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Sewing Machine Guide

Parts and Functions (Part 1)

Welcome to the Sewing Machine Guide

The sewing machine in the Fabrication Lab is a Brother CS6000i. This is a relatively easy machine to use and is great for beginners! To get started, it is a great idea to learn about the different parts of the sewing machine and their functions. 

Front View

  1. Bobbin winder
  2. Spool pin
  3. Hole for extra spool pin
  4. Tension control dial
  5. Thread guide
  6. Thread take-up lever
  7. Thread cutter
  8. Accessory attachment
  9. Operation buttons
  10. Operation panel

Sewing Machine Diagram, front view

Side View

  1. Handwheel
  2. Air vent
  3. On/off switch
  4. Connector

Sewing Machine Diagram, side view

Foot Pedal

  1. Foot Controller
  2. Foot Connector 

Sewing machine foot pedal



Parts and Functions (Part 2)

Needle and Operational Panel 

Needle and Presser Foot

  1. Buttonhole lever
  2. Needle threader
  3. Presser foot holder
  4. Presser foot holder screw
  5. Presser foot (holds fabric)
  6. Feed dogs (moves fabric)
  7. Quick-set bobbin
  8. Bobbin cover
  9. Needle plate
  10. Needle bar thread guide
  11. Needle clamp screw

Needle diagram

Operational Panel and Buttons

  1. Presser foot lever - Raise/lower presser foot
  2. Reverse stitch - Reverse stitches are done by holding this button down
  3. start/stop button to start or stop sewing
  4. Needle position button - raise/lower needle
  5. Sewing speed controller
  6. Display
  7. Lets you know what presser foot to use
  8. Stitch length in millimeters
  9. Stitch width in millimeters

Operational Panel diagram

Machine Preparation

Winding the Bobbin 

A bobbin has an important use in the sewing process, when using a sewing machine. When sewing, the thread from the bobbin catches the top thread to complete a stitch. Rather than winding the bobbin (ie. adding thread to the bobbin) by hand, the sewing machine can do this process for you. 

Threading the Sewing Machine

Before you can start sewing, you need to thread the machine with the colour of your choosing. You can pick a colour from the selection in the Fabrication Lab or bring your own. Ensure that you have threaded the bobbin before threading your machine (See above)

Raise the needle by turning the handwheel so that the mark on the wheel points up
Feed the thread through the machine as shown above
Put the thread behind the needle bar thread

Threading the Needle on the Sewing Machine

There are two options for threading the needle on the machine. 

Option 1: 

Pull the thread through the needle using a hand-held guide

Option 2:

Use the built-in thread guide (below)

Using the Sewing Machine

Using the Sewing Machine

To start using the sewing machine, you need to pick your needle type, fabric and design. This may require you to replace the needle. 

There are a few reasons why the needle of the sewing machine may need to be replaced. First, the needles do dull over time and occasionally need replacing to ensure you are getting the most efficient sewing experience, and second, different fabrics require different thickness of needle. For example, a pair of jeans will require a larger needle than that of a basic piece of cotton fabric. 

The presser foot is used to hold your fabric in place while sewing, you can lift and lower the foot as needed during your process. Once you have the correct needle size and know how to use the presser foot, you are ready to start sewing!

How to Replace the Needle

1. Locate the disc-shaped screwdriver (1) and the needle clamp screw (2). 

2. Turn the screw counter clockwise with the screwdriver to loosen the needle position. Note: If the need clamp screw is loosened too much, the clamp that holds the needle may fall off. Only loosen slightly. 

3. Remove the needle and store (please ask a FabLab staff member if you are unsure as to where to put the needle)

4. With the flat side of the needle towards the rear of the sewing machine, insert the needle. Tighten the clamp screw by turning it clockwise with the screwdriver. Note: Do not apply strong force when tightening the needle clamp screw, it may damage the machine. 

How to Use the Presser Foot

1. Raise the needle by turning the handwheel so that the mark on the wheel points directly upwards. Note: The red line on the image mimics the notch that exists on the machine.

2. Raise the presser foot lever as shown below

3. Place fabric under the presser foot, pass the thread under the presser foot, and then pull out about 2inches of thread towards the rear of the machine, as shown below. 

4. Lower the presser foot lever, the fabric should be held snug under the presser foot. 

5. Turn the handwheel to lower the needle where you would like to beginning stitching. 

6. Slide the sewing speed controller to the left or right to adjust the sewing speed

7. Slowly press down on the foot controller to begin the sewing process

8. When you are satisfied with how much you have sewn, lift your foot off of the foot controller. You can raise the presser foot lever to release the fabric, turn the handwheel to ensure the needle is not still in the fabric.

9. Pull the fabric to the left side of the machine, and then cut the thread using scissors or the thread cutter on the side of the sewing machine. 


Tips and Tricks

Sewing Tips and Tricks 

Here are a few things to remember to help you put your best foot forward! 

Remember to Backstitch! 

You should always backstitch when starting and ending your stitches, this makes sure all your stitches are secure. Press and hold the U-shaped arrow on the sewing machine to backstitch. You do not need to back stitch far, but enough to help secure the stitch in place. 

More is More 

Once you’ve measured how much fabric you need, add 1 or 2 inches extra for your seams. If you’re worried about making mistakes add a few inches more. You can always cut the excess fabric later on. 

Pins are your Friends 

Pinning your fabric together is a great way to make sure nothing moves while you work. Remember to remove the pins as you come up to them on the sewing machine. It can damage the sewing needle if it hits the pins as it goes through the fabric.  

Do Not Push or Pull! 

Hold on to your fabric gently to guide it through the sewing machine, but try not to push or pull it through. This can mess with the stitches and your fabric may become caught. Let the machine do its job! 

Inside out 

Decide which side of your fabric will be on the inside. Any marks made for measuring are done on the inside part. When pinning make sure that both outside parts are facing each other so that you will sew your project inside out. By sewing inside out your stitches and seams will be hidden at the end. Remember to leave a small opening at the end to flip your project right side in, before sewing up the hole as needed.  


Try to iron or smooth out any creases or wrinkles in your fabric before doing anything. They can mess up your measurements and sewn into the final piece. 

Turning corners  

Instead of ending a stitch to turn a corner on your fabric, lift the ‘foot’ of the sewing machine and carefully turn the fabric in the direction needed. If you’re worried about losing your spot as you turn, then make sure that the needle is still pressed into the fabric before you start turning. 

(Note: the ‘foot’ is the part of the machine that presses down on the fabric. The sewing machine will not go if the ‘foot’ is up.)  

Cut Last 

After cutting out the fabric needed for your project, avoid cutting more until the end. Once the fabric is cut, you cannot get it back, so it may be better to wait till you finish the project to cut off any excess. This is in case a mistake was made along the way, and it needs to be resewn somewhere.  


Your most common stitches on the sewing machine are labeled as “00”, “01” and “02”. These are straight stitches that are common on most sewing projects. Next are “03” and “04” which sew a zigzag pattern. These are stronger than the straight stitches and work best on stretchy fabric. There is also a variety of embroidery stitches if you are hoping for more patterns, but these are mainly used for decoration, rather than function. 


Wait until you finish the section in its entirety before first tying a knot near the base of your thread. Once tied you can cut the excess thread. It is also beneficial to add a little drop of glue or clear nail polish to the knot you made in your thread, to further secure it. 

Image of the Fabrication Lab sewing machine


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