Introduction to the sewing machine (domestic/industrial)
The choice of sewing equipment’s and tools might seem important when it comes to the final look and reliability of the alteration job. We use industrial machines most of the time for all sorts of alterations and fixes. The technique, the procedure and the speed is quite different for domestic and industrial machines. But the good news is, very often the procedure of performing the job is quite independent from type of a machine used. Furthermore, it might involve very little of the machining work.
Of course each alteration job is quite unique and it depends of many-many factors, including the nature of a problem/fix, the fabric involved, the colour and finally, the required look one is trying to achieve. But the steps of carrying on the job are always the same. The effect of machine used is not critical for final look and feel, especially for more experienced seamstresses.
I will assume my students are going to rely on domestic equipment and machines most of the time, so I will concentrate on actual techniques of performing the job.
When it comes to choosing the right machine for this course the main consideration will be choosing the one that is not very heavy, so you can move it easily to the class if you need to. The second consideration will be the quality of stitching, not the variety of accessories used. Alterations don’t need fancy stitching which means the perfect result can be achieved even with old and quality machinery.
My personal favourite is JUKI with its variety of domestic machines that can perform to the level of industrial ones; they last longer and they keep the prices high.
You can use one machine that can handle multiple stitching types by change of a foot like Brother or Singer machines.
The other option is keeping 2 types of machines for different operations, one for straight stitching and the other one for overlocking and superlocking. There is quite an impressive choice out now for domestic machine lovers such as JUKI TL straight sewers and JUKI MO range for overlockers.
How to start with sewing machines
This guide will serve as an introduction to sewing with a sewing machine. I'm aiming it for an absolute beginner and I am writing this as a really basic lesson.
If you already have a machine, it's imperative to make sure it's been recently serviced. Doing this will ensure your mechanics (such as the Bobbin Tension and Feed Dog - the mechanism that moves the fabric when sewing) are in proper working order and any abnormality in sewing will be "pilot error", which can be corrected through practice. Check for loose parts or fabric/cotton remains inside. Very often the main reason for machine malfunctions is a dust or dirt accumulated over the time, especially if you are using it very often. So keep it clean first of all. And keep the surroundings clean as well. No loose needles or cotton parts around. There is nothing worse than dirty seamstress.
If you are looking to purchase your first machine, here are some hints to help you choose the right one.
a. Start by finding a reputable sewing machine repair shop.
Often they will be attached to a dealership (just like cars!). If you can find a mechanic, you might be happier. This guy will be straight about repairs and won't tell you to give up your old machine to buy the latest model. Also, s/he will be a good source for acquiring a good, used machine if you're on a budget. If, on the other hand you find that your local sewing machine dealer is fabulous, by all means, use your best resources and go for it.
b. Get a machine with all-metal parts.
Many cheaper model sewing machines have plastic pieces. These parts are the ones that will invariably break first. Replacement of the parts may be cheaper, but you'll end up spending far more for the labor to install new plastic parts that will break again. If the choice is an all-metal, simpler sewing machine with "only' 12 stitches and a machine with more bells and whistles (and plastic parts) for the same price, invest in the first machine.
c. When you're first starting out, consider a basic model.
In all honesty, you're likely to never require more stitches than those included with the basic 12-stitch model. If, down the road, you find your sewing becomes detailed enough that you need a more complex machine, look for a machine that'll fit those specific needs. You can then keep your first machine as a workhorse, to just do crafting, or buttonholes, or whatever.