As part of my artist in residence activities at Armley Mills I was privileged to be allowed to use one of the industrial sewing machines from the collection.
It was a bit of a trial. I started off with a quick trial using the thread already in the machine. No problem, stitch length easy, reverse fine. Then the top thread broke. It took a little while of me checking the neighbouring machine to thread it up to the needle at which point I discovered my eyesight was much worse than I thought! I couldn’t see the eye, Louise (museum staff) fetched a torch and I discovered it threaded left to right rather than front to back, phew, eyesight not that bad then. I still couldn’t thread it but at least I knew which way it went 🙂 Louise (love her) then fetched a magnifying glass for me and the needle was finally threaded – yippee!!
Full steam ahead, but not for long before the bobbin thread ran out. Hmmm, how do I fill the bobbin? Come to that how did I get at the bobbin? I did manage this faster than threading the needle but that was mainly because Andrew the technician was around and showed me how (phew). I was off again.
I wanted to use my own thread so set to, rethreaded the machine, got out my hoop, stretched the double layer of cotton muslin into it and discovered I couldn’t fit it under the foot and the foot didn’t come off without a screwdriver which I didn’t have. Irritating but never mind, took the hoop apart, put one ring on the machine then slipped the fabric under the foot , put the second ring of the hoop under the foot and reassembed the hoop.
Yay! Blast! The bobbin ran out again. That was fine, I took it out, filled it put it back and then discovered I couldn’t get the bobbin thread through to the top because the hoop was in the way. Took it apart, pulled the bottom thread up, reassembled the hoop, started stitching again. Top thread ran out. Nooo.
On the final day I went armed with a pre-filled bobbin, new thread and two pairs of scissors as I forgot scissors earlier in the week and was bailed out by Linda (museum staff), what could go wrong? Nothing it seemed, I got on quite well and was just thinking that I didn’t need to do much more when the drive band snapped. Drive band stopped play as there was no technician on site. I’d been concerned about it throughout as I’d noticed the dust accumulating under it and had pointed it out to staff. What can you expect? drive bands perish, I was privileged to use the machine and lucky that the drive band held out so long.
This is the first stage towards a pot, I’ll be doing some rust dyeing next before I nuno felt it.