I have been teaching children for over a decade in many settings — schools, community centers, youth employment programs, camps and one on one — and have found that sewing is a craft that offers meaningful learning to young people across many ages and backgrounds.
Whether a child is 6 years old or 17, learning to sew can help them exercise their artistic side, develop fine motor skills, and wear the hat of an engineer as they cut out two-dimmesional shapes and sew them into three-dimensional garments.
Long before STEAM was a thing in education, sewing was pastime that allowed young people to have fun energizing their artistic side while making things they can actually wear and use. Kids are excited to make things, especially items they can wear and use. It gets them off their screens, working with their hands and socializing with others who share their interests in the craft.
Teen Summer Master Classes
Each summer I offer a series of week-long master classes for teens (12-18) who want to dive deep into the process of design, from conception to reality. The week begins with students sharing and brainstorming ideas for pieces they would like to create, then we identify specific construction skills they want to improve, taking time to think about the full design process behind a garment. Class size is limited to four students each session, so everyone gets plenty of personal attention and instruction.
We’ll be spending lots of time sewing at the studio, but we will also take a field trips to places that can enrich students’ understanding of the craft and expand their design ideas:
- Fabric store: On the first day of each session, we will go to a store such as G Street Fabrics (Rockville, MD), Sarah’s Fabrics (Takoma, MD) or A Fabric Place Basement (Alexandria, VA) where students can learn more about fabric types and how to select the right fabric for a particular design. Students will have the option to purchase materials at the store (budget provided by parent) but students are not required to buy anything if they are bringing something from home.
- Art Gallery: we will go to one exhibit each week to museums such as the National Gallery of Art, the Portrait Gallery, or the Hirshhorn to reflect on the intersection between fine art and fashion. Students will have sketchbooks and cameras (where allowed) ready to capture pieces that they are drawn to, and will have an opportunity to translate ideas from the art into their designs. *If a museum trip is not possible this year due to COVID restrictions, an alternative activity will be planned.
- Textile Techniques: Playing with textile creation is a wonderful way to integrate other arts forms into the design process. Each week we try a project to experiment with fabric dying, painting, printing, and more to create a unique textile.
- Sketching: We will spend time each day experimenting with drawing techniques so that students feel more comfortable capturing and communicating their creative ideas. No prior drawing experience or skill will be needed.
Experience level: all levels welcome (including new beginners) ages 12-18. For beginner students, we work together to choose initial garment projects that are exciting to the students but achievable given their stage of learning.
Transportation: I will transport students to and from all field trips in my vehicle (waiver to be provided), but parents are welcome to chaperone in their own vehicles if they are interested in attending. In some cases we may take the metro as a group; students will need metro cards.
Hours: 9am-3pm Monday through Friday
*If you need an earlier drop-off or later pick-up, just let me know. In most cases I can be flexible. There is no extra fee for earlier or later pick-up times.
What to bring:
- Fabric for 1-2 garments and/or $35-50 for purchasing material during the fabric store trip
- Lunch and snacks each day
- Sunscreen (for our trips on the mall)
- Water bottle
- Sketchpad & pen/pencil. Any size is fine.
Price: $350 + materials for one or two garments
All thread and sewing equipment is supplied by me; students are welcome to bring their own equipment if they prefer, but please label each item with their name.
Dates: Students can attend as many of the sessions as desired; field trip locations will vary by week, so no two weeks will be the same.
- Session 1: August 2-6, 2021
- Session 2: August 9-13, 2021
A flyer about the program can be downloaded here.
Kids Afterschool Classes
Have a child who is a young fashionista or an avid maker? Right now (as of spring 2019) I’m generally available Thursday afternoons and some Fridays for private lessons; I teach at the Oyster Adams Bilingual (upper campus) on Mondays – Wednesdays.
In my classes, students will learn how to safely use a sewing machine and will work their way through a series of fun projects that build their confidence and give them a basic foundation in sewing skills. All materials are included in this classes, but students are welcomed and encourage to bring their own fabrics if they would like more personal choice for a project. Projects for beginners include items such as a pillow, tote bag, PJ shorts or simple skirt, stuffed animals, and more.
For children who are homeschooled, sewing classes can be a great way to augment their learning in many areas, especially artistic development, math comprehension, and spacial learning. I work closely with parents to help identify the learning goals for each child and can develop fun, project-based lessons that get their creative sides going and also reinforce academic concepts you may be working on in other areas. If you have a child or a group of children who are interested in classes, please contact me for more information on scheduling options and availability. I can accommodate up to four students at a time in my space. Pricing for small groups is typically similar to my after school classes ($180 for six 90 minute classes), but I can also work with you to develop a schedule and price structure that fits your needs and budget.
Looking for more ideas for homeschooled children in Maryland? Check out HomeSchoolMom.com
I conduct birthday parties at my studio for groups of up to 6 children. Parties generally need to be booked at least 3 weeks in advance. No sewing experience is required. For project options, pricing, and more details, please contact me.
FAQs for Kids Classes
Hopefully yes! But some of this depends on you, and some of it depends on your child’s personality, and his or her age. My classes are small and that enables me to get to know each child and his or her parents so that I can better understand learning styles and parent expectations.
I have now taught hundreds of children, and in general, I have found that until students reach about 10 years of age, they are in exploration mode when it comes to sewing. My goal is to nurture that exploration, expose them to the basic skills, and foster a love for the craft, but I don’t expect them to sew perfect seams or spend lots of time correcting mistakes when they are very young. I want them to have fun, be safe, and love to sew.
In about 4th grade (around age 10), I start seeing a shift in students’ attention spans and desire to focus more on the quality of their work. That is when I begin pushing them to spend a little effort in the finished product, and to try more ambitious projects that require multiple sessions to finish. This all depends on each child, and some reach this stage earlier than others. Above all, I strive to foster a love for sewing and design first, because this will motivate them to do their best work and grow as creative individuals.
Yes I do. My mother was a Special Education teacher and she instilled an appreciation in me for the joys of working with people who have learning differences. As a teacher, my first goal is to be a student myself, listening, observing, and gathering information on how a child learns best so that I can tailor my teaching style to their needs and push them forward in a productive way. I work with parents closely in this process, and welcome feedback and input to develop an approach that is meaningful and well-suited to each child.