Sewing Camp 101

Thinking about hosting a sewing camp or club and wondering how to get started?  My favorite part of Sewing Camp is that the kids can just create.  Sure, we give them ideas, but here they are allowed to express themselves and try to make whatever they dream up.

Both Sewing School books have a lot of great tips and information for sewing with groups, but since camp is fresh in my mind, I thought I'd give you some of my tips and tricks to help sewing camp run smoothly.  The best advice I can give anyone is to plan ahead and be organized.  In all teaching, I've learned that the more organized I am, the smoother it will go with the kids.

At the beginning of each day, we all gathered to hear about the projects for the day.  They are themed, similar to the chapters in the Sewing School books, and we typically have about 4 projects to choose from with a variety of difficulty and interest.  This is also where we take care of any "business" such as rules and introduce new materials and skills.
Materials are the lifeblood of sewing camp.  Above is a photos of the camp surplus station. We've learned not to put out everything on day 1 and slowly add new materials and replenish as needed.
Our favorite fabric source is sheets found at thrift stores and estate sales.  I find colorful ones, give them a good wash, and then cut them down into sizable chunks.  Fabric for everyone for $1!  I also receive gobs and gobs of fabric donations.  If you put the word out that you are teaching kids to sew, watch out - you will be swimming in fabric!
Here is the camp supply table set up and ready to go.  We have a space for patterns and examples, bins for various kinds of fabric (felt, cotton, fleece), and any special materials such as zippers or socks that might be needed to complete a project.

Sewing camp is tons of fun, but can get crazy and messy very fast - watch out!  We stop several times for quick 30 second clean-up breaks and needle checks.  This makes clean up easier at the end of the day.
The threading station is key!  When we first started teaching camp, we pre-thread about a million needles to get us started.  We quickly learned that given the right tools and some patience, kids can thread their own needles.  The needle threading station is stocked with various colors of craft thread, lots of chenille #22 needles, LoRan needle threaders, pins, and scissors.  Little bowls for scrap threads are also nice to have on hand.
On the first day, we teach new kids how to thread their needles.  Kids who demonstrate to a teacher that they can thread a needle get to make a badge to put on the wall.
This year, we put the sewing machines in a special sewing machine room to help cut down the traffic.  It worked out well.  Kids that brought their own machines were at one table and those that needed to borrow a machine could sign-up to use one.  This post has lots of good tips for machine sewing with kids.
At the borrowed machine table, there was always a teacher (hi, Miss Andria!) to assist new sewers and troubleshoot.
As mentioned in my earlier camp posts, we took a book and snack break each day.  Sewing makes you hungry and it's good for the kids to switch gears after a long morning of creating.   There's a big list of sewing themed books in Sewing School as well.

If you have any tips or tricks for sewing camp, please mention them in the comments section.  We'd also love to see pictures from your camp!

1 comment:

kristin said...

It's all so wonderful Amie! And what a perfect read...Knuffle Bunny has been a favorite in our home for years! x