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  1. #1
    V.I.P. Ariadne's Avatar
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    Default Teaching a Sewing Class

    So I'm starting a sewing class this month for three 15 year olds and a 19 year old (and anyone else who wanders in). I spent the first lesson just getting them to understand how clothes are constructed, how the seams work and how curved shapes are fitted to the body to look like straight lines, etc. They've all decided to make cloaks as their first project but they will be all different types and lengths. I figure it's a simple pattern so it should work just as well as shorts or a skirt for beginners. I'm planning to use one of the cloak patterns to teach them how to make their own. One of them wants a shoulder half cloak which if I remember correctly is just a half circle with a band, easy pattern to make. After that will be selecting material and teaching them how to lay out the pattern on the fabric to cut.

    Anyway, long story short, does anyone have any advice?

  2. #2
    Moderator Zorba's Avatar
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    HUGE advice:

    Teach them an "Introduction to Sewing Machine Operation" first.

    How to thread it, how to wind a bobbin, how to avoid common mistakes (and fix them when they happen anyway), how to run the machine, feed the work, NOT get their finger involved with the needle, etc, etc. Practice running seams on scrap fabric, play with the dials and see what they do.

    I have run into more people - women mostly of course, who are absolutely TERRIFIED of a sewing machine! Including my wife. Several of them got that way because of that "situation" in 8th grade where the girls are supposed to make a dress, and model it while serving a kind of High Tea for their mothers. I don't know if schools are still doing that or not, but my school did in California, my wife's did in Illinois, as did a couple or three others I've heard about in disparate parts of the country.

    I helped my wife overcome her resultant fear - it wasn't easy for her!

  3. #3
    V.I.P. Ariadne's Avatar
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    Wow, thanks! I’ll make sure and do a full class of that before they start actually sewing. I think between my sisters and I we have enough machines for them all to have a dedicated machine they use.

    Any chance I can get you to elaborate on common mistakes? I’ve been sewing so long I don’t even have to pin half the time, I just feed my fabric through using finger tension. I had completely forgotten how hard that is for a beginner till my son tried imitating me. I'm sure I’ve forgotten a lot more then that.

    I don't know about high tea but my friends either had to make shorts or an apron. I didn’t take the class. I found out what it taught and refused since my mother had already taught me that stuff years earlier. Fortunately my advanced art classes were considered an adequate substitute. My friends who did take it almost universally came out hating to sew though. I couldn’t understand why at the time...
    Last edited by Ariadne; 08-14-2018 at 06:30 AM. Reason: Typo: auto spell correction stinks...

  4. #4
    Moderator Daimona's Avatar
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    Common mistakes...

    • Not washing and ironing/shrinking fabric before sewing.
    • Too small seam allowance (i.e. cutting at the sewing line).
    • Snag and uneven tension of upper and lower fabric.
    • Pulling the fabric through the sewing machine, not letting the sewing machine do the job itself, instead of just guiding the fabric.


    • Sewing on the pins causing needle tips to break. Solution: Place them with head toward you and pick them out just before the sewing needle is about to hit it.
    • Sewing through too many layers of fabric (because the lower fabric had folded itself without the seamstress' knowledge).
    • Measure twice, cut once.
    --
    Daim.

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    Moderator Zorba's Avatar
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    The classic one I've seen, and done, multiple times: Sewing the work to the backside of the garment because you lost track of what the backside was doing! REAL easy to do.

    Your seamripper is your friend; so is your iron. If your seamripper is old and dull, toss it and get a new one!

    Set your tensions! I'm going to be teaching my current teacher how to run her machine - she tells me that her M-I-L gave it to her, and the thread is tangling. I'm sure its a tension problem, but I told her to bring me the machine so I could service it and check the tensions.

    Just about ANY machine manual published after 1950 or so will have inadequate oiling instructions!

  6. #6
    V.I.P. Ariadne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zorba View Post
    Just about ANY machine manual published after 1950 or so will have inadequate oiling instructions!
    Tell me about it. That drives me crazy!

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    Moderator Zorba's Avatar
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    Makes it twice as hard - you gotta find all the little oil cups and moving bits and oil them - without guidance.

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    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    Good on ya for taking on newbie sewers, Ariadne! I'll look forward to updates of your adventures.

    My two cents worth of advice: make sure they understand the importance of pressing the garment between each sewing step, and make sure they understand the difference between pressing and ironing. One of my dancers made her wedding gown and did a creditable job except she didn't press a single seam during construction, resulting in a dress that couldn't be forced into shape after she put it on. Her bridal attendant did her best to finger press the seams into obedience but to no avail. Fortunately the bride's radiant happiness outshone any costume shortcomings but still... just a quick press of each seam as it was sewn would've made a big difference in appearance.

    Circle cloaks are usually cut on the bias which will increase the possibility of stretching the fabric out of shape. Hemming a curve will be more of a challenge than hemming a straight edge even without stretching it out of shape. I don't think I'd add these particular challenges to a beginning project.
    Last edited by Shanazel; 08-16-2018 at 03:28 AM.
    "Well, now that we have seen each other," said the unicorn " if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you."

  9. #9
    Moderator Zorba's Avatar
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    Teacher's sewing machine in-hand. Could tell in the parking lot what its problem is - at least ONE problem. The upper tension was set on "2". Uh, no. Not unless you're sewing with yarn...

    I'll see what else ails it...

  10. #10
    V.I.P. Ariadne's Avatar
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    Oh, that would definitely be a problem...

    Quote Originally Posted by Shanazel View Post
    Circle cloaks are usually cut on the bias which will increase the possibility of stretching the fabric out of shape. Hemming a curve will be more of a challenge than hemming a straight edge even without stretching it out of shape. I don't think I'd add these particular challenges to a beginning project.
    Good point, I had forgotten that; fortunately there has already been a change of plans. To put it plainly their parents can't afford that much fabric this month so the cloaks are being put off to project two and I'm starting them out with something really simple first, sleeping masks. They're small, can be made from scrap fabrics, and can be customized with all types of fabrics.

    So new plan for today. Instead of covering patterning a cloak we'll be starting out with burn tests of scrap fabrics, discussing what different fabrics are best for, and then cutting out their "masks". If there is still time, and I'm going to try and make sure there is, then I will finish with showing them how you use scraps from your cutting to test your tensions first and let them play with the machines AKA Zorba's suggested "Introduction to Sewing Machine Operation". If there isn't then that will be next week.

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