Copyright and Teaching Sewing Classes

Simply stated:
Whether you teach using a single pattern, magazine article or from a book, each student should have his/her own legitimate copy.  It is generally NOT okay to buy one copy of a pattern, magazine or book and then make copies to distribute to your students.

But patterns and books cost so much!!! Believe me, cost is a HUGE factor in deciding which projects to do with my kids.

As a librarian at the day job, it’s my responsibility to explain copyright and fair use to my staff. I’m certainly not an intellectual property attorney; however, I do my best to model ethical copyright behavior in both the day job and when teaching sewing classes.  Here are some tips to help keep things copyright compliant while keeping costs down:

  1. If you absolutely love the pattern, teach from it and have your students buy the pattern for that class!  See if you can get the pattern at a discount.
  2. Fabric and craft companies (plus designers) post numerous free projects online.  Use those!  Work with the shop to kit the projects. If necessary, have students print out their own copies of the free pattern and bring to class.
  3. For books, students can often borrow from a library or find them much cheaper at a used bookstore/online vendor.
  4. Buy basic commercial patterns (pajama bottoms, skirt, aprons, etc.) that you’ll actually use in classes when they are on sale for $1-2 each at the big box retailer. I buy 4-5 copies of a single pattern at a time.  Each kid takes home the pattern they used in class and the cost is built into the class fee. This is a convenience for my students and helps keep things copyright compliant.
  5. Design your own patterns! Inspired by something you saw but can’t find a pattern that you can use?  Pinterest and YouTube are your friends.  I’ll bet you can come up with something!  Keep projects simple and let the kids add their own creative flourishes.  Pillowcases, tote bags, zippered pouches, drawstring bags, tablet covers, mug cozies and potholders can only be made so many ways.

When planning projects for classes, I survey my students to see what they’d like to make. If it’s a garment, see #4.  If not, I meet with the shop owner to see if there are any patterns currently in stock that they’d like me to use.  If not, I’ll go to option #2 & then #5. Honestly, I usually develop my own patterns and instruction sheets for the Kid’s Club projects.  Most project patterns are written for adults – not children.  Occasionally, the quilt shop calls because a customer wants to buy my project instruction sheets. I’ve since spiffed up the format and now sell them when asked.

The Featherweight Shop/Lori Holt Retreat

This past week, I spent time in McCall, Idaho learning how to maintain my Featherweight and took a 3 day class on Farmgirl Vintage 2 led by Lori Holt.

I had a blast!  JK Quilts and the Featherweight Shop put on a first class experience for all who attended. The retreat swag was unbelievable! Fat quarter bundles, precut projects, FW tools and accessories, Lori Holt themed goodies, tumblers, bags, patterns, books…the box I shipped home weighed 20 pounds.

I literally unplugged for an entire week. This city girl only picked up her iPad to take pictures and record notes with her iPencil during Carmon Henry’s Featherweight Maintenance Workshop.  Now, I will see if I can figure out why Crystal (my white Featherweight) won’t pick up the bobbin thread.

Attendees also got to be among the first to learn about new products from the Featherweight Shop that will be coming to the marketplace soon.  We were able to try out one new product. My name is on the list to try when another new product comes available.

Not surprisingly, most attendees were from the West Coast. A handful of us came from the Midwest, Southeast and Northeast. Many couldn’t believe that I flew all that way when I have other options available locally.  (I tended to agree with that observation on Saturday when it took me 15 hours and 3 plane changes to get home because bad weather in ATL caused Southwest to cancel my flight from Denver.)  I missed Carmon Henry’s workshop when they came to Georgia 3-4 years ago.  Missouri Star has retreats with Carmon Henry scheduled for August 2019, but school’s already back in session.  (Good call on my part because I’ll be using my personal days to attend an Aurifil event and other quilty retreats during the school year!).

As I mentioned earlier, I had SEW much fun on this retreat.  I laughed, stitched and unplugged for an entire week.  I got to connect with people outside of work and school. We were all so very different, yet we managed to have sewing and a love of Featherweights that brought us all together.  I was very sad to leave Karen, Terry, Sharon and a host of others on Friday morning.  I hadn’t experienced that level of camaraderie since I went back to Tampa last summer. Now that all of my major professional development for the day job is behind me, I can concentrate on reconnecting with my quilty, crafty, bookish and outdoorsy peeps in the area.  Ticket has already been purchased for the Atlanta Quilt Study Group meeting in late September – it also falls during Fall Break!  No need to take time off from work!  Woo-hoo!



When your body gives you a reality check

Last Sunday, I spent three hours in the emergency room due to a droop on the the left side of my face. I’d gone to the local urgent care, who took my blood pressure, examined my face and told me I needed to get to the ER. A possible stroke was her biggest concern. After blood tests, two exams and a head MRI, the diagnosis – Bell’s Palsy.

Basically, the cranial nerve that moves the muscles on the left side of my face is inflamed. The left side of my face literally froze from my forehead to the bottom of my lip. It feels as if I’ve had dental work done and my mouth is still numb. Thankfully, I can now blink and close my left eye. I can eat as long as I use a fork and drink with a straw. Still pain from the ear to my nose. Cheek and jaw muscles remain tight – even with massive steroids for the past week. Not being able to smile is hard.

The prognosis from the ER and my primary care doctors was quite positive for a full recovery. I have a follow-up appointment later this week with the neurologist just to make sure everything is okay.  I’m also curious as to the cause of this episode. Was it just a combination of random factors or was the major culprit – stress?  My white blood cell count was super high with no indication of an infection.  The nurse informed me that it was also an indicator of extremely high stress levels. I was strongly encouraged to spend the summer relaxing and doing massive amounts of self-care. I was also advised to learn ways to better manage my stress.

So, in keeping with the doctor’s orders, I am taking the entire month of June and most of July off. My plans include nothing more strenuous than relaxing near a body of water with sand between my toes, a good book in my hands and a glass of wine by my side. Oh – and maybe a small project to stitch on Crystal or Juliette (my beloved Singer Featherweights) when the weather outside gets a bit too toasty.




Featherweight Info & Parts – Sources

This is more a compilation for my use, but feel free to borrow:

Singer-Featherweight  (f/n/a April 1930’s – successor to Graham Forsdyke)
Nova Montgomery
Desk Dave
Featherweight Doctor
Glenn Williams (Temple Terrace, FL)

Helpful hints:
*Original Bobbin Case is a MUST.
*Best replacement belt:  Bernina Black V-Belt part# 305.201.13
*Stick to original bobbins or reproduction bobbins from sources listed above. Bobbins from big box craft stores have mixed results.
*Screwdrivers with magnetic tips work best.
*LED bulbs are much cooler.
*If you don’t like/want to preserve original Bake-Lite foot controller – get the clamshell version with the rubber molded plug (about $40). WORTH EVERY PENNY.
*If you experience tensions issues, try a thread stand.




Put on your game face

Teachers have to be really good at hiding their emotions. I tell my students that we sometimes have to put on our game face and deal with adversity. It’s a part of growing up.  Is it easy? Oh heck no – especially when you secretly wish you could act like some of the second graders throwing a fit because they didn’t get their way.

As I mentioned in previous posts, I decided I needed to be more like my students and ask for what I want. So, I put myself on the transfer list and started applying for openings.  I had a really, really good interview with my “home” middle school (the one my neighborhood kids attend). This was the kind of interview where you really connect with the principal and you know they “get” it.  In the past, this level of connection has usually meant that I got the job. Not so this time.  I received the “position filled” email shortly before I left today to go to another interview with a neighboring school district.

That was hard. 

I had to put on my game face and go try to convince someone I didn’t know why they should hire me as their media specialist.  I had a great conversation with two very nice people. I seemed to answer their questions in ways they liked. Hopefully, I’ll be asked back for a second interview. I really would like to see where the library is located on campus. It’s driving me crazy that I didn’t get to see it today!  I was, however, very impressed with the cleanliness of the facility and the sense of order on campus.  Markedly different from my current school.

I also have an interview with another elementary school later this week. One of my former coworkers told them they needed to hire me!  🙂  The only sticky wicket is due to staff reassignments, my path will cross with an assistant principal from my former school. She’s a proponent of the fixed library schedule that I’m trying to get away from.

Four years ago, it was either transfer to another school or leave education. I absolutely, positively was not returning to that school for another year. Things are very different this time around. I actually like my current school and coworkers, but I’m stagnating in the day job. Not a good place for me to be. I want to pursue learning commons certification and work toward state recognition for an exemplary library media center before I hang up my school librarian hat.  Retirement is still a few years off, but this is something I’d like to do before I do retire.



Take time to celebrate everyday successes

I use the word success, because for me – that’s exactly what it is…

Yesterday, I went to an in-person doctor for an actual physical exam. Success #1.
My lab results came back and they were the best they’ve been in 20 years. Success #2.

I attribute both of these to my starting Weight Watchers Freestyle late last summer.

My last physical was in October 2016.  That experience, along with the subsequent comedy of errors resulting from that visit, left me not wanting to ever set foot in a doctor’s office again. So, I didn’t. I used the online doctor service through my health insurance provider and the local clinic at the corner pharmacy to meet basic health care needs. Kind of silly, yes I know, but that’s how I needed to work through it.

When I first started WW, I set a goal that once I reached a certain target weight, I would  schedule a physical with a new primary care doctor. I met my target weight over spring break. I’d already researched doctors and had a couple of candidates in mind. I scheduled an appointment with the one who had the earliest availability (still 2 weeks out).  I LOVE my new primary care physician! I still don’t like going to the doctor, but I no longer dread it.

According to Dr. P, I still have 20 more pounds to lose (more than I thought), but he was very encouraging of the steps I’d taken so far to take control of my health. The lab results clearly showed what cutting back on sugar, red meat and fast food can do for one.  I had a biometric screening done August 2018 for my employer’s wellness plan. My April 2019 numbers were much improved. Total cholesterol had dropped 55 points and my blood glucose level was within normal limits – not pre-diabetic like it was last August.

I am ready to tackle the last 20 pounds and schedule the remaining health screening visits for the summer months (ob/gyn, dermatologist and gastroenterologist), so I am up-to-date on taking care of ME.

As the saying goes, “Your health is your wealth.”  If one physician isn’t a good fit for you, then go find another one who is.  I actually liked my previous physician, but not her practice manager (who has a god complex and states it’s his decision whether or not you remain a patient of the practice).  In hindsight, I feel really stupid sometimes giving that fool the power to keep me from taking the best care of me for nearly 18 months. The good news is I wised up and that won’t happen ever again.

Oh and success #3 – I found the white 1964 Singer Featherweight I’d been seeking! It’s set to arrive on Saturday!  Sew excited!


Genius Hour

In elementary schools, Genius Hour is a dedicated time where students can explore anything that interests them. Some sort of output is usually required in the form of a physical object, writing piece or digital multimedia presentation. Our Friday clubs are my school’s version of Genius Hour.

sewing clubMy Stitching Stallions were required to design and make blocks for Block Party, which is a kid-focused quilting exhibit (open to all K-12 students in Georgia) that will be on display during Georgia Celebrates Quilts in June, 2019.  Most of my kids had never touched a sewing machine before the end of January.  They love to sew long lines of fabric together, so we decided on strip pieced blocks as the overall design for everyone.  The kids cut the bulk of the strips themselves using my Sizzix machine and strip dies. Some of the kids really took their time and kept a fairly consistent seam allowance throughout the entire block construction. They carefully selected colors that would complement one another and arranged their strips in a certain color order. Other kids took a lot of creative liberties with sewing wide seam allowances because they wanted different width strips, or sewing the strip directly on top of the other one because they liked the look.  Their written block descriptions are due back Monday. I can’t wait to see what they wrote about the experience!

This Friday sewing club has been a treasured part of the past four years I’ve spent at this school. We learned on Friday afternoon that there would be no more clubs for the remainder of the year due to the new state-mandated testing schedule.  The rumor mill (usually accurate) also says there will be no clubs next year.  This confirms my feeling that it’s time to dismantle sewing studio B,  re-home four sewing machines and divest the bulk of the craft materials (rather than waiting until the end of the year).  Two sewing machines and some supplies will be kept in the Media Center for Maker Space activities. 20190301_125826

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