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Teaching Sewing Classes
By Karen Maslowski, Sewstorm Publishing


Sewing classes in school curricula are relatively rare these days.  Traditional, and once mandatory, clothing courses have been replaced by what are perceived as more critically needed 90's subjects such as parenting, drug and alcohol abuse prevention, and more stringent academic subjects.  If you can effectively communicate your body of sewing knowledge, the rewards can be great.  Of all the areas of specialization in sewing, teaching can be one of the most profitable.   Also, don't let the lack of a home economics degree keep you from turning your talents to a career in teaching.


Getting started requires planning and effort on three fronts.  First you must decide what to teach.  Beginning sewing is a good place to test the waters, and draws from the largest group of student.  For the same reasons that alterations and custom sewing services are thriving, people want to learn to make better fitting, higher quality clothing for themselves or others.   Other options include tailoring, quilting, and a variety of sewn crafts and home decorating projects.  You'll need lesson plan that outlines the information you would like to present in class.  Second, you must decide where to teach, and third, you must attract students.  Fabric stores  and sewing machine dealerships are good places to fulfill these last two requirements. 


"I have to set up my classes for how families live these days", Nancy Gray says.  "Kids are begging their parents for sewing lessons but they're in so many activities." She currently teaches four classes a day: an adult class in the morning, then another in the evening, and two children's classes after school, back to back.  Each class is 11/2 hours long, which Gray says works well with her and with her students.


Teaching in a local fabric store was a frustrating experience for Nancy.  While the owner of the store supplied machines for her classes, they were low end models of the brands carried there. Gradually, most of Nancy's classes have moved to a space within her apartment building. She prefers this, because she doesn't have to load up everything and drag it over to the store for each class.   Other pluses: the "aggravation factor is lower", and she doesn't have to share her fee with the store owner.  Also, when pupils ask  for her advice on machines, she can honestly advise them without bias.  She generally suggests buying a lower end machine first ; this way they can see if they enjoy sewing enough to invest in a more costly machine.  She tells students that good basics are more important than the bells and whistles on the higher priced models. "They can always trade up," she explains, adding "If they can't understand a complicated machine, they get too frustrated to continue sewing."

Because the mill town in which Nancy lives is economically depressed, it's difficult to charge the prices that Nancy would like to command.  Giving her students the chance to tell her what they want out of the course is a hallmark of a Nancy's class.  Particularly, she asks students who have sewn before what they want to learn.  She says she asks them "You've paid $40. for four weeks of this class; what do you want to know?"

I wish you the very best in teaching sewing!

For more information on teaching, visit the Teaching Sewing page on the Sew Storm website at http://www.sewstorm.com

More information on Sewstorm Publishing

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