Sunday, 14 June 2009

Passing The Sewing Machine Driving Test! Lesson 1

Parts of the "car!"
If you are going to be a successful sewing macchine driver you need to know the names of the parts of the machine that I will be referring to. The essentials are;

1. Foot pedal (on the floor) this is what controls the speed of sewing, that means your foot! Sometimes there is a max or min speed setting on it or on the machine itself, but really it's down to you and your control. I can't tell you the number of times children used to shout "stop, stop" when the machine was going fast at school and I used to say "take your foot off!!!!!" Seems obvious, but then again............
2. Presser foot This is what you raise and lower with the presser foot lever at the back of the machine. It holds your fabric in place whilst you stitch, it traps the material against the feed dogs that mopve the fabric through the machine slowly.
3. Feed dogs Not sure exactly why "dogs" I suppose because they have sharp teeth, but they certainly "feed" the material through the machine at a controlled speed. One of the most common errors with sewing is pushing the fabric through too quickly, or pulling it through too quickly which creates uneven stitches. Just let the dogs feed it through at their own pace!
4. Tension This is a dial on the front of the machine somewhere with numbers that regulate how evenly the thread is allowed through the machine. Your machine has two threads, a top thread on a reel of cotton and a bottom thread on a small "spool" or "bobbin" in a "spoolcase" or "bobbincase." (From now on it will be known as the spool and spoolcase.) The tension on each thread must be perfect for an even stitch. i will explain this later.
5. Take Up Lever This is the lever on the front of the sewing machine that goes up and down, taking the thread up and down to loop around the lower thread. If you have problems stitching, it is often because this has been missed out or has become unthreaded. When starting to stitch, this "tyake up lever" must be at the top of its cycle, at it's highest point. The quicker you learn this, the less likely you are to have to keep re-threading the needle!
6. Balance Wheel This is the large wheel on the side of the machine that turns when you sew. You may need to turn it to move the "take up lever" to its top most position if you have an older machine. You must always turn it towards you. Some older machine also have a a system of disengaging the gear using this wheel, so you can wind a spool full of thread without the needle racing up and down!
7. Reverse lever or button Somewhere on your machine will be a revers button or lever so that you can stitch forwards and then backwards a few stitches to make a secure start and finish to your line of stitching. It acts a s a "casting on" stitch would in hand sewing.
8. Thread guides These are little hooks that the thread must be guided around to follow the correct path to the needle. It varies from machine to machine, how many there are and how you thread the cotton around them. There is usually one at the rear of the machine along the top and also one at the top of the machine needle. Some machine have another extra one too.
9. Needle Unlike hand sewing needles, the "eye" is in the point! The top of the needle, or the "shank" has a flat section to it and depending on your make of machine the flat part of the shank either faces the back or to the side. It is important to get this right when changing the needle as it can make the machine sew unevenly and even miss stitches. Most sewing machine needles thread from front to back, but some do thread from side to side, so check yours out!! This is vital!!
10. Spool case or bobbin case This metal case houses the spool or bobbin which contains the lower thread. Sometimes it is all part of the machine itself, permanently attached and sometimes the spool case can be one that is removed to load the spool inside. You need to check what yours is!! The one above remains in the machine. My Bernina machine has a removable spool case.
11. Stitch Selector button, dial or lever If you have a 'posh' machine it will do some stitches including embroidery and blind hemming stitch. The more expensive the machine, the more stitches you have to choose from!!! Sometimes this can be confusing!! Half a dozen stitch choices is enough for a beginner!
12. Stitch length button This does "what it says on the tin" It alters how long your straight stitching is!!! An average stitch length is 2.5. This is enough to be strong for seams but also big enough to unpick if you make any mistakes!!! Very long straight stitches are used for gathering fabric up easily.
13. Stitch width button This alters how wide your zig zag stitch will be. Usually you have a choice of 0 width up to 4 or 5 mm wide. Average is about 2.5. again. If you want to stitch straight, this must be set to 0 for obvious reasons!!
14. Sewing table (No I don't mean the table where you sit and sew!!!!) Your machine may have a flat bed that you can place your fabric on to sew or it may have a removable sewing table. Flat bed machines are great for large pieces of flat sewing or quilting. A removable sewing table is better if you are making clothes, so you can get sleeves and cuffs on to the machine easily.
15. Reel holder This is the long pin where you place your reel of cotton for sewing. There are often two of these on a machine in case you want to sew with two colours in a twin needle. Always use the reel holder on the left and the cotton should come off so the reel turns in an anti clockwise direction.
Ok those are the most important ones! Read digest and then destroy this top secret information. I will be back to test you, so lets hope you were paying attention!!! Lol!!!
Driving lesson one is over!!

1 comment:

jackie(worcs) said...

'feed dogs' made me giggle!
Great instructions as ever CC.
Many thanks, Jackie :-)