I've taught hand-sewing (and sometimes hand-embroidery) in the Art classroom for over five years. Eek. That’s a scary number because it means I’m getting old. Yuck.
The more I teach this (incredibly valuable) skill the more tips and tricks I have to share with you.
|A young fan of Doctor Who|
#1 – DON’T GIVE THEM GLUE
Mwfahahahahaahahaha! I live to torment them!! No, not really. I’ve just learned the hard way if the kiddos know there is glue available then they think they should use the glue any ole time something gets challenging. Just repeat after me, “No, precious. You have to sew it. Yup. It’s hard. I believe in you.” Figuring things out and problem-solving is an important skill that many of our students do not have enough opportunities to develop. You’ll be so proud with how they overcome the-need-for-glue hurdle.
#2 – USE A NYLON-BASED THREAD
Kids will get thread knotted in a wide variety of manners. It is harder to knot up nylon-based thread because it doesn’t have as much “tooth.” Also, nylon-based thread is easier to thread through the eye of a needle (it frays less). I got a little tired of my sweethearts bringing me frayed thread full of spit and asking, “will you thread this for me?” GROSS. This is my work-around.
|Yup. I let someone make a grenade. He's in ROTC and a Junior Eagle Scout.|
#3 – USE CREWEL NEEDLES
Crewel needles are larger and have a larger eye. They are easier to thread. ‘Nuff said.
#4 – GIVE THEM A SPECIFIC MEASUREMENT FOR GETTING OUT THREAD
This is how kids think: “If a lil thread is good, a lot is better.” Then, you, the teacher, are helping the wee ones cut off huge knots of thread and throwing away wasted thread. That’s annoying. Give the students a very specific measurement they can figure out all on their own. I tell them a measure of thread from the tip of their pointer finger to the crease of their elbow is perfect. Also, it’s super cute to watch them measure it. Awww!
|First. Time. Sewing. Ever.|
#5 – MAKE DEMO VIDEOS & MAKE VIDEO LINKS AVAILABLE TO STUDENTS
You’re gonna show your students how to thread and knot a needle approximately 5 bagillion times. Sewing, for most of them, is uncharted territory and they are usually very intimidated. That many demos bores me. I made videos. I put shortened links to my videos on my class blog and wrote them on my board. Students are allowed to use devices in my classroom. They would look up the demos all on their own and get the benefit of me talking to them (over and over and over again). This is a huge time-saver.
#6 - DEVELOP A GOOD METHOD FOR NEEDLE MANAGEMENT
Needles go missing. Usually it is not because Sally is a cutter or because Joan is violent (I’ve got Mad Men on the brain), but you do want to be able to account for any sharps (also needles cost money, yo). My how-to-thread a needle video includes my current method of needle management, but there are lots of “right” answers for this demand.
#7 – USE SMARTFAB FABRIC
About a bagillion years ago (really last year) SmartFab sent me some trial fabrics to try out. I put them in my storage closet and forgot about them. . . Until, we started running low on felt fabrics! OMYGAWSH. I’m a total convert. This is the best fabric for beginner sewing. First, it is transparent which allows students to trace their sketches (we call them patterns, ahem). Second, you can draw on it with any ole colored marker (I sometimes let them use a lil marker embellishment). Third, it is easy to cut with those ancient dull scissors that seem to exist in every Art room ever. Four, the colors do not fade. I’ve already ordered tons more SmartFab. Love this stuff.
Those are my most current tips for sewing in the classroom. All of the images you see on this blog post are the works of my students and these are their very first sewing attempts ever! So proud of them!!