Involving your children in extra curricular activities outside the home is a great way to enrich your homeschool. We recently did this with our two oldest daughters, who have begun to take an interest in sewing.

A while back I signed up to get emails from Jo-Ann Fabrics, and one day in the middle of spring I received their Summer Class schedule. Jo-Ann’s offers many different classes, and this summer they offered sewing classes for children, ages 8 and up, which caught my attention. After discussing it with my husband, we decided that this would be a wonderful surprise for our daughters and a fun summer craft idea for them to do.

I must confess, I used to know how to sew. I had my own machine, and made several very nice garments when I was 16 years old, thanks to my uncle and aunt who owned a garment company and took the time to show me everything. I never went past that stage, and now I regret it. I wish I had kept sewing – a valuable skill in these volatile economic times.

Jo-Ann’s classes gave us the golden opportunity to immerse our daughters in a sewing experience where they would have to create a simple skirt and a tunic. I knew that the girls would be very excited about this – they wear nothing but skirts! Add to that the opportunity to choose their own fabric and decorations, we knew this was going to be a hit.

Jo-Ann’s classes are based on basic patterns by Simplicity. The goals of the basic skirt class are to learn how to cut out the pattern pieces, sew a hem, use an iron to press open seams, and make an elastic casing. The subsequent tunic class builds upon these skills: learning to make different elastic casings, incorporating the use of interfacing, and adding sleeves to a shirt.

Our 10 year-old was basically a complete novice with no real machine experience at all, just hand stitching experience. Our 12-year-old had experience with a sewing machine, (and as I like to put it, a lead foot) but she had never actually sewn a garment, just small craft items.

Both of our daughters benefited immensely from the class. Our 10-year-old was keeping up, and her main struggle was paying attention to the teacher, Miss Janie, and sewing a straight hem. Our 12-year-old (who likes to hear the first two words and then thinks she knows the rest) also learned that zooming ahead has its drawbacks, i.e. having to rip out seams and re-sew. She also learned the value of reading the instructions and remembering the basics, such as using pins to hold pattern tissue to the fabric before cutting out the pattern pieces.

Each class that the girls took was two hours a day, for two days in a row. They had a wonderful time, made new friends with similar interests, learned a TON, and got bit by the sewing bug hard. I for one, highly recommend Jo-Ann Fabrics sewing classes for young people as a great way to complement our at home teaching.

I took photos of the class – click on the video below to see a slideshow and the finished products!


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