Thursday, May 14, 2015

What I Learned While Teaching Kids to Sew

I homeschool my children and part of our homeschool routine includes our wonderful co-op.  One day a week, we meet up with other homeschooling families and our kids take classes together.  All of the classes are taught by fellow parents and the kids all love it!

In previous semesters, my kids have taken classes like Native American Studies, Musical Theater, Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Birds, Art, and many others.  We have students ranging in age from toddlers to high schoolers.  It is a wonderful, diverse, friendly, amazing group!

This semester, I taught Machine Sewing.  I had 7 children in my class, 6 girls and my son.  My youngest was 5 years old and the oldest was 12.  It was an interesting semester.

Not only did my kids learn a ton about sewing (and they have all requested that I teach another sewing class next year), but I learned a lot too.  Here's a few of the things I learned.

1. Keep the projects simple.  We started off with simple projects like fabric bookmarks and t-shirt bags.  But then I got adventurous and decided that they could make simple sundresses to donate to children in Uganda.  We used a simple pattern which would normally take me less than an hour from start to finish.  It took us about a month.  Granted, we were learning as we went and we only had one 45 minute class per week.  One whole day was spent on learning how to put a PDF pattern together.  Next time, I'll keep the projects smaller, ones that can be completed in one to two classes.

2. Precut things for your students.  Kids are impatient and lose interest in things that take too long.  While all of them did a fairly decent job of cutting out their patterns and fabric, we would have gotten through things much faster if I had done the cutting at home.  When teaching one-on-one, letting your student cut their own stuff out would be fine, but trying to keep your eyes on 7 students at once was a little overwhelming for me.  And I was doing this with 3 additional parents in the class helping!  The day I precut the fabric bookmarks should have been a heads up to how much better it would be if I cut things out before class.

3. Keep the fabric options simple and make sure you're aware of what's in the fabric bin before coming to class with it.  When it was time for the students to pick out their fabric for their dresses, I brought in a bin of fabric that was living in my garage.  It was mostly cotton quilting fabric, which was perfect for the dresses.  But there were a few that should have been taken out before class, some pieces didn't have enough fabric to make a dress, some were too thin, some were too thick.  Too much time was spent digging through the box of fabric.

Those were the biggest things I learned during this semester.  I'm really hoping that the sewing class makes for next year, from the sound of it, chances are good.  I'll be working on some new projects over the summer and will even be posting my own tutorials as I test them out with Bitty Bee and Gamer.  

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the semester.  Those are some pretty awesome kids in these pictures!  They made the class a joy to teach!


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