Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The journey begins

Today was the first day of my industrial sewing methods class at MCTC. There are 20 of us in the class. My classmates seem like a good bunch. We’re all interested in the fashion industry. Some of the students seek an eventual career in high fashion, but no one seems stuck up and pretentious. Some people in class have a lot more sewing experience than I do, some have less. Only one or two have experience with the industrial machines we will use. I think the middle will be a comfortable place for me to start. I expect to enjoy class and have a lot of fun this semester.

This class is an introduction to sewing with an emphasis on industrial equipment. We will not be doing any design, but that’s ok. I need to learn how to use the equipment and become comfortable with it before I can do anything fancy. We will work with both straight stitch and overlock machines. Class meets on Tuesdays for 4.5 hours. The first hour or two of class will be spent in the classroom, and the rest of the time we’ll spend in the lab sewing. Our three projects for the semester are a baby t-shirt, an adult t-shirt, and a tailored shirt.

Today we spent the first two hours getting started and going over the basics: introductions, expectations, the syllabus, class info, and all the normal first-day-of-the-semester stuff. Then we went into the lab for our introduction to industrial straight stitch machines. The instructor warned us that despite a similar appearance, home sewing machines and industrial ones have very little in common. She added that after we get used to the industrial machines we’ll never want to use a home machine again.

I knew the industrial machine would be powerful, and I knew it would be a lot faster than my home machine, but I really had no idea what I was in for. Holy cow that thing is fast. All we did today was use the machine to trace lines on paper. No thread or fabric was involved. We started with long straight lines, moved on to right angles with shorter lines, upgraded to wavy lines, and finished with spirals and curves. The straight lines were a lot harder than I expected they would be. I hit the pedal, and vroom, the entire sheet has flown by with my perforations veering far from the printed line. It took some time, but I eventually got the feel for the pedal and was able to trace a line. The short lines and right angles were a little more difficult, but by the end I felt comfortable with them too. Then I hit the wavy lines. I was able to make a wavy line, but my lines and those on the page did not always match up too well. Next was a large spiral that seemed easier than the wavy lines. My final sheet combined small circles and wavy lines. I’d be lying if I said I could consistently follow those lines, but even on that sheet I noticed significant improvement from start to finish. I’ll need a lot more practice before I feel comfortable with an industrial machine, but then that’s why I’m taking this class. By the end of the semester I expect I’ll be sewing like a pro and that I’ll never want to use a home machine again.

It is still early, but I think I have already accomplished my most important goal from this class. I applied to UW-Stout in the belief that I wanted to earn a degree in apparel design, but since I have never been in any way involved in the apparel industry (buying and wearing clothes doesn’t count) I was afraid I had made a foolish choice. All we did today was talk about sewing and use the machines to put holes in paper, but I feel confident that I am in the right field. Class was fascinating and I am excited about apparel construction and design. This is just the beginning; I want to do a lot more. Even the sound of a sewing machine seems to perk me up and bring a smile to my face.

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