Thoughts on Teaching Sewing, and Upcoming Classes

I taught my first two sewing classes this summer, and I loved it! Both were intro-to-sewing-knits classes, using the Grainline Lark and Cashmerette Concord patterns.

 

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My first class! It was great to have some familiar faces – I’m grateful to them for their support!

Here are a few things I’ve learned:

  • Everything goes a LOT slower than I predict! But stressing about time takes all the fun out of it for everyone, so we lengthened our class and now there’s time to enjoy each stage of prep and sewing!
  • Every machine is different… and the settings that get a workable stretch stitch are totally different on every machine. Be prepared to experiment.
  • Lark and Concord are both beautifully drafted, and the sizing charts are excellent. In a nice cotton spandex (like Art Gallery knits or Laguna jersey), the sizing has turned out every time.
  • Have a wide range of sizes is important. It’s been great to have women of all sizes walk into class, and been able to have a pattern that will work for the. We’re adding Thready Theory and Jalie men’s/boys tees next time to that we can be even more inclusive!
  • Women know their fit issues. It’s been great to be able to ask women what fit problems they often have in RTW, and help them pre-emptively make sure the pattern will work for them! Also, knitters make great sewists!
  • Teaching is exhausting! It’s like the first day of school – all adrenaline and excitement, and a long nap afterwards!
  • Students are awesome. I’ve been so impressed by everyone who has taken the class! The big buzzword in teaching these days (in my area, at least) is “grit” – and these women have stick-to-it-ness in spades!

 

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Lovely, talented and resilient students! 

I’ve got two classes book for the fall, so if you are within driving distance of Waterloo, Ontario, you should join us! I’m teaching at a brand new store called Spool and Spindlethey’ve got a nicely curated collection of high-quality fabrics online and in person, if you are interested! I’ll be teaching “Everyday Tees” again on October 23rd, and an intermediate class called “More Than a T-Shirt” about t-shirt hacks in November.

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I’m so excited about teaching hacks – I hope we get some adventurous sewists! 

Have you taken any sewing classes? I’d love to hear the best (or worst!) advice, wisdom, or experiences you’d had with a sewing teacher! 

 


17 thoughts on “Thoughts on Teaching Sewing, and Upcoming Classes

  1. Hi, I’m a teacher! And you are sew right, everything takes longer and every machine is different. But it’s sew satisfying! Congratulations, you and your students look very happy!

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    1. Hello! I was delighted to come across your post about teaching sewing! I have always wanted to teach sewing (I have worked part time in a sewing store for years, in addition to my regular day job) so I was very interested in how you organized it and what you learned from it. I am seriously trying to find a ‘studio’ space in my hometown of Oakville to begin a sewing school. Any advice you can offer would be wonderful and please blog about your next classes.
      Also – as a sewist, are you pleased with the quality of fabrics at the Spool and Spindle? Finding great fabric is a challenge for me unless I go into the city, so ordering on-line would be so helpful. Keep up the great blog!

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      1. Oakville, Ontario? Are we nearby, or is there another Oakville out there?

        I think Spool and Spindle have done a great job of buying top quality brand name fabrics. The knits are all of the best quality, and I’m super picky!

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  2. I would take your classes Gillian if I were living where I used to (Kitchener) but sadly I’m now just too far away (Victoria BC). I’ve taken a few in person sewing classes here but found them sadly disappointing. I found the teacher liked to chat too much (I know this sounds rather unsociable and I’m not honestly) but it was time I could have really used focused on sewing tips and help. I found teachers responded to questions as opposed to directly teaching lessons (how can we ask questions when we don’t know anything?) So I’ve stopped in person classes and am taking online classes which I found much better. More focused and I can watch the videos over and over. People will chat so be cautious you don’t get caught by one particularly chatty student while others are wondering when you’ll get around to actually teaching them something. They won’t sign up for any further classes and you’ll wonder why.

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    1. That’s great advice! I worry about getting waylaid helping someone with a technical or fit issue, and then it’s hard to keep the rest of the class going… Hope that gets easier wth practice!😉

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  3. All your students have finished garments – that’s two successful classes! I’ve only done one in person class – a two day intro at Sew Over It in London. It was years ago but from what I remember the tutor made sure she explained a stage & everyone was started on it before going back to help anyone who was stuck or wanted to ask more questions. The tutor was brilliant & we all had a finished shift dress & circle skirt after 2 days, and a lot more confidence! I’ve never taught a class but imagine that the timing gets easier to estimate the more you teach. It must be very satisfying helping people gain confidence in sewing!

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    1. I do struggle with pacing a bit… does everyone wait for the last person to finish one step before teaching the next? I’m trying to find the balance of not making everyone wait, but also not making people feel stressed that they are behind!😉

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  4. I only ever took one in-person sewing class, and it was awesome because we could make whatever we wanted. So one person was making a dog bed, I made a dress, a friend made a skirt, etc. I learned a great deal both from my own patterns/mistakes and those of my classmates!

    I’ve never taken a class where we’re all making the same thing, partly from being a rebel (haha) partly because the thing being made is never a thing I want. It seems like your students are happy with their T-shirts, though!

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    1. Hehehe – I’ve only taken one class myself! I’m happy learning by reading tutorials and trying things out myself. I like the idea of communal sewing though, with free choice of project… we’ll have to try that some time!🙂

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  5. I taught last fall for the first time and BOY are you right about everything much slower than anticipated!!! I had planned to make a reversible tote in one class…. HAHAHAHAAHAHA yeah it took four or five classes. But that’s okay, the ladies were such a blast to be around I loved it!

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    1. Hahaha – I’m glad I’m not the only one! I was thinking “I can band a tee together in 45 min – 4 hours should be enough?” Nope!😛

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  6. Hi Gilligan,
    Awesome about your class. I definitely know, what you say about everything taking longer than you think. I am not a teacher, but part of my job is teaching and educating, and every time I make new material, I have this rule about shaving it down again and again, before using it. Because it is always way to ambitious, even though it never seems so to me.

    really cool you just extended the classes, that is some lucky students!🙂

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  7. Oh that’s all so similar to my experiences teaching too. Never taught a class in my life till this year and now I love it. Have a few session lined up for autumn. Most classes I let the students decide what they are making so everyone’s doing something different. I’ve done a t-shirt class and skirt class and it takes much longer than expected. Agree with watching out for the chattering monkeys. My evening class often turned into a counselling session more than sewing 😥..
    It’s great though – best of luck with your upcoming classes..

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  8. The t-shirt sewing class I taught recently also took longer than I expected, but that was mainly due to the fact that no one followed the instructions to tape their pdf pattern together BEFORE coming to class. (And one student was about 30 minutes late.) I found myself just bouncing between my 4 students for one-on-one what to do next because no one seemed to be at the same step at the same time – not exactly how I planned to do it and it was mental gymnastics for me! It will be interesting to see if my next class is similar or more of the same.

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