, to the modern electric and computerized machines.

With these advancements, most people have abandoned the old manual machines because they do not have cutting-edge features.

Well, some might argue that manual sewing machines were eventually upgraded to have electric motors inside to ease the work. This is true for some models but most of them still retain the old, vintage look and working mechanisms.

Since they are quite different from modern machines, their usage is also a bit different. Below are the steps required to properly use the manual sewing machine.

  1. Set up the machine

As compared to the modern sewing machines which come as stand-alone units, a manual machine requires its own table to sit on. The table should contain a treadle connected to a big wheel for running the machine.

Once installed on the table, connect the treadle wheel to the sewing machine via a belt then test by pressing on the pedal to see if the machine spins.

From here, you should attach the disassembled parts such as the needle and presser foot, then proceed to thread.

  1. Thread the machine

Threading a manual sewing machine is not very different from threading an electric or a computerized sewing machine.

The machine has a bobbin winder just next to the hand wheel and once filled, you just have to insert it into the bobbin holder below the machine.

Upper threading is also very similar to modern units. With the thread in the spool pin, run it from there through the thread guides, tensioning disk, take-up lever and finally through the needle eye.

The difference that you may encounter is the lack of a built-in needle threader. This might make it a bit difficult to thread the needle, although you can buy an external threader to help you with this.

  1. Adjust the stitch regulator

Everything is manual in this machine, including the stitch regulator. It is basically a take-up lever that allows you to adjust the stitch length while also reversing the stitch direction when lifted to the top end.

The plate around the lever usually has measurement markings to help show you the exact stitch length that you are adjusting to.

  1. Stitch your fabrics

Well, you only have one straight stitch to work with so there are no stitch selection functions. Stitching speed is determined by your feet muscles, although you can have an electric motor installed to help you with this.

The lack of multiple settings makes it very easy to use, and this makes it ideal for beginners.


Although harder to use than electric or computerized sewing machines, manual units are very durable. Electric components are not very long lasting and thus, might fail after a short time.

However, the fact that manual machines are all mechanical, makes them not susceptible to frequent breakdowns.

Therefore, if your electric or computerized sewing machine fails, it would be very convenient, to have, and know how to use a manual unit.