So Who Taught You?

Over the past 2 Saturdays I was teaching a beginner sewing class. There aren’t many people who teach this class anymore. It’s not done in schools, because Home Ec just isn’t something cool. And with budget cuts, why teach sewing when the kids really need to know math? So, I teach sewing.

su_smallI truly enjoy the process. The first day I watch as these students (mostly mature adults), timidly walk in scared to death. They’re afraid of their sewing machine, afraid of cutting the fabric wrong, and they’re afraid to be beginners. It really is difficult being an adult beginner of anything. After 10 hours of me lecturing and them sewing, they change. They start talking about buying fabric and taking on new sewing challenges. I express this transformation as “creating little sewing monsters.” Monsters in a good sense. They have a solid foundation to start sewing anything they want. Their sewing future is limitless. They’re excited to take on new projects. That’s what I love to see, their excitement about what is ahead.

Most people who sew cringe at teaching beginners. It takes patience and encouragement. Half cheerleader and the other half coach. “You can do it!!! Don’t worry about what you call a mistake, no one will see that. Just keep sewing. The space shuttle is not going to crash if you make a mistake, I promise. Don’t strive for perfection, work toward proficiency.  You will learn by making mistakes. Its OK.”

I was about 10 (maybe younger) when I learned to sew. My mom taught me. Soon afterwards I went crazy making barbie clothes. I can’t remember not sewing. It has always been a positive part of my life.

I have morphed since then. I am now a fiber artist. I don’t need to be the fine sewer that my mom was, but…I still can use those skills to create artist magic. If it wasn’t for my mom, I wouldn’t be sewing.

So I like working with beginners. I love their enthusiasm. I also feel a responsibility to teach them, like that movie, Pay it Forward. I was given a gift and its my purpose to share that with others. I like creating monsters and I hope in turn they eventually create a couple monsters too.

I was talking to a friend about it today. She asked me who taught me to sew and I told her my mom. She stopped and looked thoughtful, “What a wonderful homage to your mom that you’re teaching beginners.” If you don’t know my mom died when I was 14. Yes, she gave me this gift, by birth and by training, even just for those few short years that I had her in my life…she created this monster.

So who taught you how to sew?


Note: Today’s photo is of my mom, preparing for my sister’s communion (circa 1968). The dressing table is my mom’s sewing cabinet, which I own and I also own her sewing machine. The curtains, and I’m pretty sure the red apron, were made by my mom.

Dear mom,  thank you for creating this monster.

One comment

  1. S says:

    In this picture of our mom, you will see
    The curtains she made with her sewing machine
    The apron she made with her sewing machine
    The confirmation dress she made for me with her sewing machine.
    And nowadays her sewing machine and its beautiful wood cabinet resides in North Caroline with,
    The artist that learned how to sew on this sewing machine

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