How a Sewing Machine Works, Explained in a GIF

Here's what's going on beneath the needle.

From the outside, a sewing machine is a wonderful bit of magic. A needle shoves thread up and down, and somehow a seam is formed. 

Here's a little YouTube video of this:

What is that thread latching to? How, if the needle just bobs up and down, does the thread lock in place?

A great GIF reveals what is going on inside the machine as the needle does its little dance:

HBR/Wikimedia Commons

Beneath the needle (as the GIF shows at a very slowed down speed) a hook rotates, capturing the thread from above and looping it around another thread, this one reeling from the bobbin below. The two threads interlock around the layers of fabric, binding them to one another.

So it's not magic; it's mechanics. And to me, that's even neater.

Presented by

Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. Who cares about youth? James Hamblin turns to his colleague Jeffrey Goldberg for advice.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. James Hamblin turns to a colleague for advice.

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Video

Pittsburgh: 'Better Than You Thought'

How Steel City became a bikeable, walkable paradise

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

More in Technology

Just In