Kelly, Meet Mr. Sewing Machine

For someone who has yet to sew an actual stitch (I did some test stitches on an old t-shirt), I have a fair amount of sewing gear.

First and most importantly, I have a sewing machine, a Kenmore that’s older than I am. It’s my mom’s machine (note: her only machine, not her old machine), that she bought with her final teaching paycheck before having me and becoming a stay at home mom. Her first sewing class was her last, and she didn’t use the machine much.

My Sewing Machine

Mr. Sewing Machine (for some reason it strikes me as male)

When Mom gave me the sewing machine a few months ago, the extension piece was held to the body of the machine with duct tape. Apparently, the metal peg that holds the two pieces together had come out of the extension and lodged itself in the body of the machine. I couldn’t do anything that would permanently affix the extension because it needs to be off to load the vertical bobbin. And I’m guessing there’s a reason for the extension, like it’s easier to sew long pieces when it’s on(?).

Free arm

Free arm of the sewing machine without the extension. (Ignore the mess in the background.)

Metal Peg

The peg in its proper place on the extension.

Upon reading the sewing manual (more on that later), I realized that I could take off the bottom of the machine (duh), and upon doing so, I was able to dislodge the peg and reattach it to its proper place on the extension piece. And voila, the sewing machine is whole again.

So being a modern girl, I searched high and low online to find videos to show me how to thread the needle and load the bobbin and, you know, sew. As it turns out, the manual that came with the sewing machine was the best reference I could find.

Kenmore Instruction Manual

This should have been my mom and me! (Love you, Mom!)

Bobbin Instructions

Okay, and then what?

Although I will say that the explanation for loading the bobbin is a little lacking. It seems like there’s a step or two missing, but I did eventually figure it out.

Foot Pedal for Sewing Machine

Avocado green FTW!

Once I got everything set up, I did some test stitching on a t-shirt (fun with zig zags!), and it seems like the machine still works great, at least as far as I can tell, even the old-school avocado green foot pedal. It’s a good, study machine, with no plastic parts, but it lacks the programmed stitches and automatic buttonhole making of newer machines. I’ll definitely start learning on it and wait to see if I stick with sewing and whether I need anything fancier before I think about purchasing anything else.

Green Sewing Bag

Repurposed avocado green purse as sewing bag.

Along with her sewing machine, my mom gave me her sewing bag of threads and needles and thimbles, and elastic, and interfacing, and pins galore. I cleaned out the bag of anything really old/falling apart/ruined/worthless and organized everything into my new sewing bag (the old bag was also a repurposed purse and was falling apart). The thread is pretty old, but it should be okay for practice sewing. I imagine that the elastic is too old to be good, but I might try to play with it anyway. I definitely need some new needles; the only ones my mom gave me are for really thick fabrics.

Purse with famous women

I've always loved this purse but never really used it. Now it can hold patterns!

Big blue purse

I have no idea why I bought this bag, but it's big enough for fabric, so yay!

I’ll be purchasing the Sewing 101 kit at The Needle Shop, so I’ll add things like good scissors and a pin cushion there. I know I’m going to need other things like zippers (and of course more fabric), but I feel pretty set. I even have a bag for fabric and a bag for patterns!

Now to keep myself from purchasing a dress form (have I mentioned that I tend to get ahead of myself…).

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5 responses to “Kelly, Meet Mr. Sewing Machine

  1. OK, I’ve never commented on a blog before. I don’t even think I’ve ever read a blog before (except for your Star Trek one which I stopped reading when my eyes glazed over). I’ve decided we’re definitely not related (even though I watched you being born)! Not only do I not sew or do crafts, I hate to write too! I kept a diary back in the day and I quit doing that – too stressful to think of something to write every day! This is so “you” though and I’m really proud of you. Have fun! Love, Mom

  2. I LOL’d at the “avocado green foot pedal” – everything my mom has from the 70’s is that color, including her dryer. (I suppose my kids will laugh at the bright red w/d we just bought.)

    And you totally don’t need a dress form – I see you’re reading “A new dress a day” which I love, and if Marisa can do without one, you can too 🙂

    Re: zipper on the mini-dress – take a look at the fabric store for the actual pattern for the ST one, even if you don’t buy it (I may or may not have used this el cheapo pattern method in the past) to see how they recommend inserting the zipper. I think you might be able to put it under the arm, which would make it more difficult to see if you don’t get it in exactly right.

    • I have fond memories of avocado green appliances. Sadly, my parents now have stainless steel appliances. 😉

      And to be fair, Marisa isn’t making dresses from scratch. But yes, you’re right, of course. I do not *need* a dress form!

      I’ll see if I can look at the pattern. Thanks for the tip. I believe the original TOS dresses had the zippers under the arm, actually. Zipper can’t be that hard, right? 🙂

      • LOL – I’m not going to say on that one, it’s been a long time since I’ve attempted to set a zipper!

        But the best thing about making clothes for yourself is that your model is always available 🙂

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