Sewing and Teaching

Hey! It’s me, Camilla, aka @she_sew_fabulous. I’m a fairly new subscriber to ‘In a Haystack’ but already I absolutely love the content. In May I treated myself to some awesome jersey fabrics from Fabricasa (hello sushi print on a bright blue background!) using my discount and I’m super excited to begin sewing with them. Clothes with bright and colourful bold prints are kind of my signature style, always have been, even before I started sewing. If I’m honest, I’ve always felt like a bit of a weird outsider and my clothes have always reflected the fact that, actually, I quite like being different. 

Today I want to talk to you about sewing and my job. I’m a primary school teacher, currently working in Year 5. I’ve always found that the kids I teach really like the way I dress. In my training year, I used to genuinely laugh out loud at the comments I got, like the time I wore a hairband with the Ravenclaw colours on and one of the kids asked me if I’d put a tie in my hair by mistake, or when I wore a checked skirt and they immediately assumed I must be Scottish. They even used to choose the colour scheme I wore every day and would be delighted when I’d come in dressed as they’d requested. It was a huge part of how I formed a rapport with them: something that’s absolutely vital, as any teacher will tell you, if you want them to listen to you.

I only really started sewing in lockdown and when the kids returned in the summer term, it was the first real opportunity I had to wear the things I’d made in a public setting. They were the first people really to see my creations and their response was an absolute delight. The first time I got to utter those joyous words in response to a compliment about my clothes (“thanks, I made it”) they were beside themselves with delight. “No way! You actually MADE it? You MADE it?” and even though the clothes I wore then were my early makes: wonky, imperfect and lopsided, they didn’t care. Their sheer joy at my handmade clothes was really heartwarming and it made me want to sew more so that I could share more of my makes with them. 

Sewing is a great example to use to the children that shows them the result of hard work and the reward of perseverance. I frequently tell them stories of sewing fails, of times when the project on my machine has gone so wrong I wanted to set it on fire and throw it out of the window, and it enables them to see that we all struggle and we all find things tough…but that doesn’t mean we should give up. 

Sometimes I even point out the flaws in my garments and say to them that no, what I’m wearing isn’t perfect, but I’m proud of it nonetheless, reminding them that it doesn’t matter if it’s not the best thing that’s ever been made in the history of making, what matters is that I made it. I don’t want them to think everything I make is perfect. I want them to know that they’re riddled with faults but look good anyway. I want them to know that when I started I was terrible but I got better, and I want them to know that I can’t do zips and I hate buttonholes and there are billions of sewists in the world who are much more skillful than I am, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still love what I’ve made. Because it inspires them to feel the same way about their work and their progress and that’s all I want: for them to be as proud of their mistakes and their growth as I am of mine.

You’re welcome to find Camilla here and learn more about In a Haystack’s digital sewing subscription here.