Reflecting on snap bag class with 3rd – 7th graders

Snap Bags

We used the Snap Happy Bag pattern from Stitchin Sisters for our class. While each student brought her own purchased copy of the pattern to class, I made some modifications to the cutting and construction sequence to make it a little bit easier on the girls.  My goal was to get one large bag completed before the end of class.  We managed to do just that – barely.

I made kits for each student consisting of full-size freezer paper templates of the rectangles and squares needing to be cut for the bag, precut batting and fusible interfacing.  I also provided snap parts and practice fabric.  I charged a nominal fee for the kits.  The reason behind the freezer paper templates was simple – the shop doesn’t allow kids to use rotary cutters in class;  nor would I be able to cut fabric pieces for each girl in the allotted class time.  Students got to practice pinning and cutting pattern pieces out the correct way – something none of them knew how to do.   I was able to quickly even things up with a rotary cutter, if necessary.

Notes to self for next time:
1) Precut the snap parts to  7″ for the large bag, round the corners and wrap the ends with electrical tape. Will save much time and mess to clean-up.
2) Allow students to iron fabric.
3) Provide mini-lessons on proper cutting techniques, fusible interfacing and 1/4″ seams at the beginning of class.  Cut large rectangles of ugly fabric so students can practice sewing a 1/4″ seam all the way around.  If student doesn’t have a 1/4″ foot, use the outside edge of the presser foot as a guide to keep it consistent.
4) Stop and make everyone do prairie points at the same time.  Demonstrate how to edge stitch and maybe bring some folded scraps for them to practice on.
5) Provide baggies of scrap fabrics for girls to use while they are waiting their turn for instructor assistance (this was a huge godsend as two girls consistently kept losing their top thread every time I turned around).
6) If a mom offers to stay and help – accept her offer.  She can press fabric, fuse interfacing and help keep girls on track.
7) If funds become available – buy 2 machines (like a Janome 3128) for 3rd-5th graders to use.  Super simple machines and great for beginners.  I got my hands on a Hello Kitty version to use for the class and was very surprised at how well it sewed AND how quickly the girls learned to use it.  It was one machine I didn’t have to consistently “fix” during class.

If I weren’t moving in less than 2 weeks, I would have scheduled another one of these classes in July.  It was a LOT of fun for both the girls and me!

Note to Ava and Ada:  One of you left your pattern directions sheet at the shop!  Pls call Miss Robin to retrieve it!