Thursday, June 5, 2014

You can teach an old dog new tricks

Just to make sure the title doesn't make anyone angry with me, I'm the old dog who has learned many new tricks through refurbishing sewing machines. I get asked how I learned so much about sewing machines and I have to admit it's a lot of reading and not being afraid to make mistakes and give-it-a-try one more time. Sometimes I can't quite figure something out so I will set a sewing machine aside, hoping I will learn something down the road and can apply it to some past mystery. It does work but not every time (at least not yet). There are times I have to give up and part a machine out but that can be for the good: those parts get used, too!

By request I offered a sewing machine class last weekend that turned out to be a lot of fun. Several people who wanted to come couldn't this time so I hope to offer it again. Only two students but we did solve their problems and they went home with enthusiasm to try sewing on their machines again. Here are my 2 students:


Robyn on the left had her sewing machine from graduation and it's still one I would recommend, a nice basic Kenmore with 12 stitches. Her biggest problem was using the wrong bobbin. She had a class 66 bobbin when she needs a class 15 bobbin. As you can imagine, they are not interchangeable. Here's a photo of them:

The bobbins on the left are both 15's and notice they are thicker and flatter than the 66's on the right. Class 66 bobbins are slightly convex, curving outwards and are thinner. Because 15's are thinker you cannot put them in a machine that takes 66's but you could put a 66 in a machine that needs 15's because they would sorta fit. Robyn found out they don't sew too well but now she is good to go with a new supply of the class 15's.

Sally had been told by her sewing machine repairman that there was nothing wrong with her sewing machine so many times she was too embarrassed to go back one more time so she put it in the bottom of her closet. She got it out for our class and we figured out she needed special bobbins that I happened to have that weren't class 15 or 66 for her White sewing machine. She practiced threading it several times, using the pressure control for different types of fabric, learning about needle sizes, using the tension control, and a whole variety of special stitches. She has a nice sewing machine but just needed someone to watch her sew and explain along the way.

Both women were motivated to keep sewing and had specific projects they wanted to work on so I think they will go home and keep trying. I hope to hear from both of them about what they have started and then finished. But most of all, I loved to hear about how there was nothing wrong with their old sewing machines, they just needed to learn how to use them.

I went home happy with my modest success (and ready to try a sewing machine class again).

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