Sunday, 1 March 2015

To Sew Or Not To Sew?

I can knit. I can crochet. I can cross stitch. I can (more or less) embroder). I cannot use a sewing machines. In needlework classes at school they terrified me and I simply refused. Once or twice as an adult I have tried to learn but with no success. A few years ago I bought a machine when the two older girls were interested in learning to sew, but again we got nowhere. The last time one of the girls got it out she broke the needle. Two and a half years ago my kind blogging friend Linds posted instructions for changing the needle. It never got changed. 

Small N has been learning hand sewing at school and was desperate to go to the local fabric shop yesterday to get fabric to do some "fashion design" - she wanted to make doll-size clothes, but just as samples not fitted to actual dolls. She started off happily hand sewing, but I foolishly suggested we could try the sewing machine. Much excitement from N! I found Linds' blog post and unscrewed the wheel to the right of where I assumed the needle should go (whoever broke it had got as far as removing the old one). At this point things fell apart. Literally. This fell off:

When it comes to sewing machines my ignorance is profound. Linds, not unreasonably, had assumed I knew the front from the back of the sewing machine. Sadly not. Being right handed, I guessed (wrongly as it turns out) that the fabric would go on the right. If I had actually looked properly at the machine I may have worked out the the various buttons and dials would be on the front not the back, but no. I had the sewing machine back to front. Instead of undoing to the little wheel to the right of where the needle should go, I had undone the screw to the left (my "right") and what I eventually identified as the foot-holder thingy fell off. I now had a sewing machine, two baffling bits of metal (the foot had also fallen off), and no needle. 

At this point I sensibly turned to the instruction book. Or would have done. Unfortunately, it appears I have lost the instruction book. I contemplated sending Linds a panicky message in the hope she may be online and could talk me through this sewing machine disaster, but decided to try Google first. No online instruction book, but enough "how to" articles and videos to talk me through sewing machine basics. Half an hour later I was back to this: 

The foot thingy successfully reattached! Things went well for a while and I managed to get a new needle in and the foot back on its thingy. I had some difficulty finding the lever that makes the foot go up and down but discovered it lurking towards the back of the machine. We managed to get some blue thread onto a bobbin, or so we thought until I discovered that part of it was wrapped round the bobbin winder instead of the bobbin. We then cheated and switched to black thread as there was already some on a wound bobbin. We managed to thread everything up and were ready to go, or so we thought. Two seconds of sewing and the machine jammed. Another broken needle. We retraced our steps, threaded everything up again. Two more seconds. Another jam and another broken needle. I then dismantled the insides of the bobbin compartment, thinking that maybe there were bits of broken needle stuck somewhere inside. By the time I managed to get everything back together I had discovered that the bobbin thingy has to be pushed in until it clicked. I think this must have been the cause of the jams because after threading everything up for the third time, N and I managed to produce this: 

We sewed! Not the straightest lines ever, but thread attached itself to the fabric and stayed there. There were (almost) no bunches of black thread at the back and no needles broke. This magnificent sewing achievement took us two and a half hours. 

Today we are going to make something. 


  1. Well done you!! This post did make me laugh! Am sure you will conquer the machine. There might be an online version of your machine handbook. I learned to sew when young on a hand machine, turning the handle is so less scary than putting your foot on the pedal and the machine taking off with a life of its own. Good luck!!

  2. Wookie bought me "Sewing for Dummies" which I found extremely helpful. Looking forward to having a place to sew soon too.

  3. Oh, I loved this! I get so frustrated with sewing. I have only a little mending machine, and I can't even get that to work correctly most of the time. I love your finished product. :)