As the day approached I was rather apprehensive because there were seven of them and I only had access to five sewing machines, and also because I knew from experience that four kids is an optimum class size. But at the last minute I applied myself and was able to borrow two more machines. Also, their leader came along and was an extra pair of hands and eyes so the larger class
size was a little more manageable. So (no pun intended) all was good.
Each girl had a machine that was "just-out-of-the box-naked" (no thread), and a little booklet called “Learn to Use the Sewing Machine”. It guided us through the following:
-becoming familiar with the machine’s main parts;
-sewing on paper;
-threading the machine
-and sewing on fabric.
We started with the parts and learned a bit about them. Here's how it went:
1. The ON/OFF switch. Find it and turn it on. Everyone found theirs.
There is a page at the beginning of the sewing machine’s manual that shows you where all the parts are. Sometimes they use slightly different names. Use the manual if needed.
2.The FOOT PEDAL. Put your hands in your lap and press down with your toes to make it go. Lift your toes to make it stop. Now make it go as fast as you can, and then as slow as you can. Finally make the machine go half- way in between fast and slow. This is a good speed to use for sewing.
3. The HAND WHEEL. It’s on the right side of your machine and you can turn it by hand. Turning it makes the needle go up and down. Always turn it towards you. Turn it and watch the needle.
6.The BACK STITCH LEVER or Button. (not pictured) .
If you can’t find it, look in your sewing machine’s manual. Get ready to turn the hand wheel again but first hold down the back stitch lever or button with the other hand. It’s a little awkward, but do it so you can watch the feed dogs. They now go in the opposite direction. This makes them pull the fabric towards you, making the machine stitch backwards. When you let the lever go, it stitches forwards again. (On some machines the back stitch lever works by pushing it up.
The foot you use most often has two toes, and looks like a pair of skis. Its job is to hold the fabric against the feed dogs so they can do their job.
It only works when you lower it, so… here’s your chance to “put your foot down!”
Most machines also come with extra feet. They look different and help you do different things.
Often we don’t use the name at all, we just say ‘lower your presser foot’, or ‘lift your presser foot’.
You will soon know that that means you grab the little handle that sticks out under the center open section of the machine to the side of the needle, or, at the back of the machine, behind the needle.
Hold on to it tightly all the way up or down so it doesn’t get away on you.
Don’t let it slam down on the feed dogs. You don’t want to hurt your “dogs”.
On older machines like the one in this picture, they are on the outside above the needle. Either way, their job is to keep the thread that goes from the spool to the needle from being too loose when you sew.
A spring on the discs squeezes them together so that as the thread goes between them they hold it tight enough to be stiff; but not so tight that it gets stuck. (This is called tension.) The PRESSER FOOT LIFTER is attached to this spring and so at the same time as it makes the PRESSER FOOT stay up or come down, it also makes the TENSION DISCS squeeze together or come apart. So ...PRESSER FOOT
LIFTER up – the thread is loose and you can easily pull it out; PRESSER FOOT LIFTER down - the thread is squeezed and tight (tense) so you can sew.
10. There is a DIAL with numbers on it attached to the TENSION DISCS that can be turned to make the TENSION DISCS squeeze more or less tightly. Turning this DIAL is called changing the tension. Most of the time you leave this DIAL exactly where it is.
Since they still didn't know how to thread the machine, they practised what they had just learned by sewing straight lines on paper
Then they learned how to thread the machine, and to sew on fabric.
I will cover how to thread a machine in my next post.
The little booklets (one for each child) called “Learn to Use the Sewing Machine” are available from“Directions” at www.showmesew.com