Saturday, June 23, 2012

Camp Sew N Sew, Verse 4

Our fourth year is now complete. Nine girls and one boy, ages spanning 12-16, participated and seemed to have a great time. I had (mostly) two other adults helping out each day. We ended with a recital :)

I'm hoping to remember what worked and what didn't so that we can improve (again) in 2013. As usual, many lessons were learned:

This year, for the first time, we created one item each of the 5 days we met. In previous years, we've made more complicated pieces requiring the whole week. They run low on enthusiasm about mid-week in that mode. They loved the one-project-a-day approach. And, really, who doesn't love instant gratification?

This year's projects:
  • smart phone case with strap, button, and hair-elastic-button loop
  • box bag with zipper and boxed corners
  • jewelry bag - sewing in circles, threading in a channel, and stuffing the bottom
  • portfolio - straight sewing with some careful turning and pressing; problematic finish
  • choice of stuffed monster or a skirt or finish/repeat one of the above
The down side of this approach is that it steers into craft sewing almost exclusively. And that involves lots of interfacing and thick fabric that is hard to sew over. The phone case was pretty manageable, but the portfolio became a little thick across the bottom. I need to rethink the use of ribbon there.
I'd like to find a way to encourage them to see the beauty in the hand-made elements and not strive for perfect sewing.

Sewing a straight line is hard at first. It's hard to control the speed on some of the machines we borrow, and even if the machine were perfect, it takes a little practice to control speed and maintain accuracy. Plus it's more fun to press the pedal to the metal.

Zippers were not too challenging this year. We took the exposed zipper approach with our box bag. In fact on the last day, several of the girls started skirts and just sewed the entire zipper to the outside of the garment, which is of course still a big trend in RTW right now. Great for new sewers!

Have them bring in some supplies next year. They need to supply

  • scissors
  • pin cushion
  • seam ripper
  • 6 inch ruler
  • chalk to mark
  • zippers of all sizes
  • pre-quilted fabric OR $10 supply fee
  • OR all of the above for $20
Here are some ideas for 2013:

  • Start with stuffed monsters out of quilting cotton - easy, precision unneeded. Then they can use the left-over fiber fill for whatever little stuffed objects they want as the week progresses. They love that stuff. I on the other hand wish that it could be eliminated from the planet. BUT it does encourage creativity and allows them to let go of unrealistic expectations for first-timers, especially.
  • They really liked the jewelry case (the girls, at least) - we should repeat that.
  • PJ shorts or pants for boys or girls. These are easy to draft if loose.
  • Make another zipper-bag project, maybe the pyramid bag with a zipper.
  • Mid-way, make the portfolios again but with an easier finish - maybe decorative knots to finish off the ends of the lower binding, maybe a little hand-sewing.
  • Or maybe a tote with wonky pockets and interestingly applied zippers.
  • End with the tablecloth skirt, for the girls, from Shams at Communing with Fabric. Maybe. I need to make one and think about any challenges. The waistband is the obvious one.


  1. You are a Saint! I would have so loved to have had an opportunity like that when I was in school. Get 'em while they're young and fearless and maybe you'll get them hooked forever.

    I do think you need to include more clothing. The other items are great as an introduction to cutting out and sewing seams but so many never get past the "fear of fitting" in garment sewing. I still remember the shorts my son made in Grade 8. He was so proud that he wore them for several years until they disintegrated!

  2. The last year I taught, I moved my classroom to the upper hall in order to avoid a co-worker who really needed therapy. My classroom was next door to the FACS class and I'd pop in when they were sewing in order to help or just enjoy. Junior high kids love sewing machines! I'm glad your camp went well.

  3. what a great project and so kind of you to do it. Bet they all loved it

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