Friday, November 9, 2018

Maker Workshop: Sewing Machines

  • Program Goals
    • Teach kids new skills
    • Offer the opportunity for hands-on learning
    • Promote nonfiction
    • Attendance: 10
Sewing Machines
  • 3 Elna sewing machines (purchased by the consortium)
  • Donated machines: 2 Brothers and a Dressmaker
  • Borrowed: 1 Janome
  • Some people bring their own machines
On Sewing Machines: The Elna machines are very basic - but unfortunately, their treadle feet are super sensitive. Even I have trouble getting them to go slowly and it's really hard for kids to regulate them. They're also difficult to thread - there's an automatic needle threader but it's not intuitive (we eventually gave up even trying to use this). The thread tends to get tangled and break a lot. We did better once we'd put in better thread, but they're still not ideal machines.

I had a Singer donated but it was too dirty and jammed - I gave it to a patron to try to fix. The two brothers are ok machines, albeit with a tendency to unthread themselves. The Janome (and the staff member who came with it) have worked the best. S is a quilter and has been an invaluable colleague, helping to thread machines, give advice, and troubleshoot the constantly glitching machines. The donated Dressmaker is an old-style metal machine. It works beautifully, but the kids are a little scared of it.

  • fabric (variety of quilting cottons and flannel from Jo-Ann)
  • needles, thread, seam-ripper, scissors (purchased a bunch of Fiskars big and little ones and wrote FABRIC ONLY on them), bobbins (brought extra from home), pins
  • Stuffing, elastic, and other notions
  • Tracing paper, rulers, pencils
  • Volunteers helped make more copies of the patterns from Sewing School, which I also include in my sewing kits.
Resources and Display Titles
  • Sewing practice paper sheets can be found in multiple places, but I like the ones at Family Consumer Sciences
  • Books
    • Sewing School (multiple titles)
    • Books by Jane Bull
    • Sew Creative by Jennifer Colin
    • Kid's guide to sewing by Sophie Kerr
    • Super simple sewing for kids by Curto
    • Creative kids complete photo guide to sewing by Bergeron
Kids, teens and adults are invited to join us for a maker workshop with sewing machines. You can register for one session or all three. Please be aware that the library has a limited number of sewing machines. If you are bringing your own machine, please note it in your registration.
Registration is required and space is limited, so if you are unable to attend please let the library know. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn basic sewing machine skills as well as choosing and completing a simple project.
  • Threading a machine
  • Controlling the treadle (foot control)
  • Sewing a straight line and curves
Required skills
  • Ability to work independently and wait patiently for assistance when needed.
  • Can safely use sewing implements with minimal supervision (needles and sharp scissors)
  • Ability to thread a needle (needle threaders will be provided) and knot the end.
  • Ability to safely use a sewing machine with limited supervision
  • Have sufficient motor control to use a foot pedal
  • The first time I offered this was in the fall of 2017. I had kids sign up for the first session, which signed them up for all three. My second three sessions, in April of 2018, I opened to adults and had people sign up for individual sessions. Most people came at least twice, with only a few at the last session.
  • Having at least one volunteer is a MUST. A member of the circulation staff volunteered the first time and I made sure she got paid for work time the second time.
  • Misc.
    • Moved the program to the larger community room, with heavy-duty tables. We were cramped in the Storyroom and my tables are flimsy. Plus there isn't enough space to lay out materials. I had to share the room with a teen program, but it was still an improvement.
    • How many people you can handle really depends. If it's all kids with absolutely no experience, 2 facilitators per 5 kids is about all you can do. If you have adults who are better at waiting and trying things on their own, or kids with some experience, you can go up to 10.
    • Some kids are reluctant to practice stitching or learn how to operate the machines. I don't push, but I will gently remind them that this is an important part of sewing also.
  • 11-9-18
    • Attendance: 10
    • Notes: My director and my teen aide helped out. I wasn't able to get the Singer working, but another attendee donated a practically new Brother! So we have four working machines of our own and three from the consortium. I packed up the Singer and the two Brothers in most need of repair/cleaning for the Friends to take to be refurbished. We made a lot of pillows and people are excited about the idea of book-a-librarian for sewing and more workshops next year.
  • 11-2-18
    • Attendance: 17
    • Notes: I had two helpers this time, both of whom I taught how to use the machines before the program started. We had too many people - some came in without registration and some because I forgot the program started at 4:30, not 4, and that nobody was coming... We had a Singer donated, but it's in rough shape. One of the Brothers is pretty clunky too. The Friends are going to pay for two machines to be refurbished, so I'll probably start with these two. I'm thinking about doing book-a-librarian for sewing...
  • 10-19-18
    • Attendance: 10
    • Notes: After saying I wouldn't do this again without a helper, I... totally did. We had a teen after hours scheduled tonight and I overbooked. Luckily, although I was kept busy threading machines and helping, there were only two kids who hadn't used a sewing machine before. My adult attendee very kindly helped me clean up afterwards too! I will have two helpers for the next two sessions in November, hopefully by then I will have fixed whatever is wrong with one of the machines so we'll be back to our full complement of 6.

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