First, the new policy in class seems to be no cameras, so don't expect too many photos moving forward. Sorry! Before I knew that however...
We started sewing yesterday and I was going to qualify that with finally, but then remembered that this was only our second class. We're moving along briskly which suits me just fine. If I had never sewn before I might be reaching for the hemlock just about now.
The first thing we were taught yesterday was how to wind a bobbin on the industrials (mainly Jukis, but some of the machines in our classroom are Brothers too), how to thread the bobbin case, and how to load the bobbin case into the machine. No surprises for me, but it was good to review. We were reminded to always check to make sure the needle is secure in the machine, since running the bobbin winder does not disengage the needle and you don't want it flying off while you're winding.
Professor B. lifted the heavy machine head back to reveal the open pool of oil that sits just beneath it and allows the machine to lubricate itself, hence the machine needs very little maintenance (if used properly). We learned vocabulary words pertaining to the bobbin case I was unfamiliar with like "window" and "latch" -- i.e., what I usually just call "thingy."
Next, we threaded our individual machines (you claim your own when you arrive in class) and sewed our first in-class seams (at 1"). We brought our own thread and fabric, btw. We learned some techniques for removing our work without breaking the threads (this was a challenge for many people it seems: you must push the knee lever all the way to the right to release the tension disks, otherwise...snap. Jiggling the hand wheel helps too.
We got to use the professional irons. These irons -- which are always on -- are fantastic: heavy, hot, and resting face-down on a sole plate. They're attached to one of those vacuum tables (I think that's what they're called) that suck the moisture out of fabric. Very cool -- I mean hot.
One thing I didn't know: we were instructed to always iron first in the direction we stitched the seam. (Did you know this? Do you do this?)
We ironed both sides of the stitch line, then "busted" the seam open with our fingers and pressed it flat. (I'm using iron and press here to mean the same thing as no distinction has been made yet.) We were shown how to pin two pieces of fabric together (perpendicular to the selvage and roughly 5" apart or whatever works for you). The reason they're perpendicular is that the machines are designed to be able to sew over them like that. (Professor B chooses not to sew over pins; I don't either.)
Here's something interesting: the needle plates on the machines do not have a 5/8" mark. It's either 1/4", 1/2", 3/4", etc.
We were shown how to sew -- and then sewed -- a clean-finished seam. You fold down roughly 1/4" inch of each seam allowance edge (wrong side to wrong side) and edgestitch it down (just through the seam allowance, not the front of the fabric). I never use this technique.
Now here's a tip that was new to me and maybe to you too: Professor B. recommends we edgestitch with a zipper foot. I, for one, never use any kind of guide to topstitch or edgestitch other than the toes of my straight stitch foot. Since I hadn't yet purchased my industrial zipper feet, I had to wait to try this at home; in class, I just did it by eye. Basically, you line up the edge of your fabric with the edge of your zipper foot and stitch, being careful, of course, not to fall off the edge.
I'm probably too lazy to bother with this but if I were just starting out, I think it's a great technique to achieve a 1/16" edgestitch, or thereabouts.
I mentioned last week that our first project will be a men's dickey, i.e., a half-length shirt with no sleeves. Nonetheless, for next week, we're going to sew our first cuff. Last week we traced all the pattern pieces we'll need for a shirt onto white paper. For next time, we're to cut two cuffs (two outside cuffs and two inside cuffs), along with fusible interfacing trimmed 1/8" all around.
Professor B recommends that, if you're cutting your cuffs together, i.e., an outside and inside cut with the fabric folded in two, you continue to keep them together (iow, they get stitched to each other and only to each other). This is the sort of thing that never occurred to me (especially if you're going to interface part of the cuff with a fusible, in which case the grain is no longer relevant). Go figure.
We talked interfacing. Professor B. said that in a high quality shirt you want to maintain a drape-y feel to your fabric, and therefore to avoid stiff interfacing. He recommended a fusible weft knit -- the weight should be the same as the fabric or slightly lighter, never stiffer. "An expensive shirt has movement to it," he explained. A tricot weave interfacing is also fine.
The last thing we did was make a flat-felled seam. We sewed our seam (at 1"), cut one ply by roughly half, folded the longer over the shorter to encase it, and then edgestitched the whole thing down. Professor B just finger presses which, he says, allows for more ability to adjust than pressing it flat first. Pins can help too.
And that's it! It was a good class and I like the fast pace. Oh, Professor B. looked at our swatches and told us which would work for the dickey and which wouldn't. We'll need to purchase a yard of shirting.
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage sewing machines and vintage patterns, in addition to sewing for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!