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Thread: Beginner Sewing/Quilting Lessons (?)

  1. #1
    Super Member Sheila Elaine's Avatar
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    Yesterday, I was asked if I'd teach an almost 16 y.o. how to sew & quilt. I haven't met the young lady, but before I say yes I'll definitely interview her to make sure she's serious about learning.

    My question(s) for Board Members is: If you were teaching a teenager to sewing/quilting, where would you begin? If you have more than one suggestion, feel free to include them. I asked Rhonda & she replied she'd start by teaching her to cut 3" & 4" squares from paper with scissors and/or rotary cutter. Please add your suggestions and I will review them.
    I'll decide what her interests are and where to begin.

    Thanks everyone & all submissions will be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Super Member Moonpi's Avatar
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    Talk to the girl and find out what skills she already has. I have a feeling she'd be bored cutting paper. I'd go through the parts of a sewing machine and how they work, measuring and cutting accurately, basic design, and get her going on 9 patches and make a throw pillow. If she wants to get into making clothes, there will be another set of skills.

  3. #3

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    Well being a beginner still I have some thoughts. definitely find out what she wants to learn. I was Taught to hand sew so I am just learning to use the machine so with that in mind showing her the parts of the machine and how it works would be great.

    For the rotary cutter I think the first few tries could be with paper then moving on to scraps or fat quarters ( I am still nervous when cutting large pieces of fabric :oops: )

    Basic design would also be good I would maybe even start with a 4patch or rail fence.

    I think you already have a good idea of where to start. I guess the most important would be making sure she is interested and not being made to do this and keeping her interested. maybe once you get her making blocks you could use them to make some doll quilts or small tote/handbags.

    I am taking a sewing 101 and the thing I like best is that after a 2hr class I leave with a small finished product to show for it :lol:
    well hope I was a little helpful, sorry it was so long :wink:

  4. #4
    camillacamilla's Avatar
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    I have taught my 12 year old step DD how to use the sewing machine by making a nine patch throw pillow. It is easy enough to teach how to cut the squares with a rotary cutter and it sews up quickly so that boredom doesn't set in lol.

  5. #5
    Super Member lfw045's Avatar
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    If she has never used a machine before......let her practice making straight lines on lined paper. Take all the thread out of course. I just did this with my 8 year old grand daughter and she was so excited. Each row she got better and the line was straighter. Just a thought. We laughed because we had Hanna Montana on the TV and one line was way off. I told her she got distracted by the tv on that one. :lol:

  6. #6
    Super Member dakotamaid's Avatar
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    I agree with others that you should find out how much she does know and if there is something special she would like to sew, 9 patch throw, straight skirt, large tote, etc are good beginner projects. I think teenagers are more willing to take part if the end result is something they can relate to!

    Do have fun, I have taught several teens how to sew and they are fun to work with. (My sisters say I'm crazy!!)

  7. #7
    Power Poster
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    As you said, first, find out if she really wants to do this.

    You might also want to check out her "klutz" factor.

    Then make something real that doesn't have to "fit" - a tote bag, a pillow, a scarf -

    My granddaughter made herself some fleece blankets - using two layers of fleece - the first one she did the tied fringes - the next ones she sewed together -

    My granddaughters were using my rotary cutter when they were like 6 and 8 for making Barbie clothes and accessories. They never cut themselves - more than I can say for their grandmother.

  8. #8
    omak's Avatar
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    A secret to teaching is to make sure that each lesson is about allowing the student to do by herself what you have taught her.
    Pretty hard to use a sewing machine if you don't know how to thread it, wind a bobbin, or even turn it on .
    Helping someone get comfortable with using a sewing machine involves understanding what one might be afraid of. Like how fast is it supposed to go and how fast can I handle? Most important ... that needle there ... what do I have to do to keep it from stabbing me?
    And, how do I know where the needle is sewing?
    I tell my students that no matter what, the needle will go up and down, without them having to watch it. It isn't going to move, and it will move as fast as you push the pedal.
    Using paper to practice getting used to the machine is a very good thing to do.
    At the factory, we were presented with pages that had straight lines drawn on them, squares spiraling out from the center ... about three full sheets can give so much confidence to the student! They develop a rythym, and when they get bored, they will "push the envelope" a bit to see what else they can do. And, I use thread in the machine. It shows easily where one has been and help them figure out "if I do this, that will happen" ...
    I agree with everyone that being able to take home a finished project is a good thing. I prefer to "practice" and get something done than to just diddle around and waste fabric, time, and thread. Being able to connect practicality with effort is very rewarding.
    The more I can help my student succeed, the more interested they are in doing more on their own. So, I precut the needed pieces.
    If they mis-sew something, I put them on the next pieces while I take the threads out for them. They will figure out how to rip out stitches soon enough, but while a mistake is clear in their head, it is better that they sew to remove that mistake.
    If it becomes clear that they think they are entertaining me by making mistakes, then it is time to give them the task while I go accomplish something else for awhile . I am just not THAT bored! LOL
    And, as long as they are producing good work, I do the ironing, also.
    Of course, if you haven't guessed ... I am talking almost all of the time, as I tell them what I am thinking about taking threads out, why sewing well is best, etc. Tips on ripping out seams ... whatever will help them get beyond where they are and learn while doing four patches or two pieces of fabric together ...
    When I skipped the paper thing on one of my students, I noticed that she would only sew about ten stitches before stopping and readjusting everything.
    I finally got her to expand her expertise by explaining about driving .... if she drove the way she was sewing, she would have never made it out of her driveway in time to get to our appointment ... had I used the paper practice before I ever put her to a project, she would have been HOURS ahead.
    I attempt to inspire my students to understand that what they are doing with a machine or a rotary cutter has historically been done by hand and before harnessing electricity was a gleam in Thomas Edison's eye! In other words ... do not be limited by what you do not have, but keep an eye out for what you can do with what is available to you.
    It is sort of like learning to use a calculator before you can add two plus two and get four - three times in a row ... too much dependence on the gifts we are surrounded by in supplies and resources diminishes our ability to fully use our brains.
    What a marvelous opportunity you have to teach a youngster!
    I hope she enjoys the experience as much as you will

  9. #9
    Senior Member
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    What wonderful ideas everyone has given. Teens are great to teach, and we can help guide them thru a few tough years. First, take away or shut off the cell phone :lol: Use a pattern that can be completed in just a couple of lessons, they want to see it finished. They usually have visions of grandour, we have to bring them back down to reality. Many don't have the slightest idea how to read a yard stick or measurments. Reinforce the different measurements and how to figure them out. Above all, enjoy them.

  10. #10
    Super Member Sheila Elaine's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for the input. The girl's Mom hasn't told her about me yet, but in talking to the Mom today, she said there's a club, something like 4H, where I could do a demonstration on Sat's for kids who are interested. She mentioned that it would probably be all girls, but I told her I have taught my gson how to make a patchwork pillow (large bed size). He did everything by himself, cutting, machine sewing, & even the pressing. He is OCD & has to have everything so precise. Well, needless to say, his sewing is better than mine, esp when he hand sews. My gdau watched me a lot when she'd come over and made herself a cats in the windows wallhanging. She embellished their outfits with buttons, lace & ribbon. She is quite imaginative & it turned out great.

    I feel it's great to pass onto the youngsters skills they can use in practical everyday ways. Lots of them don't know how to sew on buttons or repair a simple pulled hem, except with a staple of safety pin. My son learned to sew & before I'd get around to to patching his jeans, he'd have gone in & have it done & be wearing them out the door. My dau is a lefty...tried several times to teach her, but we butted heads so finally gave up.

    Thanks again.

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