I know you’re dying to get started so get your machine threaded properly according to the manual and then get out a piece of lined paper (raid your kids’ backpacks).
Paper will not hurt your machine or needles. I’ve sewn “paper-crafts” many times. Now follow the lines of the paper, slowly. Try to stay on the lines for now. Do half or a whole sheet with just your straight stitch and then get out another piece and try out your other stitches.
Don’t switch “tension” now though, it could mess up your machine while you’re sewing on the paper. Just play with the various stitches. Go ahead and play with stitch length and width and see what those look like. (You don’t need width if you’re using a straight stitch. Only for zig-zag and decorative.) These will either be dials, buttons or a twist and turn knob depending on your machine. (I tried to get pics for you, but there are A LOT of styles and we’d be here all day, so just check your manual for where yours is.) If you get too small on length, it can cause knotting underneath, so pay close attention and make sure the paper is still moving through. The paper will “punch out” – meaning it will get big holes in it. It’s ok, you’re just playing here. This will also help you learn how to “drive” (keep a straight line) while holding the paper.
*Turning corners quick lesson – not necessary to do this step, but why not get it in here.
You’ve done this with 3 or 4 pieced of paper – excellent! How does it feel to be sewing? Let’s break out a piece of spare fabric. If you don’t have any, an old t-shirt can work. The fabric store also sells “remnants” for discount and “fat quarters” (1/4 yard of fabric for quilters) for a good price that would be good to practice on. It doesn’t have to be huge; you want it smaller to make it easier to control.
Do the same thing you did with the paper. Remember to let the machine feed itself, no pulling, pushing, yanking or reaming. Lightly steering around corners and to keep it straight is all you need. If the fabric does get stuck, you may have to pull, but be gentle!
You are now sewing!
On the fabric you can try out the tension a bit. Your tension will either be a dial usually to the right, knob in your threading pattern or a button on your pad. The dials usually go from 0-9 while buttons usually go to 5 or just have bars. Make it a little tighter, a little looser. Check out the stitching to see what that did. How does it look when it’s tighter or loose? Try out the buttonholer if you have one! (Your manual would be great to show you this…)
Pay NO attention to how any of this looks at this point. When you first started driving, were you perfect? No – so don’t expect professional results the first day (or the first year). Right now focus on relaxing and learning. This is supposed to be fun after all!
Now take another piece of fabric and cut it in half. Place the two pieces back together without pinning and sew them together. Open them up – Voila! Ok, so it’s not a wedding dress….. but you have successfully joined two pieces of fabric together, hopefully without getting your fingers, hair or tongue caught!
Oh the possibilities from here!