How to Use a Hand-Held Sewing Machine

Hand-held sewing machines offer portability and convenience at an affordable price. The trade-off is stability: Because the machine is held in your hand, steady and even stitches can be difficult to achieve. Also, hand-held machines do not offer a variety of stitch styles, options and adjustments common on full-size machines.

Place the bobbin on the bobbin spool, on the side of the machine, with the thread exiting the bobbin in a counterclockwise direction.

Wrap the thread over (but not around) the tension control, a spindle on the side of the machine above the needle.

Insert thread into the eye of the needle on the side closest to the tension control. Pull a few extra inches of thread through the needle.

Lift the machine's presser foot, above the bottom arm of the machine and below the needle.

Align fabric under the presser foot and lower the foot.

Complete the first stitch by turning the hand wheel on the side of the machine until the needle completes one full cycle of lowering then raising.

Hold the machine in your right hand and use your thumb to operate the power button. Use your left hand to guide the fabric.

To change the direction of your stitches, adjust the position of the fabric while the needle is lowered.

When seam is completely stitched, use the hand wheel to raise the needle.

Insert the dull, back side of a seam ripper behind the thread and pull out about 3 inches of thread. Use the sharp side of the seam ripper to cut the thread at that point.

Turn the fabric over and look for a loop of thread at the end of the seam.

With the back side of the seam ripper inserted into the loop, pull upward to bring the thread through the fabric.

Tuck the wiry eye of the needle threader under the last stitch on the back side of the fabric. Insert about 1 inch of the loose end of thread into the wiry eye of the threader.

Tug the threader (and the thread it contains) back under the last stitch on the fabric. Pull the thread end tight to complete the seam.

Things You'll Need

  • No. 40 to No. 60 thread
  • Bobbin
  • Fabric
  • Seam ripper
  • Needle threader
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About the Author

Kay Patterson has been a journalist since 1986. Her work has appeared in newspapers such as the "Sarasota Herald-Tribune" and Fort Myers "News-Press" in Florida. She holds a master's of liberal arts degree from Southern Methodist University.