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Conversational Threads

Who will you teach to sew this year?

Ruth | Posted in Talk With Us on

Threads editor Deana Tierney usually posts discussion questions of this sort, but she is out of the office today, so I’m posting on her behalf:

Who will you teach to sew this year?



  1. sewtimely | | #1

    I volunteer for the UK (University of Kentucky) Extention Office and will be teaching a couple classes this year.   I had someone ask me to teach them to do a simple baby quilt.  My goal is to spend time with 2 of my neices to teach them.  One of them (she's 10) has shown an exceptional interest in sewing and I have put her a machine in layaway.  I am going to take it to her in a couple weeks (it's a surprise) and spend the day with her taking her to get fabric a simple pattern and help her learn to use a pattern.  I am excited.  the machine I got her was the new Janome "Heart matters."  It's pretty in red, and they work with the Heart Association.  It's a lovely little machine with 50 stitches and all electronic so I am excited to show her all of the extras it has that didn't even exist when I started. 

    I have another neice in 4H that I am pushing a little bit of a lazy streak out of her.  (She's 9) She wants to sew, but would rather play.  I hope to get her to make something so that she will see the benefits of having a craft (Maggie, aren't you proud, hope you see, I've learned to fearlessly call it a craft).  (Maggie corrected me with a very informative corrective authority, that "craft" doesn't mean glue and bazaar trinkets. 

    Anyway, watching someone learn the most precious of talents excites me and I am so looking forward to seeing something from my neices that will be remembered and built upon the rest of their lives.


    1. MaryinColorado | | #7

      It's nice of you to volunteer your time teaching others.  The nine year old might become more interested when she sees what your other niece is doing.  Maybe she isn't lazy, but needs to learn through playing at this stage in her developement. 

      What a wonderful gift of your time, talents, and money.  You are offering them a gift that will last a lifetime, and just think of the wonderful bond you are creating with them as well as the knowledge and ability to express themselves creatively. Mary

      Edited 1/15/2008 10:57 am by MaryinColorado

      1. sewtimely | | #9

        thanks for your encouragement.  I hope they remember that I taught them most, the imporance of serving God, others, and integrity and living morally.  I next hope they remember me for sewing and how much a part of my life it is.  She is only 9, and I have to remind myself of that.  I wasn't interested in sewing at 9 either.  She doesn't show the interest that the other niece does, but like you said, maybe it will come.  If she doesn't develop into a seamstress that loves to sew, she will be able to sew a hem and button if I have anything to say about it!



      2. roseytheriviter | | #18

        Mary in Colorado, where in Colorado. I am also from Colorado, Fort Collins to be exact.

        1. MaryinColorado | | #22

          I'm in Arvada, just west of Denver (my son is in Loveland, practically your neighbor).  Are you going to the Denver Creative Festival the end of this month? 

          Wow, a webcam class, how cool!  Mary

          1. roseytheriviter | | #23

            I don't know anything about the Denver Creative Festival. I would love to go! Where in Denver, when and how much does it cost?

            Mary, I am new to this list and do not know what you do in the sewing field.


          2. MaryinColorado | | #24

            I "play" in the sewing field, that's all.  I love to sew, machine embroider, & especially serge creatively.  http://www.CreativeFestival.com is the website, this will be the 13th Denver Creative Festival.  Be sure to check the Denver one as there are others.  They will mail you a pamphlet that you can request online.  It's at the Denver Merchandise Mart...take I-25 Southbound to 58th Avenue exit #215, (don't stay in the far left lane, I think it leads back onto the highway, so use the outer left lane).  You will be heading East on 58th Avenue for a block or two and go left/north into the parking lot.  Free parking all around the building.  There will be signs telling you where the entrance is on the South side of the building.  451 East 58th Avenue.  Jan.31-Feb.2. 9am-6pm.  There are some preshow activities on Wed also.  I cannot remember the admission fee as I go to so many of these venues, but it is less if you can still register online, the class fees vary and some are free.  There are several free fashion shows put on by well known designers.  Lots of booths. 

            If you would like to meet,  let me know (by replying via email choice  instead of post at the bottom left after you click reply) and I will get back to you.  I can go anytime most likely.  There are several places to eat. 

            There is also an annual Quilt Festival, I think in May.  They are not as big as Pullyap but are still fun.  Mary

          3. autumn | | #36

            Bummer.  I LOVED the festival and went many times. I was born in Denver and grew up in Lafayette, but now we live in Ashland, Oregon where my 2 granddaughters are. I really miss being near a big city for things like this.

          4. MaryinColorado | | #38

            I've never really appreciated living near big cities, it's a tolerance, not a choice for me.  The big sewing conventions are one of the few things I'd miss.  (The grass is always greener...as they say).  You can't get away from the traffic here anymore without driving for about an hour and a half, even in the mountains.  The Denver area isn't anything like it was even five years ago.

          5. autumn | | #40

            When I say I miss being near a big city, I mean at least 20 miles away, like I was in CO.  I am in CO at least every other year, and it makes me SICK to see the sprawl and growth, and the UGLY TICKY TACKY houses.

            I used to not mind at all driving in Denver, but now I avoid it like the plague.

          6. MaryinColorado | | #41

            I know what you mean, the sprawl now goes from Greeley to Denver to Colorado Springs and they're still building new homes they can't sell.  Wallmarts, fast food, fast gas/shopping are so close togeather, it's smothering as they move retail into residential areas and widen the streets, it should be illegal as they figure out a way around what we vote against.  We live West of Denver on 1/3 acre so at least have a yard for the dog to run in when it's too cold for walks and can't see in the neighbors' windows.

            Ah well, I still dream of moving to a rural area with at least five acres.  I do have a nice sewing room here, it's my "retreat".  I am greatful for that and my family and faith.  Didn't mean to get so negative but they're building another Wallmart about five blocks away, that will make 3 of them within about five miles of my home.  yuck!  I've boycotted them for years. 

          7. autumn | | #42

            My daughter lived in Peyton, 30+ miles east of Co. Spgs. for 3 yrs. Co. Spgs. is even more disgusting than the Denver area, if you can believe that. They have at least 5 huge WalMarts that I know of, and probably more since she moved a year ago. If you fly over CO at night it is solid lights from Ft. Collins to Trinidad.

          8. MaryinColorado | | #43

            When I came out here the first time, it was dark from the Denver Stapelton Airport all the way to Boulder.  Hard to believe it now.  I can't believe they put in another Wallmart in the suburbs....3 within 5 miles is just too too much!  And President Bush wants to give tax cuts to the almighty corporate machines!  Obviously the "little people" don't matter, except as slaves.

          9. autumn | | #46

            When I was a little girl, we would sometimes go to Stapleton on a Sunday afternoon and HOPE to see an airplane come in. Sometimes we were lucky and ONE would come. There was a red popcorn wagon there and we'd buy popcorn and sit in the car outside the fence watching for a plane. It was MILES from the east edge of town.

          10. MaryinColorado | | #47

            My husband did that when he was a child too.  Now even the "little" county airports have planes coming and going all the time.  My son was in Civil Air Patrol from about age 12 and is a private pilot, going to school for his commercial license.  I can't wait to fly with him!  Mary

    2. sadiejane | | #44

      I volunteered to help a slightly mentally challenged lady to learn to sew.  She had shown me some of her work and she really needed help.  We are going slowly and making progress.  It makes me stop and think of when I learned to sew about 62 years ago.

      I also was approached by a nurse at the medical clinic to see if I would help her learn to sew also.  I told her yes and the first thing I wanted her to do was to subscribe to "Threads".  I felt she would get the basics from me and then she would have a "Bible" to refer back to after she no longer comes to see me.  Both of these ladies are great gals but the difference in the learning scale has challenged me to rethink how I teach someone to sew.  I have enjoyed both.

      I used to teach 4H also, however the young girls here no longer are as interested in sewing.  What a loss!

      1. sewtimely | | #45

        The girls here too are less interested than they used to be.  You're right.  It's sad, and frustrating for me to see kids waste time with tv and video games when they have talents and potential that will be lost from lack of interest in something that makes them create.  The kids that really are interested and excited to learn sewing are few and far between.

        I know what you mean.  With each person you have to figure out what makes sense to them.   Sometimes its like you are speaking a foreign language, but after they figure it out, oh the satisifaction!  It's a great thing to know something, but much greater to teach it. 


        1. damascusannie | | #48

          It's too bad that young girls (AND boys) aren't being taught the basics whether they are interested or not. I wasn't given the choice to learn to sew, it was simply something that I needed to know and mom taught me how to do it along with cooking, cleaning and the laundry. I hear so many young people laughing that they can't cook anything except Ramen noodles. There's nothing funny about it and their mothers should be ashamed of themselves. I was appalled when I did daycare for a young mother and she showed up one day after work with her hem TAPED up with scotch tape! I showed her how to make a blind hem stitch and later she took a quilting class with me that ended up spring-boarding her into clothing construction. Now she makes much of the clothing for her three children and loved it when she finally had a little girl so she could sew dresses. Her mother didn't teach her anything about housekeeping and she's had to learn the best she can on her own. I respect her for becoming a good cook and seamstress, because it hasn't been easy for her.My children can all read a recipe and cook a meal, do a load of laundry and mend a seam or sew on a button. They may not enjoy these things, but they CAN do them! I'm 45, my oldest is 25 and my youngest is 15 and my children are considered oddities by most of their friends. So much so that when our youngest daughter's boyfriend came to spend a weekend with us, he didn't believe Rachel (17) when she told him that she'd cooked the whole meal (stuffed pork loin, wild rice pilaf and chocolate cake baked from scratch.) His newly married sister is being taught to cook by her mother-in-law. Annie

          1. Ckbklady | | #49

            Hiya Annie,

            I have to jump in and agree with you, although I don't know that it's their mothers who should be ashamed of themselves. In many cases that I've seen, parents of modern young adults don't know how to cook themselves, so they neither taught it to their kids or modelled the value of self-sufficient skills because they didn't know they were necessary.

            I'm your age, and my Mum can barely boil water. I bought a copy of The Joy of Cooking at 14 when my doctor said I was too thin. It blew me (and my family!) away. I eventually trained as a chef, and today I remain the only member in my family who doesn't depend on frozen chicken nuggets as a mealtime staple.

            Ditto sewing - Mum can't sew on a button, but I got inspired by my junior high home ec teacher, and bullied my folks into buying a sewing machine. I worked in a fabric store and learned everything I could from my coworkers. I can sew anything now, and Mum is still flummoxed by that button.

            My experience may have been unusual, but I bet there is the occasional kid who will go off and learn these things in spite of upbringing, like I did. I expect that Project Runway shows and the Food Channel and such help a little in that respect.

            Kudos to you for raising your kids to be able to do things for themselves. They'll impress and inspire everyone they meet.

            :) Mary

            Edited 1/26/2008 1:34 pm by Ckbklady

          2. damascusannie | | #50

            I really appreciate my mom teaching me to sew, especially because I know how much she hates doing it. She sewed a lot for us when we were kids. At Christmas, she'd hole up in the guest room/sewing room and we'd tiptoe to the door to listen--I learned some interesting language from her that way! In spite of her frustration, she was an excellent seamstress and taught me well. I do feel sorry for people who are turned loose in the world with no basic survival skills. I think that my upbringing in the rural midwest, in a farming community has a lot to do with what I was taught. My mom needed us to be able to help in the house so that she could help dad with field work and chores. I remember in high school I made a deal with mom that I would do all the household chores on Saturday, including the cleaning, laundry and cooking lunch and supper in exchange for never having to go work in the big hog barns. (I HATED those barns!) We were taught to drive the farm equipment and feed the cattle and whatnot, too. I don't have brothers, so we girls learned to do that sort of thing as well. I can remember one sweltering, dusty, summer day, I drove tractor from 5 am till just about 7 pm, when my boyfriend (now my husband) came and got me from the field. Good thing he was a farm boy, or he'd have never asked me out again--I was literally covered in dirt from head to toe! It is amazing what we can learn on our own with enough determination, though, as you can attest. I have one daughter that thought about culinary arts school, but has opted to work in the management end of the restaurant business instead. However, with her training here at home, she can work at any station in the kitchen if needed. Another is an assistant manager in a bakery. The girls all seem to like cooking better than sewing, except for our youngest who likes them both about the same. BTW--Joy of Cooking is wonderful. It's our cooking "Bible".Annie

          3. sewornate | | #51

            I don't know about any of you, but in our area, Home Ec. is a thing of the past.  It slipped into "Singles Living" when my kids went to school, and now is pretty much nonexistant.  My children are now 39 and 41 and work long hard hours for their respective companies.  They really don't have time to do any of the things I did over the years with cooking and sewing.  I ran my in-home businesses so I could raise my kids, and my husband liked it that way, too.  My daughter asked me, after my mother died, (for whom I cared until her death) if I would cook for them once a week.  So I started doing that.   She can cook and do basic sewing.  She could not get away with being raised by me and not know that stuff, but she has no time.  She works 60+ hours aweek and commutes an hour each way. My son brings everything home to me to do regarding sewing, but is a really good cook.  He lives alone, but is pretty self-sufficient most of  the time.  

            I do wish home ec was still in the curriculum because we learned so much that we use everyday in that class.

          4. damascusannie | | #52

            Home Ec is now called "Family and Consumer Education" and focusses on scaring the kids into not having babies as teenagers and how to find bargains at the store. A good friend of mine who has an FCE degree is very frustrated and doesn't teach, preferring her custom leather and costume clothing business. In Minnesota, the U of M the FCE program doesn't require cooking or sewing skills in its graduates and when Minnesota schools actually want to teach these things, they have to go to the University of Wisconsin-Stout and find their teachers there. I found this out when I was volunteering at a Bible camp with a older woman who was the last home-ec teacher in one of the large metro districts. She was the only FCE teacher on staff that could teach the sewing and cooking portions of the curriculum. She had to rotate between something like three junior high schools and the high school in the district throughout the year to teach these sections. Annie

          5. sewtimely | | #53

            I so agree.  I think they should be taught the basics, if they go from there to bigger and better things and their talents and imagination takes them further good, if they don't want to sew at least they can if they have to and they don't have to join the millions that say "I can't sew on a button."  I can't believe how many people have said that.  I don't know what parents are thinking when they let kids go through life without a skill or desire to learn one.  We're losing our youth to tv, video games and chat rooms.  They can't do anything and saddest thing is their parents can't see they are going to be lost.  Growing up we always had to help cook and clean up afterwards.  And sew, some of us developed a desire to do more.  Some of us (there's 5 girls) ask the others to do the sewing, but at least they could if they had to.  They just don't have to.  I try to show my neices how great it is and how your resources for sewing and creating has no limits. 


          6. MarikaD | | #55

            As one of the Grandfriends at my grandson's school, in a few weeks I will begin teaching sewing to 10 children from grade 5.    They will come during their lunch break and there were so many takers that names had to be drawn out of a hat.  I hope that is a good sign.  I will try to teach useful skills in small beautiful project that will appeal. Wish me luck

          7. KharminJ | | #56

            "Grandfriends" ~ What a beautiful concept!Approach each day with Love, Fun and Patience, and you'll do Just Fine!Bright Blessings to you and your little budding sewers!Kharmin

          8. User avater
            lauradublin | | #57


            My Mom taught me how to sew years ago and now I am so excited to teach my sister.  At our annual quilting guild I was lucky enough to win a Brother sewing machine which I didn't need.  I have 2 already, so I gave the machine to my sister who was thrilled with it. 

            She is a total novice - have never even plugged a machine in, let alone sewn a stitch with one.  She couldn't believe it when she actually started sewing a straight line!  She loved some apron patterns that she saw in my Keepsake Catalogue last year so I got her one and that's her first project.  But it's not a simple pattern and she wants it reversible but it's so nice to have someone else to sew with.

            When we've been sewing for so long (28 years!!) it lovely to be able to pass on our knowledge to someone who just wants to soak it up like a sponge!


          9. sewtimely | | #58

            There's nothing I like better than to see children sew!  There's hope for our future!  Those kids are special!  Let us know how it goes.


          10. MarikaD | | #61

            Well, we have now had the second lesson - I help with teaching knitting on Tuesdays and the knitting instructor helps me on Wednesdays with sewing.   We started off with 10 children in each class. Knitting has grown to 13 and sewing went down to 9 - at the second lesson.

            The first project is a lavender sachet made from wired see-through ribbon (purple) which was whipped stitched up each side and across the top - filled with lavender - and tied with ribbon and a single little flower.  Two of the boys and one girl finished yesterday and the others are hot on their heels.  They were so proud of themselves it near put a tear in my eye.

            Next project - back stitch and running stitch - will be a drawstring bag with small applique sewed to the front.  I have made kits and they are choosing their own - some from school paid for fabric and some from my much too large and needing to be used patchwork stash.

            Sewing is much easier to teach than knitting, I think.  Don't know when I have had such a rewarding and fun time. Perhaps it was last week practicing with my grandchildren. 


          11. sewtimely | | #62

            sounds like such fun.  I like sewing totes, bags.  They're so easy and useful.  I don't knit so I don't know, but I know that needle art is quite a challenge to teach (and learn), where sewing you see results quicker and easier to teach.

            keep sewing, have fun.  I've been out of the sewing loop for a few weeks, other commitments, but next week I intend to complete some sewing projects and get back regularly sewing.  I'm beginning a new handbag with a victorian Delco design.  I'm doing some tatting for trim for it.


  2. rodezzy | | #2

    Hopefully I will be instrumental in showing my cousin's daughter in law how to use the J.C. Penny sewing machine I gave her.  She's expecting now and has only had it for two weeks.  I gave her a basket full of crocheting and knitting books, tools and yarn along with my singer "Quilting Bible" quilt book.  A rotary cutter and ruler.  She'll have to get the mat.  I taught her to crochet five years ago.  So, she does no sew curtains and stuff now, with the machine I hope to nuture her sewing interest and skills.  I gave her copies of "Crochet" magazine and one copy of "Threads". 

    Edited 1/14/2008 3:16 pm ET by rodezzy

    1. MaryinColorado | | #8

      You are such a giving person, Rodezzy!  You have touched and taught many of us here at the forum with your positive attitude, enthusiasm for your art, your way with words and sense of humor.  I think you are one of those special people put on this earth to make our world a better place.  Thank You!  Mary

      1. Ckbklady | | #10

        And hey, Mary, guess what? It's Rodezzy's BIRTHDAY today! (It came up on another thread..)

        So everyone, all together, including you in the back:





        Best birthday wishes,

        :) Yet another Mary

        1. rodezzy | | #12

          BRAVO, BRAVO.....Thank you all for that spendid rendition.  It is so very appreciated.

          I am 56 today and glad to be alive, doing what I love to do and still in pretty good condition physically (as far as I know) smile. 

          Thanks a thousand times over.

          Talk at you guys tomorrow.

          1. Ckbklady | | #13

            Right back atcha, creative spirit!

            :) Mary

          2. MaryinColorado | | #19


            Belated, but heartfelt, hope your day was wonderful!  Mary

          3. rodezzy | | #20

            Thank you, but it's so funny (giggle, giggle, giggle).   You know you are getting old when you get confused about when your birthday is. 

            My birthday is today J-16.  I was so concerned about something else that was to be done on Tuesday, I started thinking that my birthday was Tuesday.

            Thanks for your heartfelt wish.  I hope to live many more.


          4. MaryinColorado | | #21

            That's so funny!  Well, enjoy your day!  I remember one year that I said I was a year older than I actually was, my family got a big kick out of that one!  Especially since it took me until the following year to realise my mistake!  They said I am a backwards woman, and am supposed to make myself out to be younger, not older!  ha ha  Mary 

          5. SAAM | | #25

            Happy, happy birthday, Rodezzy! May this year be filled with color and texture and joy and wonderful surprises and many, many completed projects. Have a great year!Sherry

          6. rodezzy | | #27

            Thank you, I'll do my best...I've crocheted two vests and a cropped sweater so far.  On a roll.  Yeeee Ha

          7. SAAM | | #28

            You're further along than I am. I'm still working on my November challenges. My daughter is in the hospital for the fourth time this year, so most of my focus has been on helping her get better. Here's hoping 2008 is a better year for all of us.Sherry

          8. rodezzy | | #29

            Here's a wish and prayer that she becomes whole again and has a great 2008 right along with you and all the family. 

          9. SAAM | | #33

            Thanks Rodezzy. We can use all the prayers we can get right now. I'm just praying she will be home soon and healthy and happy. After all, she has many more sewing skills to learn! :)

  3. damascusannie | | #3

    I'm hosting a Free Motion quilting class at my house at the end of February. Most of the attendees will be using treadle sewing machines, since this retreat was set up through the collector's group "Treadle On" but some will be using electrics.

    I'll introduce children to sewing at our library, at museums and at quilt shows throughout the year as part of my demonstration schedule.

    I'm hoping to set up a class for beginning quilters in conjunction with a Treadle On event in September and at least one more free-motion quilting class as well.


  4. Ckbklady | | #4

    Hi Ruth,

    Great question, and a great reminder that we're the seeds for keeping sewing "planted"!

    I have a novice sewer friend across the street, and a periodic, novice sewer friend across town, both of whom I'm pulling deeper into my sewing world. Our three hubbies get together to watch hockey every Saturday, and we three missus-es have found a common "thread", as it were! When we're all together on the weekend we ladies end up sitting in the kitchen, which I am rapidly burying in sewing machines.

    I've got tickets for the three of us to go to three days of sewing lectures and classes at the Sew Expo in Puyallup in February. After that, one wants to learn to use my serger, so I'll teach her that. All three of us will learn together to use my "new" treadle, with the kind guidance of the gang at Treadle On discussion board and Damascus Annie here (and there!), I'm sure.

    So lots of learning in 2008 in Redmond, WA!

    :) Mary

  5. cafms | | #5

    I volunteer for the Mississippi State University Extension service as a Master Clothing Volunteer.  In my county another MCV and I teach two beginning sewing classes for adults.  We meet the first Monday of the month in the morning and again in the evening.  The class will make either a sample for the notebook or a sample and a small project using the technique that we discussed and demonstrated.  We start with how to turn on the machine and last year literally helped some take it out of the box.  It can be a bit slow going since it is only once a month and they didn't sew much on their own but last year's class is going to keep meeting  and doing more things this year.  We finished the year with a pj bottom from a pattern Simplicty gave away at the Sewing Expo last year.  It had much more detailed instructions than the regular patterns and I thought it was good for the new sewists. 

    We will start new classes in February. 

    I also help with a 4-H sewing club. 

    1. starzoe | | #6

      I will be teaching in my "grandma mode" for my grandgirls 13 and 11. They already have made a skirt and shorts and a top and many little odds and ends and when they come this summer to visit we will tackle a pattern of something of their choice as they now have a good idea of how to drape for a fit and work without a pattern.

  6. roseytheriviter | | #11

    I am currently teaching on the internet using a webcam to a couple of students in Nagasaki, Japan. It is a mother and daughter who are learning together.

    I am developing a few classes that I would like to teach either free lance or through a school.

  7. coleencotts | | #14

    This year I am teaching over 50 girls and boys to sew. I teach costume design and construction at a private school in Brooklyn to kids ages 9-18. It is the most fulfilling work I've ever done, and these kids are SO excited to learn. The high school students are working on corsets and costume designs. The middle school students are making dresses and have already completed tote bags. Most recently, I have been hired to teach private sewing lessons to another student at the school. I keep thinking the best way to extend this teaching to students that may not be fortunate enough to have an amazing program like ours is to publish some of our projects, so that may be the next step. I love this work.

  8. jjgg | | #15

    well, I teach an assortment of sewing and fitting classes at a local store here, but this next schedule will be my last as I'm moving to North Carolina this summer (DH is retiring). I do hope to open up my own sewing school once we get settled.

    1. SewistKitty | | #16

      I have been teaching teenagers to sew in their homes on a 1:1 basis. I also teach adults beginning sewing and sewing with knits. It is very gratifying to teach others as I was taught with encouragement and support.

    2. drm3218 | | #59

      Where in NC are you moving?  I live outside Charlotte and would love to have someone close to exchange ideas, etc.


  9. User avater
    Colourdujour | | #17

    I am teaching my niece, she's almost 10.  She walks to my home after school on Thursdays, to sew.  We started on a 16-patch pillow cover and now working on a small lap-size quilt.  She's a natural....her seam "intersections" match up perfectly. 

    Also I hope to teach my son (he's 22) to mend his own jeans!  And my daughter's college friend to length/hem her jeans....she's 6'2" and can never find them long enough. 

  10. SAAM | | #26

    I will continue to work with my daughters, 15, 22, and 25, on their sewing skills, as well as helping my friend's daughters, 16 and 18, when their mom loses patience. I'm also hoping my niece will visit this summer so we can have a sewing week as we did last summer.

  11. Jillsifer | | #30

    Ohhhhhhhhhh, how I wish some (several?) of you were in Orange County, California. I just CANNOT seem to teach myself from books and the pattern instructions are utterly incomprehensible to me.

    I would happily take over all of your Christmas baking, Halloween treat-making and Thanksgiving pies if someone could JUST pound a few basic sewing skills (mitered corners on tablecloths, collars on basic shirts, putting pockets into a robe, attaching sleeves without that hideous unintentional "gather," maybe a cute idea for a placemat or two, even threading my danged machine without having to burst into tears) into my poor, thick skull. Heck, I'd even trade for all the homemade jam you could eat.

    It's cool that you're asking this question, though. Even with my own difficulties in mastering sewing, I believe it's REALLY important to keep the homemaking skills alive.


    jillsifer (just bounced over from Cooks' Talk)

    Edited 1/17/2008 6:50 pm by Jillsifer

    1. MaryinColorado | | #31

      Have you tried any sewing videos?  The library might have them and I have been impressed with the ones from http://www.nancysnotions.com, she also has a tv show on PBS, as does Kaye Woods, Martha Pullen, and several others depending on where you live.  If you go to Nancy Zeiman's sight, go to the bottom of the page and click on "tv show" it will send you to her online free videos, you can scroll down and chose whatever peaks your interest.  Her instructions are excellent.   Hope this helps! 

      I bet you are enjoying warm weather, it's colder here than usual so I would love to be in Orange County right about now eating homemade jam.  Sounds yummy.  Is there and American Sewing Guild in your area or extension office or community college or sewing shop that teaches a fabric technique you wish to learn?  Just some thoughts that might make your life easier.  Mary

      1. Jillsifer | | #32

        Wow, thanks for those suggestions! I will get on it this weekend and give something a try.

        It's actually FREEZING (by our standards) here--but if you're in Colorado, our 30s and 40s weather would probably seem balmy.

        Thank you again for the guidance--and for caring. My mom is a pretty competent seamstress and an absolute sweetheart but she has NO gift for teaching, so I'll definitely try your ideas.

  12. J_Eman | | #34

    I'm currently teaching 8 ladies at my religious institution how to sew (classes are free). My advanced beginners are two sisters (18/20) from last year when I first started teaching the classes. Two ladies from the original group drop in from time to time. However, the 2 sisters have progressed wonderfully. One will be a technical sewist while the other is really a drapper and embellishing to her is natural. She started embellishing from day one. Of course she challenges me and this is a pleasure.

    Two of the ladies know how to sew basically but have problems with techniques because they attempt to follow the directions which I feel are wrong (example collars with collar stands) and they are learning the art of using an iron. I have 2 lefties in my class and sometimes they are a challenge because they have an overwhelming desire to do things on the sewing machine backwards. For hand sewing I have them sit opposite of myself and this has worked well.

    Besides the sisters I have a lady in her 60's, one in her 40's, one 15 y.o. that has informed us she will be 16 very soon, and the rest are in their early 30's. (I’m 50) so we cover a wide age group. My current group has been together for 6 months so I feel as though as our classes continue to grow they will be my core students.

    Doing these class has been a challenge. I started teaching the class because one of the sisters asked me to do it. The first 4 weeks we covered the basic (needles, threads, reading patterns) and fitting so they would learn how to read the pattern and make changes. Of course after making a few things people decided that pattern alterations weren't necessary. I haven't disagreed with them but now one of the sisters has beautiful unlined jacket that are too small (1") in the waist. So, I'm hoping she has learned the lesson of why there is a  need to fit first.

    Each week the class learns a new sewing technique and I've asked them to keep a notebook. Some will and some I would like to watch scramble to find their notes if I asked them to bring them to the next class along with their samples.  I give test to make sure all the reading material has been read. I tell them I'm giving my time and money so I can be mean and test to make sure they are not being wasted.   This morning I'm putting the final touches on the class before leaving home. I usually get up at 2 a.m. and go through my head what each is doing and try to make sure the supplies needed will be there if she forgets. I look like a pack animal when I leave home but my husband helps.  I'm exhausted when I return home, but we have a wonderful time. 

    However, the biggest challenges I've found with doing these classes has been people bringing junk sewing machines to class. Three of my students have sewing machines that I would classify as nice machines and they are older machines. The sisters are realizing they need to purchase a better machine. While their machine is cheap at least one is able to adjust the stitch length and width which can not be done adequately on some of the other machines. Due to this I frequently have to take one of my machines to class, so the individual will be able to do what is needed. I would really like to teach some more challenging techniques in the future but bottom of the line machines will not be able to do the job.


    1. SewistKitty | | #37

      I have the same problem with some of my sewing students using bottom-of-the line sewing machines. In my pre-class instructions I recommend that everyone get their machines cleaned and serviced. No one has ever done so. I bought a Janome Sewist 509 (not affiliated with Janome) and have had individual sewers use that instead of their frustrating machines. Other than buying that machine to use I have no other solutions. I do keep suggesting reliable and inexpensive sewing machines to buy with little success. It is discouraging but not enough to have me stop teaching sewing to newbies.

      1. J_Eman | | #39

        Kathy thank you for the information, for I have been thinking about purchasing another sewing  machine for the classes.  I have been taking my old Viking #1+ to class but it's my backup machine, so I don't like doing this.  I want something that is easy to transport but at the same time has a little growing room so the students will be able to use it as needed for different techniques.  

        During our second class I had the students bring their sewing machines  and we clean them.  I also have some of the fine sandpaper that is used to get rid of burrs and the class seems to appreciate learning a little maintenance.  Covered needles and how often to change them.  However, they don't listen, for we all know you only need to change the needle when one breaks.   

        Like you I enjoy these classes so much.  The younger students keep me young and at the some time they seem to be enjoying themselves.  One of the students told me she was able to put sewing down as her hobby for a school application.  However, they proved to me that my time isn't being wasted recently.  We had quite a snow storm on Friday so I cancelled the class.  However during the night the snow melted.  I got a call at 8 a.m. asking if we would have class.  I told the lady if we could get at least 2 other people together I would give it.  At 10 all 8 students were there and ready to go.  So, they know how to make me feel wonderful. 



  13. autumn | | #35

    My 17-yr-old granddaughter is interested in going into costume design and production. Last fall I taught her and helped her make a Regency (Jane Austen-style) dress, which turned out great. When she has time this spring we will do the same pattern in a banana-colored satin. She never showed any interest in sewing until now.

    A friend had her 18th birthday this week and I gave her a nice box filled with sewing gadgets. She already sews so I figured she could use her own stuff when she goes off to college next fall.

  14. Cherlyn | | #54

    My daughter has been interested in sewing her own dance costume for a few years now.  She has been taking belly dancing lessons for several years and the costumes are very expensive.  So, she set oout this summer to learn a few things from me.  Not every itme has to have a commercial pattern; sometimes you've got to run with the vision and create your own.  We purchased a beatiful African print fabric at the last quilt show (Paducah).  Now we're in the process of altering a pattern to make the top to match the skirt.  The skirt was created without any patterns.  She described what she wanted and drew a few rough sketches.  I've enjoyed sharing with her the love of seeing a vision become a reality. 

  15. MarieCurie | | #60

    I started "Summer Sewing camp" this week for my daughter (age 6) and her friends in the neighborhood.  This afternoon I had four little girls age 6 thru 9 in the living room.  It's proving very popular, despite their limited attention span.  They keep coming back every day for their session, though.   And I LOVE it!!!

  16. alotofstitches | | #63

    My 3 g.daughters ages 10, 10 &5 are all learning to sew. I have bought all of them their own sewing machine.   Their mothers do not sew(yes, I have tried) but do encourage the girls.  The youngest cut out & sewed a pillowcase last year & won Best of Show in the Fair.  Of course she didn't have a lot of competition either, but I'll use any means I have to keep them interested.  This summer the Girl Scout troop that the older 2 are in have had "sewing sessions" in my home as they work on a Bronze badge award.  The 3rd-5th grade Bible Class I teach have been sewn rice bags for Senior church members and then baby blankets to send to mission fields.  they want to sew rice bags again this fall.  From that experience two girls have asked for & gotten sewing machines as gifts and have been sewing small projects.  Both will be here this afternoon to begin PJ bottoms!  Hopefully all these girls will continue long enough for it to stick with them. 

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