All the things you learn while trying to learn something else

All the things you learn while trying to learn something else

An update on my “learn to sew” project:

Spoiler alert, we haven’t gotten to the sewing. Yet.

I do have some exciting (well, at least to me) progress to share though! To start off, I searched the internet high and low, manual by my side, and found these videos/people to be the most helpful in my first task, which was threading the machine.

First, I found this video by MrEdSnapshot on YouTube. It was one of the only ones I could find that gave a detailed overview of the machine I was using (probably because it is quite old). This one didn’t show me how to thread the machine or actually sew, but it did give some helpful close-ups of all of theĀ places I would eventually need to become familiar with, such as all the nooks and crannies that the thread winds through, as well as the inside of the bobbin case. This was extremely helpful as the video I chose to primarily help me thread the machine was on a different machine that looked a little different from mine!

The next video helped me to properly thread the machine. Of course, at the time, I didn’t know it was done correctly, but follow up with my mother in law confirmed that I indeed did it right. Massive shout out to Hailey Stitches on YouTube for this absolute gem of a tutorial. The whole not having the same machine as her thing was a non-issue as I followed along her simple, clear explanations.

Then this happened:

The bobbin. It was actually winding. I followed Hailey’s lovely instructions up to this point, and with great hesitancy, slowly pushed my foot down on the pedal. It was magical.

So I kept on going, until I reached the last step before I heard those words I’d been waiting for – “Now, you’re ready to sew”.

I ran upstairs and grabbed some paper towel. Why? TikTok videos I’ve been following use paper towel sheets to practice stitches on, and I figured that was my safest bet! I got it all set up to push through the machine. I pressed down the pedal. The needle started moving up and down, and the piece of paper towel was feeding its way under the presser foot. I was so excited and thrilled…until I reached the end of the paper towel, and… nothing. There was no thread, no stitches. I thought maybe I had threaded the bobbin part wrong, so I took that out and watched the video again and redid it. Then I tried again. I got maybe half a stitch, and it got all tangled. NOOOOOOOO I was so so close!

I tried one more time to rethread the spool thread and the bobbin thread to no avail. I quickly Googled why a correctly threaded sewing machine might not be making stitches in fabric, and it gave me a few suggestions to do with thread tension and fabric thickness. I thought, then, that maybe the paper towel was just too thin and the thread wasn’t “catching”. So then I did what any normal person would do. I ran upstairs, gabbed an old pair of shorts and cut a piece out of them.

Alas, the fabric wasn’t the problem. Or the tension. After all that hope, I felt a little defeated. I kind of just sat there for a while, contemplating what to do next.

I thought about calling grandma, but it was likely she was already asleep, and this was likely to be a longer conversation. So I decided that the following morning, I would ask my mother in law, who also sews, if she could take a look at the machine and see if she could figure anything out. She reported back later the next morning, saying she couldn’t get it to work either! But, she did say the machine was threaded correctly, so that felt good at least. She suggested I try a sharper, newer needle, as this had been a solution for her with a past project (which was actually her hemming a dress of mine). Quick shout out to my MIL here, the real MVP. She takes care of our kid during the week and saves us from all sorts of disasters, including derailed learning projects.

So, with confirmation that I have done everything right up until now, my next step will be trying a new needle. If that doesn’t work, I may have to switch up my learning project a little. This is not to say that I haven’t learned anything from trying to learn how to sew! In fact, here’s a few things this journey has me reflecting on so far:

  1. Getting started on something new really is the hardest part. I was extremely intimidated by this endeavor, and as I followed my way through the manual and instructional videos, one step at a time, I realized that it really wasn’t all that bad, and that I was perfectly capable of completing the task. Our brains tell us all sorts of lies about what we can and can’t do.
  2. Learning is frustrating. What an important reminder of how it feels to be stuck! We see this with our students all the time, and it’s easy to become impatient when all of your different attempts to help are fruitless. This process has me thinking of my students in their times of frustration and have more empathy.
  3. Asking for help can be hard, but so helpful. I’m definitely a more “figure it out on my own” type of person. I’d rather try a handful of different things before asking for someone else’s assistance. Which, sometimes, is really just a dumb waste of time. I’m a bit stubborn and wanted to be able to learn how to sew all on my own, if possible. But asking my MIL for help, and having her clear up some of my questions and suggest a new solution, was huge! It transformed what would have been a dead end to one more path I could follow.

As I look ahead to next week, I will plan simply to get a new needle and try again. If that doesn’t work, I have a few options I’m considering. A, I could borrow someone’s sewing machine that actually works. B, I could attempt sewing by hand, and learn a more proper way to do this besides the way I taught myself, or C, I could change lanes altogether and focus on learning something new, even in the short amount of time we have left in class.

We’ll see how the week unfolds! Until next time.

3 thoughts on “All the things you learn while trying to learn something else

  1. I love your three big takeaways at the end of your post, Christina! This really embodies the intention behind the Learning Project, and I hope you share this experience of learning (including feeling stuck, asking for help, and considering next steps/new directions) with your students, because it is such a great example of perseverance and optimism. Good luck with the rest of your Learning Project (regardless of what it ends up looking like/consisting of)!

  2. I love the emotion you bring to your posts, Christina. I feel like I’m right there with you through the highs of the bobbin properly winding, to the lows of the stitching/thread getting tangled. I commend you for taking on this project…sewing does not get enough credit! I remember taking sewing in the 8th grade as part of PAA class, and it was one of the toughest things I did throughout my schooling. I’m glad that you’re taking a lot away from this project and have been able to reflect on your journey so far, even if you haven’t gotten to the “fun stuff” quite yet. Have fun and I look forward to seeing where you go with this project!

  3. I am glad that you have tackled sewing as a project. It is one of those skills that has been disappearing from the landscape. I just received my mom’s machine, and with the disappearance of fabricland from Red Deer, I no longer have a quick and easy place to snag supplies. I am hoping to make use of it for some leather project at some time, but we will see how that goes.

    Sewing by hand is a completely different beast.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *