craft business, Kid's Sewing

Tips for Teaching the Munchkins to Sew

classroom set up
After 5 years of running successful kid’s sewing classes and camps, I’ve developed a Sewing Class Checklist for Teachers to help keep me organized. The checklist includes notes about snacks, first aid kit, sewing supplies and even a reminder about eyeglasses for me. I hope you find value in it.

Essential:

  • Sewing machine(s) with a speed controller.  This is especially important for younger students as they only know one speed – and this usually involves mashing the foot pedal all the way to the floor.   You can find both mechanical and computerized machines with a speed controller, but this feature will cost a little more. Do not automatically assume the computerized machine on sale for under $100 at the big box store has a speed controller.  Verify before you buy!
  • Extra sewing machine feet:  open toe foot, 1/4″ foot and a walking foot.
  • Heavy duty extension cord and power strip.  Just. keep. them. handy.
  • Classroom sewing basket with community supplies.
  • Small scissors for little hands; add a pair of lefty scissors while you’re at it.
  • Use GLASS head pins and little clips to hold fabric pieces together for sewing. Be sure to demonstrate proper pinning techniques.
  • Keep small baskets of fabric scraps within student reach to keep them busy while waiting for assistance.
  • Choose simple projects.  Track how long it takes you to make an item and then double it.  Triple that number for brand new stitchers. For a 2 hour class, If you can’t make the item in less than 30-45 minutes, select a different project. Make 1-2 samples of finished projects.
  • Precut everything unless you plan to incorporate cutting out as part of the class.  In this case, have pattern pieces (freezer paper works well) trimmed and ready to go

Running the class

  • HAVE FUN and maintain your SENSE OF HUMOR! Remember, you are dealing with kids and anything can/will happen!
  • Keep classes 90-120 minutes in length.  Incorporate a 10 minute snack time about 1/2 way through class.
  • Arrive 30 minutes early.  Set up any student machines you’re providing for use during class, set out scrap baskets, snacks and the community sewing basket.
  • As students arrive, have them (and grandma or other adult attending class with them) fill out a name tag.  Have students set up their machines and encourage them to “warm up” using fabric scraps found in the baskets.
  • Start class on-time.  Handle introductions, bathroom location, snack availability and other housekeeping matters before diving into the sewing project.
  • Show the sample and review first few steps.
  • No worries if a student does not have a 1/4″ foot –  instruct them to use the outside edge of the presser foot as a guide.
  • Monitor progress to keep everyone near the same step of the project.
  • Circulate among students, offering praise and assistance.
  • Do not be afraid to stop the class to reteach a concept.  If you find one student doing something incorrectly, chances are another student is, as well.
  • Demonstrate your process for sewing, but remind students that there is no single right way to sew. This is especially helpful if Mom/Grandma does things a little differently than you do.  
  • Allow time for show & tell.  If other customers are in the shop, encourage students to go show the grown-ups what they’ve made.
  • Take pictures during class (if you remember), but definitely during show and tell.
  • End as close to on-time as possible (15 minutes over is usually ok) and have students help clean-up the classroom before leaving.
  • Be sure to give any project hand-outs to grown-ups accompanying students. Most students don’t care, but the grown-ups sure do.
  • Give students a fun activity as a takeaway. It can be a sewing graphic to color, cartoon word search or matching game.  Include your contact information or business card with it.
  • Always thank the students, their adult chaperones and the shop/venue staff.
  • Leave the classroom space better than you found it. Turn off irons. Return tools to their proper places. Empty individual trash bins. Donate any snacks the kids didn’t eat to the community snack table.

Other considerations

  • Inquire about food allergies in advance. I have a “no-peanut rule” for the snacks I provide, unless I’ve taught the students previously and I’ve determined no nut allergies exist.
  • Inquire if students have asthma.  If your project requires the use of basting spray or highly scented products, you might need to find an alternative – or do that part of the project outside.
  • Try to find out the sewing ability of students BEFORE class. If you have a class full of students who’ve never touched a sewing machine before in their lives, you’ll need a helper or two (unless Mom/Grandma is staying with them).
craft business, Crafty STEM, Kid's Sewing, Quilting

Kid’s Classes Now Available

 

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You asked! Classes are scheduled for the month of July, 2016. 

Location:  All classes will be held @ Stitch N Quilt in Mableton.

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July 7th , 10-11:30 a.m. Crafty STEM/Electric Bracelet.  Learn about e-textiles/soft circuits as you make your very own LED bracelet.  You choose the color of bamboo felt, stitch your circuit and bling to your heart’s content. Class Fee:  $15.00, includes all supplies.  Hand sewing.

July 7th, 1:00-3:00 p.m. T-Shirt Pillows.  Become a part of the upcycling crowd as you turn one of your t-shirts into a pillow.  Note: this is not a class for absolute beginners. You need to be able to sew a straight seam without sewing your fingers together. Class Fee:  $15.00.  Kit Fee: $10.00 (optional, but provides your choice of fabrics and a 14″x14″pillow form.) Machine sewing.

July 13th – 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Snap Bags. Make & Take.  Come as you are and make your very own version of one of these clever snap bags which incorporates  metal tape measure pieces to make the bag “snap” shut. For kids and adults.  Class Fee: $10.00, includes tape measure parts. Machine sewing.

July 19th  & July 21st – 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. – Kids Quilt. Come view the samples on display in the shop and choose to make either a Windmill or a Simply Blocks quilt top. If you buy your fabrics at SNQ, the staff will precut all your fabrics so that you can start stitching right away. Class Fee:  $35.00  Optional Kit & Pattern Fee: TBD.  Machine sewing.

 

 

Kid's Sewing, Quilting

Earn those merit badges girls!

Last Monday, I stayed after school to help our local Girl Scout troop members earn service badges.  The girls elected to make fleece dog blankets as their service project.  One tiny, but very important, detail – three of the four girls had never touched a sewing machine.

No problem! I brought in three sewing machines, sewing supplies and scrap fabrics for practice.  The assistant leader brought in one machine and the fleece.  A fun time was had by all, especially with regard to the “capture the needle thread” game (i.e. the girls kept losing the upper thread every time I turned around!).  In the end, the girls donated four fleece doggie blankets that accompanied rescue dogs being transported up north by Road Trip Home.  Here are some photos of our adventure:

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Quilting, Uncategorized

A busy week indeed

This was our last official week of summer break.  An oxymoron of sorts as I spent three days dealing with school stuff (unpaid, of course since our contract doesn’t start until Monday).  I managed to squeeze in some sewing and actually taught sewing classes this week.

Levi’s Story Time Quilt
from the stash and very scrappy

First off, I made a very scrappy baby quilt for a library colleague of mine who recently adopted a child.  Our former library media supervisor hosted a baby shower for the new parents.  Attendees were asked to bring a favorite children’s book to help build the baby’s library.

I decided Levi needed a story-time quilt to snuggle up with while he listens to all of those great stories.  The 16 patch blocks are made up from 2″ squares cut from fabric scraps.  In fact, I cut all of the pieces for this quilt using my Accuquilt GO! cutter. It made quick work of cutting all of those 2″ squares from various size scraps.  Sewing them together was a breeze.  Can’t say the same thing for the white squares, though.  Some came out 1/8″ short, forcing me to “make it work” while assembling the rows.  I had a similar problem with the 5″ charm square die, which the company replaced at no charge.  Hopefully this was a case of operator error not equipment error.  The 6-1/2″ size is quite handy.

I taught not one, but TWO sewing classes this week.  The first was a mother-daughter private and lesson and the second was to a class full of ‘tweens learning to make t-shirt pillow covers.  What a blast.  My friend Shannon was shopping in the store and popped in the classroom to say, “Hi!” when she heard my voice.

T-Shirt Pillow Class with Anna and Shelbea

The shop owner took a number of pictures of the class in action.  I’ll write up a post when I have permission from all the parents to post the pictures.  Meanwhile, enjoy this photo of my 8th grade friends proudly displaying their handiwork.

Lastly, equipment failure forced me to seek out a better fabric organization solution for my stash.  The oversize 3 drawer rolling cart I’d inherited from a teacher friend finally broke.  I purchased color coded fabric bins from Home Depot and a Martha Stewart 6-cubby organizer to replace the plastic cart.  The color of the bin indicates which color family of fabric is stored inside.  I can tell at a glance what I have.  And yes, the fabric bins come in a wide range of colors.  The 6 drawer plastic organizer to the right  of my new cubby organizer is a really good one – but I really, really like the ease of finding fabric in the bins.  And the bins hold a lot more fabric than the plastic drawers.  Hmmm…

Stash organization using color coded fabric bins and cubby organizer from Martha Stewart available at Home Depot (on left).