White ESP Model 4000 Sewing Machine Guide

The latest sewing machine in my sewing machine collection is the White ESP model 4000 sewing machine. What attracted me to it was its small size – it’s no Featherweight, but while this sewing machine is in its case, it measures only 6 inches deep and 12.5” inches tall. After doing some research online, I learned that it was one of the first, if not THE first computerized sewing machines made by the White Sewing Machine Company, produced in the 1970s. This isn’t the type of sewing machine I usually seek out (I usually want them older), but I was pleasantly surprised with the smooth operation.

manual included - scored!I was walking down the home decor area of Value Village recently when I spotted the user manual sitting on the shelf, nowhere near its machine. That started the hunt for the matching machine, and once I saw its small size, I was smitten. It was priced at just $19.99 Canadian, so I decided to test it out. Most of the discussion I found online about this machine was regarding broken gears, but luckily this particular machine does not seem to have that issue. Before purchasing, I made sure to walk it to the electronics testing area to make sure that it turned on and that all the parts were moving smoothly.

Smooth as silk. Into the cart it went.

The ESP 4000 features a removable extension table, variety of stitch design patterns, reverse stitching, stitch length adjustment options, sewing speed control, ability to drop the feed dogs, and much more. The underside of the extension table includes some helpful hints in case you lose your instruction manual. There is also a dedicated area for storing your bobbins.

Speaking of bobbins, oh boy, what a hunt. The machine didn’t include any of the accessories, and the bobbins are not compatible with any of my other machines. I thought it would have taken a Class 15 bobbin, but it’s just ever so slightly too tall. I took the machine to a local (Oshawa, Canada) quilt shop, Ultimate Sewing Centre. The lovely woman who helped me wasn’t familiar with the machine, but they have all sorts of bobbins available. We tested them out until we found the matching set. I went home with a set of bobbins for just $4.00 Canadian. I feel so silly because I forgot to ask what class/style it is!

Here is a close up of what the bobbins look like:

White ESP 4000 bobbins
Here is a closeup of the bobbin. I’ve also included it next to two other bobbins as a comparison. It’s similar in width to the Class 15, but it’s shorter. The top and bottom is completely flat (not domed) with a notch on both top and bottom.

You can use the machine with the extension table on, or you can lift it off to use it in free arm by lifting it up slightly and pulling it off to the left.

Video Demonstration of the White ESP Model 4000 Sewing Machine

I feel like the easiest way to teach you about this machine is to show you via a video.  I’ve uploaded a video sewing machine guide onto my YouTube channel and I’ve embedded it here on this blog post for your convenience.

(If you don’t like watching videos, keep on scrolling and I’ll describe how to use this machine.)

This video will teach you how to wind the bobbin, insert the bobbin, thread the machine, and how to use some of the features.

How to Thread the White ESP Model 4000 Sewing Machine

How to Wind the Bobbin

Turn on the machine first, with the handwheel pulled out (sewing mode). Warning: if you turn on the machine with the hand wheel pressed in, three lights, red triangle, green triangle, and green circle, may flash. If this happens, turn off the machine and pull out the hand wheel. Then start again.

Pull up the retractable spool pin and push in the hand wheel.  This signals the machine to enter into bobbin-winding mode.

Place the thread on the spool pin. Lead the thread down through the thread guide at the top right-hand side of the machine. Be sure to push the thread well into the guide spring by holding the thread with your fingertip. Wind the thread around the bobbin counter clockwise, several times. Place the bobbin on the hand wheel spindle.

How to Wind the Bobbin
Image scanned from the White ESP 4000 manual. Winding the bobbin diagram.

Press the foot pedal to start winding the bobbin. Once your bobbin is established, you can snip off the hanging thread.

This machine does not automatically stop when the bobbin is full, so be sure to monitor your bobbin carefully. Do not overfill it! Snip the thread and be sure to pull the hand wheel back out.

Bobbin Winding Guide
Image scanned from the White ESP instruction manual.

I would have expected that pulling out the hand wheel would stop the needle bar from moving up and down. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case for this machine. I’m not certain if this is because of something that has broken over the years with a previous owner or whether that’s by design.

There are three choices of speed to wind the thread, so feel free to change the speed if you want it to fill faster or slower.  Make sure if you are adjusting the speed that you don’t have the pedal pressed.  You can find the speed selection buttons at the very bottom of the panel, right below the reverse button.

How to Insert the Bobbin

Remove the bobbin case from the sewing machine by first raising the needle to its highest position and flipping down the cover. Hold the hinged latch of the bobbin case and pull it out.

Hold the bobbin case in your left and and the bobbin in your right. Hold the bobbin with the thread leading out counter clockwise and place it in the bobbin case. Lead the thread through the slit and underneath the tension spring, then through the thread guide. Leave about 4 inches of thread from the bobbin.

Replace the bobbin case while holding the latch of the bobbin case. Make sure the notch lines up at the right hand side. It should connect with a satisfying click.

Threading the Upper Thread

Start by making sure the thread take up lever is in the highest position.

Place your spool of thread on the spool pin. Guide the thread to the thread guide, then lead it down the front of the machine between the two tension discs to the next metal guide. Draw the thread towards the left, then back up to the thread take up lever. Thread the take up lever by leading the thread from right to left.

Guide the thread back down to the needle bar’s guide, from left to right. Then thread the needle from front to back, leaving a 6” tail of thread.

To draw up the lower thread, hold the upper thread by hand and push the lower thread pick up button. Pull the upper thread gently and the lower thread will come out. Pull both threads under the foot and towards the back. You’re ready to sew!

Upper Threading Guide for the White ESP 4000 Sewing Machine
Image scanned from the White ESP 4000 instruction manual. Upper thread guide.

How to Select the Stitch Patterns

How to Select Stitch Patterns on the White ESP Model 4000
Click through for full-size image of stitch selection panel.

On the stitch selection panel, there are two columns of stitches. The left stitches, coloured green, are stretch stitches, and the right stitches, coloured orange, are the standard stitches.

To use the orange standard stitches, line up the little red marking on the dial with one of the stitch length numbers, between 0 and 4. The bigger the number, the longer your stitch.

To use the the green stretch stitches, turn the dial until the green solid dot lines up with the green outlined dot, to the left of 0.

To choose your stitch pattern, just press the button next to the design you want to use.

  • The first row allows you to make buttonholes (you’ll need the buttonhole presser foot attachment, which I don’t have unfortunately).
  • The second row is what you would select to make a straight stitch.
  • Rows 3 to 5 are your zig zag stitches. You’ll notice this machine does not feature a stitch width adjustment option, so the stitch pattern you select has its own preset width that cannot be adjusted.
  • Rows 6 and beyond are even more stitches!

To start sewing, press on the foot pedal.

Thread Tension Adjustment

Adjusting Tension - Good Tension
For most materials and thread types you’ll want a thread tension between 3 or 6.
Adjusting Tension - Too Tight?
However, if the upper tension is too tight, turn the thread tension dial downward in the direction of the arrow.
Adjusting Tension - Too Loose?
If the upper thread is too loose, turn the thread tension dial upward in the direction of the arrow.

Overall Impression of the White 4000 Sewing Machine

I have to say, I’m pretty impressed by this sewing machine. Despite being from the 1970s, the computer inside is still going strong. (Amazing, especially when you think about our modern phones and laptops that seem to fail after a much shorter time period!) For such a small machine, it folds out nicely to a full size workspace. Overall, if you have the chance to pick up this machine to add to your sewing machine collection and it’s in working order, I’d say go for it! From what I saw in my research on this machine, it looks like what gives people issues is broken gears. Be sure to fully test it out before purchasing to make sure you don’t have a potentially expensive repair on your hands.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried out this machine.  Is yours still going strong?  I’m looking forward to playing with this machine more in the near future!

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