sewing classes in Colchester, Essex and how that has helped both our customers and us. Teaching grown ups is one thing, but teaching kids teaches YOU even more.
When you start teaching children you will find they are a lot smarter than you may think and very engaging. Try to keep the feeling of the lessons light and bouncy and let them make mistakes. They will learn far more from a mistake than by doing things perfectly.
There are some practical considerations. The main issue is one of safety. Whilst we may all have had a needle or pin through our fingers at some point, day to day most regular dressmakers never worry about injuring themselves. Whilst no kids in our classes have ever decided to do something overtly stupid such as sticking pins in each other or waving scissors around their heads they do need some supervision. To help with supervision we only teach children when they have a parent or other responsible adult with them to help out. The adult is made aware that THEY are responsible for the safety of their child when our tutor has to give some individual attention to another child.
The main points we have found through our lessons are:-
Picking fabrics for a project:-
There can be many reasons why a fabric isn't suitable for a project. The fabric may have the wrong amount of stretch, it may be too thick for some delicate points. If a child wants to use a fabric that is technically suitable but will look a little strange we suggest you let them. We are trying to teach them that sewing is about expressing yourself and being creative and yet we often see people try to stifle that creativity at the very first step! One girl wanted to make a scarf of white velvet,with gold ribbons and day-glow yellow fringe trim. A few of the grown ups tried suggesting other fabrics but she stuck by her guns and the actual scarf looked REALLY cool, original, one of a kind and she was thrilled with it!
Pining pattern to fabric and cutting out :-
Make sure you actually explain and demonstrate how to put the pin through the paper and fabric. It's something grown ups take for granted but some of our kids have never used pins before!
On the subject of patterns. We tend to make our own projects (such as making a draw string pouch). At home I use brown paper but young fingers can REALLY struggle to punch a hole through that stuff. Try using thinner tracing paper of your not using a commercial pattern.
Have a selection of scissor sizes on hand. This may sound obvious but I actually forgot to get some when we first started teaching kids as well as grown ups. some of my younger students can't even lift my personal shears (giant man sized ones). And a sharper blade is much safer than a blunt on which will slip and slide!
Don't be afraid to spend a few minutes letting the kids cut through some scrap fabric (under intense supervision) before cutting out the pattern pieces. Again when you cut out fabric you may actually be holding the blades at a certain angle, or holding the fabric in a certain way. Many times I've been told scissors are blunt and seen people just mash the fabric with the blade, but when I cut I tend to apply some sideways pressure between the blades and with the same scissors I can cut perfectly. These are the little quirks we all develop.
If working with a very young child use the big scissors BUT have your hand through the handles as well as theirs, so they get the feel of how we cut out the fabric without the risk of injury.
So there you have it, a few simple ideas for when you want to introduce kids to the world of sewing.
The biggest most important things to remember is to let them have fun and experiment and let them know it is ultimately only fabric. They are allowed to make mistakes.
Take care :)