When I started writing my sewing lessons, I started with a hand sewing lesson. That was because you can’t always do everything on a sewing machine. The other side of that is that you can perform every function of a sewing machine by hand.
So why would you want to learn to machine sew?
Even as a beginner, a sewing machine will be much faster than hand-sewing. It is true that, for thousands of years, people made clothing without any kind of machinery, but the simplest of garments can take ages to finish. Seamstresses had several apprentices who did nothing but do the running stitch that we discussed in the pillow section.
The sewing machine is much more uniform. Because your machine is set to a certain stitch length, every single stitch will be the exact same length. Like I’ve said before, the more uniform the stitch, the better your pieces will hold together.
Though the running stitch is the simplest of hand stitches, it isn’t the strongest. The reason I used it on the pillow was that the pillow did not require any serious structural integrity. Anything that you’d like to hold together through thick and thin should use a back stitch (which I haven’t gone over, but I will one day). Again, a back stitch requires twice as much time as a running stitch. The sewing machine utilises an interlock stitch to create the strength of the back stitch. It also does it much faster.
When you work with fabrics that have less structural integrity than cotton, you’ll need to finish the edges to prevent fraying and tearing. Though there are several methods for doing this, a zigzag stitch along the edge is the fastest and easiest. There’s also a special sewing machine called a serger that finishes edges. However, they tend to be very expensive, so I’m going to go over it later, after I’m done with the basics.
So, I guess the short version is that you don’t need to own a sewing machine, but it certainly is helpful. For the next few days, I’ll be going over how to direct your machine to do lines, curves, and corners, so if you don’t have a sewing machine yet, you can ignore those completely and do some research on the backstitch so that you can follow along on our next project.