Between the machines we’ve used for our sewing classes over the years (which have been MANY) and all the different machine models people have brought to class and private lessons, I’m guessing it’s close to 100 different kinds of sewing machines.
I’ve never really been to picky about what machines we will teach our students are allowed to sew on in our classes. If you’ve got an old vintage singer from your grandmother, you’re welcome to bring it and use it in class, as long as it works properly! You’re even welcome to bring it to our sewing machines basics class and we’ll teach you how to thread it and use it!
And back in our first sewing classes, we literally had a mish-mash of old and new sewing machines that we taught our sewing classes on. We started our business on a shoestring, so whatever machines we could get our hands on, as long as they were operating, we’d use them in our sewing classes. We didn’t have the money to purchase all of one kind of sewing machines until a few years later!
But after we did start teaching classes on all of one kind of sewing machine, we realized pretty quickly how much easier it is to teach when every one has the same sewing machine! We also learned about a few features of the sewing machine we can no longer live without when teaching sewing classes. And they’re somewhat surprising things we didn’t give much thought to before.
Here they are:
1. Needle up button
It’s funny because I’ve always worked on old sewing machines with no fancy features. When I’m at sewing trade shows, in a sewing machine shop or when my students bring in the fancier models that have all kinds of automatic features, I really don’t get that excited! It all just seems to me like a bunch of extra stuff you don’t really need. Kind of like extra sewing gadgets and tools. They just take up extra space and you almost always can make-do without them.
But when I learned how great it was to have that “Needle-up Button” on the sewing machine, my life was changed forever.
Here’s the reason. On a regular, non-fancy sewing machine, the flywheel makes the needle go up and down. If you teach your students to turn it towards you, you’re good to go. But for whatever that isn’t always natural for a new sewing student! Often new sewing students:
- Turn the fly wheel away from you (the wrong way), which most sewing machines hate!
- Or they turn the flywheel part of the way (up or down) leaving the needle somewhere between up and down. When you then try to pull your project away to cut the threads, there are three or four threads there (?) or it feels hard to pull away because it’s tangled inside the sewing machine.
If you teach you students to utilize the needle up/down button, these problems are eliminated and you may even hear a choir of angels singing in then background of your sewing class.
2. Automatic Speed control
This is also another one of these features where you don’t realize how essential it is until you use it!
OMG – I can no longer teach kids how to sew without the feauture. And believe me, I just tried last week! We do a lot of off-site classes and I tend to try to leave machines at the schools we teach at. I was low on machines when it came for this class to start. I brought a couple of machines I had in the studio from before we started using the SB700t for most of our classes. I had an older model brother & my trusty tank of a Bernina from the 80’s. Of course this class was super young and most had not sewn before. We got through the first 1 hour of class, but I’ll be purchasing a couple of machines with the speed control before I teach there again this week.
Not having the ability to start them off really slow is completely nerve wracking as a teacher. They don’t have the necessary foot control to make the speed slow and steady. And while I have done it before (hundreds of times) knowing what I now know, it’s just easier to pick up a few more machines to not have the stress of teaching on a machine that vrooms out of control the minute the kids foot hits the pedal.
3. That the machine doesn’t sew when the presser foot is up.
Pretty self explanatory, but another one that doesn’t become crystal clear until you get used to sewing on a machine that wont go unless the presser foot is up.
Hindsight is 20/20 they say, but wow! Try going back to teaching on a machine that will happily work even when the presser foot is up?! Ugh, the worst! All the threads getting tangled & the chance for little fingers to slide under the raised presser foot are far to great! It’s enough to make you go out and purchase a couple more machines with this feature before teaching again with the ones that don’t have it.
On that note, I’m going to close this blog post and immediately head to my local brother dealership, Rocks Paper Scissors in Monthclair NJ ! I need two machines for the little fingered class I’ll be teaching at 3pm. Have a great weekend, y’all!