|When Anders Met Judy: Getting to Know the 1951 Singer Featherweight|
|Lockstitch Animation by Nikolay S via Wikimedia Commons|
Next, I demonstrated how to thread the machine a couple of times, identifying and naming the parts as I went along, and then had Anders thread it on his own a couple of times, repeating back the names of the parts. He wanted to know what the stitch lever did, so I showed him how the machine would sew backwards if we flipped the lever up, and that we could increase or decrease the length of the stitches by moving the screw on the lever. Then I took away all the thread, switched to an old needle, and got out the lined composition paper. Anders spent some time practice "sewing" along the blue lines with the machine unthreaded, trying to make the needle hit the blue line every time it went down.
(I wish I could take credit for this idea, but this is actually how the saleslady at the Husqvarna Viking store in Charlotte had me practice "driving" my very first sewing machine in a straight line back in 1999).
Not bad for his first try! As you can see in the photo above, Anders had a tendency to press down so hard on the paper "fabric" at times that the feed dogs couldn't pull it through the machine properly -- that's what caused those clusters of very closely spaced needle holes, most noticeable in the bottom row of stitching. He also often forgot to take his foot off the "gas" to stop the machine before repositioning his hands, which would cause a slight wobble like you see in the top and bottom rows of stitching. Overall, though, he improved with practice. After I explained about letting the feed dogs move the paper through, he wanted to SEE the feed dogs, so he had to run the machine a bit without any paper or fabric, forwards and backwards, so he could watch the circular motion of the feed dogs with each stitch until he was satisfied that he understood how they worked.
|Oops -- I Should Have Adjusted My Chair for Him!|
|Lars's Counted Cross Stitch Project|
I thought he was wasting his money when he bought this kit. I had taken him with me to Michael's to get some embroidery supplies for my Jingle BOM and he got very excited about a large, expensive cross stitch kit to make a highly detailed wolf embroidery. I said no and explained that a kit like that would be too difficult and the instructions would assume he already knew a lot about how to do cross stitch, and he had to do a smaller beginner project before I would let him buy the wolf kit. He thought all of the true beginner kits, especially the ones labeled "kid friendly," were "lame," so we settled on this small "Laundry Today or Naked Tomorrow" kit even though I told him the directions in the kid friendly kits would be easier to follow. When Lars opened the kit at home and saw that there were no colors marked on the fabric and the directions didn't make sense, he nearly agreed with me. But I helped him get his fabric hooped straight and taped the edges with masking tape so they wouldn't unravel on him, and I loaned him one of my embroidery books that had color photos and much clearer explanations of how to do a cross stitch, demonstrated by stitching the first row for him, and he spent about an hour working on that this Saturday afternoon. When he ran off to play video games, I checked over what he'd completed and saw that he kept going with yellow Xs right over where he should have left a blank spot for a green, so I picked out a row and a half, left the space for the green, and then redid his row of stitching so he wouldn't feel too discouraged when he came back to it.
|Stitching Chart Enlarged and Colored In|
So, both boys are taking well to their needlework so far. At the very least, they will come away from my sewing lessons knowing how to iron their own shirts and sew on their own buttons! Lest you think they inherited all of their sewing aptitude from me, I should disclose that both of their great-grandfathers on Bernie's side were schneidermeisters (master tailors) in East Germany before World War II. As their Opa likes to say, we are who we are (at least in part) because of our genes.