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New – one of those you love to hate!

JanF | Posted in Gather For A Chat on

I am new to this message thingy! At home after gallbladder removal and just getting ready to go back to work – luckily just in time for the school holiday! no i really don’t mean that!

For my sins i teach textiles technology at a secondary school in North Wales. Uk. I say this ‘cos I feel totally outfaced by the knowledge that you all seem to have on this site! I think its great and only wish that the obvious love of working with fabric was as prevalent in the UK. I am one of those women that a lot of you obviously detested in school – which makes me slightly disheartened – I hope my students dont leave school with the same feelings! Mind you I do remember my own teacher at secondary school was a pain in the A… and always made me do things twice cos I finished way before anyone else – didn’t she know anything about differentiated learning?

Anyway – I’m now 5 years off retirement and the kids still tell me they don’t realise how old I am – cos I love fashion/textilework as they do and hopefully try not to be too dictatorial with them … anyway most pupils seem to enjoy it!

I would love to contact other textiles teachers and swap ideas etc. but its just occurred to me this might be an opportunity for some younger members to possibly be interested in showing my pupils the sort of things they make! Would that be possible somehow or would it cause problems for Threads/child protection etc – I have to be so careful! Possibly a school contact could do something?

Anyway, I’m off to do a little more sewing (I’m in to making corsets) and love machine embroidery as my thing but I would like to say hello to you all and I hope someone feels sorry for this class teacher and contacts me! I’m not too bossy really!


  1. User avater
    Becky-book | | #1


    My home-ec teacher had a gruff exterior but if you showed her you really were interested in learning her stuff she showed you her "nicer" side.  Keep up the good work!  Kids need teachers even (especially) when they think they don't.  We are all really kids- still learning from others.


    1. JanF | | #2

      Thanks - if u get chance read some of the notes re. the magazine. ive made some comment similar to what you've just written re. those moaning about the mag1 thanks for the continueing vote of confidence! janet

  2. mygaley | | #3

    Dear Jan--I was wearing dresses I had sewn when my home-ec teacher insisted I sew on hooks and eyes with buttonhole stitch; what a waste of time; what a way to teach students to hate sewing.  My dd's teacher's method was to allow whatever produced a wearable garment.  She did critique them, but there were very very few do-overs.  Her second year classes constructed fully-lined wool jackets (with bound buttonholes) and skirts, with silk blouses to match and loved doing it.  This just goes to show the right attitude is everything, and I see you've got it.  Your students are fortunate to have you.  God bless you, Galey (Louisiana, USA)

    1. JanF | | #4

      Gosh - its obviously universal - I was taught to buttonhole hooks and eyes - I suppose then it was the way to do it! - However - as you say - what a way to take up your time! Mind you part of me feels quite guilty when my kids dont use that method! i think as long as its neat, stays put and is in the correct place - let them do it their way!

      After saying that

      Exam classes have to know the correct way!!!

      Hoist with our own petard!

      Interesting to me to find out that American /Canadian pupils have exactly the same gripes - do you think it could be an age thing?

      Can you tell me - a lot of people mention learning at a Singer store. Could you explain this?

      Thanks for your time - Jan

      1. mygaley | | #5

        In the 1950's, when I first became cognizant of sewing machines, every machine I had ever seen was a Singer, and everyone I knew owned one.  Especially in smaller towns (under 50,000), calling the Singer man was the verbal equivalent of calling the local sewing machine repair man.  Stores that specialized in machines and fabrics sold Singer machines.  I never had access to these classes, but my cousins did and they learned to sew.  What I had was 4-H.  This is an agricultural-based organization, taught through schools, funded by Federal monies.  The teachers were County Agents or Home Demonstration Agents; now they all have the title Cooperative Extension Agent.  Anyway, if you wanted to raise a steer for sale, or a chicken, or sew a dress or make a cherry pie, they would teach you how.  I still use their services for information after all these years and they still teach classes to school children and adults.  Surely you have something similar in UK.  Galey

        1. JanF | | #6

          Hi this is my second reply - lost the last one before it got sent - I don't know how??? and it sounded a good reply to me too!

          A friend I got to know in teacher training college was an ex Singer demonstrator - she was brilliant technically and really did some fantastic tailoring of garments, but as far as I know Singer here only did classes if you bought a machine!

          Some colleges did evening classes but funding for those dried up a long time ago!

          There are craft groups that are run locally - but tend to favour the dreaded patchwork and quilting (oops thats my prejudice showing for you - actually some were really good but at times limited by the organiser) and of course you can apply to become a member of the Embroidery Guild - there seems to be loads of guilds about - but nothing in relation for teaching young learners except in school


          not all schools teach it now - as it is easier to ask the art teacher to just dabble a bit - very creative I agree but short on skills somewhat I fear, in the majority!

          Of course cost comes into things now. We are at the mercy in school of falling rates of funding and fabric is so expensive now that some schools dont encourage it for that reason. they prefer the funds to go to product design. electronics and graphics especially if your head of faculty is a man.... sorry ...I know thats not politically correct (its my view) but the old ways die hard!

          but we keep on going

          I love it and hopefully some kids come out at the end knowing a little bit more than they did!

          Pontificating now over

          hopefully speak again


      2. User avater
        paddyscar | | #7

        By the time I entered high school, where we had home ec classes, my friend Susie and I had already moved on from making doll clothes, to making simple things for ourselves.  <!----><!----><!---->

        Our first home ec teacher sent an entire school running for the hills when she came out of retirement, because they had no sewing teacher!<!----><!---->

        Our first 4 months were taken up making a wriststrap pin cushion.  [2 inch square of blue broadcloth, unravelled to 1.5 inch square.  Hand stitched along 3 sides and part way across 4th, stuffed with cotton batton and finished stitching across the 4th side.  1/4 inch elastic joined at the back of the square to form the wristband]<!----><!---->

        The final 6 months were spent on a white cotton apron.  If you did a good job, Sister said that you had taken it home and had your Mother do it.   <!----><!---->

        So by the end of the year, with many unfinished aprons, several students did finally do that (thanks for the suggestion, Sister).  Then your final product had to be graded.  There were several instances where one apron was passed off by several students in succession as their own work, and they all received various comments and wide-ranging grades on the item ... everything from raves to trash .... A+ to F! <!----><!---->

        Oh yes, all stitching was done at 8 stitches to the inch!

        Happy to say, that in spite of school, I still happily sew away, as does Susie. 

        1. JanF | | #8

          Oh dear!

          To be accurate, when I was in secondary school our first job was to make our home ec. apron(seems a standard thing by some comments!) which was white with red/white checked gingham  bound edges - all the way around! The old bag who was  our food teacher also taught sewing - so you had to make the apron - to then progress to food!

          As I was quite good - I finished early and to while away the time I had to start making my summer dress uniform - guess what in - yes - gingham!!

          needless to say I wouldn't touch gingham with a barge- pole now and haven't since then - which was 1961!!!!

          To make matters worse - our school was a grammar school - one you had to pass the exam called 11+ to get to... so if you got there you were potentially academic - so after I made my dress, and then cooked for about 10 lessons - we then could not do textiles at all - wasn't offered - presumeably only taught to whom we would have then termed the ""thickies" or "secondary modern" school pupils! Lucky them I say - I really wanted to do textiles!

          By the way - those terms I wouldn't dream of uttering now - very un-PC!

          so I did art instead!

          But of course that was considered OK because you could intellectualise it!!

          It was no wonder a lot of people were put off doing textiles then.

          Anyway - I made up for it so I suppose I could say "Up yours" to my old school.

          Which is ironic as I now teach in my old school!!! but thankfully it is now a true comprehensive - all ranges of abilities together.

          Must stop rabbiting on - hubby wants to use the PC

          Speak again sometime - Janet


  3. NovaSkills | | #9

    I'd be happy to swap sewing stories with you, and maybe your other UK responder. 

    We don't even have many schools that still offer real sewing instruction to the students. They have around here this watered down thing called Family and Consumer Science that has a tiny segment on sewing. My neighbor teaches that to the same grades I was (7th) when I took a whole semester of just sewing. That's where I learned to sew, although I polished skills at other places, afterward.

    I am your age and currently teach some classes at a machine dealer. My "real" career has been in engineering, but I sew, quilt, etc., for fun and functionality--to get clothes that fit. I am also an art quilter. I can share pictures of some of my quilts, and also some of the instructions I have created for projects ranging from wearables, quilts, gifts and home dec. I generally do the instructions on the computer, with graphics, and could send you .pdf files, if you have Acrobat Reader on your computer. Pictures would be in .jpeg.

    I only got as far as Rhyl and Chester area in Wales, but would love to see more. I live in South Florida, and if you look at the paths of Hurricanes Frances, Jeanne and Wilma, they all hit the Atlantic coast either right over me or within 20 miles. We are so glad that we've dodged that bullet this year.


    1. JanF | | #10

      Hi I hope you read my rant about fitting alterations!
      I have used the Boutique pattern drafting system (wild ginger) that is quite good once you get into it. I realise that lots of drafting software is limited by the printer you have and the time you have to experiment - but at least the things you draft with this program do actually work and I think if you have a little knowledge of pattern drafting before you use it - you can do some good stuff - but like all computer stuff (especiallly designing) it can really run away with your time!
      Which program do you use to draft quilting ideas? I would like to access an easy one for kids to plan out quilts on. My students are supposed to use ICT as much as poss. but a bit of a problem in school when you cant access the computer rooms cos the men monopolise the time allocated!!
      Whats new!
      I would appreciate some guidance on simple to use progams for indicating ideas for patchwork and quilting - not an area of my expertise i have to say!
      Be in touch Janet

      1. Alexandra | | #11

        I've had ElectricQuilt software designing program for 4 years or more and I love it.  DH says it's like giving a kid his favourite toy, I am quiet and occupied for hours!  I can design hundreds of quilts without making any of them, seems to satify some need I have.  Anyway, I've had my grandson of 7 play with it, he enjoyed making colourful, loud, fantastic quilts too.  The version 6 is coming out this month check out their Web site.  No affiliation, just a very happy customer.  Oh and technical support is stupendous.

        1. JanF | | #12

          Thank you for this info - I can now check it out for use in school - you never really know what something is like - much better to get a user recommendation!

    2. User avater
      Becky-book | | #13

      Gifts?  did you say projects for gifts...?

      tis the season and we are looking for things to make to give, could you share your ideas?



      1. NovaSkills | | #14

        I do have some great ideas, already written into instructions for my classes, but they are graphics files, not word files. I just bought the software to convert such into .pdf, but haven't yet installed it. Hoping to later today. If so, I can post them in something everyone can use, since most of you might not have Visio.

        Ideas are things you can make in 15 minutes to 1 hour. They've gone over well in classes, so far, too. Some involve serger use, but even those could be done on a regular machine.

        1. User avater
          Becky-book | | #15

          Sounds great! I have a serger and lots of 'scraps' and a little time!



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