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The Sewing Machine

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The sewing machine is the centre for many creative hours of sewing activity. Without the sewing machine, the world would be a very different place. Like the automobile and countless other innovations from the past 300 years, the sewing machine takes something time-consuming and laborious and makes it fast and easy. With the invention of the mechanized sewing machine, manufacturers could suddenly produce piles of high-quality clothing at minimal expense. Because of this technology, the vast majority of people in the world can now afford the sort of sturdy, finely-stitched clothes that were a luxury only 200 years ago.

There are some principle parts common to all modern sewing machines. The parts may look different on different models and they may have slightly different locations.

There are many types of home sewing machines. Different models allow you to sew in one, two or three directions –forward, backward and side-to-side. The stitches formed may be straight, zigzag or automatic. An automatic stitch combines forward, backward and side-to-side stitches into a specific design. The design is repeated and forms a pattern. Automatic or reverse-cycle stitches are useful for hemming and decorating.

Basically a sewing machine is used to join together some pieces of material or to stitch a decoration onto a fabric. It sews a stitch, moves the fabric and sews the next stitch. There are sewing machines that will sew together items like shoes, tents and sails. Can you imagine things like that being sewn together by hand? Using machines for sewing has made the process much easier and faster. At top speed the home sewing machine can sew about 700 to 1.100 stitches per minute.

Sewing machine needles come in a variety of styles and sizes. The correct needle choice depends mostly on the fabric you have selected. Sharp points, used for woven fabrics, are designed to slip between the loops of knit fabric rather than pierce and possibly damage the fabric. Universal points are designed to work on both woven and knitted fabrics. The size of the needle is designated by a number. A larger number means the needle is thicker and that it is appropriate for use with heavier fabrics and heavier threads.

Stitches are made by locking the upper thread with a lower thread, carried on a bobbin. Bobbin thread tension is controlled by a spring on the bobbin case, which may be built in or removable.

A general-purpose foot, probably the one you will use most often, has a wide opening to accommodate the side-to-side movements of the needle in all types of stitches. It is also suitable for most straight stitching. A zipper foot is used to insert zippers or to stitch any seam that has more bulk on one side than the other. For some sewing machines, the zipper foot is stationary, requiring you to move the needle position to the right or left.

For other styles, the position of the zipper foot itself is adjustable. A special purpose or embroidery foot has a grooved bottom that allows the foot to ride smoothly over decorative stitches or raised cords.

A walking foot feeds top and bottom layers at equal rates, allowing you to more lazily match patterns or stitch bulky layers, as in quilted projects.

Inserting the needle you should loosen the needle clamp. After selecting the appropriate needle, insert it into the machine as high as it will go. The grooved side of the needle faces forward, if your bobbin gets inserted from the front or top. It faces to the left, if your bobbin gets inserted on the left.

The machine forms stitches by interlocking the bobbin thread with the needle thread. Every time the needle goes down into the fabric, a sharp hook catches the needle thread and wraps the bobbin thread around it. Imagine this little tug-of-war. If the needle thread tension is “stronger” than the bobbin thread tension, the needle thread pulls the bobbin thread through the top. If the bobbin thread tension is “stronger”, it pulls the needle thread through to the bottom. When the tensions are evenly balanced, the stitch will lock exactly half way between the top and bottom of the layers being sewn, which is right where you want it.

III Answer the questions:

1. Why is a sewing machine so important nowadays?

2. Is it cost effective?

3. Do modern sewing machines greatly differ from each other?

4. What are the main types of home sewing machines?

5. What type of machine is useful for hemming?

6. What does the needle choice depend on?

7. What is the main function of a foot?

8. What is the right way to insert a needle?

9. How does a machine form a stitch?


IV Complete the sentences with the words from the text:

1. Without a sewing machine our life would be …

2. This technology gives us an opportunity to ...

3. Different types of sewing machines have …

4. The stitches may be …

5. Generally any sewing machine is used to …

6. If you want to insert a needle you should …


V Find the English equivalents to the words:

Творчий, трудомісткий, при мінімальних витратах, гострий кінчик, петля, пошкодити, натяг нитки, лапка, шпулька


VІ Give definitions to the words:

A presser foot, a thread guide, a stitch, a needle, thread tension



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