Sewing Machine  

I will be adding photos of the parts of a machine, soon     ;>)

Since these garments will be sewn by machine, I guess it would be a good starting point to have at your disposal a sewing machine. And while we are on the subject of the most important tool in making garb let us look at the sewing machine. Here are a few things to remember:

The sewing machine works by taking the thread from the top spool, by way of the eye in the needle, through the material layers, loops it around another thread from another spool or bobbin, and pulling it back up through the material again creating a stitch. That simple! You can thread any machine by remembering STUN - spool, tension, uptake, needle. The thread goes from the spool to the tension mechanism (wheel), to the uptake (Nyia calls it the uppy-downy thingy), and then to the needle.

The material sits on the base of the machine between the pressure plate and the pressure foot, which is moved up and down with a lever (allowing you to snap your finger or thumb at regular intervals). The material does not need to be pulled on as the pressure plate has many teeth, which pull the material through from the front to the back. This area of the machine can accept many different thicknesses of material and the needle pulling the tread up and down can happen as slow or fast as you wish to allow it, have a care to not place your fingers under the needle of the machine - it breaks the needle and can be quite painful.

At all times you are in control of the speed by way of the foot pedal or knee lever (yep, I remember them), which works just like the accelerator on a car, the harder you push the faster the needle goes, except in the case of a short in the pedal cord which can cause the alarming sight of seeing your machine start running while you are at the ironing board. Just because the sewing machine just happens to have a very sharp pointy object which goes up and down very fast and teeth which can cause a nasty bite it is a simple, harmless, tool which can save you hours of labor using a less harmful needle and thread.

Now that that is perfectly clear. Wind thread on the bobbin; place it in the bobbin case; place the bobbin case in the place provided. Run the tread through the proper eyelets, rings, and hooks; thread the needle properly and we're ready to ... sew... Having trouble? I guess I didn't mention that every sewing machine (even those of the same manufacture but different model) has it's own way the bobbin is wound, top tread is held, machine is threaded and needle is threaded. But, what the hey, remember Auntie Stacia always says, "If all else fails, Read the Manual!"

Now, that things are perfectly clear, we can begin... Well, maybe not. First, there are just a few more things to remember:

1.   The well oiled and tuned sewing machine is a happy piece of equipment, it is not out to get you.

2.   The more expensive the fabric the higher the odds the sewing machine will chew it to bits on the first seam or the very last seam depending on the quality of the sewing up to that point.

3.  The tools that come with the machine are the only ones you normally need to correct problems with the machine, however some feel it necessary to add a stout hammer, Band-Aids, and Holy Water to the supplies.

4.   Keep your head and try not to curse or throw things.

5.   Never sew when you are tired or hungry.  Take a break and things will go better, I promise.

And lastly never, never, say  "But, Anastacia said ..."  if asked at the repair shop about the hammer marks on your machine, cuz, Cousin, I'll deny it with my dying breath!

You are now ready to practice sewing. Use strips of cloths that are disposable, line up two edges and sew a few practice seams. Sew straight lines and curves.  Draw a chalk line on the fabric in curves and practice following the line.  Don't pull on the fabric from the back just try to keep the line you drew lined up with the 1/2 inch line on the base of the machine. If there if no line on your machine place a piece of masking tape approximately 1/2" from (not over) the needle hole on the pressure plate to use as your guild. Or you can use the side of the pressure foot that makes a 1/4 seam.  With practice you will soon be sewing and ripping seams (yes, practice that, too!). You can even practice pressing your seams open and changing the length and type of stitches.

Troubleshooting: Before you use the hammer, try:

Most sewing machine problems stem from the needle, so that is the first thing to investigate. Sewing machines are used on many different weights of fabrics, from fine nylon acetate (not period) to garment leather (very period) therefore, just to confuse everything that's been cleared up so far, there are many different weights of sewing machine needles. Since the needle must be the proper size for the material, in the right way, (yes, it will fit backwards) sharp, free of burrs and of course, straight, check all of these things first. That nasty little needle can cause a great variety of problems when only one of these things is wrong, just imagine the mess when all of them happen at the same time...which of course is entirely possible. Get the Hammer! Just keep your cool and change the needle first.

If you are sure the needle is not the problem check to see that the bobbin is in the bobbin case correctly and the bobbin case and area is clear of pieces of thread, lint, or material. Even the smartest machine will eat what it can't digest. Get the Hammer! If there is a foreign substance in the bobbin case use the brush provided (where available) a bobby pin or even the dust buster to GET IT OUT OF THERE!!! One last thing on the machine, remember Auntie Stacia always says "If all else fails, Read the Manual"  


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