Standardizing Sewing 101


To all sewing 101 teachers - I’d like this to be the space where we collaborate and cover the content of sewing 101 and how you teach it, and what future teachers would need to know to teach it. I want to create a reference slideshow and document as well as a process to become an instructor (in class form). The more we can spread the load, the more classes and the more people we can bring in, the stronger the community becomes.

I’m curious as to what you cover in your sewing 101 class, what you start off with, how you go about making sure every student understands the concept and the process, and any specific guidance you give regarding widely varying subjects (tension adjustment, add on pressure feet, additional functions of the sewing machine, etc.)

I’m fairly useless on home sewing machines - I’m pretty sure it’s the lack of the knee lifter that makes me mutter under my breath - but the basics of threading and running a straight stitch is pretty universal. As I have not instructed on home sewing machine use, I wanted to get a crowed sourced document of best teaching practices.

I appreciate everyone’s efforts and the time they put into the Sewing SIG, I look forward to hearing from everyone, and may your fabric scissors never be used improperly :laughing:


@dryad2b @Kriskat30 @BarkingChicken


I think @dryad2b and other sewing 101 teachers would be better able to speak to what their general curriculum is.

I guess if I started naming aspects of a general sewing 101 curriculum I would start with:

  1. Understands basic sewing machine anatomy (threading mechanisms, presser feet, feed dogs, etc.)
  2. Knows how to thread the machines
  3. Is aware of our organization system for the sewing machine boxes
  4. Basic maintenance (how to replace a needle, how to change presser feet, etc.), although I’m not sure if “maintenance” is the right word for this.
  5. Basic do’s and don’ts (e.g. sewing machines can’t sew over metal pins and zippers, etc.)

Otherwise its my opinion that most of learning to sew is just practicing on little projects so you can figure out what to do in various situations.


I usually combine the basic with some project, so that new folks can practice some.

I go over the functions of the machine, and show them how to wind a bobbin, thread the machine, and load a bobbin. For the “fancy” stitches, I point out that we’ve got a lovely user’s manual.

Then we proceed to working on whatever project they brought, or I show them how to cut a tote bag out of the various oddments left about, and they sew that.


We have an organization system for our machines? :laughing:

Troubleshooting is probably the general category that would fit under - How to diagnose common problems and how to fix them.


Yeah. I know… I usually point out the box system as part of the Basic class, but we probably don’t have enough control to keep it working. Everything is numbered AND color-coded, and the boxes will still be helter-skelter when I start opening them up. I’ve been thinking of doing a pop-quiz kinda thing. (Unofficial, of course.) I learned to do that when I had a step-kid. I’d make him repeat what I told him so that I knew he heard it and wasn’t just off in la-la land while I was talking…


How to recognize that you needed to lift up the presser foot before threading and redo it. J/K, kinda.

It’s almost always the problem I run into.


My mom taught me to sew around 7-8 and we sewed paper lines. Same thing I’m doing with my son now and we sewed some pillows and a bad shirt. Next we’re learning pants with a drawstring. Pretty basic stuff.

I’ll ask the fashion design teacher to look at some of her start of the year basic curriculum to help start things.


Ya’ know – Juliana kinda tried this. And it pretty much fell pancake-flat. Granted, we may have more interest in general sewing – it’s been a couple of years, but finding projects that interest enough makers to even hit 3 people has been dicey. It’s one thing if you’re in school, and you just get told what your project is going to be. Here, where you’ve got to hit people’s schedules right, and pique their interest, you can easily wind up with crickets… (Buehler… Buehler… )


When I took the sewing basics class the first thing we did was to sort out the sewing boxes.
So we made sure that each numbered part was in the correct box, and that each box had one of each necessary part.

Definitely a good thing to have at the beginning of a class.