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Passing Along the Love of Sewing

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I grew up in a family of quilters. For some reason I never was part of this process. When I had a family of my own I realized that sewing was a must, for patching etc I had 4 Boys. Then I discovered quilting I taught myself, I guess some of the quilting I saw growing stuck in my head.  I made quilts for my family and gifts and now quilting is my passion. I can't wait to start a new one. I also sew, when necessary. But give me a quilt to do and I am a happy camper. I am also teaching quilting to my familt and any one who wants to learn the basics.    Maddy                                                                                                                                                                                              

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hammertm replied on Thu, Nov 12 2009 7:08 PM

Hello Quilters,    I have found showing a child (age 7 and up)  basic sewing skills first has a wonderful impact on their interest of quilting.  First of all this will find out if they are interested at all in sewing.  If they are they usually have their own style and their own thing they like to do.  It's not always what you want them to do.  I have organized mother/daughter classed at my local quilt shop.  I have 4 girls from my church with the mothers.  They made a split nine patch pillow first and then an I spy quilt.  From this other girls have signed up for more classes.  Making doll quilts, pillows, & sm. lap quilts seems to do well with the children.  I am a strong believer in teaching our children how to make homemade things.  It is a wonderful feeling and gives them self confidence.

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I have tried to get me granddaughters and their friends interested in quilting.  We started out by sewing colorful pillowcases for the oncology unit in the children's hospital where one granddaughter went for treatment of leukemia (and yes, she's fine -- 2 years since her last chemo.)  The granddaughters, their friends, members of my daughter-in-law's family and their children all got involved with the pillowcases.  It was a simple project and at our Columbus Day get together we produced 62 pillowcases!

The next logical step from pillowcases was a quilting project. 

My cousin saw my quilts and asked if I would help her learn to quilt -- then her sister-in-law joined us.  They go south for the winter so all three of us treasure the hours we spend together -- sewing, chatting, and learning new techniques.

We continue to tell spectators at quilt shows that if you can sew a straight line, you can make a quilt. 

I agree with others that the cost of the "hobby" is getting more and more expensive.  I look for fabric sales and I'm not tempted to buy "cheap goods."  I've gotten to the point where I've decided that I don't need every gadget that comes along but new rotary cutting blades are a must as is good quality thread. 

Mary Lou

 

 

 

 

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Jodi,

I am new to the forum, and this is my first post, but your topic is very personal for me.  I have been sewing for about as long as I have been reading, thanks to a patient mother who started me at an early age - maybe to keep me busy?!!  I was involved in 4-H for many years, both as a participant and a leader.  I made almost all of my clothes through school, and even made formal gowns for friends during college.  I don't know why I started quilting, since no one in my family did, but I began collecting magazines and books about quilting during college, and I used those to begin teaching myself to make quilts.  Fast forward 30 years, and I have discovered the amazing world of quilt shops, quilt classes, quilting tools, quilt museums (I think you know what I mean - I could go on forever!!!).  I am more enamored with quilting now than I was 30 years ago, and I have learned some of the tips to make the process easier.  Over the years I have had many people ask if I can help them learn to quilt.  My answer is always "YES", and then I share my tools, whether that means rotary cutters, cutting mats, books, or sewing machines.  I have found that you can get good, basic machines at a reasonable price, and even cheaper than that if you frequent yard and garage sales, estate sales, or auctions.  I started out teaching a cousin to quilt and now have a group of about 12 relatives that descend on my house monthly to make quilts for all kinds of things.  My nieces and nephews are welcome to come quilt here whenever they want, and they do!  I have taught co-workers at my home, and now have a group that meets after work one day a week (before our Zoomba class) to learn the basics.  In all cases I share my tools.  I now have a machine collection (basic machines, NO ONE gets my Bernina out of my possession), different sizes of mats, and I take what we will need to work.  I even take my back-up iron.  When the newbies catch the bug, they can begin collecting the tools, but they aren't scared off by a huge initial investment in a 'hobby' they may not continue.  I have even been known to share some of my stash - the 'What was I thinking?' part.  Newbies don't know!  I truly believe that if the LQS did not require folks to buy all of the stuff before trying it out, they might not scare as many potential quilters away.  I find that lots of people - male and female - really are interested in learning how to do things like sewing and quilting.  They just need encouragement, willing teachers, opportunities, and situations that don't require huge monetary investment.  If those of us who love the  craft just keep our eyes open, I think we can find lots of ways to encourage and enable others to join us.

I know this post is very long, and for that I apologize, but this is something that I feel very passionate about.  I know the wonderful feeling I get when a first-time quilter shows off their first creation!  I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to make something with their hands (quilts would be my first choice) and decide if they like it, and I work very hard to make that opportunity available to everyone I meet -- just ask my husband!

Thanks for giving me the chance to share this. 

Phreddie

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When I was a child, and the youngest of 3 girls, my mother made all our clothes.  She was a whiz with her sewing machine.  My greatest treasure is a quilt she made from the scraps of those dresses.  I look at that quilt and memories come flooding back.  I have always said that in case of a disaster forcing us to leave our home, before photographs and important papers, I would get that quilt.  My sisters also have their quilts made from scraps of their clothes.  I wish I was as organized and had the forethought of my mother.  I did make clothes for my daughters but did not save the scrap fabrics.  I wish I had.

I suppose where I am going with this is this.  In these difficult economic times when we are looking so closely at the price of a yard of nice fabric to make a quilt, it is, for many, hard to justify.  Especially when, as many have noted here, you can buy really beautiful quilts for practically nothing compared to making them ourselves.  The difference, of course, is that we love to make them and take such pride in our work and such pains to make them perfect.  For me, it is therapy.  I absolutely love to watch a quilt grow from the first block to completion.  I am making a very challenging one now for my stepdaughter and hope to have it finished before her 10 year old goes to college. 

I personally, think it is not a good thing that they no longer teach sewing and cooking in school.  To expound on that issue, however, would be a whole new thread.  Many mothers work which makes it hard to find time to teach children at home.  Outside organizations, or clubs, can be established.   

Teach the kids to sew clothes first.  Teach them to not throw any scrap of fabric away, regardless of its size.  Always have beautiful quilts in your home and in full view.  Kids will always appreciate them as we did when we were young and of course, still do. 

I think that one thing that is universally agreed here is that we must not let the art of quilting die.

Mary Taylor

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deanne000 replied on Thu, Nov 12 2009 9:19 PM

I love to pass on the love of quilting.  I'm retired widow, that gives me time to quilt & start others quilting.

I have "flex" sew time at my home, either for one-on-one or small groups & the other big event is a

quilt camp my friends & I have for youth 8-14.  The way to spread the joy is as varied as the quilts we

make!  There's always another quilt!!!

 

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Elaine from Washington, DC

Hi Jodie,

There was always a sewing machine in my home when I was growing up. My father sewed, my mother never touched the sewing machine. I took a sewing class in high school and sewed my clothes in college. Then I started working and life got in the way. A job, husband and child took away my free time. I never lost  my love for sewing. With my retirement the love of sewing was rekindled in the form of quilting.

As some of your responders has said, everything is so expensive especially sewing machines. You don't need a big name to advertise they need to make these sewing machines more reasonably priced and maybe the companies will get more business.  

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I serve on the board of the Evansville Arts Coalition. Among our many activities we have a fiber arts group that meets monthly. If we could get grant funding we could offer education to kids in our school as we have done with weaving. We are a 501c3 and fund as many programs for children and adults in our small town as we can.  One of our Evansville residents owns a quilt shop.

The way to generate a ground swell is to educate the children. If the schools can no longer do it, communities will have to take over. We could offer mother/daughter:grandmother/granddaughter classes.

There are small arts groups all over the country who are always looking for projects and grant funding to execute them.

Karen Howell

President Elect

Evansville Arts Coalition

218-948-2836

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Judie I use to sew my kids pants when they were in school. Now I trying to sew quilts! I'm not sure what is easyer.

                        Rose from Monongahela

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Carol replied on Fri, Nov 13 2009 3:26 AM

Hi Phredie,

Welcome to the forums. You certainly are a busy lady, and a generous one. I taught myself to quilt after learning basic sewing from my grandmother and thru 4-H. tried teaching my oldest gd to quilt but she just isn't interested. The two gd's that sew are the ones that live the furthest away and the ones that I see the least often.

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 Hi, Jody,

I've been sewing for many decades and quilting for 3 ... what I have noticed is that every time I go to a sewing school (the kinds that last a few days), the tuition is very high and we usually end up being the captive audiences of instructors who are selling their tools, their books, and themselves and the schools (usually sewing machine dealers) are introducing very expensive sewing machines.  There is no way a beginner could enjoy any of the schools I have been to recently, the projects and equipment are too advanced and too pricey.

If we want to hook people onto sewing, we have to make sure that they enjoy creating an inexpensive, useful, pretty project on a quick to learn, realistically priced basic machine. None of us want to invest in high priced tools if we're not sure this is an addiction yet. In every "sewing school weekend" there should be classes for the beginner and wannabes. 

Have to sign off now, my 2 sergers, 2 sewing machines, and embroidery machines are calling me louder than the vacuum, what's a girl to do??

Susie in GA

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I feel we need to try to somehow attract  middle school age children.  I found teaching adults at the local community college beginning sewing that although we always have at least 10 students you can tell the first couple of weeks who is going to do well in the class.  It seems that very few students continue with sewing after the first session.

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judi replied on Fri, Nov 13 2009 8:13 AM

Jodie and other quilters,

My mom sewed when we were children, mostly out of necessity, though she was very crafty an could whip up cute Halloween costumes.  She was very good at what she did.  She did not, and to this day, does not share the passion for quilting.   Everyone has their own talents, likes and dislikes. 

Other than a short class during a summer break, where I made a dress that surely looked homemade to me, I never sewed again until my daughter was a toddler.  I sewed a few sunsuits, then quit again until sometime in the 1980's.    Making placemats, pot holders and pillows were replaced by double sided flannel receiving blankets.   Eventually, my interest went to making quilt tops, though I do have some unfinished ones.....doesn't everybody?  In a nutshell, for me, my interest evolved.

I introduced my granddaughter to sewing about 4 years ago.  She sat on my lap and sewed squares together, making a small quilt for her doll.  She is now 9 years old and still has the doll quilt in her room.  One week ago, she and my great niece came over for a sewing date.   Before this sewing day, I prepped supplies, cut out pieces to form a santa and reindeer applique and they appliqued this onto tea towels, making aprons.  They had so much fun.  My granddaughter wants to have a sewing date every month.  As long as they are interested, I'll do all I can to nurture their love of sewing while making memories at the same time.

That doesn't totally answer your question, but I feel it is important to share your love of what you do, even if you still consider yourself a student of the art.

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Jodie,

I think we need to teach the youngsters -early - how to sew and then it will just seem natural.  I have friends from Norway and they started in their first year of school learning to knit, sew, all that.  And so did their children, so it wasn't lost for our next generation.  These women still love to sew/quilt.  We've made it seem like drudgery and something you do only if you can't afford to buy ready-made.  That needs to change.  We need to make it seem like a fun (and maybe a necessary) thing to do before the children get old enough to turn up their noses.  Yep, repeat of "grandmothers teach your grandchildren".  How many quilters have you heard say my grandmother always quilted?  I hated the things we did sew in Home Ec all those years ago but I kept sewing over the years.  At least I knew how but my daughters don't because I couldn't get them interested when they were young. 

Today's moms are too busy - really - what with working and children and all those things that they have to do these days.  There's no time for hobbies (I remember when I felt lucky to just sit down and read a book!) but, if people have the skills, they can always go back to it when there is time.  And, while all the toys and gadgets are very nice to have, one can quilt with much simpler tools so the people on limited budgets need to be shown that, too.

I guess there's no easy answer but there are several approaches.  Keep trying.

Rita

 

 

 

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Boots replied on Fri, Nov 13 2009 8:52 AM

I think that "the industry" and the everyday folks have to reach out in many areas - like an octopus has many legs. 

Marketing to schools and education in a format that approaches meeting the standards they are required to teach.  Being able to take many different materials, pull them together and create a finished project teaches much more than just sewing skills.

Marketing to orgainizations such as 4-H and Scouts.  Give the leaders of these organizations ideas that fit their project areas.  Give them avenues of support to help instruct young people.

Helping quilt shops market to non-sewers. Manufacturers creating "first timer" type projects and distributing to the quilt shop level with "rewards" for shops that participate.

Organizations such as this one reaching out  their members and helping them with project ideas, contact ideas, and the support that encourages them to reach out to the beginners.  Maybe a contest of sorts to get quilters to try teaching a class or two.

Marketing to "community education" type groups to sponsor classes and linking them to an experienced quilter in their area who would be willing to teach.

Sometimes the expense of getting into quilting or sewing stops new comers.  Quilt shops could have a "lending library" of equipment and supplies for people who want to try but don't want to invest a lot of money up front.

Maybe a way for us to network "gifting" our unused equipment to new comers.  No group of people is more generous than the quilters I know.

Quilters need to encourage each other to have the "strength" to offer to share their skills.  The courage to talk to your local quilt shop about teaching through them or for them.  Quilt shops are almost always looking for new teachers as are Community Education Organizations at local schools.  You do not have to have an education degree to teach for quilt shops or community education organizations.

Well I guess that was a sermon - sorry bout that - I am sure I am preaching to the choir in this forum.

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