This whole past month was about sharing and connecting with a community of like-minded creatives from around the world. I LOVED it, but it was another reminder that locally, I have a very limited supply of sewing friends. There are only a few of people in town whom I can rant about the scarcity of good knit fabrics, or titter excitedly about new indie pattern releases with. With that, the chances of attending a sewing meet-up are practically zilch.
So I decided to change all that.
When I talk to people about sewing, I will most frequently hear “I wish I could do that”, “I haven’t sewn since high school”, and “I can barely fix a button!”. It seemed like there was interest, but a lack of confidence and skills to pursue the hobby.
Enter the Great Canadian Sewing Day!
(I’d decided to call it that after a month-long binge watch of all 3 seasons of the Great British Sewing Bee). I gathered up a handful of interested friends and family members, booked a party room, and planned out 8 hours of Sewing 101 fun!
In reality the day was nothing at all like the Bee. Pretty much the exact opposite, in fact. I wanted a low-pressure, fun, sew-along type afternoon that focused on fundamental skills and basic fit and customization. I narrowed down two patterns that my seamstresses could choose to make, both from Sewaholic – the Belcarra blouse or the Hollyburn skirt. Two people chose the blouse and three chose the skirt, so it was an even mix.
How it worked was that I would demonstrate and explain a step for one pattern, and had the gals execute that step on their own. Then I demo-ed a step for the other pattern, let them work on that and repeat. I also circled the room and helped guide and get people out of jams (literally – some sewing machines weren’t too happy with us). It was all about patience and baby steps.
This was the first time I had ever attempted something like this. Being the center of attention is not my strong suit, but I was glad to dip my toes into the world of teaching sewing. I think I communicated well and it was really fun. The best was to see people excited when they finished a step well and could see the project coming together.
I did not, however, anticipate how exhausting it would be to constantly jump around between two patterns, helping people and finishing the demo steps. By the end of it, I had abandoned both my teaching garments and finished them at later days.
I also completely underestimated the time commitment. (I can barely tell how long I’ll take on a project just myself, I don’t know why I thought I could predict how long it would take teaching 5 people two patterns…but I digress). The anticipated 6-8 hour workshop devolved into a manic 13 hour marathon. Complete with exhaustion and relentless determination to just FINISH the dang things. By 1 am we were all just ready to go to bed and never look at a sewing machine again. Woops.
Next time I will make it a 2 day affair.
I had a really fun day spending time with my friends and giving them a little taste of my hobby. I hope I imparted some tips and tricks and I really look forward to seeing what my new seamstress friends make in the future.
Tips for hosting your own Sewing Day:
- Sugar, caffeine and pizza are a must.
- Bring lots of extension cords and power bars for everyone’s sewing machines and irons.
- Have lots of space for sewing tables, cutting tables, and ironing boards.
- Have an extra machine on hand if possible in case someone’s machine acts up or breaks.
- Focus on teaching ONE pattern.
- Break down the sewing time into smaller chunks to avoid exhaustion.
- Have finished garments from the pattern on hand to help people see the ‘bigger picture’ when doing funny-looking steps like pockets or closures.
- Pump up the jams! (But not so loud they can’t hear you explaining something).
- Encourage creativity with the pattern but also focus on keeping things simple enough to complete.
- Have everyone take measurements in advance so you can be prepared for any sizing/grading help they may need.
- Keep it fun and lighthearted. Be sure everyone knows not to expect perfection on their first garment.
Have you ever taught a sewing workshop before? Have you ever had a friend teach you? I’d love to hear your stories.