Sewing Lessons - level 1

updated 11/11/08

Sample Flyer (coming soon)

Don't have a sewing machine? Here are a few tips:

I can't imagine getting a machine that doesn't have this stitch:

I prefer a drop-in rotary bobbin where the shuttle goes around continuously, not oscillating where the shuttle goes back and forth.

 

I like a needle-up and needle-down selection.

 

Speed control is nice when you're a beginner.

 

I think everyone likes dealers who treat you with respect and don't try to force a sale. This is directly related to voting with your feet, wallet attached!

 

Free lessons and initial training are always good.

 

Handout for the first class: Thread information

Bonus: How to Thread a Sewing Machine - with many thanks to burdaStyle - * NEW! *

Handout for the second class: Tote Bag

Handout for the third class: Pillow Sham

Handout for the fourth class: Classic Pillow Case

Lesson plan outline:

Beginner 1 Sewing Lessons

 

 

 

These lessons will help you to become familiar with your sewing machine's basic sewing functions. Beginner level one classes will give you practice with straight seams.

 

 

 

1.

Class One: Your Machine

 

a.

Supplies:

 

*

Sewing machine (it must work well), power cord, foot control, bobbins, accessories, and manual

 

 

must be in good working order

 

 

must have straight and zig zag stitches

   

nice-to-have stitch:

   

 

*

Mettler or Gutermann sewing thread (not embroidery thread) - one spool white, one spool black

 

*

Two bobbins for your machine

 

*

Small scissors or thread snips

 

*

Sewing machine needles, universal point, size 70/10

 

b.

Sewing machine parts shown in your manual

 

c.

Dust catching places and cleaning your machine

 

d.

Thread talk - Good thread, how to thread your machine and wind the bobbin

 

e.

Adjustments: Upper and lower tension, stitch length and width, testing tension

 

f.

Straight pins (quilting pins with large heads preferred)

 

g.

Discuss presser feet

 

h.

Practicing overedge stitching w/ zigzag stitches

  i.

Homework: buy supplies -

 
*

1/2 yard of woven cotton fabric; zigzag cut edges and wash (no fabric softener)

 

 

 

2.

Class Two: Drawstring Tote bag / gift bag

 

a.

Supplies:

 

*

1/2-yard of woven cotton fabric; zigzag cut edges and wash (no fabric softener)

 

*

One yard of half-inch or smaller cording

 

*

Thread to match, or not

 

b.

One long straight edge (yard stick, plastic rotary guide, shop ruler)

 

c.

Making the tote bags - measure, cut, sew, press, pull cording through casing

 

d.

Homework: buy supplies -

 

*

One yard woven cotton fabric for pillow case; zigzag cut edges and wash (no fabric softener)

 

 

 

3.

Class Three: Clever Pillow Case

 

a.

Supplies:

 

*

1 yard woven cotton fabric; zigzag cut edges and wash (no fabric softener)

 

b.

Making the pillow cases - measure, cut, sew, press

 

c.

Homework: buy supplies -

 

*

One yard woven cotton fabric for pillow case; zigzag cut edges and wash (no fabric softener)

 

 

 

4.

Class Four: Classic Pillow Case

 

a.

Supplies:

 

*

1 yard woven cotton fabric; zigzag cut edges and wash (no fabric softener)

 

b.

Making the pillow cases - measure, cut, sew, press

Teacher Notes:

1.

Class 1 Teacher Notes

 

In this, the first lesson, the students are to do the following:

 

a.

Practice installing and removing the sewing machine needle.

 

b.

Practice threading the sewing machine with the needle thread (walk around and playfully pull the thread spool from the machine with a request to do it again).

 

c.

Wind a bobbin, or one for each color thread.

 

d.

Practice installing (includes pulling the bobbin thread to the top) and removing the bobbin.

 

e.

Give each student a piece of woven cotton fabric to use for following steps.

 

f.

Practice straight stitches, learning to hold both thread tails when beginning to stitch.

 

g.

Learn how to adjust the tension with a medium zigzag stitch.

 

h.

Learn how to sew a big zigzag stitch over the cut edge of the fabric.

 

i.

Show fabric samples to teach the difference between woven fabric and knit fabrics.

 

j.

Touch fabric samples to teach the tactile difference between natural fibers and man-made fibers.

 

k.

Assign the students to buy one half yard of woven cotton fabric, preferably as quilting cotton, to zigzag the cut ends, and to launder the fabric piece with like colors.

 

 

 

2.

Ramblings about this class:

 

a.

The first class is your opportunity to teach them how to thread the machine, pull it out, and watch them re-thread it, all in the name of practice. Do not expect perfection, and remind the students that "It's like driving, and you are still learning how to steer." Teach them to place the needle in the "up and just over" position at the end of each "run" by turning the hand wheel, which also places the thread take-up lever at the top. Teach about the importance of new needles and "good" thread. In the first class, the first sewing the students do is on a folded square (about 12") of fabric, which must be a woven cotton, not a blend. The first stitches they do are widest and longest zigzag stitches, used to check and set the machine tension. When that is perfected, they practice overcasting the raw edges of the fabric, after which they can play with their machine's stitches.

 

 

 

 

b.

Start by learning the machine. Feed it some really good thread, like guterman or mettler. For each student, thread the machine (with presser foot up) while telling what you're doing. Pull the thread out and talk the student through threading the machine. Pull the thread out, tell the student to thread it again, and walk away to repeat with the next student.

In the same way, teach each student to fill a bobbin with white thread, then one with black thread, and maybe another color. Teach each student to pop the bobbin in and out a few times, making sure that the thread clicks as it is pulled through its path.

If it's a Singer machine, buy Singer needles, otherwise I suggest you buy Schmetz needles. Start with 70/10 universal needles.

 

 

 

 

c.

Cut out a 10-inch square, fold it in half, and sew your biggest zigzag stitch on it. ALWAYS hold both thread ends in your left hand for the first 3 or 4 stitches. This stitch should form so that the bottom thread does not show through to the top, but the top thread can show through to the bottom, but only a teensy little bit. Use the upper tension adjustment to correct this. When you have the adjustment correctly for this, you should never need to change the tension settings for most normal sewing again.

Next, overcast the edges of your fabric with the largest zigzag stitch so that the needle goes down just to the right of the fabric, with most of the stitch on the fabric. Lastly, you get to play with your decorative stitches. Your assignment is to buy 1/2 yard of woven cotton fabric and overcast the cut ends of the fabric.

Now walk around a fabric store, fondling fabric. For each fabric answer these: Woven or knit? Cotton or not?

   

 

Links for Learning:

1.

Sewing Machine Needles:

   

http://www.taunton.com/threads/pages/t00185.asp

     

2.

Fabric Grain:

 

 

http://www.taunton.com/threads/pages/bt0003.asp

 

 

 

3.

Cutting the Fabric:

 

 

http://www.taunton.com/threads/pages/t00005.asp

 

 

 

4.

Knit and Woven Fabrics:

   

http://www.taunton.com/threads/pages/t00204.asp

     

5.

Sewing Machine Care:

 

 

http://www.taunton.com/threads/pages/t00022.asp

     

6.

How to thread the machine:

   

http://www.burdastyle.com/howtos/show/259

     

7.

Understanding Thread Tension

 

 

http://www.flynnquilt.com/images/threadtension.jpg