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[In the fall, Jonathan Vatner, Hue staff writer,  took an introductory menswear sewing class. He has been blogging about his experiences on Hue, Too.]

As I mentioned in my last post, I spend a goodly portion of each class in a state of blank terror. In each class, Professor Blackman shows us, sometimes many times, how to do the stitches and then gives us fifteen minutes or so to do each set of steps. As the time ticks down, I invariably find that (a) my machine has decided to stop working or (b) I have accidentally sewn a foolish stitch. Panic sinks in, and I glance frantically about, hoping to see other people in similar straits. It helps to sit near at least one or two people with no sewing experience. But usually everyone seems to proceeding effortlessly.

Consider this malfunction. I had done all the steps with five minutes to spare, when the two pieces I had so carefully sewn together simply fell apart. My bobbin had run out of thread.

This would have been a minor setback, except that I had missed the lecture on winding the bobbin. I had walked into that class five minutes late, just in time for Professor Blackman to say, “Okay, now that everyone knows how to wind the bobbin, I need never show you again, and if you ask, I will most certainly fail you.”*

I pulled the bobbin from its case and tried to slide it onto the other end of the machine, where I remembered the winding taking place. I had to repeatedly thwack it with my palm to get it to fit. Then I wound some thread around it and pressed the pedal down. The bobbin started spinning, but a terrific noise was coming from my machine, and the thread wasn’t feeding tightly. Before I knew it, a loose mush of thread was frothing over the edge of the bobbin.


Bad bobbin! Bad!

Not the way the bobbin should look

“Lift your presser foot,” Professor Blackman, who has a way of noticing my errors from 25 feet away, advised. “And you didn’t feed your thread correctly.”

He showed me how to do it. By that time, though, the class was ready to move on.

*This might not be an exact quote, as I was panicking at the time.


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