Sewing machines have several different parts, including the presser foot, which holds the material being sewn in place, and the needle, which moves up and down according to the machine user's direction, which is typically controlled by a foot pedal that sits on the floor. A sewing machine will also have a variety of knobs and levers that will allow users to do things, such as selecting stitch length or type and reversing the direction of the stitch. The location of the levers and knobs that complete these tasks may vary by machine or manufacturer, so users should research their specific sewing machine to ensure full knowledge of functionality.

In order to use a sewing machine, users will need to have a spool of thread and a small plastic bobbin that is either empty or contains a color of thread that coordinates with the thread on the spool. The spool can be placed on one of the sewing machine's spool holders, which typically sit on top of the machine. The threaded bobbin should be placed under the needle/throat plate, which helps the needle catch the bobbin thread in order to make a complete stitch. Without the bobbin thread, sewing machine users will not be making a complete stitch.