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How to Use the Sewing Machine Safely & Accurately

Updated April 17, 2017

Learning to sew can provide hours of entertainment and save a lot of money. Being able to handle simple repairs and crafting your own clothes will keep you from having to spend money at designer stores. You'll also have the added bonus of being able to design exactly what you want and produce a custom fit. There are a few simple steps that will help keep you safe around your sewing machine to ensure maximum enjoyment and satisfaction from each sewing project.

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  1. Set up a proper workstation. This should include adequate lighting and an area clear of clutter. You should use an adjustable chair that allows your knees to be bent at a 90-degree angle and places the work station at elbow height when sitting. If you are using a foot pedal, make sure it is not too close to the chair or too far away. You should not have to hunch over or stretch out to reach it. Place the power cords out of the way so you will not trip over them.

  2. Position your sewing machine so that you can easily reach it. You should be able to guide the fabric under the needle and position your stitches without having to maintain an uncomfortable position. Always keep your fingers to the side of the foot (the metal guide around the needle that you lower onto the fabric) never in front of or behind the needle.

  3. Plan your sewing for times when you are awake and able to concentrate; not fatigued or distracted. If you are frustrated and try to force the fabric through, you will likely break the needle, leaving a dangerous sharp tip.

  4. Check your machine over before you start sewing to make sure it is working properly. Remove any stray pieces of thread that could cause the needle to jam. Ensure that the bobbin and spool have enough thread for your project.

  5. Work only at a speed with which you are comfortable. Most machines have many speed settings, but just because you can go faster doesn't mean you should. Working too quickly could result in injury if you lose control of the cloth or get your fingers too close to the needle.

  6. Maximise efficiency by planning. Make sure you have all the tools and materials you need, and that they are in easy reach. Keep pins safely contained in a container, pin cushion or magnetic bowl. Keep scissors sheathed when they are not being used. Trace your patterns so they are easy to see and do not require you to bend down close to the fabric.

  7. Avoid wearing overly loose clothing or jewellery that could get caught up in the fabric while you sew. If you have long hair, keep it pulled back while you work.

  8. Tip

    If you plan on spending a lot of time sewing, invest in some ergonomic tools and accessories. There is a wide variety of supplies, such as slant tables for cutting, padded and curved shears and specialised tools that are designed to make sewing easy.

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About the Author

Based in CT, Bridgette Ashmore has been writing on a variety of topics since 1996. Her articles have been published in trade publications such as "LibraryScope" and "24/7" as well as topic-specific magazines like "ATV Rider" and "Side by Side." Ashmore has received numerous academic awards and possesses several college degrees—most recently a Master of Business Administration from the New York Institute of Technology.

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