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Sewing: Day 1

My sewing machine came in the mail today! I thought I’d update y’all periodically on my progress with it since I’m a total beginner. I figure others here might be interested in seeing how a total novice gets along. Also tips are totally welcome! I love learning. Sewing seems to be a discipline where you can always learn more.

So I ended up getting a Singer Simple 3116. This is my new slightly persnickety baby:

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Illustration for article titled Sewing: Day 1
Image: TamTams

She’s already given me a bit of trouble but purely because of user error. I managed to create a snarl of thread so bad that it stopped the needle altogether. This was actually a blessing in disguise because it forced me to take apart the whole bobbin area which helped me understand how that whole bobbin situation works down there.

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But aside from that, it’s been going well! I grabbed an old sheet and cut out some small pieces to practice stitches on.

Stuff I’ve learned in about 2 hours of using the machine:

  • Winding bobbins is kinda hard at first. Now I know why you can buy thread on bobbins already. I failed miserably on a first attempt and created this hot mess:
WHYYYYYYY
WHYYYYYYY
Photo: TamTams
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  • I watched a video about how to wind one and did better but it winds mostly on the bottom, not evenly, so the bobbin looks like a cone of thread. It seems to sew ok that way but as I do more bobbin winding I’ll experiment with how to get it to wind evenly.
  • Changing the thread is a bit of an ordeal so now I understand why people on Project Runway* would get annoyed if someone changed the thread on a machine they were using. I’m sure they can do it really quickly but its still an extra step that would have wasted a bit of time.
  • Tension is insanely important. It makes the difference between weird loopy crap on the back of the fabric and a good stitch. This was my progress after changing the tension (that middle one was me changing it to a zig zag stitch just to see what it looked like):
Illustration for article titled Sewing: Day 1
Photo: TamTams
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  • This is the one where I finally got the tension right:
Illustration for article titled Sewing: Day 1
Photo: TamTams
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  • Tension isn’t universal! It depends on the thread, the fabric and the machine. Now that I think about it it makes perfect sense but I wouldn’t have really tested a fabric with the thread before I started on a project so I’m glad the Singer instructions were basically like: test yo fabric/thread/tension situation because it might not go the way you want.
  • The pedal makes the sewing machine go reaaaally fast. Like, alarmingly fast. Faster than I assumed it would. Now I see how people accidentally sew through a finger. I haven’t yet (KNOCK ON WOOD).
  • The machine is quieter than I expected and I really like the sound.
  • Start with the needle and the foot down. I wasn’t paying close enough attention the second time I tried a stitch and that’s how I created the snarly mess which led to me taking apart the bobbin situation.
  • The automatic needle threader is harder than just threading it by hand, for me anyway. I can use the auto threader but...I’ve been hand sewing so long that getting the thread through the hole isn’t that big of a deal.
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That’s it for now! At the point where I’m writing this I’ve been futzing around with the machine for like 4 hours. Sewing is a time suck. But in the best possible way.

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