Review our diagram and photo of typical sewing machines. Each make of machine is different, so your machine might not look like ours, but our images show standard features found on most machines. Refer to yoursewing machine manual to learn about your machine and its parts.
Care properly for your machine, and it will take care of you for many years.
The throat plate (also called needle plate) covers the area that holds the bobbin. Bobbins are either set in from the top or the front. In the diagram below, the bobbin is reached from the top, through a sliding door next to the throat plate; in the photo above left, the bobbin is reached from below, through a door that slides in the front. The throat plate has an opening for the
needle to pass through, as well as lines that serve as sewing guides, and openings for the feed dogs to fit through (see next section). The needle opening is a single hole, used for straight stitching,
or an oblong hole, which allows the needle to make stitches that have width (such as zig-zag stitches).
See the image below.
Notice the throat plate on the left has an oblong hole (near the middle of the plate) and the one on the right has just one small circular
hole. Use the type on the left for stitches with width (such as zig-zags) and the one on the right for regular, straight stitching, such as quilting or stitching straight seams.
The two long openings on the outer edges allow the feed dogs to come up (an explanation of feed dogs follows).
NOTE: A straight stitch throat plate is best when making a straight stitch (regular sewing stitch that is a straight line). It helps prevent the fabric from being
pulled down into the machine (having a needle that is sharp enough helps prevent this also, although you must use a ball-point needle
for knits). Be careful when using a straight stitch throat plate, however. If you accidentally change to a zig-zag stitch (or other stitch that has a width)
while the straight stitch throat plate is in place, you will BREAK YOUR NEEDLE.
The photograph on the right shows a bobbin. The bobbin is housed under the throat plate. It holds the thread
that locks your stitches in place. When you sew a line, the stitches on top come from the machine's spool of thread, while
the underside stitches come from the bobbin. Read Bobbin Winding (later in this chapter) for
basic instructions on winding a bobbin. Also, refer to your own sewing machine manual for information
on your sewing machine bobbin.
The photo on the right shows the feed dogs. Feed dogs feed the fabric (keep the fabric moving) while the machine sews. Never push or pull your fabric. The fabric
will be fed through for you. Gently guide your fabric as it is being fed through while being stitched. Place one hand on the fabric as it comes out the back, and the other hand on the fabric that is still being fed from the front. Use your hands to gently guide the fabric so that it goes through straight. DO NOT push or pull on the fabric.