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Teaching Sewing

2015 November 5
by elizabeth_admin

Since Spring this past year, I have been teaching sewing to kids and adults at my local community center.  I’ve taught a total of 6 classes which includes one whole week of summer camp.  I have had to source the projects, fabrics, and supplies.  I have had to write instruction booklets for each class as each new class had different projects.  And I have had to sew up all the samples to show the students a finished product.

It’s been quite a learning process for me as well.  I’ve learned which projects are too hard for beginners.  For example, really small fiddly sewing is too hard for a beginner.  The shoelaces and the superhero mask were way too fiddly for my students.  So I’ve taken those projects off the list of possibilities.  I’ve learned that cutting the projects out for them is absolutely a must.  Just learning how to use the machine is intimidating enough without fearing a badly cut out project.  Even pressing is something I will do ahead of time to cut down on the kids waiting on me to help them with the next step.

My first class was unisex, but I have had difficulty coming up with simple projects that would appeal to both sexes.  My last two classes have been for girls only.  I have started incorporating home dec projects as well, since most garment sewing involves fitting and/or you must have the correct size cut out.  So, even though I don’t opt to do home dec sewing on my own, I recognize that these kinds of projects lend themselves well to teaching sewing.

Here are some of the projects that I’ve taught to my students…

Fall 2 Sewing Class

Fall 2 Sewing Class

(Clockwise from top left)  Knit head wrap, cross body bag, hair scrunchy, pj shorts, bookmark, and envelope style pillow

 

Fall 1 Sewing Class

Fall 1 Sewing Class

(Clockwise from top right) D-ring belt, Parisian headscarf, elasticized waist skirt, half apron, infinity scarf, Halloween trick or treat bag, and turban headband.

 

Summer Camp

Summer Camp

(Clockwise from top left) Placemat, coaster and napkin, full apron, hand warmer, key ring, drawstring bag.

 

One of the adult class projects

One of the adult class projects

This was one of the projects I had the adult students make, a faux leather lined clutch purse.  It was a huge hit with the adults.  I loved making this bag; I think it’s super cute.  For the next adult class which starts next week, I have five projects lined up:  A table runner for Thanksgiving, a head wrap (like the one the kids are doing next), a coffee cozy, the envelope pillow (like the kids), and a wine gift bag.  I think it will be a great class.

 

It’s a lot of work coming up with the class projects, putting together the booklets, buying and pre-washing the fabrics, AND prepping the projects for the students every week.  In fact, after this session, I am taking a break from teaching sewing until at least Spring.  I don’t want to get burned out.

If any of you have any ideas for easy beginner projects, I would love to hear about them.  I think I’ve reached the end of the internet for new projects.   I haven’t listed all the projects above that I’ve covered already, so if you’re going to suggest pillowcases, I have already done that one.  😉

22 Responses leave one →
  1. November 5, 2015

    One item I keep going back to as far as gifts are concerned is the Singlet Shopping Bag. I found the instructions on Craftster. http://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/patsijean I modified the instructions by lengthening the straps by about 1 inch (I made a template for tracing the bag right on the fabric). First I sew the backs and fronts at the “shoulder” and then the “neckline opening” and topstitch that. The original strap instructions are too fiddly especially for a beginner. I use the burrito technique to sew the armhole seams and straps then open up the bag and lining to sew the side seams of lining and outer fabric on one swoop. I no longer make the pocket. At the bottom I install a french seam double stitching each step. Very sturdy, and uses less than a yard of cotton outer fabric and lining. http://sewing.patternreview.com/review/pattern/24513 and https://picasaweb.google.com/101271422657105507749/SHOPPINGBAG

    • elizabeth_admin permalink*
      November 5, 2015

      That’s a great idea too. Thanks!

  2. renee permalink
    November 5, 2015

    http://www.marthastewart.com/264167/reversible-purse One of those knot purses might be good. And, maybe a jewelry roll up bag? Case for an ipad / laptop?

    • elizabeth_admin permalink*
      November 5, 2015

      Great ideas Renee! Thanks!

  3. Diane permalink
    November 5, 2015

    How about oven mitts and pot holders. These could be unisex. Maybe bread basket liners with bread warmers? I must be hungry, all my ideas are about cooking!

    • elizabeth_admin permalink*
      November 5, 2015

      I tried potholders, it was a hot mess for the kids. The batting made it hard to maneuver the potholder through the machine. Bread basket liners might work though. Thanks!

  4. November 5, 2015

    I also love the very easy fleece sock pattern by Maria Denmark. Those were a hit at Christmas time. I made the tops of the socks a little bit higher and label each sock by how many inches long. Again, I made so many I have templates of each size. I’ve made several for myself and many more for others. http://www.mariadenmark.com/shop/801-super-socks/

    • elizabeth_admin permalink*
      November 5, 2015

      That’s a great idea too! Thanks!

  5. Elle C permalink
    November 5, 2015

    For the kids (or adults for that matter), how about a simple A-line elastic waist knit skirt? It would require almost no fitting, besides a waist measurement. I made one with a friends daughter and it really got her excited about sewing. We have more sewing sessions planned.

    • elizabeth_admin permalink*
      November 5, 2015

      So funny, we just did that for my adult class. They loved the skirts! I might do that with the kids in the spring. We just did an elasticized gathered skirt in the last class, so I need some time in-between similar projects.

  6. Karen Mulkey permalink
    November 5, 2015

    I also teach sewing – mainly to teenage girls. Finding projects is difficult but since i only teach one-on-one I’m able to focus on simple garments. I take them thru the fabric store (where I teach) giving them knowledge of fabrics, notions, and the biggie – patterns. Everyone has a different pace at which they learn so teaching in groups is hard so I stick to individual classes.

    • elizabeth_admin permalink*
      November 5, 2015

      Yes, I agree teaching in groups is hard, but I my “soccer mom” schedule doesn’t allow for me to teach much after school.

  7. November 5, 2015

    Thanks for these useful suggestions! I have been trying to teach my granddaughters (ages 9 & 11) to sew, but am finding it hard to find achievable projects to keep them interested. Also thanks for confirming that cutting out is probably not useful at this beginner level.

  8. Dawn permalink
    November 5, 2015

    My son learned to sew with a teacher who taught the “Kids Can Sew” program that Husquavarna used to run. He made a bag for his sewing supplies, first, then p.j, pants and then camo pants (his favourite) and then a polar fleece hat for his school teacher at the time. He also made a raglan sleeved sweatshirt. He hasn’t sewn much since elementary school, but I’m grateful that he has the skills. Sewing programs like that might have inspiration for you.

  9. November 5, 2015

    A simple pillow (envelope back) in one class and embellishing a pillow in the next? Step one leads to advanced step one.
    Kids also use a lot of electronics nowadays. Pre-quilted fabric to make bags to cushion those devices?
    I’ve only taught one-on-one. My niece at 9 years old was able to learn reverse applique with felt and embroidery stitches to embellish. We made purse out of our designs.
    Felt is very forgiving.

    • elizabeth_admin permalink*
      November 5, 2015

      Pre quilted fabric. Genius! Will have to look for some. Thanks!

  10. Tami permalink
    November 6, 2015

    I’ve taught sewing to 8-18 year olds for 12 years now. 9 patch pillows are a huge hit, have pre cut squares for the front for them to choose from, a solid for the back, fill with stuffing and whip stitch the opening closed. The zippered make up type bags, they love to put little things/pencils in them. Pillowcases, they especially make good gifts because you can use novelty fabric for the recipient (dogs/cats/dinosaurs/sport team). The conkerr website has a good tutorial. Pajama bottoms, easy to sew, good intro to reading pattern directions and cutting out. You already have done a lot of good ideas. I have thought that making a tote bag from a tee shirt would be popular. Also the girls really like making drawstring bags or the drawstring backpacks. Simple American Doll clothes, elastic waist skirt, nightgown, sleeping bag. You are right, it is tough to come up with sewing ideas for boys. Didn’t mean to write a novel! Good luck with it!

    • elizabeth_admin permalink*
      November 6, 2015

      The patch pillows sound great! Thanks!

  11. Cas... permalink
    November 6, 2015

    You may find some easy projects through http://www.allfreesewing.com. Sign up for the newsletter and check them out. Great projects for your students. Keep up the good work!

  12. November 10, 2015

    How about a larger bag? I have one basic bag shape which can be different things depending on the size I choose and on where I put the straps. And I have also used this basic shape for teaching (for adults, but a friend of my taught the same bag without zipper or lining to teenagers).
    The patterns for, and pictures of my own two versions are here: http://petitmainsauvage.blogspot.nl/2014/10/a-new-market-bag.html
    http://petitmainsauvage.blogspot.nl/2014/03/a-new-bag.html

    Larger version made in plain fabrics are a great surface for all sorts of decoration.

    • elizabeth_admin permalink*
      November 10, 2015

      I have done two different style tote bags. Maybe I can disguise another one and sneak it into the curriculum. Hopefully they won’t catch on. 😉

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