Learn to Sew Virtually
With all the doors closed to us in this safer-at-home era, one door has been flung wide open. It’s virtual sewing and style education. I encourage you to take advantage of this open door to the many new learning opportunities.
Like many educators, I hadn’t embraced online options before 2020. I’ll admit to feeling intimidated by the technology. I noodled for years about taking my Sewing With Style School online, convincing myself that it was only effective when we could interact face-to-face. But when COVID-19 made in-person class impossible, I was stunned to discover that the pivot to virtual made the program stronger.
In-person vs. online learning
In person, I demonstrated various style principles live on the participants. Online, I demonstrate those same concepts on photos my students submit in advance.
In person, class members had to rely on memory and note-taking. Online, they can grab a screen shot to capture a concept for future review.
In person, because of travel time, we had to cover all the material in a single session. Online, we meet for four shorter sessions, giving each participant time to apply the concepts at home in her own closet and then come back with any questions.
In person, it took a larger class size to justify travel expenses. Online, a class can be financially feasible with a smaller enrollment, allowing more individual attention.
In person, the pace of the class was a barrier to forming personal relationships. Online, we get to know one another on a more meaningful level and frequently form enduring relationships.
What’s more, in the virtual classroom we can bring together mother-daughter pairs, sisters, or best friends who live far apart but get to connect during the weekly sessions, and then share their applications of the material in between.
Once created, online content is easy to rearrange and repurpose for multiple settings, including regional sewing expos, fabric store promotions, American Sewing Guild chapter events and their national conference. Even large events like SewEXPO in Puyallup, Washington, and Quilt Festival in Houston have adopted virtual formats, making them much more financially accessible.
The Zoom platform even allows multi-instructor collaborations. Though we live more than 1,000 miles apart, patternmaker and instructor Pamela Leggett and I are designing a virtual sew-along, blending my wardrobe development principles with her patterns and sewing tips.
The entire community of instructors in the sewing space has collaborated to master the technology, share best practices, and refine course content to make live, online sewing content even more valuable.
Pati Palmer, founder and president of Palmer/Pletsch, reports that several dozen of her company’s certified sewing instructors meet monthly online to share ideas about the most cost-effective cameras, microphones, tripods, and more. The sessions include tutorials about the various Zoom functions to keep class members engaged, lighting techniques for image clarity, logistics for online enrollment, and opportunities to cross-promote one another’s specialties.
“It’s exciting to see the team so involved in supporting one another so instructors can be successful in the radically different environment, and sewing enthusiasts can use their time at home to take their skills to an even higher level,” Pati says.
ASG National is sponsoring monthly “National Neighborhood Group” mini classes for their members. The relaunched platform Craftsy.com offers an array of highly produced training videos available on a subscription basis. Numerous independent pattern companies offer recorded video tutorials you can watch any time.
Here is a sampling of additional instructors and online garment sewing courses—some live, many prerecorded. If you have favorite teachers who are not listed, visit their websites. You may discover they are offering private or group classes through online platforms. This could be the perfect time to book a personalized fitting session, style consultation, or technique lesson for yourself or as a unique present for a loved one.
If you know of another teacher or site offering virtual classes, please let us know in the comments.
Nancy Nix-Rice is a teacher, author, certified image consultant, and sewing expert based in St. Louis, Missouri. NancyNixRice.com
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