Teens are ready to develop adult skills like sewing. They are also ready to take responsibility for planning their wardrobes and decorating their rooms. Sewing skills give them the power to exercise their minds in a productive and creative way.
Learning to Sew
Traditionally, teens have learned to sew from a close relative who had skills and the patience to teach them. In the past, schools also taught vocational classes, including sewing. The modern teen may need to seek out a beginner sewing class at a local sewing machine store or craft store. These classes provide general skills that can be used on a variety of sewing machines. If none of these options are available, internet videos cover most basic sewing skills as well.
A sewing machine for a teen should be a basic model with straight stitch and zigzag at minimum. Even experienced dressmakers and designers still use these basic stitches for most sewing. A lightweight, portable beginner sewing machine can be stored in a closet when not in use and will save valuable floor space in a bedroom compared to a heavier machine in a cabinet.
A small box of essential notions should include: dressmaker shears, thread snips or small scissors, hand sewing needles and threader, seam ripper, and a box of pins. These tools can be kept in a drawer near the sewing space or in a small box or basket (out of the reach of any younger siblings!)
Practicing with Projects
Straight seams are essential to successful sewing, so beginner projects should emphasize repeated practice of straight seams. Throw pillows, pillowcases, tote bags, and skirts with a drawstring or elastic casing at the waist are all fine projects for beginners to practice sewing a consistent distance from the edge of the fabric. Pull-on shorts and tank tops are a gentle introduction to curved seams.
Beginners do best with woven fabrics of medium weight. As confidence and skill builds, knits can be added to the repertoire. It is best to add a new skill or two with each project: sleeves, patch pockets, slits, zippers, etc. Too many new skills at once can be overwhelming, but a new skill each week is enough to keep things interesting.
Maturing in Skills
Encourage teens to learn about fabric qualities and care and to make wise choices about durability and required cleaning and ironing techniques. Guide the new fiber artist to make wise clothing choices appropriate for school, social occasions, and work. Encourage creative use of patterns and embellishments such as hand embroidery or crochet trim.
Sewing is a valuable lifetime skill for the home, and may even lead to a career in fashion or interior design. Skills can also be used to make gifts for family and friends or to provide comforts for those in need of some charity. Learning to sew is a gift teens can give to themselves, their families, and the larger community!