You Can’t Teach Sewing Without a Few Wrinkles

Last week Thursday was week two of class, and our focus was pattern work. The plan was for everyone to trace off and alter their pattern pieces, and then we’d talk fabric choices and what to bring to the next class. I’d made a fabric yardage conversion chart, and wanted to quickly explain how to use it. I also had a new student, and wanted to arrive early to catch her up. With all that in mind, I made a plan to be organized and ready for class.

I wasn’t ready for class.

Firstly, I arrived only fifteen minutes early, not half an hour early as planned – and as I’d directed my new student. So I was a little flustered when I arrived…and then confused. There was a child in my classroom! Were they a holdover from a daytime program at the high school? Were they lost? Where was their guardian? Then I looked past the child and saw my student, still bundled up in her winter coat. Whew! I put the child out of my mind as we introduced  ourselves and chatted. But the child kept butting into our conversation. It dawned on me that their guardian (at least for the night) was my new student. Hm.


My other students arrived right on time, and I passed out the handout for the day – the fabric yardage conversion chart. I love making up handouts! It’s like a souvenir of each week we spend together. In week one we learned how to read the back of the pattern envelope, which includes a chart of how much fabric to buy, usually for 45″ and 60″ widths. I had a chart by Threads Magazine which included other fabric widths, and decided to create one of my own. (It didn’t occur to me until just now, that I could have copied the Threads chart, and saved myself an hour or three of calculating and designing a whole new chart. Oh, well.)

I talked for a few minutes about tracing pattern pieces and best practices, then let the students get to work. As soon as they were occupied, I pivoted my focus to getting  my new student up to speed. We walked through body measurements and how to take them accurately by yourself, how to read a pattern envelope, and everything else covered in week one. If that had been that, and been seamless, this post would end here.

Remember the child?

I like children. I have always wanted children, and consider myself very pro-child. But. I have never been pro-dote-on-child. I have never been one to fawn over a child because they’re a child, or in any way make children the center of the or my universe. I suspect it’s due to my Nigerian parentage, as in our culture, there are definitely limits on the importance and freedom of children. But there are many cultures, including ones where it is accepted when children interject themselves into every conversation, interrupt every speaker, and are generally directly under foot at all times.


People. I nearly lost. My. Voice. Two straight hours of rapid-fire questions, repeatedly telling everyone ‘hold on, be there in a minute’, and shifting gears between guiding and teaching adults and managing a very vocal child. To say I was cranky by the end of the night would have been an understatement.

I am 1000% grateful that my students took the disruption in stride, and even helped me keep the child – who decided they wanted to learn to sew – occupied. I am certain each student had at least one question I didn’t address while engaged with our unexpected guest. I felt deeply disappointed in myself and guilty for letting my students down, even though I hadn’t created the issue. (Literally, haha. Get it?)

But you know what? We all survived class. My students traced off their patterns (one even traced off two patterns and blended a side seam across multiple sizes), the child traced off an extra pattern a student had brought, my new student got caught up and got to check out what everyone was doing, and nobody cried because there is no crying in baseball or community education. I got the wrinkle that always crops up when there’s a lot to do and an ironclad plan to do it, and after I stopped being sensitive about it, realized things could have gone much, much worse.

Week two verdict? Not bad!

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  1. None of it was your fault! A student who shows up late and expects you to catch them up AND brings a distraction along too? Just wrong. When I was teaching spinning someone brought a baby to class because her sitter was unavailable. You can’t spin while holding a cranky baby! Another time someone brought a puppy and fussed over it the whole time. I was happy she never showed up again for subsequent classes. In retrospect I should have refused to admit them to class but it’s hard to disappoint people! Your student could have at the very least brought something along to occupy the child. A good time for a video game!

    1. Some screen time might have been helpful :-p I cannot imagine spinning yarn with a baby in one of my arms…but it’s super cool you know how to spin! I also knit, and have tons of appreciation for dyers and spinners.

  2. Now may be the time to update the class information with an age limit and also say not extra participants unless they are paid enrollee. :)

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