The Antipodean Artisan's Story

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

My first teaching lesson

Yesterday I gave my first sewing lesson.  Don’t get too excited, it was only to a friend, but she is an absolute beginner.  I mean a proper beginner.  She could barely thread her machine.  Her name is Lynne, and she purchased her new lady off eBay and taught herself how to load her bobbin and machine the few days previous to our lesson.  Well actually she couldn’t manage it and her husband of all people, actually read the instruction manual and they sat down and figured it out together.  Awwww what a sweetie.
After reading many hilarious facebook posts I offered my expertise, or my experience and said I'd give her a lesson.  Now i could have just gone to her house and given her a boring lesson on this and that, but i wanted to share the love of sewing with her so i had to think of something to actually teach. 

I thought there are three things you need to begin a love affair with stitching. 
One – enthusiasm to sew
Two – great fabric.   Now this doesn’t have to be the finest silk, it just has to be fabric that you love and want to make into something beautiful.  It could be an old tea towel or fabric from your favourite dress as a child.  As long as you love it, it qualifies as great.
Three – great project.  This has to be something that you are able to do.  It has to be at the right level with just enough of a challenge to make you feel like you have achieved great things, but not too difficult to turn you away.

After a little thought, I thought a bag was a perfect project.  It was easy, and wouldn’t take too long to complete, and Lynne would have a beautiful bag at the end of it.  What more could a budding stitcher want right? Off to the Burda Style website I went, and downloaded this pattern from Novita from Very Purple Person blog.  I stuck it all together and cut it out, and then I went and bought some gorgeous fabric from my local shop.  I also bought her a few goodies to get her started. Some pins, dressmaker's carbon paper, marking pen and every stitcher's best friend – the unpicker/seam ripper!!!!!

I went through all the basics and taught Lynne a few little shortcuts and introduced her to the automatic needle threader on her machine…. Then I taught her all about fabric and selvages and warps and wefts (without using the words warp and weft).  I went through basic lingo and pattern markings and she made her first cuts into fabric and her first steps to making a bag.

Next we went onto marking the fabric and pinning and sewing darts.  Yes… my beginner learnt darts in her first lesson.  She is a champion student. Then we began sewing.  I took Bert along and we worked side by side.  With some misdirection from me she even learnt how to use her seam ripper.  The most valuable lesson of all i think

After much pinning and sewing and quite a bit of gossiping…. we had both made a fabulous reversible bag each!  Lynn had gone from an absolute beginner to an accomplished bag maker in a few hours.  And all because of me!!!

It was so much fun, and I can’t wait for more lessons.  I thought we could make a pincushion for her stash, and a little purse and introduce the delightful zipper like Flossie or Tilly.  Any thoughts or ideas?  Maybe a cute little retro apron you know I’m so fond of and then  eventually we will make a cute vintage dress!!!!! 


  1. Thats such a great idea, sounds like you had fun too! I think you're onto a winner with regards to bags being a quick and easy way to learn techniques and have something to show for it right away. U-Handbag has some utterly fabulous free patterns you could download.
    Oh, you could do a cushion cover to learn button holes... (then you can explain it to me too, cos mine are always disasters...)

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  3. I'd love to learn some things too but alas distance is a wee obsticle. Can you do some on-line tutorials? I would love to learn to make a heat bag for the winter that is fast approaching. Like Sarah, I too need a few new cushion covers...x

  4. These bags look great ! I just stumbled upon your blog and you must live just up the road from me !! How exciting - fellow sewers and bloggers in North Devon.
    Well done you for sharing your skills, and what a marvellous result :-)) Kxx