Teach Another Generation: A Bumpy Ride

Teen Sewing Camp January 2013

I love to teach kids how to sew; it is more like guiding them on their journey.

Yes, I am older than my students. I am wiser, well, I am more knowledgeable about using a sewing machine and constructing basic sewing projects. For example,  I can insert a bobbin and change a broken machine needle. I can construct a  9-patch pillow, a zipper bag, and a  reversible jean bag.

But it is the knowledge that comes with experience that I relish. I know the end score--A WIN. I know because they are constructing their own unique product. In and of itself, it is a success of which to be proud--an accomplishment that they can feel, touch and share with others.

Yes, I know the outcome, hooray; and I know the ride can be a bumpy one. Remember, I also know the end.

For instance, I feel their elation of selecting fabric for a project. I love this initial high, and I love watching this process vicariously. I am a lucky lady.

But, I know there comes a time in most every project a sewer undertakes for the first time. Typically, the event occurs when the sewer understands the instructions different from what the words and pictures are showing the sewer (need I say more).The frustration ensues, it starts to erupt and comes in many forms and the disconnects can be infuriating like sewing the wrong pieces together  or daunting like cutting your, especially for you, fabric wrong!

This is where the art of teaching sewing gets real, it is the test of my skills as a true believer that everyone can be successful at sewing. Sewing the wrong pieces can be fixed with the right tools (seam ripper), time and patience. The wrong cut takes a little more creativity; it is a greater test of my ability. I explore their reactions to a redesign: (a) introduce new fabric, (b) add an embellishment (c) create a new version of the initial project . There is always a solution, the test is finding the best one , the participant-approved one and quickly. I will use of any fabric, trim or machine sewing skill I know that can be offered as a salvation.  Ususally, I get a thumbs up for one or more of the solutions.  Hey, I am a great salesperson, when I have faith!

So, the construction process continues, and I take a breath and continue along for the ride, but it is over too soon, and, yet, the end is magical.  I see their beaming smiles; they are overcome with joy.There  is nothing better than pride in one's own ability to create.

This post is inspired by many students, most recently, the participants of the Teen Sewing Camp at the Road to California Quilters Conference & Showcase. The campers are shown in the picture  at the top of this post. 

But I am the lucky one; I will get the experience again in March at the 34th Annual Glendale Quilt Show.

Teen Quilt Camp March 2012

These pictures don't begin to recreate the joy of the journey! But, I hope you enjoyed the ride!

Now I think I will go buy some fabric for my sewing studio gotta love that feeling.