This section is from the book "Clothing And Health. An Elementary Textbook Of Home Making", by Helen Kinne. Also available from Amazon: Clothing And Health.
Shall we examine the new machine to-day and learn to run it?
You must practice before sewing your seams.
Do you know that sewing machines were invented less than one hundred years ago? Our great-grandmothers had to do all their sewing by hand, and some of our grandmothers too. A man by the name of Elias Howe, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, first thought about the sewing machine; and since then many different kinds have been invented, to be run by foot and also by mechanical power, - electricity. We have two kinds of foot-power machines. One kind (Fig. 52) has only one thread, which is placed on a spool on top; and the other (Fig. 53), the two-thread or double-thread, is like the one we have at school. The double-thread machine is called a lock-stitch machine, because one thread is on top on a spool and the other is on a little spool called a bobbin in the shuttle under the plate. The two threads lock together as the machine works. You will learn how later. The machine with only one thread on top is called a chain-stitch machine. The stitching made by it rips very easily; and the ends must be fastened carefully when one stops. The double-thread machine does not rip easily; and one can stitch on either the right or wrong side of a garment. On the single-thread machine, one must stitch on the right side always. Let us look at a machine before learning to operate it.
Courtesy 0/ Wilcox and Gibbs Sewing Machine Co. Fig. 52. - Single thread machine.
What parts do you find below the table? What use is the connecting rod? What does it connect? Watch how your teacher puts her feet on the treadle. What makes the wheel above the table turn around?
You should practice running the machine first without any thread so as to learn to use the treadle well, and then with paper to see if you are holding it straight and making rows of pricks which are straight and even. If one cannot make rows of even pricks, it means the sewing will be crooked and must be ripped. Some of the Pleasant Valley girls practiced in this way at home.
What do you find besides the wheel above the table?
The shaft has many parts. Can you name some?
Yes, the spool holder, which holds the spool; the needle bar, which holds the needle and moves up and down; the foot, which is called the presser foot and can be raised or lowered by the little handle; the needle plate, through which the needle works; the feed, which is like little rough teeth of a comb and helps to push the cloth along as one stitches. The little attachment near the wheel is for winding bobbins for the shuttle. The shuttle lies in the shuttle race under the plate. Suppose we move the plate and take it out. See, the bobbin is in the shuttle. This is the second thread.
Courtesy of New Home Sewing Machine Co.
Fig. 53. - Double-thread machine.
How do you regulate the machine? Jane asked Miss James about the screws. There are usually two large ones on the double-thread machines which are important. One screw is to make the stitch larger or smaller; we say, to regulate it. Miss James showed the girls how to do this. The second screw is to regulate the tightness of the thread. It is called a tension. Press your thumb and first finger tightly together and pass a thread between them. When you do not press very hard, the thread passes easily. When you press hard, it is difficult to draw the thread through, and the thread may break. Have you tried? The tension is regulated by a screw which presses two little plates together. The thread passes between the plates. When they are loose like your fingers, the thread passes easily; when tight, it breaks. So, in threading a machine, we must learn where the tension plates are, in order to pass the thread between them, and how the screw is turned to make the plates tight or loose. Your teacher will show you how to turn the screws.
To-day, while some girls are finishing the basting, others may try to run the machine, in turn. This is what you are to do:
1. Find all the parts whose names have been put on the blackboard, above table and below table.
2. Learn to treadle evenly.
3. Learn to raise and lower the presser foot on a piece of brown paper, and to stitch without thread. Keep the rows of pricks very even.
1. Study your machine. Find all the parts above the table; below the table.
2. What is the purpose of a tension? Show how it operates.
3. Learn to stitch, without a thread, even rows of pricks on brown paper.
4. See how much you can tell mother about the machine, when you go home.