Tuesday, 6 May 2014

sewing the high street: using a sewing machine

Hello!! This week's instalment is a wee bit late, and is due to my stressing out over my final deadline. This means I won't be posting a new Sewing the high street for 2 weeks so I can focus more on my deadline. I'll be going over the parts of a sewing machine, threading up and a few tips and tricks :)

sewing machine anatomy

For the most part, sewing machines tend to follow the same sort of pattern (pun intended). The past couple of decades hasn't seen much in innovation and just more changes to design and enhancement of the process of sewing. So, when you come across a sewing machine it will be pretty similar to the one I have in the photos below, just with changes to the design, positioning of buttons and dials, and how fancy it is (the one featured not being fancy, heh)!

There are a lot of stitches, even on this cheaper sewing machine, but for most people they will only really be using variations of the straight stitch, zig zag stitch (for edges) and the button hole function. Most offer dials to change the stitch but more modern ones also have digital displays or buttons that light up (woahhH). Usually 1 or A is your best bet for a simple straight stitch.

On the front of a sewing machine, along with stitch options, you will also come across ways to change the tension. My one has that option near the top left as a dial, but some have it next to the stitch options as well. You don't really need to fiddle with that, but the tension is your first port of call when your sewing machine is acting up - such as if it misses stitches or there is poor stitching.

The back will most likely have the holes for power and your foot pedal as well as an on button. In addition, the lever for the presser foot (the part which touches your fabric) tends to be at the back as well, and changes position ALL the time depending on which sewing machine you use (so don't get used to the positioning of it!).

This dial is basically how you can "manual" sew, and I find it super useful to start off stitching, press the reverse to secure the stitch and stitch forward a couple times. This is just my way of doing things to start things off slowly but most people just like to use the presser foot all the way through. 

The dial is really for making sure the needle is in the position you need it - if you need it down for turning corners or if you need it up and out of the fabric once you have finished sewing to cut the threads.

It's super important to know that you must only roll the dial towards you. That is the direction the needle goes and it can mess with the machine if you turn it away from you!

threading a sewing machine

Threading a sewing machine is always a bit fiddly but machines always have little arrow guides to show you the way to go! Follow the directions, and make sure to see if there is a little nick or hole above the needle for your thread to go in. This is so the thread goes straight down towards the tip of the needle. Then, lower the foot and try and stick your thread through the needle head for 10 minutes and then get someone else to try and watch them do it within 10 seconds (this happens way too often for my liking...)!

Once you are threaded up, now is the time for the bobbin. The bobbin is what is seen on the wrong side of fabric but in any case should be as similar a colour to your top thread as possible. In this instance I chose a different colour to make it more obvious but it shouldn't really be.

Machines are all different when it comes to which direction a bobbin must be placed in, and it's pretty important to get it right as it does not sew properly if it is in the wrong way. So make sure to check the manual for the right direction. For mine the right way is when the thread is pulled and the bobbin rolls clockwise, so I place it in with the thread popping out....

...and I hold the top stitch (shown in white) and turn the MANUAL sewing dial towards me so the needle goes down and up (one rotation). If it doesn't pick it up after one rotation go once more (it may not have been a full rotation) and that should pick up the bobbin thread. Lift the presser foot up and pull the bobbin thread up and out. Pull both threads until they are about 15cm long and lay them behind the presser foot.

actually sewing

Now it's time to actually sew! Yay! So once you are threaded up, make sure the presser foot is up and pop your material in. Before you begin sewing you must always lower the presser foot. Now, have a few goes sewing straight, turning corners, anything you fancy.

Once you've finished flick the presser foot up and pull the fabric out carefully. Leave some bits of thread on the fabric and cut it off the thread still in the machine.

There you have it! Fabric now stitched together... 

tips n tricks

Here are a few tips and tricks you will learn as you sew more and more, handily put here for your convenience!

- It's super easy to pop thread through the clip/hole above the needle if you lower the needle into the machine before you do it, and contrastingly...
- If you lower the presser foot and raise the needle using the manual sewing dial it then makes it easier to put your top thread through the tip of needle
- Use your reverse stitch (usually on front of sewing machine either above and to right of needle or a push button on front of sewing machine) at the start and finish of stitching so that it sets the stitch and it is less likely to unravel
- To turn corners, simple leave the needle in the fabric and lift the presser foot. Then turn your fabric to the direction you need, lower the foot again and continue sewing

Pressin' the reverse stitch

Those are just a few off the top of my head, the more you sew the quicker you get at it, the easier you find things and the more you find little tips and tricks to make things easier for yourself!

I hope you enjoyed this week's post!

Ciao and stay squiggly

This week I am busy with final deadlines for assessment so will not have the time to do much sewing. However as soon as the deadlines are over I'm technically into summer!! So the following week I'll actually be moving on to the garment itself and show you guys my progress. See you in 2 weeks!


Cat said...

I was taught how to use a sewing machine in fashion & textiles and had to use one daily for 2 years but I'm still scared of them! I'm always so nervous that I'll sew my hand...:'D xx

Jean said...

Hehe Cat, I know the feeling! Took me a while to get over the fear of sewing bits of my hands :P Practice makes perfect though, the more you use one the more confident you get!! Thanks for stopping by!! ^_^

Hayley- Eszti said...

I love sewing, I do all mine by hand though as I've never owned a machine, I'd like to get one eventually though! Any advice on a machine for a newbie that isn't too technical but technical enough to progress with?

X Hayley-Eszti | www.hayleyeszti.blogspot.com

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