Friday, May 3, 2013

Teaching Beginners How to Sew- Lesson 1- Tissue Holder

      Before last Christmas, I had a 3rd grader to approach me at church one day, and asked, if she got a sewing machine for Christmas, would I teach her how to sew?  I was thrilled! 
      I had no clue as to the skills she already had.  So, I used the following lesson/project to help me evaluate her skills, and determine where we needed to go.
      Therefore, I made up the curriculum as  we progressed (yes, I'm a retired elementary teacher).  I had a Principal once to say in a teachers' meeting that, "No one can teach by the seat of their pants."  I wanted so bad to jump up and say, "Just watch me!"  I LOVE teachable moments.  That's when it means so much more to the student.

So here goes......


~~ Sewing Lesson 1 ~~

    There are several tutorials in blog world for making tissue holders.  After researching, I was unable to find this pattern.   I like this little pattern which I acquired, I think, from a "Sewing with Nancy" program 10 or so years ago.  The reason I like this pattern is the self lining edge that is supposed to appear at the opening, but when the teacher tells the student the wrong way to turn the fabric, it doesn't work! Yep, my bad on that one.

1.  First in preparation for the lesson, I made the simple tissue patterns, and asked her to pin them to the fabric.  This let me know real quick how well she could use pins.  If the student seems lost, show them how to pin the pattern.  Don't take anything for granted.  Watching you (visual) is more often the technique of learning rather than by listening to directions (audio).
Cut one rectangle 6 x 8 3/4 inches
Cut one rectangle 6 x 7 inches

 2. Cut out the pattern.  This lets you find out how well the student can manage scissors and fabric which can be quiet different than cutting paper.  Again, demonstrate how to hold the fabric and use the scissors if they seem at odds with the scissors and fabric.  Take nothing for granted, and don't assume what a person already knows or can do.
 3.  Talk about right side, wrong side of fabric.  Pin the right sides together on the short ends.  Again, demonstrate how to pin perpendicular to the edge.  I'm right handed and had to adapt to how my sweet left handed student would be more comfortable using pins.  I pinned one edge and she pinned the other.
Note: this really wasn't the one we did.  I made another to demonstrate how things went or might go for you.
4.  For this project we stitched a 1/4 inch seam, and didn't talk about 5/8" seams at this point.  
     At this time we learned how to thread the machine.  (You might consider doing this before you start the lesson.)  Talk about the "pressure foot" and "lift."
     I demonstrated on my machine how to stitch the seam, explaining how to have the edge of my pressure foot go along the edge of the fabric.
     When she sewed the seam, I was able to find out how well she could control the speed of the machine, and how to guide the fabric.  I've seen more than one person want to pull or push the fabric through, or sit back and just let the sewing machine take it through like it's supposed to go through on its own.  (Actually, would you believe I have a machine that can do that, and I've yet to use that feature.)
The beauty of the project is that it turns out looking really well even if you are off the cutting or stitching a bit.  When we wandered off the edge, we just lifted the foot and backed up and started again.  No big deal.

5.  Turn the piece right side out, and iron the edge showing equal amounts of the fabric from the back on each side (see below). This step lets you know how well the student can use the iron.  Here's where I pass on the preaching I got about how the iron is as important as the sewing machine for successful, non-homemade looking work.  Although nowadays it seems folks want homemade looking stuff?
6.  Now the next step is where my brain gets twisted around.  With the piece turned so you see the edges peaking over like above, fold the edges to the middle.  My mind always wants to make me turn it over first and then fold it in, which won't give me the edge trim and will instead turn out like the tissue holder at the top of this post.
      Note how the edges meet and don't overlap in the center.
      Again, I demonstrated how to pin through the layers of fabric.
7.  Demonstrate how to stitch a 1/4" seam across the end, and to trim corners to eliminate bulk.
8.  Now the fun part.  Turn right side out, and take something like a knitting needle to poke out each corner.  You might want to give a final pressing.  
My student was very happy with her first project which as you can see from the picture at the beginning of this post, was successful!  

With a child or even an adult, if they are successful with their first try, they'll most likely want to go on to lesson 2.   And she did!
Find Lesson 2 HERE!

To find out how to fold tissue to put in these holders, please visit my tutorial

Threading My Way_Featured 

Sharing at several Linky Parties.
Thanks to the FREE programs:
possibly used for this post
GIMP for cropping & other digital effects
 Photoscape for downsizing & watermarking photo
PicMonkey creating collages used on this page

Marigolds' Loft



  1. What a great idea for a new sewer. I did panama bottoms with a friend's 12 year old daughter and that was successful, but for a quicker and easier project this is perfect.

  2. Great idea--maybe I could start my 9 and 7 year old girls with this one :)

  3. Great beginner project!

    I’d love for you to check out our Pattern Party! Those with free patterns and templates to share are invited to link up!

  4. Lovely project for a new sewer!

    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a fabulous week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  5. Super idea!
    I will be coming back for more lessons :)
    Thank you so much for linking on Tutorial Thursdays Linky Party :)
    I can't wait to see what you will be sharing with us this week!
    Marigolds' Loft

  6. Great lesson. I love your fabric choices!


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