Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Classroom Fun

I have been trying to get a how-to-use-your-vintage-sewing-machine class up and running and it actually happened last week. There were the four women signed up and they all came excited to learn to use their sewing machines but were somewhat afraid about how to start. As it turns out, they did not just happen upon the local community education site but I had recent contact with these women and mentioned they might like to take a class I had running in April. Karen and I first met when I bought a large lot of jewelry making supplies from her and she mentioned she would now like to turn her attention to sewing. SEWING! My eyes must have lit up as I asked her if she had a sewing machine (yes, a newer Singer) but she didn't really know how to use it. Because we had each others contact information, I went home and sent her the access to the information and she registered with Diane.

My contact with Deborah was a bit unusual as she wanted to know about buying a sewing machine for her neighbor who ended up not getting one. That opened the door for me to talk to her about her absolutely lovely Kenmore sewing machine that was still new-to-her. She wasn't too sure about all of its functions so I suggested my upcoming class. Deborah signed up and even brought her teenage daughter, Skye, who had her own Kenmore, another good vintage model.

So there we were: 2 ladies with their much newer Singer sewing machines at one long table and 2 at another table with their vintage Kenmores. I had two sewing machines as demos, a Kenmore 158-1040 and a Bernina 807 Minimatic. The principles are the same for sewing but the know-your-sewing-machine part was wildly different. We talked about the basics and what our machines might be able to do since they all had zigzag, stretch, and buttonhole capability. We sewed on striped fabric to see if we could sew straight lines and then jumped into making our own pillowcase. I brought pre-cut fabric and they brought their own, too, so they used a bit of both. Our teenager, Skye, just wanted to know how to get it done but the other women were interested in making a concealed, or French,  seam knowing this was going to be a mess in the laundry unless it was bound in some way. I practiced on a pillowcase sample with the short end first and then the first step on the long seam:
Step 1: Sew seam with wrong sides together
Step 2: Turn outside in, seam same distance away to encase raw edge

Step 3: On outside you cannot see any stitches

Karen and Diane found out they needed to sew farther away from the first seam or trim the seam before sewing the second time but it was a learning process and they were very proud of the end results. I encouraged them to not just hem the final edge but to go back and add decorative stitches, using all they had on their respective sewing machines. This would be a good practice run and on a practical use item to give it a bit of flare.Here's my sample pillowcase (purchased pillowcase where I used my Kenmore 158-1803 and Viking 1100 to make the stitches).
Decorative stitches on deep hem, lace trimmed

I added the lace on the edge to give them a few ideas of how they might trim theirs. By this time we were packing up and hauling everything out to the cars. I had a stack of books and miscellaneous items for give-aways: how-to-sew books, thread caddy's, and brushes to clean the inside of their machine. At the end of the night I went home exhausted but happy with my four students who each made a nice pillowcase, learned some things about their own sewing machines, and were going to be ready to start another project. Maybe they will make another pillowcase? I did hear something about all those repairs that were stacked up at home so maybe even getting that pile down a bit would be a start in the right direction. I do know that Deborah was very happy to have her daughter sewing on her own machine and feeling more successful. Sometimes all it takes is someone other than mom to say things are going well, here's how you can do this, for it to suddenly make more sense.

Would I offer this class again? You betcha! As they were walking out I mentioned it had been offered as a 2 session class but it was pared down to one for tonight. Karen stopped and looked over at Diane so maybe I should try to offer the two session class again. There's nothing like showing up ready with all you need and an evening to get a project at least started if not nearly done. What could we do next time? There are always pajama pants or a simple t-shirt but I'm going to have to work that out for maximum learning and success. Yes, it was a good start on learning to sew with the sewing machine you have. This reminds me of the song from the '70's "Love the One You're With." Learn to love the sewing machine you have and you might be surprised how much fun it can be.


LearningOne said...

I am the Deborah in the post. It was a great class and I enjoyed meeting the Sewing Machine Mavin. Karen, it was such a blessing to have you teach and encourage my daughter, to get her excited about sewing. I also enjoyed seeing the machines you brought with you, including the Bernina you talked about in a different post. I love my Kenmores, but in a few years I think I will own a Bernina, too. Reading all the rave reviews on sewing blogs makes me think it will be worth the time and money to save up for one. Meanwhile, I am very happy with the wonderful quality of the Kenmores I own. Let me know when you will have the next class sessions, as I want to attend. We had so much fun. Maybe you could advertise your classes and the machines you sell here on your blog, too?

Karen said...

Thank you, Deborah, but all of you were great learners, too! I can't offer another community ed. class in Fridley until fall (spring/summer were together and the calendar is set) but think I could offer a class in another location. Will let you know if that works out!