Last week, I taught a kids sewing class. Sponsored by the fabric store I work at (Country Fabrics in Garnett KS) and the Anderson County Extension office, and with help from three ladies from the Pieces & Patches guild, we held two afternoon classes. The fabric store gave the kids a discount on their supplies, and the extension office loaned us the room, a machine, and supplied me with folders for the students.
We didn't charge a fee, partly because with 4 kids, I take advantage of any free activities I can for my family! And never having done this before, I was reluctant to charge in case it was a disaster. Thankfully, it was not! We had a great bunch of kids.
The class project was pillowcases. I used the free tutorial for the burrito method at allpeoplequilt.com - they have a boy and a girl version. This only requires sewing three seams, so it was simple enough to ensure we could get it done in our 3 hour time window. I had them purchase extra fabric - 1 yard of the main and 1/2 yard of the contrast band. I'd rather them have too much than not enough, and I had a plan for the extra fabric.
We started out with a walk through of the sewing machine. I drew a diagram on the board and gave them each a handout to follow along with. Because we were using several varieties of sewing machines, not all of the parts were the same, like where the presser foot lifter was located, or if there was a button or a lever for reverse stitching. So we took a few minutes to find where things were on each machine.
During this part of the class, Terrie & Carolyn (Terrie & Ruth the 2nd day) were rotary cutting each child's fabric to size. I wasn't going to hand over rotary cutters to kids! And cutting with scissors would have been inaccurate and time consuming. I debated with myself about this step, but figured if they were sewing at home, their mom or dad would likely help them with this anyways.
Then we did a bit of hand sewing. Before the class, I took some thin styrofoam plates, and marked a star on them. I used a tapestry needle to pre-punch holes along the star. Then I gave them each a plate and a needle with embroidery floss and let them practice the running stitch. The plates were easier to hold than fabric and a hoop would have been.
Each class had room for 12. We ended up with 10 in one day and 9 in the next. I think if I did this again, I would either ensure I had another helper or I would cut the class size back to 8. It would have been nice to spend a little more time with each child.
We made our pillowcases. The kids did really well! There were a couple of snafus - one had trouble keeping to the 1/2 inch seam allowance and veered off to 1 1/2"! So we did some unsewing. :) I loved everyone's fabric combinations. One girl had a mix of Kaffe Fassett and Amy Butler - swoon! Another used a Riley Blake ombre for her band, so fun!
I brought out some heat & bond lite, and we cut out appliques from the extra fabric. I had made some templates for basic shapes. The kids loved this part, and got very creative with their ideas! Monograms and butterflies and lightning bolts. One boy even did a battleship! A few did some hand stitching to sew their appliques down, while others did it on the machine.
It was a lot of fun, and I can't wait to do it again. I already got a text from one of the kids in the class who went home and made a dish soap apron for her mom! I also found out they are doing a special entry at the Anderson County Fair for these pillowcases. I love our small community, they really do a lot to encourage our kids. Have you ever taught someone to sew? Any good tips or tricks to share with the class?