Since I have taught children to sew over the years, my methods have changed as children have changed.
Before, children used to sign up for a week-long camp to make pajamas or a skirt. We would:
- Learn all the parts of the machine
- Learn to wind the bobbin and thread the machine
- Learn about sewing tools
- Practice sewing on paper discovering the different stitches and stitch lengths
- Make the The Instant Gratification Pillow
- Learn about picking fabrics and design
- Learn the grain, selvage, nap, fold and sides of the fabric
- Learn how to read a pattern, sizing, and lay out the pattern on the fabric
- Learn about pinning and cutting of fabric
- Learn about sewing seams and importance of the correct seam allowance
- Learn to use the iron safely and properly and how to iron seams open
- Learn to make a casing and feeding elastic through
- Learn to make a hem
- Learn about fit, sizing, design and finishing
- Learn safety techniques
- How to use their sewing skills in the future
- Learn to do simple repairs if a student brought something in
- We would do a service project using their new skills.
- Other weeks of camp were making other garments
- A fashion show of student runway models was the pride of every grandma in the audience.
The most exciting time of the whole camp was the end of the first day when they completed The Instant Gratification Pillow. Although it was exciting to finish their skirt and wear it, there is something special about making your first project. You can say “I made this!”
The Instant Gratification Pillow was always something I had cut and pinned for them (a pre-cut kit). It didn’t matter that they didn’t pin the pattern. It didn’t matter that they didn’t cut it. It didn’t matter that they didn’t make the folds and put the right sides together. It didn’t matter that they didn’t pin and prepare the seam to be sewn. It didn’t matter that they didn’t iron it. All that matters is that if they did the sewing, they could proudly say, “I made this!”
Now, how I teach children to sew has changed. Children now live in a world where everything is “Instant.” If things don’t move fast enough, they lose interest. I have now started doing the cutting and prepping for several more projects.
Now I also use Wonder Clips instead of pins. Children find these easier to remove as they are sewing and there are a lot less ouches.
Now the reason for learning to sew has changed. People do not want to learn to sew to make their own garments any more when there is Target and Forever21 stores that offer clothing at a much lower cost than making it yourself. People want to learn to sew to make quilts or simple projects they have seen on Pinterest. If they enjoy sewing, then they continue on to make other projects and then go on to make clothing if they desire. If they are so frustrated with their first ever project, they may never grow to love sewing.
If you are teaching yourself to sew, learning to sew can be intimidating. There are many online resources that make it easier to learn to sew on your own but fear of cutting the fabric wrong can be a big stumbling block in your learning. Consider using pre-cut kits to learn. Be careful of sewing kits sold online. Some of these are “kits” which means they include everything you need to make a project but the fabric is not cut for you. Be sure to read the descriptions to find out.
Please visit Pre-Cut Sewing Kits for resources.