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New Sewing Teacher Looking for Guidance

AlaskaDeb | Posted in General Discussion on

I am a middle school math teacher but have recently become the clothing construction teacher in my school and (in the near future) in my community.  I taught 8-12 year olds sewing during a summer program and am teaching 12-14 year olds as an elective class in my school and in an after school club.  So many people in my community want to learn that I am getting requests almost daily for an adult sewing class.  I am wondering if there is any curriculum out there to guide me? Or any books that you might recommend?  I am just starting simply with making bags/purses as they learn about the machine and then moving on to wrap around skirts.  Then we will look at fitting issues, etc.  I am creating as I go but would appreciate the guidance of more seasoned sewing teachers. 



  1. sueb | | #1

    Hi AlaskaDeb,

    I don't teach sewing classes but I do teach weaving classes.  I would recommend that you pick up a couple of basic sewing books such as

    Sewing 101: A Beginner's Guide to Sewing

    New Complete Guide to Sewing

    Fabric Savvy : The Essential Guide for Every Sewer

    Vogue Sewing

    Sandra Betzinas Power sewing is a great book too and is great for any level sewer.

    For bag basics, check out Mary Mulari's books.  They're easy to understand and they usually have pretty good graphical illustrations.  The styles may be a bit off but the basics are all there.  I know that for me when I started teaching beginners I had to remember to not gloss over the basics, so I bought a beginniners weaving book to help me create my outline for the class and to make sure I didn't leave anything out.  Check your local library for some sewing books, they'll probably have some basic sewing books that will help you develop a curriculum.

    Good luck !

  2. mimi | | #2

    I remember vividly my first sewing course, taught at a Singer store almost 40 years ago! 

    • The first thing we were taught was how to thread the machine and wind bobbins :)  I know this sounds silly, but basic machine use is essential if you are going to be a successful sewer (it also saves wear and tear on the teacher!).
    • we then practiced sewing a straight seam and a zig zag seam and practiced pressing them.  We also learned how to make a patch pocket.
    • next we learned how to layout and cut pattern pieces out.  No one put scissors to paper until the teacher had checked thier placement!
    • we were then allowed to sew one aspect of the garment for each class (assemble front, assemble back, apply zipper, join at shoulders, side seams, facings and hem.  We made a shift dress.).  Those who caught on very quickly were allowed to move ahead with the teachers permission.
    • Each aspect was discussed before we were turned loose on the machines.
    • we were also taught the proper way to undo any mistakes.

    These lessons have stayed with me a long time, and I taught my daughter and her friends the same way I was taught.

    As a bonus, when sewing you learn fractions and multiplication very quickly!

    Good luck and let us know how your class is going!


  3. alotofstitches | | #3

    Deb, I teach a Beginner Sewing Class and require the students to buy The New Sewing Essentials.  I purchased them from Creative Publishing Co..  It's a great book  with good step-by-step pics--a good reference tool after classes I think.

  4. kjp | | #4

    check out the home sewing association's website http://www.sewing.org.  They are updating it and have a lot of great projects which you can print off and use.  I found it to be very useful. 

  5. MsLynn | | #5


    I've been teaching the 8-15 set to sew for about ten years now, and it sounds to me that you are on the right track.  I love it, and will continue teaching till I die, because it is too much fun to stop.  Here's what I've learned:

    Always keep a screw driver, lint brush, scissors, seam ripper and machine oil in your pocket.  Even the best machine jams when run without the foot down, which some kids have a hard time remembering.

    Start out by teaching everything you know about how a sewing machine works.  I've found that kids think this is really cool, and it seems to demystify the machine and empower the kids.  I tell them that they are bigger, smarter and stronger than the machine, and after 25 repetitions they seem to realize that they control the machine and the machine does not control them.

    Don't say don't--without even trying, you can end up saying 47 don'ts in a row, which means that half your kids are afraid to try anything.

    Encourage your students to cut with their hands on top of the pattern piece.  This seems to be the easiest way for kids to remember to keep pattern and fabric flat on the table.

    Design your own safety rules, and stick with them.  I tell kids that the first time I see them sticking a needle or pin into themselves or anyone else, they will never be in my class again.  One set of hands on the ironing board, and one set of hands on the sewing machine at a time, and no scissor birds (where people casually open and close scissor blades in the air) are my other rules.  Haven't had a major injury yet.

    I've tried about 450 different beginning sewing projects, and each one works as well as the next, as long as the kids don't think it is too dorky.  Pillows and bags are always big, and pajama pants generally please the crowd as well. 

    Make sure you are getting paid enough money.  Remember, your time and knowledge are worth a lot.  You deserve fair compensation for your professionalism.

    Since you're a math teacher too, you might want to try teaching math concepts through sewing.  I worked with a middle school teacher a couple of years ago to teach geometry through quilting, and have been successful with a number of similar projects.  Big fun.

    Other than that, teach what you think is fun and laugh as often as possible. 

    Good luck.

  6. ellalouise | | #6

    there are dvd s on line that you can purchase,i believe they are at pattrens.com or you can try at mc calls or butterick.com,they are called hipline,there is a series of them,from beginning to sew to more advanced,goodluck

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