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Whether you’re a complete novice, a highly experienced hobbyist, a latent sewer or a sewing professional, there’s always something new to learn. A class is a fun way to learn basic skill, master an innovative technique or get to know a new product. It’s also a fun social interaction with others who have similar interests.
Formal sewing classes vary greatly in duration, format and scope. A beginning sewing class is likely to require a commitment to attend several sessions. A project class might be a one-day event. A process class, in which you master a specific technique and make samples, could be only a few hours long. If you learn best by doing, be sure to sign up for a hands-on class instead of a lecture/demo class where you’ll just listen and watch.
Private lessons are also available. Expect to pay more; but as the sole customer you’ll
be in a position expect class content and format tailored to your personal needs and
Stop at local fabric stores or machine dealers to inquire about on-site classes.
Even if a store doesn’t have classroom space, be sure to get on the shop’s mailing
list. Both independent and chain stores often host special events featuring industry
experts or nationally-known sewing educators and sometimes they’re held offsite.
If a shop doesn’t currently offer classes, ask the owner and staff about sewing
professionals in the local community—they may be frequent customers.
Back to School
Enthusiastic beginners and experienced sewers alike are encouraged to seek out
adult education classes at colleges and community colleges, community centers,
YMCA’s and senior centers. In some locales the county cooperative extension agents
also offer classes.
If you’re willing to travel consider attending conferences and expo’s. These events are filled with classes from well-known sewing experts.
To find out about locally-organized sewing, quilt, wearable art or stitchery guilds, check the “community calendar” section of the local newspaper or see if your library maintains a database of clubs and organizations.
Another resource is the body of custom dressmakers and alteration specialists in your area. Ask if they also teach, or know who does. Because it’s common for the non-sewing public to inquire about sewing services at local fabric stores, look there for business cards or a
bulletin board of local professionals. Also check the Yellow Pages.
Another option, depending on where you live and if you’re willing to travel, is to attend a sewing expo or convention. Usually held in metropolitan areas, sewing shows provide the opportunity to learn from nationallyknown sewing experts. Show promoters advertise in
sewing magazines, so the best way to stay informed about show schedules is to watch for ads in your favorite sewing publications.
If none of the suggestions above address your particular situation, don’t despair—just become
inventive! Don’t rule out the potential for getting help from someone who has good sewing skills, but no teaching experience. Go back to the fabric store staff,
the guild members or the dressmakers you’ve talked to and inquire about private lessons. It’s common for those without prior teaching experience to be uncomfortable
about setting a price for instruction. To put a potential teacher at ease, offer to barter for services. A proposal to trade professional services, child care, meals or gardening may be just the incentive needed to bring out the teaching ability in a sewing friend.
Self-starters and sewers who prefer to work at their own pace are encouraged to explore online sewing classes (try typing “online sewing classes” or online + sewing classes into your favorite search engine). The downside, of course, is that the instructor isn’t able to look over
your shoulder. Before enrolling in an online class, be sure to thoroughly research the class format, method of presentation (video, downloadable graphics, etc.) and
schedule. Some Internet classes provide interactive opportunities via chat sessions or e-mails; you may even be able to ship actual samples to the instructor for
evaluation. Sew, where there is a will to learn, there is also a way