You can plan your own Summer Sewing Camp.
This is part of a series of instructions on how to teach your children to sew in the form of a camp. This series can also be used to teach yourself to sew. Click on the button below for the entire series.
Today I will go over one of the the lessons for your first day of your Summer Sewing Camp. This is a continuation of the last lesson on sewing machine parts, posture at the machine, and threading the machine found HERE.
Day One: Straight Seams (cont'd)
Sewing Your First Stitch Lesson
Establish a Seam Guide
Before you can sew, you need a guide to sew along. Rarely will you be sewing exactly ON a line. Therefore I think it is important not to practice sewing ON a line to begin your first stitch.
Stitch Plate Guide: The stitch plate of most sewing machines are marked with guidelines. This Kenmore sewing machine is marked with 3/8, 4/8, 5/8 and 6/8 in the middle of each line. Most craft projects (and the ones we will be doing in this camp) will be sewn at the 4/8" line. Most garments are sewn on the 5/8" line.
You will notice that there are markings on the left of the needle and the right of the needle. You should get used to sewing with the gauge on the right. The seam allowance should always be on your right and all the rest of your fabric on the left. This will be especially helpful for when you are sewing projects with lots of fabric. You can spread it out on the table to your left.
Some machines have metric measurements. The closest conversions are:
- 2/8" = 6mm
- 3/8" = 10mm
- 4/8" = 12mm
- 5/8" = 16mm
- 6/8" = 19mm
Scotch tape: This is my favorite guide. Put a piece of scotch tape on the sewing machine plate. Draw a line with pencil at the 4/8" line to the right of the needle to use as a guide. Depending on your projects, you can use different color pencils for different seams. I like to label my lines at the top of the line. These tapes are well worn on my Bernina machine.
Painter's Tape: Some people like to use painter's tape or non-see-through tape at the edge of the 4/8" line, but I cannot tell if I am over the line if I can't see the edge.
Magetic Seams Guides: Others like to use magnetic seam guides. (Similar one found HERE.) These are similar to bumper bowling. I have bought these but don't like them. Children tend to knock these off the line and don't know it. Other problems are the amount of metal on some machines vary and may have very little metal to anchor to, causing them to slip. Warning: There has always been a warning about using magnets around computers. With some people having computerized machines of different ages, I try to be careful of not having magnets around. This goes for magnet pin catchers and magnet pin cushions as well. This Kenmore machine is not computerized and it has a large plate for the magnet to work.
This Janome Sew Mini does not have any lines on the stitch plate. It also does not have enough metal on the small stitch plate for a magnetic seam guide. The best option is to use the Scotch Tape method.
Sewing Practice Paper
Fold a piece of blank paper in half lengthwise. Measure 4/8" from the fold with your C-thru ruler and draw a line with a blue pencil. Flip the paper over so that the line does not show.
Sewing Your First Stitch
- Using your left hand pull at least 6 inches of top thread and bobbin thread out of the machine.
- The top thread should be between the "toes" of the presser foot.
- Moving the paper side to side, place the paper with the folded edge to the right against the seam guide (line on the scotch tape).
- Keeping the paper along this edge, move the paper forward and back until the top edge of the paper is JUST under the needle.
- Keeping the paper still, turn the hand wheel (always counterclockwise) and "plant" the needle into the paper.
- Lower the presser foot. (Be sure not to let it drop---hold the level until it is all the way down.)
- Place left hand on paper to the left of the needle. Place right hand along the edge of the paper in front of the needle. Be sure that hands are always clear of the needle!
- With hands in place and eyes on seam guide, gently press on the foot pedal and begin to sew. The hands will help to "steer" the paper to keep it straight.
- Gently guide with your hands, do not push. The feed dogs will pull the paper forward (toward the back of the machine).
- Continue sewing until you get near the end of the paper.
- To approach the end of the paper, "walk" the sewing machine by not using the foot pedal but turning the hand wheel. Continue this until your next stitch would be off the paper.
- With the needle completely in the upmost position, lift the presser foot.
- Pull the paper toward you, pulling at least 6" of thread with you. If the threads seem caught, move the hand wheel until the take-up lever ( or goose) is in the upmost position.
- Clip the threads close to the paper.
- Clip the threads at the top of the paper also and throw away in your disposable cup.
- You have completed your first seam!
- Turn the paper over to see how you did. Your stitching should be on the blue line.
- Repeat as many times as necessary until a straight line is achieved. Also work on maintaining good speed control.
- Set up another practice paper, plant the needle and lower the presser foot.
- This time, "walk" the sewing machine for 5 stitches.
- Find the reverse button, and walk the machine 5 stitches. You still move the handwheel in the same direction, but it will go backwards. Some machines have a button that must be pushed in to keep it going backward (like this Bernina). Some have a level that must be pressed down as you sew (like the Kenmore and the Janome). The old Singers have a lever that can be moved up and it will stay there until you move it back.
- Once you are back where you started, release the reverse button, sew using the foot pedal as before.
- Sew the entire seam.
- Walk the machine as you get close to the end.
- Find the reverse button and walk the machine 5 stitches in reverse.
- Walk the machine 5 stitches forward to the end.
- Finish up seam as before.
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