See Through Sewing Machine




About: I like to learn new things, and I have a cat that likes to watch other people go for long walks on the beach. yup yup.

 I have always wanted to see how the insides of a sewing machine worked.... In a box of old stuff headed for the land-fill was an old Singer, so this is what I did. All I have to say is, Ya' gotta' love plexi-glass.

Step 1: What You Need...

You will need a few things; All the stuff I used was just leftovers from other projects. If you have leftovers too then yippie for you!
 well, however you manage to get the stuff you will need...

A; sewing machine (check around you should be able to find an old one collecting dust some place for pretty cheap, or possibly for FREE!! or you might already have one that is worthy of a small hack.

B; Plexi-glass, if you don't already have it you can get it from any big hardware store like Lowes or Home Depot. (I like Lowes better myself). A big enough piece shouldn't be more than about 10 or 15 bux at most.

C; hot glue gun and glue sticks. ... you could use silicone glue or epoxy, but glue sticks set fast and are cheap.

D; paper of some sort (for stencils of the shapes you will cut out of the plexi-glass) ... I used a piece of contractor's paper, but printer paper or an old paper bag, whatever will work. Along with the paper you will need a writing utensil. I used a Sharpie. I like my Sharpie, it does NOT suck. 

E; a few flat-head screw drivers. (for opening the machine)

F; last but not least, the wonderful tool known as the Dremmel Tool. (and cutting disks)

Step 2: Open Up the Sewing Machine

now you take your flat-head screwdriver and you will notice two or three screws on the top of the sewing machine (on mine they were recessed about an inch down.) then carefully lift the top portion of the body up and off of the thing. You might also decide as I did to remove the piece that goes just above the needle. (the one I took apart only had one screw to hold this piece on because it is removed to replace the light bulb that on my model is housed inside this portion) this old machine also had a separate piece that covered the belt-drive and pulley, so I pulled it off too (because I figured why not put a window in it too).

Step 3: Time to Cut

OK, now before we get going I gotta' say, This plastic tends to spit almost microscopic specks of molten plastic shrapnel up and off of the cutting tool. This plastic also smells like cancer so you might want to wear a dust mask or respirator before you start to cut up the plexi-glass and old body parts. and saftey glasses would probably be a good idea as well.

     Now that you have decided to breath in plastic dust and get itchy eyes...( I can see your cocky self not wearing a dust mask or glasses, I know your kind; I was once like you..... Just last night when I did this hack.)
     Before you just start getting happy with your chop-chop'ity, cutting, make sure that you checked to see your specific machine for where the best places to cut might or might not be.

Step 4: Holes Cut

After you have figured out where to cut go to it.... then use the holes you cut as templates for the plexi-glass. Use the paper and marker and just trace the shapes you need. then transfer the shapes to the plexi-glass by placing it over the paper. when in doubt, cut the shape a lil' bit too big and then widdle it back to get a better fit.

Step 5: Cut the Plexi-glass Pieces

.... hay, I think the title of this step spells it out, so go to it.

Step 6:

OK, now heat up the glue gun and keep the Dremmel plugged in for any minor adjustments... put hot glue on the edges of the cut up body part as needed and then before it can cool off put the plexi in place. I'd say it's best to start with the one big piece that goes on top, but that's just me. I glued one edge first in a "tack weld" style. then when I knew I had it placed where I wanted it I locked it down tighter. then I put in the smaller bits and adjusted em' to fit tighter.

Step 7: Button This Puppy Up!

once you have all the windows where you want them gather up all the body parts and find the correct screws for each part. put it together; and admire your work and stare in wonder at the clock-work motion of the parts inside your sewing machine. as you look through the window you installed.

Step 8: The End Result..... Before

Before hack.

Step 9: The End Result... After!!

ya' gotta' love both Plexi-glass and the Dremmel Tool.



    • Backyard Contest

      Backyard Contest
    • Frozen Treats Challenge

      Frozen Treats Challenge
    • Colors of the Rainbow Contest

      Colors of the Rainbow Contest

    12 Discussions


    9 years ago on Introduction

    "sewing machine (check around you should be able to find an old one collecting dust some place ... "

    Owwwww!  Do you realize how searched-for are these good old "collecting dust someplace" sewing machines???  Todays "sewing machines" are toys by comparison and tremble at being asked to construct a pair of blue jeans!

    But ... the plexiglass window.  OMG!  I so want to watch my old 60's era Kenmore* in action!

    *yes, it is collecting dust this month since I'm not a tailor, but no, it's definitely not for sale!!!

    3 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    does the 60's era Kenmore have plastic on top, or cast metal? .... I'm not sure how old this Singer was. ...... heck, come to think of it I don't know much about sewing machines; I only learned to sew less than a year ago.
    ....You should put a plexi top on the Kenmore, do it!  then take pics to share.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    My Kenmore has a cast metal top.  A repairman told me mine was one of the last all-metal sewing machines.  He wanted to buy it from me! (thus my comment that it's not for sale)

    Since mine's a Kenmore, I subscribe to the yahoo group 'kenmore-sewing'.  Mine's even a bit old for that group!  There's another group 'sewingmachinerepair' that also talks about vintage sewing machines.

    These early sewing machines are highly prized for their sturdiness.  You can sew stuff as demanding as blue jeans and even canvas sails on them.  Today's sewing machines (around $200 from Costco, for example) are made largely of plastic and will not do a good job on demanding materials.

    If you see pictures of tailors in developing countries, they generally have machines even older than mine.  My mother had an entirely mechanical, treadle-driven Singer, upon which I learned to sew.  Those purely mechanical ones are the machines that survive and thrive in the developing countries.  I don't know where my mother's machine ended up ... I hope it's helping someone earn a living.

    Phil B

    9 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for your well executed Instructable.  I doubt a simple mask over the mouth and nose would keep toxic fumes away.  I would suggest a fan to blow them away, preferably in an open working area. 

    I would also like to suggest replacing the metal plate over the bobbin with plexiglas, even if only temporarily.  Sewing machines malfunction when too much lint accumulates near the bobbin.  Also, the loop coming out of the bobbin is faulty when the tension on the thread is not right above the needle.  But, replacing that plate with plexiglas would require filing a precise beveled edge onto the plexiglas.

    3 replies
    scoochmarooPhil B

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I absolutely adore see-through bobbin plates.  They aren't as durable, but they can be a huge frustration saver.  You could even lightly engrave the seam allowance lines on it like some of the metal ones have.  Most plastic plates have the lines painted on, and after time, they wear off.  Great suggestion!

    Phil Bscoochmaroo

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you, Sarah.  I did not know see-through bobbin plates are available.  My wife is now using her 3rd Viking sewing machine (electronic), and also provides TLC for machines belonging to friends, which usually means a little cleaning around the bobbin or adjusting thread tension.  It would be easy to scratch some seam allowance lines in a plexiglas bobbin plate.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    If you respond, and please by all means do, be kind, this is only my second instructable and my first one with pictures.