Monday, June 27, 2011

"gather here and make something"

Saturday was a milestone for me. One of my top 5 summer goals is to learn to use the sewing machine I inherited last month, and thanks to gather here in Cambridge, I'm well on my way.

First of all, the store is adorable. Their organic fabric displays are complete with the cutest prints I've seen. I arrived a wee bit early (it's only about a 7-minute walk from my apartment carrying my ancient sewing machine!) so after I was set up at a table I browsed the array of quilting books, daydreaming as I perused the clothing patterns on display. gather here has the feeling of someone's comfy living room melded with a crafty workshop conducive to productivity. The sink station at the front brought me back to elementary school art class, one of my faves. Unfortunately I'm blanking on the names of the wonderful people who greeted and helped me, but everyone was very friendly and approachable. I've had some bad experiences at bike shops around Cambridge, so it was nice, as a newbie, to be welcomed by veterans.

The woman who taught the Meet Your Sewing Machine class took my old geezer Kenmore with stride, despite my lack of knowledge or manual. I felt a little guilty monopolizing her attention while she tried to help me decode the hieroglyphics and old school knobs, but luckily the other ladies in the class had similar machines so she could teach them all at once.

The things I learned:
  • How to load a bobbin. Also, where the hell the bobbin hides and, you know, what a bobbin is. 
  • How to thread my machine. (This took several practice runs and step-by-step photos on my phone. I am happy to say that I successfully threaded my machine today!)
  • How to sew a straight stitch. Rocket science, I know.
  • What all of my knobs do, including how to change the length/width/shape of my stitches. (My machine has so many options, so I feel like this is one of those "still learning" things.)
  • How to release the entire bobbin holder contraption and that I should never ever do this unless absolutely necessary.
  • How to change out my needles, as well as a rough description as to what needles are best for what fabric. (I am currently using the 90/14 needle that I inherited with the machine.)
  • How to load and unload the different feet as well as what most of them are for. She also told us which feet she uses the most and which ones we'll most likely need. 
  • That there's a nifty little blade on the back of the needle contraption that you can slide your thread through to cut it quickly. (She looked much cooler than I did doing it, but that's probably because she doesn't stick her tongue out like I do when I am even remotely concentrating.)
  • How to sew and cut a button hole. (I need a stitch ripper sharper than the one that came with the Walgreens travel sewing kit I currently have.)
  • How to make my needle cozy and less likely to break before I travel with my machine. 
This is a basic class set to get you acquainted with the basics of how to use your machine. It is the first step (of many, I assume) to becoming a sewing pro. The class mostly familiarized me with my Kenmore and gave me the confidence to get cracking. The class was a jam-packed hour and a half, and it was well worth the $15 it cost. (I probably used more than $15 worth of thread alone...) I will definitely be back for their Skip the Tailor class come August. That said, there are still some things I wanted to learn that I haven't yet:
  • Let's start with the obvious one: I did not learn any of the correct sewing lingo. It's not that she didn't use it, it's that I was too busy snapping photos of my magenta thread to absorb it. 
  • Which stitches are best for which sewing jobs.
  • How to measure fabric, accounting for hems, etc., in order to alter clothing.
What sewing classes have you taken and loved? 


Sharon said...

I have that same sewing machine (as well as sparkly new very high end one). The Kenmore served me well and I will never get rid of it. Hope you learn to love it too. And the folks at gather here are great!

Mel said...


That's great to hear! It seems to have everything the newfangled machines have, and it definitely has character. And yes, gather here is quite the gem. Just another reason to love Cambridge!

Thanks for stopping by :)

Ashley said...

I've yet to take a sewing class - so far it's all been self taught. I would recommend a book that I just recently got that I've been learning from though - it's called One Yard Wonders. Tons of projects from a yard of fabric. :]

Mel said...


That's great! I'm going to see if my library has it right away.

It's funny because I'm a self-learner usually, but figuring out how to thread my machine quickly depleted that confidence. This was a great class to kick start my independent experiments.