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Sewing Machines Buying Guides – Glossary

Whether your sewing skills are beginner, basic or advanced, there’s a sewing machine just right for you. Find your model and must-have features.

 

Glossary

Sewing Machines

    Adjustable Presser System

    You can change the amount of pressure exerted on the foot to accommodate different weights of fabric. Bulky fabrics, for example, require less pressure so the needle can deliver the thread and make a stitch.

    Back Light Screen

    A high resolution screen displays stitch and tension information.

    Bobbins

    Vertical Bobbin: The bobbin moves back and forth to pick up the thread.
    Horizontal Bobbin: The bobbin picks up the top thread as it passes by. The full rotary action makes for a much straighter stitch.

    Bobbin Winding

    The bobbin is the spool of thread that sits below the presser foot. It provides the lower portion of thread that, when interlocked with thread from the needle, creates a stitch.

    Built-in Buttonholer

    Some machines feature a built-in program that simplifies the construction of buttonholes.
    1-Step: High-end computerized sewing machines can be programmed to create buttonholes automatically.
    4-Step: A buttonhole is created through a series of four positions on the selector knob.

    Built-in Stitches

    The number of stitches available on a machine.

    Drop Feed

    A drop feed allows the fabric to be pushed through the machine in many directions, making it easy to work on quilting, basting and embroidery.

    Electronic Speed Control Lever

    You can regulate the speed of the stitchwork with a foot pedal. The needle thrust is the same at any speed. The lever responds to the pressure you exert on it - the more pressure, the faster the machine produces stitches.

    Foot Control

    Pressure on the foot control changes the speed of sewing. The harder you step on it, the faster it sews.
    Non-heat: The electronic foot control stays cool even with long term use and provides full sewing at any speed.
    Carbon Pile: An electronic foot control. The more pressure applied, the faster the machine will sew.

    Foot Fixing System

    Screw Type: A one-piece system, consisting of the foot and shaft. It is screwed on to the sewing machine.
    Snap In: The foot snaps onto the foot fixing system and releases with a touch of a button.

    Information Display

    Takes the guesswork out of sewing by telling you the proper foot, thread tension, stitch width and length to select.

    Needle Threader

    A hook goes into eye of the needle, pulls the thread up into the hook and lets it go. The hook pulls the thread through the eye of the needle.

    Pattern Display

    A guideline on the front of the sewing machine illustrating the stitches available on a particular model.

    Pressure Foot System

    It is the lever that holds and applies pressure to the foot. There are as many as 20 different foot attachments that can be attached to the lever. Each foot is designed for a different sewing function, such as sewing a zipper or creating a satin stitch.
    Low Bar: The bar is the height of the presser foot system. On a low bar, the shaft rises 12.5 millimeters (½ inch) above the plate.
    High Bar: The bar is the height of the presser foot system. On a high bar, the shaft rises 25 millimetres above the plate. The 25 millimetre (1-inch) clearance between the foot and the needle plate allows you to slide fabrics, or an embroidery hoop, under the foot.

    Professional Built-In Embroidery

    Electronic machines with a built-in computer can be programmed to create a wide range of embroidery stitches, including the alphabet and numbers.

    Push-Pull Clutch System

    A safety feature that prevents the needle from going up and down while you are winding a bobbin.

    Stitch Function(s)

    One stitch may have multiple uses, and it's possible for 2 stitches to accomplish 13 different functions.

    Stitch Length (mm)

    Tells you how far apart the stitches can be adjusted. Length varies from 5 to 7 millimetres, depending on the model of the sewing machine.

    Stitch Width (mm)

    The width of some stitches, such as zig-zag, can be adjusted to fit the fabric or project design.

    Thread Cutter

    Conveniently located on machine to cut thread when a line of thread is finished.

    Threading System

    Slit Take-up Lever: Arrows printed on the case of the machine make following the thread path easy.
    Easy Threading: Directs you to the proper thread path for threading the machine.

    Touch Screen

    You can program stitch functions by touching the visual display panel on a computerized sewing machine.

    Twin Needle Capability

    Two needles in one shaft. Allows you to use two different coloured threads. Great for top stitch accent

    Upper Thread Sensor

    A sensor built into the tension assembly allows the machine to automatically set the tension for the thread being used.

 

Sergers

    Type Of Serger

    3,4 Thread: Offers a 3- or 4-thread overlock serging.
    1 Needle, 2, 3 Thread, or 2 Needle: Easily convertible for rolled hemming, picot edge, narrow hemming, decorative overedging and pin-tucking.

    Cutting Width Adjustments

    Automatically cuts off anything beyond 3/8ths of an inch. It provides a neat trim on fabrics.

    Differential Feed

    Allows you to use stretch fabrics or gather fabrics without damaging the material.

    Lower Looper Threader

    A semi-automatic threader simplifies threading.

    Lower-Looper Thread Tension

    A tension dial allows you to adjust the looper or needle thread for different sewing projects

    Narrow Hemming

    Similar to a satin stitch, but longer. Often used to finish children's clothing.

    Overedging

    Give your garments a professionally finished hem in one easy operation that sews a seam, overcasts and trims the excess fabric.

    Picot Edging

    A variation of the rolled hem stitch using three threads.

    Pin Tucking

    A small pleat featuring decorative stitching over the top of the pleat.

    Rolled Hemming Stitches

    A decorative satin stitch for finishing hems on napkins, scarves and pillows.

    Two-Way Needle Plate

    Allows you to quickly change the needle plate between a standard overlock stitch or rolled hemming.

    Waste Clipping Catcher

    As the serger trims excess fabric from seams, it collects it in a container before it falls on the floor.