Tips for teaching newbie stitchers

Best advice:  take your time and keep it simple!

  1.  Let students watch you sew on a project for a few minutes at the beginning of class.
  2. Before taking that first stitch, introduce students to the parts of the sewing machine. Have them label the parts on a separate handout to keep in a sewing folder for future reference.
  3. Stitch on paper first – without thread – so they get used to the feel of the machine. Lined notebook paper or free online printables are excellent for stitching practice. Make sure students can follow a straight line, pivot (make a 90 degree turn) and follow a winding path before threading the machine.
  4. Demonstrate how to thread the machine – both bobbin and top thread. Then, unthread the machine, hand students a spool of thread, an empty bobbin and a threading diagram copied from the machine manual. Let them try it.
  5. Leftover charm squares work well for practice fabric. Let students use a die cut machine to cut 5″ squares from donated fabric yardage. They can stitch around 3 sides using a 1/4″ foot, making tiny treat bags. Use pinking shears to finish the unsewn edge, then tie the bag closed with ribbon, baby rickrack or a small piece of fabric.
  6. A travel pillowcase makes a great first project. Try the hotdog method of pillowcase construction with a French seam finish.   This requires a  1/2 yard of fabric for the pillow case body and 1/3 yard for the cuff, plus a 12″ x 16″ pillow.  (Hint: Wal-Mart has travel pillow inserts in the fabric section.)