How a Sewing Machine Works

How a Sewing Machine Works

I have been staring at this animated gif for the last 5 minutes. Fascinating. How a Sewing Machine Works.

51 Comments leave a comment below

  1. I always wonder bou tthat. esp now that my wife just got a new one.

  2. Thank you so much, Tina! I have always been confused about how a sewing machine actually works and now I think I understand.

  3. this explains why I can’t sew

  4. strangely, I was just wondering about this the other day! I think because I was flailing about trying to repair an old jacket with many rips. This is where being an engineer is a curse, we ponder way too long on things we shouldn’t.

  5. 1st rotation: “What just happened??”

    2nd rotation: “Oh wow. I see what’s happening here! Cool…”

    8th rotation: “Ok. I just need to watch this once more and I will completely understand what just happened…”

    23rd rotation: “Ok. I just need to watch this once more and I will completely understand what just happened…”

    87th rotation: “I. Can’t. Blink.”

    102nd rotation: “Someone please bring me some water and flick it at my eyes.”

  6. A video after my own heart. I sell, teach and live sewing and sewing machines. I will be directing everyone I know to this animation. I describe this action several times a day to customers and students, now they can see it!

  7. Ha ha, that’s brilliant. Been using a sewing machine for years – and now I know who it works! Brilliant!

  8. You’ve ruined the mystery!! ;-)
    Thanks, I’ve actually always wondered. Took quite a few rotations, but I get it!

  9. fantastic. When my wife and i watch project runway i always start to wonder how a sewing machine actually works. I had NO idea it was like that.

  10. This doesn’t make any sense. The spindles would get in the way on the green spool and the arm on the rotating ring pulling the yellow string would get in the way. Clearly they are leaving out vital parts of the story. Another words this doesn’t explain anything, it just looks like it does.

    If you watch closely the yellow thread that goes on the backside of the rotating ring magically moves to the frontside of the rotating ring halfway around. Then of course the spool is held in the space so a loop can pass completly over it. It has been many years since I’ve looked inside a sewing machine but as I recall they work by interlocking the loops of thread, not by making a continious twist.

  11. THANK YOU! My girlfriend makes things (messenger bags, laptop sleeves, book covers, etc – wrote a book even!) and ever since I started hanging out with her I’ve wondered how the thing actually works. Wonderful.

  12. Good to see how it works – if it works. I’ve tried to fix a problem with my sewing machine once, so this is my advice: don’t put your fingers in there, it hurts alot.

  13. Love this animation!
    I work at Zede’s Sewing Studio in Columbia, MO. We sell and repair Baby Lock and Bernina sewing machines. It’s great to share this with our customers, as we’re always trying to promote good sewing practices.
    If you like to sew and get new ideas, check out our blog!

  14. great, I’m glad this mistery is finally solved.

  15. this the the most interesting thing i’ve ever seen

    He woke up with this idea IN HIS HEAD! All laude and praise to Mr. Singer. (yes, Singer Sewing machines.) AND Singer sewing machines gave birth to the Installment Plan. It was the first item to be purchased by paying it off, via the mail, your sewing machine.

  17. Hah! I just saw this a couple weeks ago when I was trying to figure out my sewing machine.

  18. Wauw, ik stikte voor het eerst in 1947 toen ik voor mezelf een korte broek maakte, maar zo had ik het nog niet gezien. Al was het toen op een Mephisto-machine met schietspoel
    Louis Callaert

  19. Ah…now I see why the stupid bobbin is important

  20. Two comments: The only time I ever went into debt in my life was when I was 19 years of age. I bought a Singer and worked my way through college with its well built talents. I still have it at age 88. In its lifetime it earned over $220,000.

    The second comment: I never had anyone work on it except myself and learned how the loops were cast because one day my tension was completely “off” — pulling on the bobbin (green) thread completely undid the seam. Also, notice that the “carve out” in the needle accommodates the bobbin hook as it picks up the spool thread.

    Great video.

  21. great comments!! absolutely love the one about sticking your finger in it. And also the on joe wrote. I’m doing a project about sewing machines and ill definitely write all your nice advices in my report. (especially the finger incident.)


  22. I learned how these things worked 72 years ago when I wached the lid of my grandmother’s old peddle operated Singers. She sewed a lot for her children (12) and I don’t know how many grandchildren. It was fun to watch her sew and cut the thread with her teeth. She let me thread the needle for her.

  23. OOPS!! “Over the lid”

  24. i have been sitting here all class watching this! giggles

  25. ah, so that is how! :)

  26. Beej,

    You are correct that the animation does leave a couple of points of confusion. The spool (green thing) inside the bobbin does not mount on a shaft. It floats inside the bobbin housing. Therefore, the thread from the needle is free to pass all the way around it.

    On machines I have examined, the hook mechanism (gray thing that rotates) does not turn in a complete circle. Instead, it picks up the thread and rotates (counter-clockwise in the animation) far enough for the yellow thread to be past the “point of no return” or about 4:00 or 5:00 O-clock in the animation. The yellow thread falls off the hook and is pulled up as the needle moves up. The hook then rotates clockwise far enough to be ready to pick up the next loop at the needle. Since the hook rotates back and forth instead of moving in a circle, shaft driving the hook doesn’t interfere with the yellow thread.

    Finally, as one commenter already mentioned, the needle needs to rise a bit before the hook can grab the thread. As the needle rises, there is friction between the yellow thread and the needle. This causes a loop to form in the thread. The hook then grabs this loop.

    Hope this helps.

  27. It’s very cool to see how a sewing machine works. This animated picture is also very captivating. Thanks for sharing this interesting GIF.

  28. This net site will probably be the perfect I have ever in your life experienced. My goal is to commitment that will indicate to all your buddies the way it can be typically the superior idea previously seeing that chopped up a loaf of bread. Please to help study this valuable. Get far more find it irresistible.

  29. hehe…brilliant job!!

  30. finally mystery solved ….. my wife really amazed after seeing this … great job done by Swiss-miss

  31. wang

  32. Magic.

    This wee animation enabled me to fix my wifes Pfaff 91.

  33. Beej and Don,

    You asked and answered a question that puzzled me for so long. Thank you great minds!

  34. Thank you for such a simple and clear explanation!

  35. Oh darn after reading Beej’s comment I see that there is a big fault with the animation. Bugger… will have to wonder again.

  36. Valuable information. Lucky me I discovered your website by accident, and I’m stunned why this accident did not happened earlier! I bookmarked it.

  37. I think it so amazing how a sewing machine works. It does so much when it comes to sewing so much. So much that you can do with it. Hôtels Ottawa Ontario


    “…..On machines I have examined, the hook mechanism (gray thing that rotates) does not turn in a complete circle. Instead, it picks up the thread and rotates (counter-clockwise in the animation) far enough for the yellow thread to be past the “point of no return” or about 4:00 or 5:00 O-clock in the animation….”


  39. Dose thhe moving pitcre stop?

  40. helped me on a report for school on the sewing machine

  41. Thanks for clearing that up.

  42. Remarkable issues here. I’m very glad to peer your post. Thanks a lot and I am looking forward to contact you. Will you please drop me a e-mail?

  43. Thank you so much! Your animation is clear and simple. It all falls into place now!

  44. As a child I was fascinated by the sewing machine my mother used. I could never figured it out how it worked. 50 years later now I know how it works. Thanks for posting this excellent animation.

  45. Every weekend i used to go to see this web page, ffor the reawon that i wish foor enjoyment,
    for the reason that this this web page conations genuinely fastidious funny stuff too.

  46. I like your information you have provided, thanks. Very useful advice within your post!

  47. You should also be very careful in the kind of materials you select for your frames and
    lenses. Having said that, just before my fancy computerized
    model of sewing machine, I tried everything I knew to do
    to repair all those machines – devoid of results about 99% of the time.
    The transition from manager to becoming a franchise owner is a natural process.

  48. Am a bit confused and I’ve been watching my machine thinking something is wrong…does the yellow thread pass completely on the outside of the bobbin housing?

    Not sure if my machine isn’t working correctly or just hadn’t realised this is how it actually works…

  49. Thank you for providing this information. It is really helpful!

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