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Sewing Machines: A Stitch in No Time
Though it takes years of practice to create well-fitting clothes, almost anyone can use a sewing machine. Read on to learn how this automated needle works its magic.
The sewing machine is a modern marvel, in minutes creating perfect lines of stitches that would have once taken hours of manual labor. Unlike a tailor working by hand, sewing machines don’t need to pass a needle all the way through the fabric to make a stitch. Instead, the eye of the needle—located near the point—dips only partway in before retracting up for another stitch. It’s all thanks to the simple mechanism found just below the surface of most commercial sewing machines.
In the Loop
Essentially a small spool wound with thread, the bobbin is encased inside a rotating piece of metal called the shuttle hook. At the instant a threaded needle plunges through the fabric, the shuttle hook catches the thread and passes it around the bobbin. The thread is then formed into a loop that meets a single thread extending from the bobbin. When the needle retracts, it pulls the threaded loop into a tight, secure knot, finishing off one sequence of the pattern known as the loop stitch. Above the shuttle hook and bobbin, a flat, forked piece called the presser foot holds the fabric in place and inches it forward with each stitch. Thanks to this reliable system, even neophyte stitchers are able to easily mend a torn pair of pants or perform invasive surgery on a dying Muppet.