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Learning To Sew: Sewing On Paper Part One No Thread

 This article is brought to you by Lizzsews.

Are you interested in learning how to sew? This article is the first 'unit' in the learning to sew article series. Follow along, let's learn how to use your sewing machine together!

Recommended read: Learning to sew article series

Why would I sew on paper?


Sewing on paper is one of the best ways to learn about your sewing machine and how to use it. You can learn how to pivot the presser foot, sew in a straight line, sew on curves, learn how the feed dogs work, and more. Before you even need to worry about your fabric and thread.


Presser foot: this is the attachment used on your sewing machine that is underneath the needle. It holds down the fabric as you sew to keep it secure. There are many different types of presser feet for different functions. The presser feet are often labelled with letters.


Feed dogs: these are the teeth-like ridges underneath the presser foot that guide the fabric through the machine. When embroidering or free-motion quilting the feed dogs are lowered and not used. 


Recommended read: What are feed dogs


Free motion quilting: by using a quilting presser foot and lowering the feet dogs, you can move the quilt freely. This enables you to make beautiful designs on quilts. 


Onto sewing the paper! Here’s what you’ll need:


   - Sewing machine 

   - Lined paper 

   - Pen

   - Sewing needle

   - Presser foot “J” (should be the presser foot that was on your machine when you first got it)


   1. First, to start out, we are going to sew on the paper without thread. Attach your presser foot, place the needle in the machine and tighten. Adjust the speed to the slowest setting.



Placing the needle in the machine: to do this you'll want to have the flat part of the needle facing the back and push it up into where the needle goes, which is just behind sewing guide number 6. You can tighten it using the little screwdriver that came with your machine.


Sewing guide number 6: the sixth step for threading your machine, it's a tension disk just above the needle and has the number 6 on it. Known as the needle bar thread guide.


   2. Place the paper under the presser foot, place it so once you sew you can sew along one of the lines and lower the presser foot. To do this, bring the presser foot lever down. 



Presser foot lever: the lever near the presser foot either to the back of the machine or to the side. Raises and lowers the presser foot. 


   3. To start your needle in the correct place, turn the handwheel. Turn it towards you, never the other way, until the needle is in the paper. Either depress the foot controller with your foot or click the start/stop button to start. Don't worry if you can't sew in a straight line yet.


Handwheel: the wheel on the right side of your machine that controls the needle. Turn the handwheel towards you (counterclockwise) to raise and lower the needle to sew a stitch.


Foot controller: foot pedal that controls the speed of the sewing machine based on the pressure that you put with your foot. Depress the foot controller to start sewing and release to stop the machine. Where the speed dial is set on your sewing machine will be the foot controller's max speed. 


Start/stop button: by clicking the start/stop button the machine will either start sewing or stop sewing. The button is above the needle and beside the upper thread path. It will only work if the foot controller is not attached. 


   4. Your sewing machine might say "check and rethread the upper thread" on the LCD screen. If this happens to you, select "OK" and ignore it. 


The feed dogs will help to keep the paper moving through the machine, and you will use your hands to guide the lined paper. This is so that you are sewing on one of the lines but not pulling it. 


You’ll want to have your left hand to the left of the presser foot just guiding the paper lightly, keeping the machine sewing straight where you want it to (without pulling, tugging or moving harshly). As you learn to sew, hand placement will start to become natural.


   5. Take the paper out of the machine and look at how you did. How’d you do? If you tried to make your line straight, how straight is it? Are you happy with this and ready to move on to the next step?



   6. Sewing straight lines. Using presser foot “J” and straight stitch(left), place the lined paper under the presser foot so that the gap on the presser foot that shows you where the stitching is going to go (check the photo to understand) is lined up with the line on the paper you are going to sew down. Using the handwheel to move the needle down to where you want it, sew down this line. Continuing to keep the paper in line with your hand as you go (don’t pull the paper). When you're done sewing the stitch, press the needle position button and lift the presser foot.



Straight stitch(left): straight stitch with the needle in the left position. this stitch will most likely be the default stitch for your sewing machine! 



Needle position button: This is the button beside the speed dial on your machine, if you press it, it will raise or lower the needle. Pressing the button twice will sew a stitch.


   7. Learning to pivot. When sewing, pivoting is known as when you lift up the presser foot while the needle is down in the fabric, and you move the fabric so that you will be starting your sewing from the same spot but sewing down a new direction. 


An example is when you are on a corner, you sew down to the end, lift the presser foot, move the fabric by 90 degrees and sew down that side. 


A good thing to note is that you must have your sewing needle down when pivoting, you can put the sewing needle down by pressing the needle position button. 


Please note that when you pivot the fabric you are sewing it does not have to be 90 degrees it could even just be the slightest move of direction! (this is an example of how when you sew curves you have to pivot)



   8. Sewing a staircase, using your pen draw a staircase on the paper, make sure that the lines are long enough to sew along. Now using this new knowledge of pivoting while sewing, you are going to sew along until you get to a corner, raise the presser foot, move the paper 90 degrees, sew down the line and so on. Continue to practice sewing along staircases until you’ve mastered the skill! (zig-zags are also a great way to learn to pivot while sewing!)



   9. Sewing curves, using your pen draw a curve on a piece of paper. Make sure that the lines are long enough to sew along. Sew along the line guiding the paper lightly with your hand, pivoting is a huge part of curves so don't forget to pivot! Curves are a difficult skill so keep on practicing them!



   10. The whole SHEBANG!! Now we are going to put them all together! Sewing straight, staircases and curves. Take your pen and on a piece of paper draw a mixture of staircases, curves and straight stitches, making sure that the lines are long enough to sew along. Sew along all of these lines while using the tips from before! This is the most difficult step so take your time and sew on the lines!



Wow! That was a lot to learn in one article!! Congrats! Now that you have learned a lot more about your sewing machine, make sure that you take a break after all that good and fun hard work! 


Continue to practice the last step until you’ve mastered it. And once you're ready, head on over to 'unit 2' where you will learn to get your machine ready to sew.


Recommended: Learn sewing

Recommended: Sewing projects


Leave a comment below and let me know if you made a straight line on the paper! And don't forget to subscribe to stay up to date with all of Lizzsews new articles. See you next time!

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