Robin Stroot Start with the basics

Learning the basics of any craft starts with small steps. For my example I will use the crafts of machine sewing and knitting.

The first thing you most likely will learn is the parts of the sewing machine and how to get the thread from the spool through the thread guides, tension guide and into the eye of the sewing machine needle. The threading will also incorporate the bobbin area of the sewing machine.

You may think it’s a waste of time to practice rethreading the machine (because all you really want to do is sew). However, there will come a point when there is no instructor around to help you. It’s just you, the machine and all has come to a full stop because something isn’t working right. It’s also about learning what to do when problems arise. Knowing the basics of how the machine works can help you troubleshoot problems later. For example, can you determine why the thread keeps breaking? Is your machine needle bent? Is the machine even threaded correctly? Did the thread get wrapped around a thread guide? Does the eye of the needle have a rough spot inside it that keeps cutting the thread? Does the wrong side of the stitching (the side that faces the bobbin side of the machine) look like a bunch of loops? That means your thread isn’t being held between the tension plates on the top of your machine.

Let’s pick a small throw pillow as the beginning sewing project. You may not really need to make a pillow but there is a lot to learn by making a simple pillow. You will learn the meanings of different markings on a sewing pattern. Understanding the code of the sewing pattern will definitely determine the success or failure of your future sewing projects.

A pillow will give you the basics of stitching in a straight line and attaching two pieces of fabric securely together. It could also include going around the corners, a lace edging around the perimeter of the pillow or even attaching a zipper opening to insert a pillow form or fiber fill to stuff your pillow. Learning how to control the speed pace of using the sewing machine is also a vital part of learning to sew. These are all skills used in many other sewing projects.

One of the most common basic knitting projects is a dishcloth. One common pattern often used is a garter stitch pattern- knit stitch used on every row. There are some patterns that incorporate the purl stitch technique, too. The simple dishcloth pattern I’m thinking of starts with casting on four stitches. Stitches are increased along the edges until you reach a certain number of stitches. Stitches are then decreased for the remainder of the pattern until you are back to four stitches, which are then bound off. Basics learned are casting on, the knit stitch, making a simple increase and a simple decrease stitch, and how to remove the project from the needles (binding off) without unraveling the entire project. These basic techniques are used in most all knit projects and give you a good foundation to experiment with other techniques and stitch patterns so that future projects will give you successful results.

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