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Sewing Machine for Class

Sewing Machine for Class

Old 11-27-2011, 06:58 AM
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I responded to this subject at another post and thought I would post another message on the subject.

Many quilters have small machines they take to classes. They are certainly easier to carry. However, the smaller machines, in my opinion and experience, don't allow the student to receive the full benefits of the class. An example is machine quilting classes - FMQ and general machine quilting. The small machines usually don't have adequate extension tables which often will make the project easier. Here are my thoughts.

If you are taking a class and need to take a machine, then take the machine you intend to use the learned tehnique at home. This is especially tru in machine quilting classes. I am not sure one can perfect the techniques one one machine and then transfer to another.

If the machine does not have an extension table, then try to get one for it. Good work area makes a real difference in the finished work.

Make sure the machine is functioning and you bring all the required tools, feet and especially the instruction book.
I had one student bring her Featherweight without the cover for the bobbin case.

If you don't understand what is required for the class then ask for clarification. A recent class in Machine quilting, one of the students didn't have the free motion foot and just assumed it was in the tool box. A second student - the same thing.

Make sure the feet work. Another brought a generic 1/4" foot that didn't even feed the fabric thru.

There are inexpensive alternatives to extension tables but the investment in one for your machine will be worth the $$ in one's quilting satisfaction.

And never assume the teacher will be able to fix a problem. We are not machine repairpersons.

Just some thoughts this morning.
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Old 11-27-2011, 07:30 AM
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All of these are great suggestions. If I ever get the opportunity to take a class, I'll definitely refer back to this post. Thanks for sharing your advice.
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Old 11-27-2011, 08:30 AM
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I find it amazing that people spend big $$$$$ for their machines and then come to a class without a clue on how to use any of the basic features.

I find it aggravating when the above people come to a class and the teacher has to spend the first half hour showing these people how to set their tension, change a foot, etc - things they should have learned.
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Old 11-27-2011, 08:57 AM
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Holice, your hints were wonderful. I can't believe that people will come to a class and not know how to work their machines, or leave some of the needed parts at home. However, I once went to a class without the cord to my machine, so I guess I shouldn't say that. Now I know why my LQS always says that a machine in good working order is number 1 on the list of supplies needed. I have heard over and over that the machine you take to class should be the machine you use to make the quilt you are learning to make in the class. Good information.
Sue
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Old 11-27-2011, 09:07 AM
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I semi agree with you Holice. I'm not so sure I agree you need to have all the bells and whistles with you while taking a class as I don't think that's really needed. A good, working machine with operable feet...YES! BUT>>> I hear so many times about people wanting to buy a Singer 301 or Feahterweight for classes and it seems like I'm the lone voice telling them that although these are great machines they are so limiting because of the straight stitch only. There are some amazing techniques and projects that a straight stitch only machine will not be able to do...so thanks for posting this topic so people can become more educated in their machine choices.
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Old 11-27-2011, 09:40 AM
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It is rude for students to come unprepared for a class - ESPECIALLY if they have had access to the information of what they need to bring and what their skill levels should be.

Unprepared can be:

Not bringing required equipment and supplies
Being late
Having inadequate skills for this particular class
Not knowing how to USE the equipment

It takes time away from the other students to learn what they were hoping to learn while the instructor tries to bring the "student from wish-you-were-ready-for-this-class" up to speed.

If I've paid a lot of money for a particular specialized class, I want the instructor to spend most of his/her time on being able to teach the advertised content of the class. Not "how do I thread my machine?" if the course is on paper piecing, for example.

It makes as much sense for a beginner-beginner to sign up for advanced classes as someone taking remedial arithmetic/math to sign up for an advanced calculus class. (Except colleges make students take placement tests before allowing someone to take advanced classes)

A disclaimer:

IF the promotion is for a "Very beginner" class - then I would expect some basics such as the following would be covered:
1) This is a needle. Needles come in various sizes.
2) This is fabric. These are grainlines.
3) This is thread. It comes in various weights.
3a) This is how you "thread a needle" and make a knot in the thread
4) This is one model of a sewing machine. Separate classes are held for learning how to operate your particular model
5) This is cutting equipment. Then one could go on about scissors and rotary cutters.
6) These are measuring devices rulers, etc. - how long an inch and a yard are (or meters and centimeters) - what is a FQ
and so on

Just as there are teachers/instructors that could be better, I am reasonably sure there are "students from h*ll" that make instructors vow to never teach again.

Another disclaimer:

Not all of us have all the tools/equipment needed for some activities. It's a fact of life. If one has to borrow or rent something, a class where others are prepared is not the time or place to try to learn how to operate it.

I do remember what it's like being a beginner-beginner. It's how I feel when trying to navigate this board.

Last edited by bearisgray; 11-27-2011 at 09:44 AM.
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Old 11-27-2011, 10:25 AM
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Thankfully the FMQ class I took was very small (just me as the others didn't show up...which was rude).

The teacher got to sit down and work on such a variety of things. She kept saying, well, since you are comfortable doing "this" or "that" let's try doing "this" now. She showed me things that wouldn't have been covered in the normal class and I was really grateful she didn't cancel the class since it was just for me.

I took the machine I planned to use even if it meant lugging a heavy machine from the car....I didn't think it would work for me to practice on one and then try to use another one.

Good tips to remember. Also remember, the teacher is trying to share her knowledge and time -- have some common courtesy and respect for that too. Most teachers aren't pros and doing it out of the goodness of their hearts and the love of quilting.
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Old 11-27-2011, 10:32 AM
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A lot of good ideas.
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Old 11-27-2011, 02:17 PM
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One thing I do know, all machines differ a little bit. For example, a 1/4" seam is not going to be exactly the same on your Janome 2010 and your Jamone 720. So, if you are starting an important project, and keeping your seams consistent is important, you need to start and finish on the same machine. Otherwise there may be maddening subtle differences when you try to match seams up or in the width of your borders after sewn.
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Old 11-27-2011, 02:42 PM
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Hi Holice, thanks for the post. I began a class last month and my machine is so heavy that I started looking for a featherweight. I think this is sound advice and I will continue to lug my monster to class.
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