Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Teaching Children to Sew

As some of you know, teaching children to sew uses a very different skill set that does teaching adults to sew.

Adult students will fight with you on how something should be done even if they have no clue how to do it.

Children will willingly take orders from an adult teacher.

Adult students can problem solve. Machine not moving forward? Why is not sewing? They learn to stop and look.

Children don't quite have the problem solving ability yet, but it comes with time.

Adults will plow through sewing seams that look terrible, know they look terrible but continue anyway.

Children are not aware how bad something may look because they made it. They see beauty in what they have done.

Adults have the dexterity to make beautiful things with a sewing machine.

Children are developing those skills so some things might be just beyond their grasp for another year or two.

Earlier this year, a friend of mine approached me asking if I could teach her daughter to sew. Finding a sewing teacher in France is hard to find and expensive.  I am cheap, I work for good wine of which she and her husband have in their wondrous roman era cellar.

This child, 10 years old, is a fashionesta. I have never seen a child love fashion as much as this child. She wanted to learn to sew so that she could learn to make purses and bags mostly, but clothes as well.

Her mother, when we began, went out to buy a book of patterns. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find this type of thing? Something with patterns for the size of a 10to 12 year old female?

Well, I will tell you, It is hard, at least here in France.  Her mom found a book that her daughter liked the fashions inside but, the book sizing put her in the upper edge, actually just over the edge of the largest  of the pattern size in the book.  The book is a very good one by Yuki Araki.

This was the book they brought me. Sizing was going to be a challenge. But I am always up to a good challenge.
My 10 year old student had already found her first project. She wanted to make the purse. As I paged through the book I agreed with her, it would make a very good first project.
One small difficulty was having a book clearly written in French. So I tackled the pattern first. My logic being that I needed to make it first to see if I could read and understand the directions before having a 10 year old native French reader in my home wanting to make it. It is always good to be prepared.
As I have said before, I am a repurposer. I love to take old things and make new and useful items out of them. What better to use as our purse fabric than a pair of old worn out men's jeans? It turns out with left over's that a pair of men's jeans will make 2 purses. One for my test and one for my 10 year old. So here is the finished project.
It turned out very well, I think. The project taught straight line sewing and how to gather. We learned about stabilizer and why it is important in the lining. We learned how to apply buttons and we learned about several different feet that come with the machine and when we should use them and why. The elastic band that goes over the button keep the purse closed is actually a covered small hair rubber band. How cute!
On to project 2 and the last one we were able to do this year. It was a swing jacket.
Given (almost) free rein to dig though my stash, the fabric chosen by the student was the linen blend. She loved how soft it was and she has an eye for fabric. Not a surprise based on her fashion sense.
I want to draw your attention to the neck edge. Between things to do while I was preparing something for her to sew, she had the machine sewing. She had discovered all of those wonderful specialty stitches that most of us adults ignore. Watching her do that it occurred to me that the inside neck was the place to show those stitches off. Giving her a piece of woven tape, off she went choosing her favorite design in a color that suited her. The rayon thread she chose was dug out of the box containing all of my embroidery threads. Children have no fear where adults second guess and hesitate.
In this class we learned how to use a serger, how to make tucks and we were going to make button holes, only we never got there. Unfortunately, due to her school, our schedules have not met up for a while. She had gotten all the way to the button holes on a swing jacket So it sat, all complete except for the buttons.
Finally last weekend, knowing we would not meet until next year and that she is growing, I finished it.
I delivered it this last weekend to her. It still fits. Her mother marvelled at the fact that she had made most of it herself and for good reason. We will work on schedules next year. Hopefully we can continue her sewing adventure.

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