I'm teaching a Get To Know Your Sewing Machine class next Thursday, October 11, from 9:30-noon at Sew Easy in Wellesley, MA (if you live in the Boston area and would like to register you can do so on the Sew Easy website). Sew Easy is a locally owned sewing center for kids, and I teach their only adult class. I've been teaching this class at Sew Easy regularly for a year now and it's fantastic. I also teach the same class in private sessions in people's homes, mostly for moms with young children who cannot make a daytime class.
If you know how to sew you can teach this class, too!
After teaching several dozen people to use their sewing machines, here's what I've learned: although every sewing machine is a bit different, they are all fundamentally the same. It takes a little bit of experience to become familiar with the variations and I've had a few stressful moments when I've been unsure whether we would be able to get a particular machine up and running (I will admit to sweating profusely and having a furrowed brow at those times), but the manuals are terrific and it is a very rare instance that a machine is actually broken and cannot run during the class.
I ask people to come to class with their machines, machine accessories, the power cord (that's an important one!) and foot pedal, and the manual (another key!). During class I teach how a sewing machine works, how to wind and insert the bobbin, how to thread the machine, how to change the presser foot and insert a new needle, how to control the stitch length and width, and what the most useful stitches are. We talk about basic maintenance and essential sewing supplies. Finally we sew a drawstring bag while talking about how to shop for fabric, how to measure, mark, press and pin, and basic troubleshooting.
When you run a handmade business it's important to seek out multiple income streams. Teaching this class is a terrific way to do that. You can use skills you already have and make a nice income. For a private, 1-hour lesson I charge $60. It's hard to make $60/hour sewing toys! The groups lessons are a maximum of 8 students and Sew Easy charges $55 plus a $10 materials fee. I get half of each tuition so if the class is fully enrolled I made $260 for 2.5 hours, or $104/hour. See what I'm saying! This is a good gig. And it's fun!
When I look at my finances for the year, teaching is one of the most lucrative things I do. It's also one of the most satisfying. People come into class with a sewing machine that's been sitting in their closet for decades and they walk out fully confident and ready to get a start on their own projects. Giving them this skill opens up a new creative avenue for them. What could be better?
And this kind of teaching is really flexible. I'm a stay-at-home mom with three little kids. I can't go back to teaching middle school full-time, but I can do this kind of teaching because I can teach on the weekends when my spouse is at home with the kids, or on weekday mornings when my kids are in school.
Learning to use a sewing machine is a skill people are willing to pay for. They want to make things themselves, to customize their wardrobe or make clothing for their children, they want to save money by sewing curtains and pillows themselves, but they don't know how to use their sewing machine.
Sewing machines are just complex enough that signing up for a one-day workshop taught by an expert is worth it to most people.
So what do you think? If you sew, would you consider adding teaching this workshop to your repertoire?
Over this past year I've developed detailed curriculum materials (I used to be a teacher. I love making lesson plans!) that include:
- a class outline showing every skill that needs to be taught and the order in which you should teach each component of the machine's use
- common questions and difficulties that come up in these classes and how to resolve them
- suggested reading for you as an instructor to familiarize yourself with the variations among sewing machines
- the pattern for the project we make during class
- a handout of suggested resources for students who want to learn more
- marketing materials to get the word out and attract students and ways to follow up with students after the class is over