Update: I could not find this course on the Craftsy website any more – it’s only accessible if you previously bought it. It seems to have been replaced by the similar class Sew Ready: Machine Basics.
Sewing Machine 911 is a free-mini class taught by Claudia Miller. The aim of the class is to teach all the basics of sewing, including:
- The different types of sewing machines,
- The different parts of sewing machines,
- Common issues and how to troubleshoot them,
- How to clean the machine to make sure it functions properly.
Whilst they mention that it may help intermediate sewers (only the machine maintenance section will really be of benefit), I found this class most useful to people who didn’t know where to start with a sewing machine (or buying a sewing machine).
As part of most of Craftsy’s classes, you are given access to several resources. Sewing Machine 911 provides a PDF document with a Troubleshooting Chart (relevant to Lesson 4), a PDF containing tips and tricks, a PDF listing of resources such as popular sewing blogs and finally a PDF metric conversion chart from inches to centimetres.
Lesson 1 – Introduction
In my opinion the introduction can pretty much be skipped – it’s relatively short. It mostly outlines what Claudia will teach you (see above).
Lesson 2 – Necessary parts to start sewing
In the second lesson Claudia teachers the viewer all the major parts of the sewing machine. This is a perfect example as to why I said this course is aimed at the beginner; prior to my first sewing machine I had no idea what the parts were (and the sales people really confused me listing off all the specs) – Claudia explains each part simply yet effectively. However if you have used the sewing machine for more than a few days, chances are you most likely know all these parts:
- The actual sewing machine;
- The power cord;
- The foot control;
- The bobbins – including the importance of having the right size for your machine;
- The bobbin case – which may be plastic or metal;
- Different types of needles;
- Presser feet including the types that normally come with new machines – zipper, walking foot, all-purpose;
- The owner’s manual – essential for knowing about all your parts, how to thread your machine, how to wind bobbins, and important information such as the size of bobbins;
- Thread – Claudia prefers the brand “Presencia”;
- Fabric – Claudia suggests beginning with woven cotton fabric as its one of the easiest to learn with.
Lesson 3 – Types of Machines
After informing you about the parts of the sewing machines, Claudia introduces you the three types of sewing machines that you will find when purchasing (or what you own). There are:
- Drop in bobbin, also known as top loading, machines;
- Front loading bobbin machines
- Vintage machines;
Claudia will teach you how to thread a bobbin – which I found so much easier to understand in video format than text from the owner’s manual. It’s very quick to learn, becoming a habit without thought for someone who sews regularly; an essential for any skill level. She shows you how to check for tension in the thread when threading the bobbin; the thread should be slack between the spool and the guide, but taught between the guide and the bobbin.
She will teach you the proper placement of bobbins into the machine – depending upon whether it’s a top loading or a front loading machine. Useful as different types of machines use different threading methods.
Finally she shows you how to thread the entire machine.
Claudia discusses the other topic that most likely to be bought up when considering a sewing machine: manual vs automatic sewing machines.
An important tip when buying a sewing machine: an official dealer will often sell sewing machines with internal parts made from metal, as opposed to “big box stores”. This can be important, as services and repairs can often cost about the same amount as the machine itself depending upon the problem.
Lesson 4 – Troubleshooting
Now this lesson may be helpful for intermediate – or even more advanced – sewers. Problems don’t occur all to often (hopefully) and when they do they can often cause distress. So what are the common problems Claudia addresses:
- Machine jams,
- Machine not stitching,
- Fabric not feeding,
- Top thread breaks regularly,
- Tension issues,
- Loud noises, and
- Seam troubles.
Lesson 5 – Machine Hygiene
Apparently even advanced sewers forget to take care of their sewing machines, such as cleaning. Considering we all spend so much money on buying them, there are a number of little tips that we can do on a semi-regular basis to make sure that it keeps running smoothly.
In lesson 5 you will learn how to clean your machine, protect it from dust and lint and the all important theory of not blowing air into your machine during cleaning as it can cause further problems.
I am picky when it comes to reviewing products, so I always find a problem with products.
The post-production was not as good as I would have hoped for. You might argue that the class was free, and therefore acceptable. However, it’s effectively a trial, and in my opinion should be held to a higher quality to encourage customer purchases.
Having said all of that, the quality is quite acceptable for a “free” class, and would even pass for a paid class given how well the material is taught.
If you don’t know about sewing machines, this class will really benefit you; it clearly outlines the differences between sewing machine types and all the basic terminology that you will need to know when purchasing.
I wouldn’t recommend the video series for intermediate or advanced sewers, unless you want some helpful information like machine maintenance. However when I started sewing many of these techniques and terminology was a bit overwhelming; this video course really helped me learn the basics before buying a machine – and for my first few projects. It is free, so technically there is no harm in checking it out if you have some spare time.