Where have all the students gone?

Are in-person sewing classes going the way of the Dodo?  And if you are asking, “What’s a Dodo?” then you actually have the idea.  There are a tremendous number of learning opportunities online, from blogs, to webinars, to videos, to vlogs, to online sewing education providers… I think it’s marvelous.  I love the fact that I can sit down at my computer at any time of day or night and take a class on just about any sewing subject, often for a reasonable sum.

But the key words for me there are “at my computer.” My computer cannot look at terrible thread nest that just occurred at my sewing machine at 2am and help me figure out

a) how to fix it


b) how to avoid it happening again.

If I want to really improve my skills both rapidly and to an exceptional degree, there are three things I require. First, I need to learn the skill; second, I need to practice the skill; and third, I need feedback on my skill.  Computers, books, and teachers can all give me the first two, but the last one can only be found with a local human teacher.  Yes, it’s true that I do not need feedback on every skill I learn – many are relatively simple to learn by myself – but there are skills and troubleshooting that are much more efficient and effective when another experienced teacher can look at your work and help you out.

And what about our social needs?  I don’t know about you, but I find my interactions with friends decreasing each year.  I feel I don’t have time, and even when I find time, my friends don’t have time to get together.  But a sewing class allows you to get together with other like-minded people and enjoy your hobby together.  Awesome!

Although I love the online community and opportunities for learning, I am sad to see the decline in the number of students taking sewing classes in local dealerships and fabric shops. Is this really what we want? No more quilting bees? No more touching fabrics and looking closely at another person’s excellently sewn hem in order to learn from her (him)?

I’d love to hear your opinion. What do you look for in a sewing class?  Do you ever take in-person classes in your community?  Do you learn exclusively online?  How important is it to you to develop your skills to a high standard?  Do you just want to complete the project? What kinds of classes draw your attention?

I wish you a very beautiful new year full of sewing opportunities of all shapes, sizes, textures, and techniques!

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Janet Martin
    Jan 06, 2016 @ 14:19:24

    I have never taken an online class and am unlikely to do so anytime soon.

    I want the interaction that I get taking a class at my local sewing store or quilt shop. My social network has expanded because of sewing. Yes, I enjoy time in my sewing room, but .i also enjoy being around other people who share my love of sewing. I take quite a few classes and also attend several educational events every year.

    I enjoy the comraderie at classes/events and never leave without having learned something new and am inspired to try a new project or technique by my fellow classmates.

    I hope classes will continue. We need human interaction. Too much time on a computer, isolated from others is not healthy and really quite sad.


  2. paisleypedlar
    Jan 11, 2016 @ 07:36:57

    I have taken courses online as well as in person and have enjoyed both for different reasons. Where I live in the UK there are several places which offer ‘in person’ courses but often they can be hard to fill and also usually only cover the basics with no opportunity for group in-person learning of more complicated and advanced techniques. This is coupled with the rapid decline in high street fabric stores, often those that remain not offering a particularly good choice in either quality or design. I think there is room for both, and of course different people like to learn in different ways. I am an artist and also work in arts development and am always on the lookout for interesting workshops/classes to offer at the Arts Centre where I work, but one of the biggest problems is getting people to come out – in the evenings after work people are tired, at weekends and often they have family commitments and week daytimes are when many people are at work. It’s not always viable for the Centre or the teacher to run a course for less than 4 people so again it’s easy to see why classes may be in decline. People live their lives in different ways to how they did even 10 years ago and this is why I think that there is room for both ways of learning. I have met some lovely people through online courses whom I have later met in real life and we have become good friends.


    • Sherilyn, Cherished Needle Creations
      Jan 11, 2016 @ 07:59:58

      Paisleypedlar, thank you for sharing! I agree that it’s wonderful to have both opportunities. I think each serves an important role. With online training we may be able to take a course we could never afford to travel for. In person, we can build a relationship with someone else who loves to sew, and we can learn from both the teacher and other students. I also miss the classes with advanced techniques – they also don’t do well in my area. Thank you for being one of the persevering teachers who uses her creativity to provide a variety of arts courses for her students.


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