Monday, August 23, 2021

How to teach a Sewing Class - 10 Tips to Help You Plan


Hello!! Last week I had the fun opportunity to teach a group of ladies at church how to make pillowc
ases.  I love teaching people to sew! I often get asked by people wanting me to teach them. I always say YES but people rarely take me up on my offer. Over the years I've taught many group sewing classes at my church and in my home or at a quilt shop and today I'm sharing a few things that I have learned to make teaching a sewing class run smoothly.
 Let me show you how I went about planning my class and some logistics to consider if you want to teach your own sewing class. It may seem overwhelming at first but trust me, you can do this. There is so much joy to be found in teaching people how to make something with their own hands.  

How do You Teach a Sewing Class?

1. Choose a simple project. Unless you have a lot of class time and you are teaching experienced sewists, choose a simple sewing project to teach. In our class last week  I taught them how to sew a pillow case using the burrito method. This is a fun one because it make sewing look like magic. I used the measurements from this free pattern from American Patchwork and QuiltingHere are some other easy projects I've taught that can be taught in  a 1 - 1 1/2 hour class: Roll It up pillowcase, Super Simple Tote bag,  Tie Scrunchies, keychain fobs, colored pencil rolls.
2. Know your space. Where will you be teaching? Whether it is at a home, a church, a community center find out the details about where you are teaching. Will there be enough tables?  Who is in charge of setting them up? Are there outlets close by? Will they have extension cords for you to use? You are the expert. The people who are asking you to teach may not have a clue about what you will need access to so don't assume they do. Let them know what you need. 
3.  Know your class size. How many people can you teach to sew at a time? Here are a few things to consider about the class size. If you've never taught a sewing class before keep the class size small. Invite 2-3 people over and teach them how to make something simple.  Once you feel a little more confident you can host classes of a larger number (6-10) to teach a simple project.  If your project is a complicated one though, keep it small. 4-5 people at most as you will need to do more explaining and monitoring. Also keep the class size very small if you will be teaching people to sew who have never sewn before. 
4. Ask people to bring their own supplies. Unless you are a sewing shop providing regular classes, you are in no way responsible for supplying all of the sewing items needed to teach a class. Bring what you have and ask others to bring more supplies depending on the project. I always bring all my scissors and extra pincushions. Don't forget to label what's yours. I find it easiest to carry my supplies in a laundry basket. No special organization tote necessary! I usually set my sewing machine in the back of the car with some sturdy items next to it so it doesn't fall over as I'm driving. 

5. How many tables do you set up? This depends on how many people will be attending and how large the pieces are of the project you are making. If it is a class of 8-10 people you will want enough room for at least 4 people to work on a step at a time. 

6. Set up work stations where people can do similar steps next to each other. For example in our class last week we had 1 table set up with all the sewing machines, 1 table designated as the cutting area, 1 table for pinning, and a zone with ironing boards for ironing. This set up is especially helpful if a lot of people are attending your class. People can learn from each other as they do  each step instead of always coming to you to show them how to do something. This makes your job  much easier.

7. How many sewing machines will you need? This will depend on the project you choose to make. If you are making a complex bag or something with a lot of sewing, each person needs their own machine. If you are making something simple like a pillow case, you'll need about one machine for every 2 people. For smaller projects like keychains or scrunchies, 3-4 people can probable share a sewing machine. This goes for irons as well. Gage how many you'll need by how much actual ironing the project needs. Remember, two people can share a regular sized ironing board if you bring an extra iron.

8. Don't forget the extension cords and power strips, You'll need at least 2 of each if the building is not providing them (one for the sewing station and one for the ironing station). Bring more for a large class! This is so important to remember and often a last minute consideration for me that I sometimes forget. I've learned the hard way. No sewing or ironing can happen if there are not enough outlets or your cords won't reach!

9. Simplify the project steps. I like to write a simplified version of the pattern on a paper that gives them the steps at a glance. This may not be necessary for a small group where you have time to repeat your instructions a lot, but it is very helpful for a large group. You can even set up numbered tables with the instruction for the step at that particular table and the people just move from table to table to learn each step. People can look at the cheat sheet if you are busy helping someone else. 

10. Prepare cutting templates.  In our pillowcase class I had a few fabric pieces cut out that people could use  with scissors instead of having each person calculate the dimensions using a rotary cutter and mat. Not everyone has rotary cutter skills  and cutting can sometimes be the longest part of the project. Templates made of fabric are easy to use because they don't shift as you cut like paper ones do. Plus you can sew them up to make an extra project when the cutting is over. 

Phew! That was a lot of information but I hope you found it helpful. Don't be overwhelmed....You can do this!  Now that you know all you need to do PREPARE to teach, I want to give you my tips for how to actually teach when you are in a class. But we will save that for another day. 

Stay tuned and Happy Sewing! 

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