Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Good machine, bad machine

The focus of yesterday’s class was precision sewing in small places. We were working with small pieces of fabric where a single stitch out of place would be a problem. We expanded on one of the techniques we have used before and added some new stuff. And our projects did not involve any 5” x 10” rectangles. Class has not yet progressed to the point where we are making actual apparel, but we have started working with pattern pieces and we put together some pieces in the way will for apparel.

We had two in-class projects yesterday. We called one a shirt and the other a skirt, but neither one is wearable. The shirt was just a piece of muslin in the shape of a shirt back to which we attached a second piece of fabric with a label. The skirt was just a big rectangle. Both pieces required edge stitching, and each piece involved one new technique for us. The shirt had a mitered corner, and we used a gathering foot for the skirt.

I knew the two projects would be more difficult than anything we had done before, so I wanted a sewing machine that would be easy to use. A few weeks ago I used a Consew 230 and was very pleased with it, so I decided to use one again. This taught me a very important lesson: it is not the make/model of machine that matters, it is the machine itself. I was at the machine for more than 90 minutes, and I spent far more time ripping out stitches and cutting new pieces than I did sewing. Eventually another machine became available, so I switched to it. It was another Consew 230, but the difference was amazing. On the first machine I was unable to sew a single acceptable seam; on the second one everything I did came out well on my first try. I used one more machine yesterday. There was only one gathering foot for the class to use. Each classroom has one machine in front that the instructors use, and that was the one to which the gathering foot was attached. I very quickly discovered why that particular machine was the one the instructors use. Of all the machines I have tried so far, that one was the easiest to use. I had no problem controlling the machine’s speed. It was almost as easy to use as is my home machine. I do not like blaming the machines for my shortcomings, but when there is so much difference in my work from one machine to the next then perhaps it really is the machine’s fault.

Next week we may start using the overlock machines. Our homework assignment is to buy the fabrics we will need for the overlocks, but I do not know if we will actually start using the machines or if the instructor just wants to make sure we all get the correct material. A few students already went shopping for it and bought the wrong stuff.

I start the Fashion Sketching class next week. It is a non-credit continuing education class, but I am still quite nervous about it. I have never possessed any drawing ability. Perhaps it is simply because I have never received any training, but I worry that I might just lack the required skills. Well, I will find out soon enough.

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