Be a Better Craft Teacher Series

on September 7 | in Be a Better Craft Teacher, Sewing Classes, Small Business Ideas | by | with 14 Comments

We have a new series starting at Sew Mama Sew with instructor Deborah Moebes of Whipstitch. We know there are so many of you out there who love to sew and who find yourselves drawn to sharing that love with others. You might be called upon to help a small group of friends learn to sew or you might find yourself developing classes to teach in a local shop or through an online platform. Deborah is a skilled instructor with years of experience teaching sewing both online and in-person. (Check out her super-exciting list of e-courses!) She has a strong background in education, incredible sewing skills and she’s a funny, impassioned and effective teacher. We asked Deborah to help us learn to be better craft teachers so we can all up our game when it comes to sharing the skills, passion and fun of sewing with others. The series is for both new and experienced craft teachers and takes you through the entire process of designing a course, from the early planning stages to determining the effectiveness of your teaching. Deborah will join us for her six-part Be a Better Craft Teacher Series every Tuesday, starting next week!

In addition to her work at Whipstitch Deborah is the author of Stitch by Stitch: Learning to Sew One Project at a Time, and the instructor for the Design & Sew an A-Line Skirt Craftsy class (our Round One challenge in the Super Online Sewing Match!). We’re thrilled to welcome Deborah back to the blog and we can’t wait to learn throughout this important series! She shares a little about the Be a Better Craft Teacher Series below…

Looking for more ways to support your work as a sewing instructor or to grow your small, craft-related business? Look here!
From Deborah:

Be a Better Craft Teacher Series

Teaching is part art and part science: it requires you to be enormously creative, but within a clear structure in order to adequately communicate ideas to individuals who haven’t had the same experiences as you. Teaching craft, while requiring perhaps a greater proportion of creativity, also demands that teachers plan and prepare their lessons in a way that leads students to fully grasp ideas and concepts so that they will leave the class ready and excited to practice their new skills. The goal isn’t to teach a class and collect our money and go home— it’s to allow our lives and our passions to intersect with those of someone else, and from there, to plant a seed that will invite them to continue to learn and grow with real joy.

As the appeal of sewing and craft have grown— wildly, exponentially— over the past five years or so, more and more stitchers and crafters have ventured into the classroom and have started to offer courses and workshops as a way of sharing what they love. It’s such a rewarding means of expanding the creative work you might already be doing, and puts you—as an instructor and guide—in a position to ignite a life-long passion in your students. Unfortunately, when poorly planned or executed, a craft class can also turn a student off to crafting forever. Ask any sewing or craft instructor: we all have stories of students who have come to us with horrific memories of sewing classes gone bad that made them abandon their machines and not return to them for years.

Teaching is a privilege that comes with huge benefits and rewards, but also asks of us that we put the thought and time and planning in to make the experience of the end user— the student— as magical and exciting as it can possibly be. Never underestimate the life change that can happen at a sewing machine, or that you as a teacher can be a vector for transforming someone’s life. With that in mind, this series aims to cover the basics of planning and implementing sewing and craft classes with the goal of making them as beneficial and effective as they can possibly be, to set a high standard and expectation for classes that offer a real, tangible reward to students.

Kristin and Beth, here at Sew Mama Sew, share my background in education, and all three of us feel really strongly about creating and delivering awesome creative classes. Working together, we’ve designed this series to help new and veteran teachers examine how they design their classes in order to build strong instructional foundations and tweak the details until every class is as awesome as it can be. I’ve divided the series into six parts, each focusing on addressing a different stage of preparing and planning classes for the creative fields. In Part I: Know Your Stuff, we’ll analyze the needs in the community that you hope to meet with your class, and differentiate between true instruction and “sewing along.” In Part II: Know Your Student, we’ll talk about the recipient of your class, and understanding how different audiences require different levels of preparation when planning a class. In Part III: Know Your Goal, we’ll talk about actually designing the class, and how to be specific and intentional with your objectives in teaching so that you and your student get the most out of your time together. Finally, in Part IV: Know Your Medium, we’ll take the previous three parts and use them to determine how (and just as importantly, WHY) you’ll teach the material that needs teaching to the people who will be taught. Part V: Know Your Limits, covers implementing the plans you’ve made, and how the nuts-and-bolts of a limited class time work given the inevitable mistakes of both teacher and student. Finally, in Part VI: Know Your Effectiveness, we’ll dive into evaluating the class at the end— both evaluating your performance and the class content itself, a crucial step in allowing you to revise your plans and make a class better and better every time you step in front of a group of eager learners.

I am a fervent and passionate planner, in all things. I love that stage of any project. As an instructor, I have watched the results in my own classes and in others’ when we fail to plan; it can lead to a big ol’ mess. Sometimes a small mess, where you skip a step in construction and ask a dozen people to cut out their project wrong leading to not enough fabric to go around; and sometimes a giant mess, where someone walks away from your class and says they’ll never craft again. Teaching is such a tremendously enjoyable and empowering way to share something you love. It’s also a humbling experience that asks us to be deliberate and thoughtful, because we are given the chance to hold someone else’s dreams in our hands, just for a little while. Let’s band together, y’all, and make every class the best it can be.

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14 Responses to Be a Better Craft Teacher Series

  1. Fantastic series idea – really looking forward to growing and learning through your posts. Aside from experience, I have found my biggest asset in teaching quilting has been patience. If you ask my kids, they’d say I didn’t have any, but when it comes to teaching it’s definitely a necessity!

  2. Violet Craft says:

    This is so exciting! Please consider a second series for sewing shows and stores that are offering the classes and hiring the instructors. Sometimes teachers are set up for failure as well. If everyone focuses on the success of the student, we all win!

  3. patsquared2 says:

    What a wonderful idea! I have never “taught” in schools but was a corporate trainer for years. And I have sewn for years, too. Just this week, a friend asked me if I had ever considered holding sewing lessons for kids! I hadn’t, but I am now. So I am really looking forward to this series.

  4. Irene says:

    Perfect timing! 😉
    Can’t wait for the series to begin.

  5. Maeri Howard says:

    Fantastic idea and I look forward to following the series. I run a studio where we teach workshops and most of the instructors were creators first and teachers second which means we/me spend alot of time before they even get in front of students making sure that they deliver their content well and that we create great supporting material. It is alot harder than it looks and we have had a few clankers along the way!

  6. I too have a background in education, and I love seeing these concepts applied to every area of instruction — including crafting. This is such an excellent and necessary topic. I can’t wait to follow along!

  7. Domenica says:

    What a great series. I have a primary school teaching background and am embarking on a journey to become a sewing teacher. I agree on the importance of planning and preparation plus having a plan B and C! LOL It can make or break a lesson. Looking forward to the upcoming posts!


  8. mary says:

    Looking forward to this series, been teaching some workshops at a local shop this last year, mostly successfully – key thing for me is making sure that the shop communicate requirements to the individuals. Had a student who had never used a sewing machine before come to a class where she needed to have some experience but shop had told her it was hand sewing! We muddled through and she did very well in the end!

  9. thank you for this! I will be following these series. As a sewing teacher I spend a fair amount of time teaching students about planning projects and talking about how to achieve their final projects. I love that this will help me firm up my own goals for the classes I teach.

  10. Maga says:

    I hope your “classes” will be followed by all teachers who wish to undertake craft classes. I have taken classes since the early 90ties and seen a thing or 5 but the quality of teaching has really deteriorated these last couple of years. It is like everybody feels they are qualified to teach if they have made one or two projects from a book. The other end of the scale are teachers who think their mere presence in class is enough because they have won a ribbon for something and been asked to teach a how to class.
    I look forward to reading and following this series and forward the links to a few shops to help them choose teachers.
    Thank you for undertaking this project. Much appreciated.

  11. Esther F. says:

    I am thinking about teaching others to quilt in my spare time. Just finding that spare time is the hardest part. My full time teaching job ( art ) gets in the way! LOL!

  12. Sounds like a great series – I’m excited to learn along 🙂

  13. Beth says:

    I am an experienced high school teacher and have just begun to teach sewing classes with a local organization. I am looking forward to reading this series and sharing it with my fellow instructors.

  14. Cathy E says:

    As a public school educator since 1979, I wish many teacher would have read your description, Deborah, of teaching. It does not matter the content, the thinking and perspective are applicable!

    I am excited to follow this series, because I am finding myself teaching others to craft in my spare time. Right now I am doing it as a ministry through our church, but who knows what retirement might bring!

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