Wednesday, May 30, 2012

In Home Sewing Sessions

It started with me organizing last minute sewing sessions for kids in our homeschool group.  I had signed my children up for science/art sessions, which were cancelled at the last minute because the hosting mom had changes in her work schedule.  As a result, my kids were very disappointed and urged me to "host something, Mom!...please!"  So, I settled on sewing.

We ended up having 10 students-9 kids and 1 mom (who quickly morphed into being my assistant instead).  My two teen girls were our helping hands.  I never planned it to be such a large group, but most of the kids came as pairs of siblings and I couldn't bare to turn anyone away.  Besides, it was a last minute idea and the end of the school year, for most, so we went out with a bang!

In my dining room, I set up a long, long, folding table which I recently inherited (it stayed up for the whole 6 weeks) and we started out with 6 sewing machines (4 being mine).  We met once a week for 2hrs. in the afternoon.  We could have used an extra 30-40 mins each week and we usually went a little overtime.  It took the first couple of sessions to get the kids used to the machines and sewing terms and being comfortable with following the given instructions.   By the end of the first session, we encountered problems with half the machines which ate up a lot of sewing time.  I ended up putting 1 machine away for good, and which I'm still awaiting my sewing machine "guy" to come by to check out.  So, we were down to 2 kids on a machine which in my head seemed like it would work but in reality did pose a few problems.  I can see now that ideally, 1 person per machine is best and even more ideally everyone bringing their own machines is the way to go.   And how I will do it next time, if and when there is a next time.  
Two of the machines are not in this picture, one of which is my trusty vintage  in-table Kenmore, below.

The first week we made wrist pincushions.   My reasoning behind this was that it was a small, simple project that got the kids measuring, cutting, machine sewing, stuffing, working with elastic, and hand sewing and it would also solve the problem of pins and pin cushions floating around the room each week.  As it turned out, only about two of the kids kept bringing theirs back each time and using them.   Ah well, the kids were excited about completing a project and actually sewing on the machines.  

I also learned after that first week that I would have to scrap most of the project plans that I had set up because even though they were all beginning sewers, they were already moving at completely different paces and sharing machines that occasionally had problems wouldn't work for more detailed projects.  I had to keep it simple and pick projects that could be completed in roughly 2hrs., with possibly a slight overlap to the next week.  I found it was more challenging than I thought to pick projects to accommodate several different criteria.  We had ages from 9 - 15, boys and girls, kids who worked much quicker than others, kids who could be instructed once and then work and then others who needed step by step guidance, and these varying levels had nothing to do with age.  It was a very interesting learning experience for me.  All the kids were great, but I would certainly do things differently - as they say, whoever they are that say things for all the world to listen and learn, hind's sight is 20/20.

 Happy busy hands.  :)

Another project we did was pillowcases using the "hot dog" method, which the kids loved because there was that "ah-ha!" moment when you pull out the fabric from it's roll and turn everything right-side out and suddenly you have a pillowcase!  It was like a magic trick to them!  They were all proud of their pillowcases.  :)

I wish I had thought to take photos each week throughout, but every session was so busy from start to finish that I didn't think of it until the last week.  I would have needed one person appointed just for photography in order to get that job done.  But at least I got a few photos of the students as a remembrance.    

While I don't feel that these sessions were actually sewing lessons as much as they were a time of sewing projects, I still think the kids learned something new, and I know that several of them have been inspired to attempt their own projects at home, which, in my opinion, is really what it's all about.  And along with that, I got to know these kids a little better which I thoroughly enjoyed.  

Overall, it was a worthwhile and enjoyable experience.  One I would happily do again.  :)

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