Let me preface this by saying: four letter words and sewing, in my mind, go hand in hand. There’s the idea of what you want to create, the materials at hand and the technical skill required to make it happen. And these three do not always meet in happy ways, particularly since the skill component is often tied to your love/hatred of machinery.
If you’re already a crafterhours follower, you may already also sew. Or not. We can tell from the comments readers leave that we’ve got a good mix. If you’re already one who can sew whatever, whenever and rarely have issues with your machine, this post might be blah blah boring. But if you don’t sew and would like to, or sew a little but are ready to add on and better understand machine problems when you have them, let me tell you more about Claudia Miller’s Sewing Machine 911 on Craftsy. Claudia Miller invited us to join a blog tour to share her new online class. It’s a class that might help reduce the number of four letter words crossing your mind, if not your lips.
The first thing to note about the class is that it’s FREE. And it’s available whenever you are. I love the idea of going to a class and being able to sit and chat with sew-y friends, but that’s not so practical for me these days. The scheduling and logistics are painful. Online classes? That’s how I roll now. It’s not as fun as real-deal instructor-led classes with coffee breaks, but it fills the gap for those of us who can’t be everywhere we want to be.
Meet Claudia. She is a sewing instructor in Denver, Colorado. She’s also a blogger at Dia’s Days.
There are five lessons to the class. Claudia begins by covering every machine in her “Types of Machines” lesson– whether you have your grandmother’s machine, one you bought at a major retailer or a fancy-pants machine from a dealer, you’re covered. Just skip to your section.
My favorite part is the “troubleshooting” lesson. There are 35 minutes of tips and tricks and how-to-fix-it-dammits. Okay, Claudia utters no “dammits”. But there are the scenarios where I would be uttering it, and her nice calm voice talking through the issues is great. This issue, for example. I tend not to let the thoughts in my head escape my mouth often, but this is the sort of thing that’d create a firestorm of unhappy words in my head.
Later on, I may not remember from watching the video what the solution is, but since I’ve seen it here I now know where to go back and find it. There are also “class materials” that you can view, save or print with common troubleshooting issues laid out neatly. Like so:
Do you already know when a bobbin should make a “P” or a “Q”? Here’s a “P”. Watch for more on that.
In Lesson 5, Claudia shows you how to disassemble your machine to clean it. Sounds scary, but she makes it less so.
After watching the course (a total of about 70 minutes of video, not crazypants by any means) I had a few questions for Claudia.
Susan: What’s the “trouble” that plagues YOU most?
Claudia: You think I have troubles? Well, of course I do! Tension is usually my biggest enemy with sewing, but usually something that I can easily fix because I just didn’t pay attention before I started. I’ve learned to keep a scrap piece of fabric near my machine to test the stitches on before I start sewing on my project. My time for sewing is limited so I feel like it’s such a waste of time to rip out stitches. Test before you sew!
Susan: Who taught you to sew?
Claudia: I first learned to sew in middle school Home Ec class. I continued practicing and experimenting on my mom’s sewing machine up until I got married. My mom dabbled in home sewing my whole childhood so she knew the basics and would help me when I got stuck. Fast forward to my pregnancy with baby #3, when I decided I should get serious about sewing and start making clothes for my kids–doesn’t every mom have this thought and desire at some point? It was then that I signed up for some courses at the local trade school (with Ms. Darlene) and truly fell in love with sewing. So, to answer your question, I’ve learned to sew by just going for it and also through a few classes. The more you sew, the more you learn!
Susan: Do you have a “cross word” (or two) of choice?
Claudia: Good question. . . I don’t use many cross words but when I do, the one I use the most is a combination of “ric rac” and another word that begins the same as “fudge”. My made-up word (or phrase) is “Fric! Fric ‘n Frac!”. I know that sounds funny but appropriate for a sewer, wouldn’t you agree? I’ll tell you that my sewing machine gets to hear more cross words from me than anyone else in my life. I’m glad she’s so understanding! What’s yours?
Susan: Shiitake. But less of the -ake. That’s the beauty of crafterhours work. The kids are generally sleeping or otherwise entertained.
Susan: Will this content remain free?
Claudia: Yes! It’s my understanding that this class was made to be offered for free indefinitely! There’s no excuse to not get started sewing.
Susan: I have never heard of your preferred thread brand before! If it’s not available near me, what’s your second choice?
Claudia: That’s too bad because Presencia is a very nice thread. You really can feel the difference! I will make sure you get a few spools to play with. My next choice is Coats & Clark. It’s easy to find, you can buy it on sale often, and, after doing some research, I found it sheds less than other brands that are slightly more expensive. It’s a very commonly used thread and I will tell you that it holds up well. I have some projects that I made using C&C quite a few years back and the seams are still holding strong. DO NOT buy the C&C value spool, though! It is a larger spool and is usually sold in black or white. This is one example of what I referred to as the “bargain bin” spools. It’s thin, it snaps easily, and it’s just not worth your time or money.
Susan: Is there anything that wasn’t included in the videos that you’d add if you had the option?
Claudia: I think I covered the important basics but I did miss some tips that I could have interjected for more learning–being on camera is so very different than standing in front of a group of students! Thankfully, the class materials that come with Sewing Machine 911 are thorough and cover the most common issues. Plus, they are super-attractive with the graphics and all. Make sure you print them and keep them handy! I’d also like to mention that Craftsy has set up their courses with a great platform for interaction where instructors and students will answer questions and give you feedback. Sewing Machine 911 allows for discussions to take place in a way that benefits everyone. There’s already a lot of discussion taking place and I’m so happy to see students answering questions and helping each other!
What are some of those tips?