Basics of the Basics of Sewing: What even IS a sewing machine?!

Welcome to the Basics of the Basics of Sewing! This is a new “series” (sort of) of weekly posts that I will be putting out for people who want to learn to sew and have no experience. If you already know how to sew, then check out my “tutorials” tag instead. Note: I am not a professional seamstress, I am mostly self-taught, these tutorials are based on my own methods.

When you start out sewing garments, you of course need a sewing machine. (I will go over hand sewing sometime later) Pick one that is affordable and simple. Mine is made by Kenmore and is perfect for beginners, not sure the model however.

In your manual there will be a diagram showing what and where everything is like this:

This post is about what everything is and what it does. One must be the sewing machine before one can use the sewing machine.

1. Stitch pattern selector: Where you pick what sort of stitch you will use, generally we will stick to straight stitch and zigzag stitch.

2. Reverse stitch control: Hold this lever down while you sew to back stitch. Back stitching is stitching in reverse and is almost always done at the beginning and ending of sewing in order to secure the stitch.

3. Stitch pattern setting display: Shows the stitch currently selected.

4. Stitch length dial: Adjusts the length of the stitch, I usually use a 1.5 setting for a straight stitch, and a 2 or 3 setting for zig zag stitch.

5. Stitch width dial: Adjusts the width of the stitch, this doesn’t effect straight stitch, I generally use a 3 setting for zig zag.

6. Bobbin winder spindle: Used for winding bobbins. More on that later.

7. Spool pins: These usually are retractable, simply extend it and place your spool of thread on it.

8. Bobbin winding tension disc: Your thread will pass around this when winding a bobbin. More on that later.

9. Upper needle thread guide: This is usually the first guide in threading your machine. See your manual.

10. Thread take up lever: This will bob up and down as you sew. It will be visible when your needle isn’t inside the machine.

11. Thread tension dial: Adjusts the thread tension. Once you figure out the right tension do not adjust this. I use 5 setting on mine and never touch it.

12. Face cover: Just part of the cover of the machine. Should be open able in case of a thread jam.

13. Thread Cutter: A little blade one can use instead of scissors to quickly cut thread from machine.

14. Needle threader: Another piece of the threading puzzle. More on that later.

15. Needle plate: Protects fabric from inner workings. It should have different numbers on it which are used for different seam allowances.

16. Extension table/Treasure Box: This is detachable and doubles as a drawer for seam rippers, presser feet and other accessories.

17. Carrying handle: Um. Yah :3

18. Hand wheel: Pops out for bobbin winding, only turn this towards your self, not away.

19. Power switch: Turns machine and light on/off.

20. Machine Socket: the power cord and pedal will plug in here.

21. Free-arm: table in the back of machine, it is great for putting cuffs of shirts around to sew around them.

22. Presser foot lifter: Lift the lever to lift the presser foot. Lower it to lower the foot.

23. Presser foot holder: Holds the presser foot into place, release it to switch feet for zippers or buttonholes.

24. Thumb screw: Yep.

25. Presser foot: this holds your fabric in place while you sew.

26. Needle Clamp screw: Holds needle into place. Unscrew to release needle for switching needles.

27. Needle: You will need a sewing machine needle, not any old needle.

28. Foot control/pedal: This powers the whole thing, just like a gas pedal, the harder you press, the faster the machine will go.

Next week I will go over sewing terms and threading the machine. Maybe we will even do some straight stitching! Try and learn the bolded terms as I will be using them a lot! Ask if you have any questions :)

Good luck!

Excellent interactive resource for teaching Simple and Complex Machines from Aspire.

#elemchat #spedchat #scichat #machines

Includes interactives, lesson plans, and printable lab packets.

Make sure you check out their “New Machines Lab” (beta) (screenshot below) for an updated version.

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Interested in more interactives from Aspire? Click here.

Added to my 

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Sensational Science Sites

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It is a scientific and mathematical fact that Madonna invented almost every mode of transportation known to mankind. The Beatles, in the contrary, did not invent anything in their lifetimes (unless you count stealing as “inventing”). In fact, these men have built their careers based on what they’ve stolen from The Queen. I know it’s very hard to believe that this group of brainless men could even formulate the thought to plagiarize a patent created exclusively by Madonna. That is why I’ve provided photographic evidence of The Cockroaches copying The Queen’s iconic bi-circular compound machine, commonly known as the bicycle.

1981 Simple Machines Yamaha SR250. My friend Tim and I have been working on this project in the background over the last couple of months. We’re mounting up the aluminum rear fender, controls, and battery box this week then it’s on to wiring and final tuning.  

I’m setting up over the weekend to shoot some proper photos of the completed SR and ‘78 CB750. More pics on the way…

*The SR250 will be on display/for sale at Smith & Butler next week.


Engineered DNA Make Nano-Machines

Engineers have built simple folding machines the size of molecules out of snips of synthetic and natural DNA. The nano-machines, like the opening and closing hinges shown above, can repeatedly perform the task for which they are designed.

Mechanical engineers at The Ohio State University built these objects using the long-understood principles of human-sized machine design. They say this approach to building 3-D constructs out of DNA is different from other groups, which are instead trying to build complex, static shapes or mimicking the structure of biological systems.

Keep reading

Simple Skirt Tutorial

I wanted to make a simple skirt with a zip at the back and was looking for a nice simple tutorial, but couldn’t seem to find one. So in the end I just sort of made it up and it worked out well. This will be how I make all my skirts from now on (if they are not made with elastic that is, which I have also done before).

So for the tutorial:

You will need:

Fabric (only 1 metre)

A short zip (about 6 inches)


How to make it:

Cut out the waistband section and two squares as pictured below.

Measure your waist where you want the skirt to sit and then add a few centimetres for seam allowance at each end. Then decide how wide you want it, double that measurement and add enough for a seam allowance. (this will be folded in half and sewn to the top of the skirt).

The skirt can be as wide as you like really. I made this one 56 inches all the way round, but you can measure a skirt/ dress you are happy with and make it that size.

Whatever size you choose divide the measurement in half for the front piece and in quarters for the size of the back pieces. i.e. my front piece was 28", back pieces were 14" each. 

The length again can be whatever you want it to be.

Once you have done that you will have your pieces ready, this picture below was just before I cut my back piece in half.

Then sew the back pieces to the front, leaving the back seam where you will have a zip.

Now get pinning and measuring, I wanted three pleats at each side folded inwards, so folded my waistband piece in half (wrong sides inwards) and pinned the fabric at the side seams and middle of front and back and then got pinning my pleats, making sure I measured each the same and the same distance from the seams so that they were all even).

Bare in mind that your fabric will look something like this, the waistband much shorter than the skirt fabric.

Then I got sewing all the pleats, then sewed the zip at the back and lastly did the hem.

And this is what I ended up with :)