Sunday, September 22, 2013

The art of teaching

Teaching someone to perform a tactile skill is an interesting undertaking. You often don't realize how much is involved...such as learning how to hold fabric as you sew two pieces to thread a needle and not unthread it again every time a stitch is taken...just exactly how is a knot made...and the list goes on. 

I teach in a public middle school (grades 6, 7 & 8 so students are usually between the ages of 11 and 14 years old.) Along with two other teachers I advise and teach an after school Handworks Club. Our goal is to teach a love of making things by hand to our young students. Last year was our first year and we had no idea what to expect. Most of our students had little to no experience doing handwork projects. 

Class sample made by me.
One of our main projects was hand stitching and quilting 9-patch doll quilts. These little quilts only measure out at 12" square, but it took almost five months for our group of girls to make them. Wow! We learned that there is a lot involved with teaching someone to sew. Maybe making a quilt, even a doll quilt, was a bit much for our beginning sewers.


This year we are working on simpler projects. The first one is a tapestry bookmark. The purpose of this project is learning how to hold fabric (or felt in this case), tie a knot at the beginning and end of a seam, and do the running stitch. The great thing about this bookmark is that it does not matter how big or small the stitches end up as variety adds to the visual interest. 


Our next project will be decorating needle books. Again we are working with felt because it is so easy to hold. I went ahead and used my sewing machine to attach a page inside each book and the girls will practice stitching to decorate the front and back cover. Then, they will put the needle book to use holding their class needles.

Stuffed Owl~Handmade
Pattern and tutorial for this little owl can befound here:
After the needle books we will move on to this sweet little folded owl. It is such an easy pattern with just three seams. The girls will have a lot of fun choosing cute fabrics to make their owls. We have been blessed with fabric donations from members of a local quilt guild and the local quilt shop, The Scrappy Apple

It should be a fun hand sewing unit!