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Sew Teach Me Review by Kendra Fletcher

Terri Austin and Shelley Doyal
Blue Flamingo Designs
PO Box 487
Geneva, FL 32732

While I consider myself to have basic sewing skills down pat, I really don't consider myself able to teach sewing to anyone else. Maybe you feel the same way. And maybe, like me, you would love to teach the children in your homeschool to sew but don't really know how to discern which is the best curriculum available.

Sew Teach Me just might be what you are looking for. Although simply put together, the Sew Teach Me curriculum is so well-thought-out and executed that even a mom with basic sewing skills like me can teach students to be proficient and successful with a sewing machine. Any misgivings I had about being able to teach my ten-year-old to sew were quickly eliminated as I read through the first module and saw how user-friendly the series is.

Consisting of eight modules, Sew Teach Me begins by familiarizing the student with his or her machine. I love that the lessons teach how to skim over content to gain familiarity (a useful skill when encountering any written instructions), that they're written with humor and appropriate guidance, and that the authors also give the student the benefit of the doubt by encouraging them regularly and liberally.

Specifically, Sew Teach Me covers machine parts, stitching straight and curved lines, fasteners, survival skills (such as buttons, hems, and pressing a shirt), decorative stitching, pattern reading, and familiarity with retail stores both online and in the community. But that's really just the beginning.

Each module also contains a "Making Connections" section, giving parents suggestions on how and where to look for connections to the rest of the learning that goes on in your home. In Module One, for instance, the connections to history section suggests the student research the Industrial Revolution and consider how the sewing machine revolutionized clothing and created a new industry. There are suggestions for connections to math ("Practice measuring items using standard and metric measurement. The more you measure the more you will understand the relationship between the two"), study skills, and science.

Sew Teach Me includes project supply lists in the back of each module, but kits are offered for all of the projects. We loved using the pre-made kits because pieces were cut to size, all of the supplies were together, and having the materials ready to go meant one less thing for mom (me!) to have to do. The projects are fun and enticing to a young seamstress or tailor: a ski hat, a pet blanket, a tic tac toe board, a pillow, a barbecue mitt, a hand puppet, a book bag, a hanging organizer, a wrist wallet, a laundry sorting bag, a lap quilt, a computer mouse pad, a visor, a picnic tablecloth, an apron, and a bib complete with encouragement to the student to donate the finished product to a senior center, hospital, or long-term care facility when finished.

Sew Teach Me is available either in a bound format or on a pdf-based CD, which includes additional video instructional clips. An assessment CD is also available, making high school credit an option for the course.

Because the content of Sew Teach Me is so superb, I would love to see a marketing team or a publisher pick it up and give it a slick presentation. The modules are desktop published and are without the professional polish that could give them a marketing edge. It's unfortunate, because the content is so good.

Authors Terri Austin and Shelley Doyal have done a really terrific job with Sew Teach Me, and I hope to see more produced by this talented and experienced duo--an intermediate sewing course, perhaps?

Product review by Kendra Fletcher, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October 2009