Thoughts on Teaching

I completely forgot to say anything – bad Sunni! – but I’m teaching at Sewing Summit again this year. Actually, I’ve been pretty low key about everything this fall (more like everything this year). I found that last fall/winter I kind of OD-ed on conferences and well just sewing stuff in general. Wow. I kind of actually didn’t want to see a sewing machine for a little while. Just needed a break after so much. It was overwhelming and a little exhausting. I remember wanting to write about it so much but forced myself not to because I had a lot of negative things to say about a lot of things. I’m glad I didn’t because I really hate being negative. Yuck. Anyway, let’s forget about that, shall we? I thought I would capture a few photos before I toted my Sewing Summit class goods to the conference.

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I’m teaching a class on fitting and I have a pretty good feeling about it this year. I totally get vibes with teaching and I’m getting a good vibe this time around. Having taught this class in several different forms at Yellow Bird Fabrics, I feel pretty good about my stance on what I have prepared and the information I’ll be doling out. The thing with fitting – as many of you, no doubt, know – is that its such a big process. The other thing that I find with sewing people – like me and you – is that many don’t know or don’t realize how many resources are available to them as regards fitting and really, that’s what this class is going to be about. I feel that I have a wealth of knowledge about this subject and its one that I love to talk about and share with others. I went a little overboard with my materials this year. I put together fancy folders with little dresses that I glued onto the covers – cute non? There’s several handouts and a few basic supplies for some adjustments and alterations we’ll be doing in class too. I felt like a regular school teacher putting this stuff together! Only thing missing is crayons!

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I also thought I would give a few thoughts on teaching since I’ve been making a pretty big dent in that field over the past couple of years. I never actually thought I would be a sewing teacher, but find that I love – absolutely love – to talk sewing with people. I don’t know that I feel so much like a teacher, but rather a connoisseur of all things apparel sewing related and when I get with other people who are excited about sewing, its really really cool. I just feel like we’re having a discussion more or less and I find that I have a lot to contribute to that discussion and that just gets me all sorts of jazzed. All in all, I enjoy teaching quite a bit, though I still have desires in other sewing related directions which I’m planning to expand on and share with you all in good time. So, here’s to the joy of sewing!

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Do you teach sewing? Do you enjoy it?

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29 thoughts on “Thoughts on Teaching

  1. I love to teach sewing. Especially to children. I get a kick out of their little creative minds and also when I see that their minds are figuring out how the processes are all coming together. The icing on the cake is of course, the pride on their faces when they have completed their projects. πŸ™‚

  2. I teach, but I don’t teach sewing. And I enjoy teaching a lot. In French class (which I teach) I always ask “Ca va?” The students answer “Ca va. Et toi?” And I always smile and say “Ca va bien!” and the other day they asked me if I’m actually that happy every time we have French. And Yes! I am happy every time. I guess it comes down to sharing knowledge about something you like, like with you and sewing. Though it would be interesting to teach sewing, which I also like a lot!
    Happy summit! πŸ™‚

  3. Teaching sewing classes is something that I have been chewing over for a while. There is a huge part of me that believes that although there are a lot of resources out there on the internet, there are folks out there who just need to have someone actually physically there to say encouraging things, show them specific things and so on. But there is also a part of me that is afraid that I’m not…good…enough. And I’m not sure why exactly – I’ve made scads of different stuff – wool topcoats, snow suits, soft furnishings, knit stuff of all sorts, skirts, jackets and so on. But are these items perfect? Do they look as if they came ‘off the peg’? No. So I don’t move forward and I keep kicking myself that even if I’m not perfect, I could help people, but I’m frankly too scared.

  4. I opened a home-based sewing business last year called Threads Become Stitches. Having been a special education teacher with a Masters +30 in education and a degree in Clinical Psychology, I know how to teach. What is different about teaching sewing is the transformation you see in people who are really invested in learning. I bought a new IMac computer recently and the sales associate I worked with at the Apple Store loved designing dresses (her sketches were beautiful) but knew nothing about sewing. She started lessons with me and has a complete new outlook on her future. She was in a college major she really didn’t enjoy, but I convinced her that a Bachelor’s degree in her field should be completed – then go on to design school. Her self-confidence has blossomed, and I know she has found her passion. There is a term called “flow,” which occurs when we are engaged in a process that is what we are meant to do. Three hours can seem like minutes. If this has happened to you when you sew or do anything else you love, you MUST pursue it for optimal enjoyment and self-actualization!

  5. i’ve thought of trying to teach sewing classes, there’s even a co-op craft studio nearby me, but i keep not taking that step because i always feel that there’s so much i don’t know yet! i think it would be great fun though, so hopefully one day i’ll give it a shot.

  6. I’ve never taught sewing formally, but in highschool I helped friends make simple skirts and I’ve worked with my (then kindergarten aged) son to learn some machine basics. I used to enjoy teaching knitting classes a lot. But, it was a hobby and I eventually ran out of time for it. I think being prepared and supplying handouts (and in some cases the materials) as part of the class really helps everyone get on board with the lesson and can generate a lot of excitement and reduce that overwhelmed feeling that beginners can have.

    I’ve been a long time reader (infrequent commenter) on your blog and have watched for you to teach near me…or enough advance notice of your Salt Lake City classes to possibly make a vacation of it. I’d love to be able to come out and make something in a long weekend.

  7. Isn’t it amazing how, even though we all might be passionate about sewing, we’re enjoying different aspects of it? For example, I love pattern drafting, and anything construction wise. Fitting is not my favorite topic, even though I try to do it the best I can.
    I tried teaching sewing, but again, I prefer teaching pattern drafting. That side of sewing is where my talent stands out, I believe.

  8. I’m a corporate gal right now, but it is a dream of mine to one day teach. I hope that when/if that day comes, I’m as prepared with pretty folders and such just like you!

  9. I am proud to say that I taught Family & Consumer Science (Home Ec) for over 30 years. Sadly, this subject is no longer offered in most school systems. I consider myself very fortunate to have had such a wonderful career teaching a subject that I loved and teaching students that I loved as well. Recently retired, I miss having that “kid fix” and the classroom environment, but have started a blog to perhaps channel some of that teaching energy!

  10. I am going to start teaching a young lady next Thursday. I have been sewing for over 40 years. I started when I was 7 years old in 4-H but didn’t really start making all my clothes until I was about 16. I have sewn and make just about everything you can name.
    I am nervous about teaching because I read an article about how you need to have samples, overhead displays, or posters etc. This is a one on one class that will be ongoing so I am not sure how much I really need. I have a book of knowledge in my head, I hope I can just teach the way teaching is suppose to be done. I believe in starting with the basics of machine and a fabric store field trip. Any suggestions you might have for me I would welcome. Thanks for your post. I love your blog.

  11. I’d love to teach sewing. My “backup plan” was always to teach at a community college but I ended up being a mostly-stay-at-home mom and helping out a little bit with the family business. Now the kids are grown and I have a lot of free time on my hands to brush up on my sewing skills. I guess it’s time to follow my dreams, wherever they may lead!

  12. I love teaching sewing. Children are especially enthusiastic and daring with sewing and are so much fun to teach. I’ve been running summer sewing camps for 13 years. My adult classes seem to be harder to make arrangements for. When I do have adult classes, many of the moms focus on curtains or baby sewing and not sewing for themselves. Basically I love it all.

  13. I live in New Zealand and I own and operate my own sewing school called Sew Know How. It will be 5 years old in November! I was a nurse but gave up work to be an at home Mum, when the kids started school I wanted to do something but still be at home, so my lovely husband gave up half of our garage for me! Anyway I teach 5 adult classes a week and 12 kids classes (8yrs to teens). About 80 students all up each week! It is the BEST job. I have found that sewing is a journey, not just the end result. I teach home sewers and help them unravel the mysteries of commercial patterns and get a perfect fit. I also teach some pattern making and encourage creativity. We have a fashion show at the end of every year so students can show off what they have made. If you would like to see some of my students work visit my facebook page http://www.facebook.com/sewknowhow
    I encourage any of you who are hesitating to teach to just go for it! It is a learning journey teaching too but very rewarding.
    Oh and Sunni, your blog is just great. Thank you for sharing all you do! You inspire me!

  14. I think teaching unfortunately opens you up to criticism. I took your Craftsy course on zippers and thought it was wonderful (been sewing for 2 years) but there were comments re. your methods and that there are easier ways to do them. I’m assuming none of the commenters had ever taken the time and energy to make a free course like you did, so it was a bit annoying. The point of the course was to showcase a new method, and I have to say my zippers have never looked neater! I think you have a lot of courage to teach and more power to you for stepping up and doing so to encourage others to enjoy the fine art of sewing!

  15. I teach sewing to both children and adults and I must say: teaching sewing to children for me feels to most rewarding. They usually are very open to learn new things.
    I also love talking sewing with other people that are as enthusiastic about it as I am. I feel like I can talk about it for days!

  16. I’m not a teacher, but I’ll show any kid who shows interest how to operate a machine and how to sew. I cannot get enough of their glowing faces when they actually make something (usually a bag). This is how I learned, going to my neighbor and making a skirt, and I love to pass on the information.
    One kid, Morgane, who came to learn a couple of years ago, just got into the L’Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture de Paris and I am just so proud!
    She’ll be the one teaching next, I can’t wait!

  17. I don’t teach sewing, but I do teach in my work-related field. I feel the same way as you though – it’s so rewarding to be able to contribute to a conversation that you happen to know a lot about. Plus I love talking to others who are genuinely interested in my field – it gets me all jazzed up, as you said. πŸ™‚ Best of luck at Sewing Summit, and hope you have a better experience this year!

  18. I wish I was going this year! It seems like a great line-up.

    I’m really, really shy and could never see myself teaching. One-on-one? Sure. Big room of people? Instant sweaty palms! Ha ha.

  19. I just taught my first sewing classes this past summer, to both children and adults. It has been a blast, but as a full time teacher I knew that I would love it. It is, however, very different from my day job. Teaching students who are excited about what they’re learning makes all the difference, I think!

  20. About a year ago, my job with the federal government was in precarious straits with all the looming cuts and I was all set to cash in my savings and start a fabric shop/sewing school in my little town. Where I live, you have to travel 20 miles for the nearest elastic. I’m not a professional seamstress by any shape or form, but I wanted to work with the 4H, Scouts, & local school to have classes from sewing crafts for the younger set, to alterations, repairs, home dec. There’s so much more to sewing than just garment construction, which I’m not very good at BTW. I believe every youngster should at least know how to sew on a button or repair a hem, and you’d be surprised how many of them do not have the slightest idea. I wanted a small shop in the front and a larger classroom in the back – free coffee, ladies can stop by to visit or mend a hem, inspiration galore, etc. Believe me, I was THERE. And then my job was firmed up, hubs refused to support the dream (right now), and I sighed and tucked the dream away for after I retire in 15 years. Oh well, wasn’t meant to be (today).

  21. Sunni your class was fantastic and the cut out dresses on the folder were so cute. I was the crazy person and came up to you after class and said hi. I took a lot of great classes at sewing summit but yours was the one that made me want to go home immediately and measure myself and my patterns and get sewing! Thank you for being so inspiring and taking the time to explain everything in a thoughtful manner. I wish I lived on Utah soon could take more of your classes. I think teaching a class at a conference is so hard because you have a large class and a huge variety of skill levels. I’m not a teacher but really admire you for teaching despite all the hard bits.

  22. The folders where such a nice touch and your ribbon trick for measuring pretty much blew my mind!!!!!!

    Sadly, I missed your talk about underarm gussets, because my son was having a meltdown. Is there anywhere I can read up about it?

    Thank you for teaching and I hope my son wasn’t too much trouble.
    Signed,
    The lady with the baby

  23. Are you going to be offering a download for those that couldn’t get into your class at sewing summit? Do you still teach at Yellow Bird? Thanks.

  24. Sunni your class was great. I can’t wait to get started using some of your advice. I already went out and got some of the tools to make it easier and just need to find the time to start a new pattern.

    I am teaching my first class in sewing this next weekend. I look forward to it.

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