My First Tuition Customer!

This week I had the pleasure of showing someone how to use her sewing machine. She had had a Singer about 30 or 40 years ago and that had a different set-up to this machine. She had found her ‘new’ sewing machine — a Riccar — at, I think, a car boot sale and snapped it up for only £8! It came fully stocked with several feet, lots of needles and the necessary screwdrivers. It had a straight stitch, zigzag, overcasting stitches, stretch stitch, a triple zigzag stitch and a blind hem stitch, which she was really interested in because she always has to shorten shop-bought clothes.

Apparently, Singer don’t have the pre-tension discs (the little sticky-uppy metal thing above the upper tension discs) on their machines (at least the old ones) and so Mrs Customer didn’t know what it was or what it was for.

First I showed her how to wind a bobbin and put it in the machine. The bobbin case wasn’t inside so the bobbin was too loose in the machine. Then she found it in the accessory department and I showed her how to load the bobbin and fit it in.

We went over how to thread the machine, which was fairly straight forward. We tried sewing a bit to make sure everything was working and we were concerned to find the material wasn’t feeding through! Then, being curious as to what it was, I turned a knob on the front of the machine and it turned out to be the feed dog switch! The pictures next to it are little arrows and don’t look like the usual symbol for the feed dog position, so I didn’t recognise it, thinking perhaps it was the reverse stitch knob. Imagine our relief when we realized she wouldn’t have to go to the repair man!

We went over how to thread the machine and wind the bobbin again, with her taking notes and drawing diagrams. (The machine didn’t have an instruction book and there was no help on the Internet, even from the people who sell instruction manuals — I won’t say who.)

Then we looked at the accessories. There was quite a selection. I think the previous owner had collected them. There was a zig-zag foot which was alreading attached to the machine, a buttonhole foot, a button sewing foot, an adjustable zip foot with a green screw at the back, and an adjustable blind-hem foot. We went over how to sew a buttonhole. It was a four-step one and a little different to the four-step buttonhole on my Toyota. I told her what the different stitches were for. I also showed briefly how to blind hem by machine.

By the time we were finished, she had her new “instruction book” written on the back of a vet’s bill! She was delighted that she can now use her machine. She has had for a year and I think her husband thought it was a hopeless case (he wished us good luck as he left us to look at the machine at the beginning). It only took us an hour, so it was £5. It is nice to be able to earn money from something like sewing and to be able to help people with what I have learned! : )

Until next time, happy sewing!

Sabrina Wharton-Brown

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