Not Sew Scary: An Introduction to Sewing Machines

 Written by Sarah, Lou Duggan Creative Studio Specialist

The Lou Duggan Creative Studio is open for business! And we're in the business of making things. This post comes from our Lou Duggan Creative Studio team. Check out more content and events here, opens a new window, anytime.

Let's stitch a new story

If you’re new to it, sewing can be intimidating. We get a lot of newbies in the Lou Duggan Creative Studio eyeing our sewing machines nervously.

Is it hard to learn? Does it take long? Is it supposed to make that noise?

The answers are no, no, and probably. 

Sewing machines look complicated, and some can come with a lot of bells and whistles. But at their core, they’re very basic and easy to use. If you’ve never used one before, here’s what you can expect when you come to the Lou Duggan Creative Studio.

What to expect

We’ll sit you in front of a sewing machine and show you how to thread it. Then, we’ll get you to practice. You need to know how to properly thread the top spool and the bottom bobbin because—spoiler alert—rethreading your machine will solve 99% of the problems you encounter.

Once your machine is threaded, we’ll go over the basics of the machine: how to turn it on, how the pedal works, how to adjust your stitch settings. Then we’ll give you a few pieces of practice fabric with some simple patterns (straight line, curved line, box) for you to follow as you sew your first stitches.

And…that’s it. 

No, really! You now know how to use our sewing machines. Yes, it really is THAT easy. After spending a little time practising, you’ll be ready to start a project of your own. In fact, those same newbies who came into the studio suspicious of their own abilities to conquer the sewing machine are quickly asking us for fabric and pattern ideas.

We have some fabric scraps that you can use to keep practising or make something small. Once you’ve picked your next project, you can bring your own fabric and thread to use with our machines. 

Picking a project

But how do you pick a project? That’s entirely up to you. The possibilities are endless. Fortunately, we have A LOT of books on the subject.

Here are some catalogue searches to get you started:

From sergers to hand sewing

Did you see that last catalogue search in the list? Yes, we have a serger! If you don’t know what that is, a serger is a special sewing machine that uses four needles and a little cutter to do three things at once: sew your seam, trim your seam allowance, and overcast your seam so it looks really professional. Look at the seams of any piece of clothes you’re wearing and you’ll see a serged seam.

And, before you faint at the thought of a machine with 4 needles, let me assure you that it’s not scary! I’d never used one either until we bought one for the Studio a few months ago. It’s fast and loud—but don’t run just yet. Once you see how easy it is to use, you’ll be wanting to serge all of your seams. 

If machines aren’t your thing, we also have lots of needles and thread for some good old hand sewing.

Event offerings

So, come by the Lou Duggan Creative Studio and start sewing! Our regular Creative Studio DIY: Makers Drop-in and Stitchin’ Time: Fibre Arts Drop-In are fun, supportive times for sewers of all levels to get together. We also have a Hand-Craft Hangout for those hand-sewers. And, check our event listings regularly as we’re always offering new workshops. 

At the time of publishing, these events are coming up in June 2022: 

Make It: Catnip Toys
Wednesday, June 1 | 6:30-8:00 PM (Registration required)

Make It: Embroidery 101
Saturday, June 4 | 11:00 AM-12:00 PM (Registration required)

Make It: Quilted Potholder

Tuesday, June 14 | 6:30-8:30 PM (Registration required)

(Unless otherwise specified, programs run from the Lou Duggan Creative Studio are for adults and teens. Children under 14 are very welcome if accompanied by an adult and if you feel the activity is appropriate for them.)

Share with us

We’d love to see your photos and videos! What are you making in the Studio?

We'll be sharing community DIYs on our social channels and here on our website gallery, and hope to see a colourful mosaic of creativity!

  • Share on social media: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or TikTok @hfxpublib; using #LouDugganCreativeStudio
  • Email to Sarah:
  • Consent: By submitting your photo, you give Halifax Public Libraries and its partners non-exclusive permission to use content of and/or made by the participant for digital or print publications. You understand that this may include, but is not limited to, social media posts, websites, newsletters, advertisements, posters and pamphlets. You also understand that on occasion, Library photos, video, audio, or publications may be shared with media outlets and community partners for use in promotions of Library events, initiatives, and stories. You certify that no other person's permission is needed to authorize the use of said images or content. You agree that Halifax Public Libraries cannot be held liable for images or content used with my consent.

About the staff blogger

Sarah Gignac is the Creative Studio Specialist at Halifax Central Library. In her other life, she’s an animator, artist, writer, and novice-but-enthusiastic gardener. She is allowed to share space with two cats, one white and one black, which is why no matter what colour her clothes are, she is always covered in fur.

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