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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
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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
    Super Member 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
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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.

  11. #11
    Super Member Sheila Elaine's Avatar
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    I agree.....cell phones are annoying. The ring tones give me a headache, plus they are more interested in talking & texting than learning.

    Everyone's ideas are really helping me. It's like brain-storming before writing a term paper. Have to find a starting & ending place(s), then get tools, fabric, measuring tape/rules, etc. together; look for simple patterns that work up quickly & go from there.

    I'm going to ask my gdau where she'd start. She had a semester of Home Ec, so she'll have input for me. They made a pair of pajama pants, but I feel that wasn't something she was really into making. Maybe it was too much with the curved seams, but she finally finished them for her grade.

  12. #12
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    how about a pillow case?

    one can either go with a plain one or one with the colored bands?

    They could learn measuring, cutting, sewing - different types of seams or finished could be incorporated - either French seams or overcasting

    doesn't take overly long - depending on where one buys the fabric, it could be made for between $2.50 to $10.00

  13. #13
    Super Member Sheila Elaine's Avatar
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    Omak,
    You sound like a great teacher. Thanks for your ideas and input. I feel they need to do most of taking seams apart for themselves. It reminds them to go slower if they're not sure they're doing. I encourage them to ask questions rather than plunge into a project, making lots of mistakes.

    I understand wanting to make complicated items, but without basics they will get too overwhelmed and give up. That's not what I want to pass on to them.
    It reminds me when I begged my Aunt to let me iron blue jeans with really heave starch when I was about 8 y.o. When she came back, I'd attempted to iron about 6 pairs, but not to her standards. Re-doing them was a humbling experience. She told me, "if something's worth doing, it's worth doing right the first time." I've thought about that many times and if I catch myself trying to rush my sewing/ironing, etc., I have to stop myself & think, do it slower & do it right the first time.

  14. #14
    Super Member Sheila Elaine's Avatar
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    Bear,
    A pillow case would be good. I have some larger pieces of fabric that would make a single size pillow case. I'll make up a sample and have it to show her. French seams would be great. I like to do those when I make pillow cases so they don't ravel. I made my gson a pillow case last Christmas & sewed Hunter Green grosgrain ribbon over the seam between the 4 inch border & the case. I noticed him figuring out how I sewed it on, making two parallel seams to sew it down. I like to see when young folks are curious about how sewn items are constructed. I've told him that he's gonna make some young lady a great husband. We get a good laugh out of that. My gdau doesn't want to get married & definitely no children. She may change her mind though if the right young man comes along. Listen at me going on. Yes, I'm proud of both of them. They're both in Band & get lots of honors.

  15. #15
    Senior Member dizzy's Avatar
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    star seams to have good idea with how to start out so go that away an make sure she does want to learn. that what my grand mother did to me an then she gave me a pattern for a pair of pants because i wanted to learn to sew my own clothes an i still sew some of my own stuff i can make my summer stuff a whole lot cheaper i look for fabric i like an go for it.even make my own paterns when i find something i like the fit of. the tank tops at wal-mart have to much fabric on the shoulder an i have to take them up so i make them my self.

  16. #16
    Super Member Sheila Elaine's Avatar
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    Dizzy,
    Both my grandmother's sewed, so I stood by their machines & watched for hours. They made clothes & quilts for the whole family. I took 3 yrs Home Ec. We had a great teacher & she showed us how to make adjustments to patterns. I agree with you that it's easier to make our own clothes if the ones in the store don't fit well. I'm 62 & my body parts have gone South with gravity (to a degree), so it's hard to find a pattern that fits me all over. LOL. I've learned to eye garments on the rack & come home, cut out my own garment & sew it up. I have some old patterns I use, just change them as fashions change. Latest fashions are hard to adjust because my middle is too full for the short jackets. Hate the blouses that come a few inches below jackets.

  17. #17
    Super Member Sheila Elaine's Avatar
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    Star,
    The teens love the totes. There are so many free patterns that can be downloaded I can have her go online & find one she wants to make. I like the ones with lots of embellishments. My gdau said the trend is large bangle bracelets and pins to add to totes. I like her ideas, so can tap into her mind to see what's hot right now. My ideas are far behind sometimes.

  18. #18
    Super Member omak's Avatar
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    As a lefty, I have found that my teachers were more concerned about my differences than I was .... and, I couldn't teach my left-handed daughter to do anything!

    One of the things I found helpful in learning new things (it may just be the kind of learner I am) is to have the sample as you indicated ... but, if in a situation where you are sewing the same seams over and over (as in sewing two patches together), I could learn it easier if someone did it five times in front of me. (I worked at a factory, and production was the name of the game).
    Whenever I was moved to a new operation, I would have my supervisor sew five pieces so that I could see how she handled the fabric, what it would look like, how she held her hands ... a myriad of things you do while sewing that you don't even realize.
    I understand about "if it is worth doing, it is worth doing correctly the first time" ... I was blessed to have worked in a factory where quality was definitely a must! I have always appreciated good standards and ideals.
    I always worry about a beginner becoming so burdened with doing it EXACTLY right that they become discouraged.
    It is similar to most quilters "sew an exact 1/4 inch seam allowance" (which in some piecing is extremely important) ... versus my friend, Mary Ellen Hopkins, who says "PPM" - - personal private measurement, the key is consistency ....
    And, I so agree with those who have encouraged you with "enjoy them".
    I didn't like teenagers when I was one, but I learned how to celebrate their individual personalities and gifts. And, to be able to teach a young one how to celebrate who they are in a productive way is a true gift for yourself. It is really amazing how a simple word or sentence can make their world different for the rest of their life. A big responsibility but such a blessing, too.

  19. #19

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    I think all the suggestion are super. The only thing I would suggest would be to let her first quilt project be a "rag" quilt. They are easy and fun and she won't get discouraged.


  20. #20
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    Much as I hated to baste- I think giving suggestions about when doing it saves time in the long run might be useful.

  21. #21
    thismomquilts's Avatar
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    I taught my then 10 year old son to sew and then he made a nine patch table runner - two actually mostly on his own. Because of his age I cut the materials - though he very much wanted to... :). Now that he is twelve he is allowed to cut the fabric as long as I'm right there with him. Has he made mistakes - of course, but he did the majority of them on 'cheap' fabric and is getting better. I let him go to my stash and choose whatever he wanted - do you know how hard that was for me? to take the chance of giving up some of MY stash? :) - alas and alack though - he matches quite nicely.

    Then I taught an older woman how to sew the same table runner - by SHOWING her how to cut and then letting her do it (she already knew how to sew) and then telling her what I thought was the best method. She had a blast.

  22. #22
    Senior Member dizzy's Avatar
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    sHEILA
    I love sewing just about everything an as i said i can make it all just about.i might get to make daughter inlaws wedding dress or find one that i can adjust for her she's only a size 10 or 12. i just hope they have a full life with out alot of troubles.

  23. #23
    Super Member ginnie6's Avatar
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    I'm teaching my 10yo dd to sew. She's helped me work on dresses for her, she's made a nine patch pillow by hand, and she is now working on her own quilt. She found a picture online of a quilt she liked and printed it off and brought it to me to ask if she could make one like it. She picked out her fabrics from my meager stash and then we figured out block sizes and how many she would need to fit her bed. I did most of the cutting for her but she has done all the sewing. the top is almost together. I also give her free access to fabric and the sewing machine. She sometimes just sews lines and sometimes she makes little bags.

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