Teaching Sewing At Bishop Maginn

Paris, me, Hser Nay and Jayla. With the Virgin Mary watching over us as they learned to sew and I learned to teach.

The sewing machines were still in boxes when Jon and I got to Bishop Maginn today.  I unpacked them and figured out how to thread the machines and wind the bobbins before the three students who wanted to learn to sew showed up.

By the time  Paris, Hser Nay (pronounced Sur Nay), and Jayla showed up I had two machines set up and used the last one to demonstrate on.  They knew little about using a sewing machine but were very interested in learning.

After a few tries, they were all able to sew a pretty straight line.

I kept reminding them that we were just practicing, but they all wanted to make something so there was a lot of experimenting going on.  That gave me the opportunity to teach them some of the basics.

As they sewed they also learned about using the machines.  How sometimes they need to be rethreaded or what to do when the bobbin jams.

Hser Nay and her bracelet

Hser Nay sewed the two ends of a piece of fabric together. When she showed it to me, as if she made a mistake, I turned it inside out and she slipped it on her wrist.  “Look, she said, “a bracelet.”

Guiding Paris as she treaded her machine

Paris taught herself top stitching as a way to make a checkerboard square. I explained to her the difference between top stitching and just sewing two pieces of fabric together.   But I thought it pretty creative of her to figure out her own way to make what she wanted to.

That’s when I knew that next week I’d be showing the basics of sewing the fabric together.

Showing Hser Nay and Jayla how to wind a bobbin

Sewing the right sides of the fabric face to face took some getting used to.  “I still do that sometimes,” I told Jayla, when she handed me the two pieces of fabric she’d sewn together backward.   Then I got to show her how I rip the two pieces of fabric apart to fix the mistake.  (And I mentally added seam rippers to my list of things we’d need for the next class.)

Teaching three people how to sew, who really wanted to learn, was a delight. I’m looking forward to the next class when I can explain and demonstrate how to create a simple square of fabric.

Jayla, Hser Nay and Paris, teaching the boys to sew. (I didn’t get the boys names)

I think the most satisfying part for me was as Jon and I were leaving.  Two boys came into the classroom curious about sewing and  Paris, Hser Nay and Jayla began teaching them what they had learned.

(Photos by Jon Katz)

16 thoughts on “Teaching Sewing At Bishop Maginn

  1. How exciting it all is! I’m not in any part of the field of medicine, but I’ve read that one of the beliefs coming from medical training, is “See one. Do one. Teach one.” But I have trained many student teachers, and Maria, you can just go to the head of that line! Perfect, natural teaching/teacher. Keep having fun!

  2. Maria…
    For my degree, we needed to complete an industrial assignment. Mine was in a garment factory, where I trained on an industrial sewing machine. With no brakes, the machine would glide to a standstill when the power pedal was released. A skilled operator could anticipate a stopping point and begin the release early. But, I couldn’t. In the trash bin outside the training room, swatch after swatch could be seen with sewn threads dangling off the cloth ends. Not as easy as it looks. They are lucky to have an able instructor.

  3. Paris is the student that I’ve been mentoring since last year. She was afraid of dogs so in an email exchange with Sue, I asked her if she and Jon would make a point of introducing Paris to Ms. Zinnia, once Jon could return to BM last spring. Paris told me she’s less afraid of dogs now.
    Paris and I exchange emails at times and I follow her on Jon’s and your blogs and the Bishop Maginn FB page. The next time you see her would you please say hello from me. I hope she’ll keep up with the sewing.

    1. I remember that with time with Paris and Zinnia Marcia. How nice that you’re keeping in touch with her. I will definitely tell her hello from you. And she really show great interest in the sewing. I think she wants to learn more and will keep at it. Thanks for your part in helping Paris.

  4. “Delight” is the perfect word, Maria! I’m so glad to see so much interest in sewing from the students. It’s something we girls just took for granted back in my day…it was called “home economics” or “home ec”. My favorite class. However, none of the boys EVER chose this particular class. It was not expected of them so they took “shop”, all about cars, woodworking, etc. I think it’s terrific the boys are showing such an interest! You may have some budding tailors or seamstresses in the works. 🙂

    1. We called it Home Ec too Fran. And the boys weren’t allowed to take it as we girls weren’t allowed to take “shop’. It is so much better now.

  5. Maria, here is an “out of nowhere tip” that I would like to pass on. The next time you or John go to the dentist, ask if they could save for you the picks that they use to clean teeth for you when they are ready to dispose of them. I have found that they are so helpful in adjusting/manipulating/stabilizing fabric close to the machine needle.

  6. Your a beautiful person sharing your talents and time with others. Other fortunate people need to see the rewards of true giving!

  7. It gave me such pleasure when my son ( who died when 22) learnt how to do basic sewing in the Navy and was interested enough to ask me for some further instruction on one home leave.

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