Law of Attrition


Hello there! Ready to hear how week three of teaching sewing went?

(Apologies for back-to-back teaching posts; I’m trying to get these up on Tuesdays, but sharing that amazing fabric last week took precedence. ;) )

So, sewing class. Week two was a mess and I had to send a bunch of followup emails to make sure that everything intended to be, was covered, and all the questions and loose ends I heard floating through the room were neatly tied up. Complicating my communications was that I actually went out and socialized on Friday, so there was a delay before I could even write those messages.

But I did it! Thanks again to being organized enough to have an extremely detailed class itinerary. Really, I don’t know what possessed me to make such a document, but it has been a lifesaver many times over. I plan to continue teaching wherever and whenever I can, and this is a technique I’ll hold onto.

The students arrived in a slightly staggered fashion, as sometimes happens when teaching adults. :) They all had their fabric, patterns, sewing machines, and some basic sewing  supplies. Their preparedness was wonderful! It was also really cool how they shared supplies and engaged each other more.

But one student did not join us – the new student from last week. I was honestly surprised she didn’t come back, as she seemed interested in the class and receptive to what she learned. I hadn’t expected to gain a student, but I also hadn’t expected to lose one.

I’m not the first educator in my nuclear family – my father taught math for decades, in two countries on two continents. We’ve had many discussions over the years about teaching, managing a class, homework, and other aspects of teaching/life balance. At the time, it was because we’ve always talked about all sorts of things. I never thought our conversations would be personally relevant! One of the gems from those conversations is that it’s best not to take attrition personally. He taught me that it’s a teacher’s job to teach the students who show up to class, not to worry about who’s missing or why.

Task-wise, week three of class was devoted to cutting the pattern pieces out of fabric. I taught the students about the grain of the fabric, the fastest way to mark notches, and helped make sure they cut enough pieces of everything. I’m proud that I was successful in troubleshooting patterns I’ve never seen, given the self-taught nature of my sewing skills. It’s nice to know I know my stuff! Mostly, though, I reallllllllllllly emphasized the importance of grain. I don’t think it sank in that night, but I’m optimistic that they’re at least more aware of grain, what it is, and how it affects finished garments.

In week two it seemed that my students were not super comfortable with the rulers I recommended, so this week I brought in a project of my own to trace. The idea was that they could watch me using the rulers, and get a feel for how they work in action. What I didn’t realize was that they couldn’t watch me AND do their work! Oops. Again, I need to be better with providing visuals up front. When I do this class next, that’s the improvement I’m going to focus on. Anyway, I traced Simplicity 1254, a Leanne Marshall coat. It’s not my favorite silhouette, but my fabric is fab and I have an idea for kicking up the design a notch.

At the end of class, two of my three students were right on schedule and the the third was nearly there. So we’re doing well! On to week four, which should mostly be sewing. Ttfn :)

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