Ever wanted to give the sewing machine sitting lonely in the attic a spin? Ever wanted to make bespoke items for your household and family? Ever wanted to have a career in fashion creating amazing looks for the stars? No matter the size or type of dream or aspirations you hold, a sewing machine course could well be the first step towards achieving them.
Whether you want to learn advanced skills in order to be best but simply can't remember how to thread a machine, sort out the tension, choose a stitch and create unique patterns, or you wish to start from scratch as a newbie and want to get to know your straight stitch technique from your zigzag – there will be a course for you.
Courses tend to be split into beginner classes, for people who have never threaded a machine before; intermediate, for those wanting to further their sewing machine skills; and advanced, for people wishing to be a maestro on their machine.
Generally, classes will cover basic practical techniques needed to make stitched samples using a sewing machine and its accessories, and you will become familiar with the appropriate health and safety regulations to promote good studio practice.
Typically, there are no entry requirements for a beginner course. Areas of study will include learning about threading, tension, straight stitch, seam neatening, also a range of practical decorative stitches. You will gain knowledge in how to use some different machine feet to create more unusual effects and generally improve your machine skills whilst creating samples.
Advanced courses will help you progress to different and more varied techniques plus some more unusual feet attachments, creating a variety of sewing designs. You will learn threading, tension straight stitch, seam neatening and a range of practical and decorative stitches. Depending on the course you may bring your own machine if you wish to, or use machines provided in classes.
Investing in your own machine
Whether you are new to sewing or wish to upgrade your current machine, here are four top tips to help you purchase the perfect piece of equipment
• Get the best machine within budget
This does not necessarily mean the machine with the most bells and whistles hanging from it – but one that will be manufactured the best and with the highest quality of parts. If a cheap machine breaks down on you, very quickly the cost of repairs will make its initial price worthless. Almost consider your choice as an investment – a machine that will constantly break down will cost you time and money and may even put you off something that you felt so passionately about to start with. If you are still unsure about your level of commitment consider borrowing one from a friend or relative, renting time at a sewing studio in order to avoid purchasing a machine that will be a waste of money and could make learning stressful.
• Buy from a dealership
When buying your machine you want to be advised by people who know what they are talking about. Therefore avoid big chain stores and focus on finding a dealership. When you buy from a dealership you will receive ‘resource–getting’ assistance, experience, advice, and usually a machine owner class where they can guide you through all the features of the machine and learn how best to clean and maintain your machine, it will also be more likely that you receive a warranty guarantee with them. A top tip is also to ask them if they offer trade-ins and trade-ups as this will take the pressure off the initial purchase if you know you can get started on one and move up the line if you want.
• Try before you buy
Sit down and sew on the machine. How smoothly does it run? How much noise does it make? Is the fabric weaving all over the place? How is the stitch quality? Know what stitch options there are —a zigzag, a blind hem, stretch etc. Ease of use is crucial for your machine and features that fit your needs will be worth paying a little extra for. Some time, even short periods, spent with a machine can go a long way in determining whether the machine is right for you. Take swatches and samples of fabric you work with (or hope to work with) and test out the machine; also ask what presser feet the machine comes with and what else is available. There may be other, better options for the work you will be doing.
Buy a machine you can grow into, but not so big that you feel intimidated to use it or feel bogged down by unnecessary features. There are definitely some features that make sewing easier e.g. needle up/down, a knee bar or freehand system, adjustable presser foot pressure etc. Strongly consider what you plan on using the machine for and what you hope to do. If it doesn’t now, can it accommodate these goals later?
By Telsha Arora