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Thread: Advice on teaching sewing to young girls

  1. #1
    Senior Member MarthaT's Avatar
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    Advice on teaching sewing to young girls

    Next week I will start a sewing class for four home schooled girls (and their mothers). The girls range in age from 9 to 16. I will start with a class on machine cleaning and maintenance, explaining some basics about fabric choices, etc., and give them some print outs with designs to practice stitching on the lines and beside the lines (i.e. top stitching). Class 2, we will make coasters with 5 in. fabric squares and pocket tissue holders. Very basic cutting and sewing. Class 3, we will make one of those pillow cases demo'ed on MSQC. From there I will see what interests they have in sewing a simple garment, doll clothes, ragged quilt, or even a simple pieced quilt. I only know the 16 yr. old, so I have no idea how far the other girls will take this. The 16 yr. old is very quiet and quite creative. She could go far with this.

    Have any of you taught a similar class? What dos and don'ts did you learn from your class? Any ideas for simple projects for those in the 10 yr. old range?

    I'm excited about passing on my love of sewing to the next generation. I just hope I don't overwhelm (or underwhelm, as the case may be). Any advice would be appreciated!
    Thimble and Thread

  2. #2
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    I think I would skip the coasters and tissue holders and jump to pillow cases or tote bags.

  3. #3
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    My first thought would be to hold off on machine cleaning and maintenance for a lesson or two. Definitely spend time on how to thread, working of needle, safety, etc but start them on using the machine. The design printouts are a good idea. I just think young girls would be eager to get to actually using the machine earlier. The projects you have planned sound good too.

    Good luck in your lessons.
    Sally

  4. #4
    Super Member SewExtremeSeams's Avatar
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    It sounds like you are off to a great start. You have quite an age range. They could take off at varying degrees of interest. A book bag, simple pencil bag or a small wall hanging/doll quilt are also some straight line sewing ideas. Here is a photo of my 6 year old granddaughter sewing tiny pillow which she then learned to hand stitch the opening closed. I have been working with her for 3 years now. She handles the machine with Grandma sitting next to.

    Years ago I taught a homeschool group of 6 girls ranging from 1st to 3rd grade. They loved it and have all taken off with sewing except my daughter (who was in the group). I started them off with drafting their own pattern out of newspapers of a butcher style apron. Things I stressed were raising the needle to its highest position before pulling the fabric out to cut the threads and holding onto the thread with a finger while they stitched their first two stitches when beginning to sew again. I had to hold my hands behind my back to keep myself from not reaching around them to do things myself. Verbal coaching is better than doing it for them. You are doing a great thing for them. I enjoyed both teaching others to sew and homeschooling. Have fun!!!!

    PS: I agree with Selm, hold off on the cleaning the machine. That could be used for those who take off faster than perhaps the younger ones. Also, an advanced skill would be to learn how to thread the machine themselves (stressing having the needle up in the highest position so the tension discs are separated when threading it) and then how to thread the bobbin.
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    Linda

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  5. #5
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
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    my first thought was putting the machine maintenance later. my DGKs loved just sewing squares together to make a small quilt... they were so proud. they loved choosing the fabric themselves from a supply i cut in advance.
    Nancy in western NY
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    Super Member calla's Avatar
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    I started with the maintenance and fabrics as you did, I also included tools. Not to overwhelm them........I also had them sew without thread on the lines of notebook paper. That helped build confidence with sewing straight, speed control and becoming familiar with the machine.

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    Also - when threading the machine - to have the presser foot UP -

  8. #8
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    I agree with holding off on the cleaning of the machine - it doesn't take much to lose your audience. When we had 5th & 6th grade girl scouts we did book bags. We started with them decorating with the puff paint and the next week we sewed them together. It was surprising how many of them actually used them. Pillow cases could be a similar reaction. The idea of sewing on paper would be a nice starter - but not too long, they will lose interest.

    Will they all be using the same machine? Model?

  9. #9
    Senior Member MarthaT's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the advice so far.

    Hmmm....maybe maintenance would not be a good start. I didn't think I'd spend much time on it, mostly just cleaning around the bobbin case/feed dog area. Not completely taking off the top, oiling, etc. I purposely have not cleaned mine for awhile so they can see what builds up.

    I have samples of the projects to show that first day so they will have an idea of what fabrics they want to buy. I was thinking coasters because it also involves learning to use the iron (fold 4 of the squares in half and press), simple straight stitching, and pivoting at corners. Bags are a good idea too.
    Thimble and Thread

  10. #10
    Senior Member MarthaT's Avatar
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    They are each bringing their own machine. I want them to learn on their own machine that they will be using at home. And I don't want them to have to take turns using my one machine.
    Thimble and Thread

  11. #11
    Power Poster oksewglad's Avatar
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    Oh you are off to a great start. I worked with 4-Her's for years and am now working with my 3 oldest GD who are 8, 10 and 11. This summer they sewed pajama pants from flannel or cotton fabric using a Kwik Sew pattern. They've sewn potholders, pillow cases etc before.
    What if you made the coaster a pot holder size using an 8 or 9 inch square? I use old bath towels as a padding. My Grands made them for teacher gifts at Christmas time.

    Yes it's so hard to keep your hands at your side! In the early stages, I stress it doesn't have to be perfect and if it's a little crooked on the inside who's going to look as long as it holds every thing together. And that the more you sew, the better stitcher you become.

    This is a great pillow case tute and all finished seams

    http://www.allpeoplequilt.com/millio...s/RollItUp.pdf

    Kudos to you for sharing your skills and love to a new generation.
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    Power Poster lynnie's Avatar
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    the kids i taught loved making something useful the first class, gotta get them interested right out of the gate, or they shut down. Maybe a tissure holder they can use at school or in their purse. then teach them the basics. If mom is ther to help them, they can do the tissue holder or pillow case first. Then maybe the the 3rd or 4th class do the cleaning. We don't strat cleaning it b4 we sew. just my opinion
    the coasters are great for gifts. so that could be a lesson to. just enlarge it and you have a potholder. lots of quick things to make. Even a 2 sq. pincushion is a good starter project. teach them to stuff really well, and when they think its stuffed enough, stuff some more. JMHO>
    put off till tomorrow what you can do today, and if you procrastinate long enough, you may never have to do it.

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    My grandkids start with a pillow, a pillowcase, an apron, pajama pants and a bag. They love to make things as Christmas gifts for their parents. I usually have them one-on-one which would be completely different than a class! Good luck!

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    Super Member Beachbound's Avatar
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    I taught my 10 year old DGD to sew starting with the criss cross coasters. She loved it so much she made 24 of them & I didn't realize she was using the 5" charms I had saved for 18 years until it was too late. But she had fun
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    Super Member jitkaau's Avatar
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    I know you will include a safety lesson as well and if you can manage varied tasks, try to have age appropriate activities forthe girls as there is a wide age range. Good luck for your efforts. I would also include the making of items to house their sewing gear or hobbies.

  16. #16
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    In our little sewing school we started with threading the machine and winding a bobbin...left cleaning, maintenance till after first completed project. We started with pillowcases and draw string pants. The kids had to draft, size their own pants and even the 7 year olds loved this. After those two projects the kids each chose their own next project to be given to someone as a gift... 3 of the boys made quilts and pillows for their moms, the girls made purses, totes with box corners and skirts. One ambitious young man (he was 10) made his dad a pair of pants and a Hunting / fishing vest -- lots of pockets, zippers,buttons... His dad was in tears... They even fit ! The kids really enjoyed creating things they felt were (useful) . they were not very interested in (quilting) until second/third year, exception the occasional gift quilt... New baby sister coming, mom's birthday... They wanted to make toys, clothes, fun... We had creative sewer's from 4 yrs old on up to 80...the kids classes were set up (4-11) (12-15) and then (16- up)
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  17. #17
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    With their own machine be sure to go over the details of threading EVERY time they come and let them do a test sewing to see if anything is out of line. When they are out of your sight kids like to tinker with the knobs etc. and then you spend 30 minutes getting the machine back in order. I have taught 20 yr olds and I have this problem.
    My 7yr grandson made a quilt 20"x24" in one day. Just to let him see what it was all about. Started with a 3"x6" then went around and around with 3" strips until it was as big as he wanted. It was a good way to practice stitching straight and handling the fabric. No it didn't lay down flat but made a quilt for his stuffed bear. Good luck. Kids are so much fun to work with

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    You could start by having them stitch following lines on sheets of paper, no thread in needle. That will help with eye-hand coordination.

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    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    4-H has a nice manual for learning to sew. You can also find free learning to sew lessons on line. I would start with that. Then I would kind of see what the girls are interested in. If you are using your machines you have already cleaned and oiled you might wait until you have something to clean and oil - if they are bringing their own machines you will need to make sure they have been cleaned and oiled before you try to sew. I start with sewing on paper.
    Never let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.

  20. #20
    Senior Member pdcakm's Avatar
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    after you get past the pillow case stage i would consider those simple pull on pajama pants. the girls love to wear them and they are straight line sewing.
    pdcakm alias pat
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    I don't teach per se but when my niece showed an interest in sewing we got her an inexpensive machine. The one thing she had to do was to learn to thread her machine. We went over with her Gma (my sister) also. 3 pairs of eyes we figured were better than one. Told her to always keep her manual very nearby. The learned to wind the bobbin and thread the machine. She also had to insert the bobbin correctly. This was during Christmas break. She accomplished quite a bit during that time. A drawstring purse, pillow and pillow case. A case for her scissors with elastic. She made a case out of felt for her embroidery also. She also made a small quilt for her cat Whiskers and her puppy Fiona. She has learned to clean her machine and very well I might add. Her stash is old clothes from anyone she can get them from. She is in 4th grade now. She asked the teacher if she could bring some of her projects to work on at recess but got a big no. Because of the scissors being a weapon and zero tolerance. At least she asked first. But they do need to know the machine threading and bobbin winding!

  22. #22
    Senior Member Cheshirecatquilter's Avatar
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    I agree -- forget the cleaning until they have built up their own lint. You want them go get off to a flying start and get hooked before the drudgery happens. Make it something they can use like a pillow case. Then they will be thinking about it afterwards even when they are not sewing. Rule #1 -- keep your fingers out from the needle area.

  23. #23
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheshirecatquilter View Post
    I agree -- forget the cleaning until they have built up their own lint. You want them go get off to a flying start and get hooked before the drudgery happens. Make it something they can use like a pillow case. Then they will be thinking about it afterwards even when they are not sewing. Rule #1 -- keep your fingers out from the needle area.
    You can also buy finger guards.
    Never let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.

  24. #24
    Super Member IBQUILTIN's Avatar
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    I agree to put maintenance a bit later on. Safety first, especially if they are going to be using rotary cutters

  25. #25
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    I started my Granddaughter sewing a little when she was eight. I had her pick out some fabric for pot holders to make for her Mom and other Grandma as Christmas presents. The front of the pot holders was four patches sewn together and put together with the thermal stuff and another fabric on the back. She then quilted them by sewing from corner to corner. I pretty well did the binding for her as I could tell she needed a break - still a short attention at that age.
    from there she picked out squares again and made little kids quilts to give to the Santa's Helpers program at Christmas time. Those I helped her tie. Besides the actual sewing, she likes to pick out the squares from my precut stash and arranging them how she wants them to look in the quilt. She is ten now and can stick with it longer. Good luck!

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