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A sewing machine is an essential tool for anyone who makes clothing. Some of us are taught the various terms associated with the parts of a sewing machine from a teacher or family member. There are even more of us, however, who are never taught the exact terms and instead have taught ourselves, giving each part a name that describes what it does or what it resembles. This isn’t a bad thing, but it can be handy to know the technical names for these parts in case you find yourself teaching someone, shopping for parts, or writing a How To to post on this site! So here are some terms you may not have known- and can be found in the Sewpedia:

vEer wonder what those grippy, tooth-like grooves on your needle plate are? I call them the “grippy things”. They make up the Feed Dog which is the feeder mechanism that helps pulls your fabric through the machine. The name actually sounds like a made up name, but I swear, it’s the technical term! Its very handy to have when sewing with slippery fabrics. However, these can also be pushed down, using a Feed Dog Drop for free form sewing. This allows you to manually push your fabric around under through the sewing machine as you wish, and is a handy tool if you decide to do some Free-Form Quilting and Fabric Making. The switch is usually located on the back of the machine, but you should check out your manual.

I’d love to find out the strange names you have for various machine parts and techniques, maybe we have some in common!


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    Jul 30, 2007, 10.27 PMby mlssfshn

    Mirela, you want a darning foot. A open toe foot would also work and is what I perfer.

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    Jul 30, 2007, 02.26 PMby mirela

    I’m sure there are many words for the presser feet, I call them shoes ( :) in direct translation from Romanian “papuci”). Also, I call the presser foot level lower thing-ie a “thong”.

    Some sewing machines and overlockers also have a double row of lower feed dogs, that is when they say the machine has differential feed. It helps feeding the fabric, making gathers or lettuce hems, by adjusting the feed ratio.

    There is also a special even feed walking foot that comes with its own set of feed dogs. It can be bought separately and attached to the machine. It feeds the top layer or layers of fabric to the machine, at the same speed as the lower feed dogs are pulling the bottom layer or layers of fabric. This is valuable in matching plaids or stripes, and in sewing pile types of fabrics such as velours and ultra-suede. This is particularly important when sewing several layers of fabric, such as in quilting. I really like this feature when working with knits and jerseys, lycra or other stretchy fabrics.

    My serger also allows adjusting the presser foot presure. Helps when sewing thin slippery or thick fabrics, or when I want to keep bias seams from stretching, or for lettuce hems.

    For free form embroidery there is also a special foot, with a spring that help move the fabric with ease as it does not press hard on the fabric. I really need one of those. I call it the pogo foot like the Pogo stick :)

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