Teaching Adults How to Sew
Okay so let's talk about teaching sewing classes to adults. I’m talking about this topic today because I feel strongly about teaching sewing and not just to kids. I personally feel that sewing is a hobby that all ages can enjoy and you are NEVER too old to learn how to sew.
I can’t tell you how many times I get emails or people come up to me to say, I need a new hobby and I think I want to learn how to sew. In fact I got a facebook message this morning saying just this. It’s a photographer friend of mine who takes a lot of the photos that we use in our promotions. She’s decided she needs to have more fun in her life and wants a new hobby. She’s decided that sewing is going to be the new hobby. Yay. That makes me so excited and I’m so happy that we have some classes coming up that she’s interested in.
But I feel like this is pretty common. Adults are sick of staring at their computers all day and longing for an activity where there is no laptop involved. They are feeling the urge to make something with their hands from start to finish. People are disgusted with the state of the fashion industry and fast fashion and want to know ways they can have fashionable clothing without spending a fortune. Learning to sew checks all these boxes, don’t you agree?
I’d like to give you a little overview of what I’ll be teaching today.
First off, I’m going to talk about the fears that sewing teachers have around teaching adults to sew. And why you definitely should not let these fears stand in your way of offering adult sewing classes.
Next, I’m going to talk about the reasons why I like teaching adults to sew more than i life teaching kids sewing classes.
Then finally, I’m going to touch on some marketing methods that work really well for attracting adult students to your sewing classes.
Let’s start with some fear busting around teaching adults to sew in your sewing business.
Fear number 1: And this is the fear that I hear that most talking to other sewing business owners. “I’m not a good enough sewer myself to teach other adults how to sew.” And that is just boloney! If you’re thinking about having a sewing business or perhaps you’re already teaching kids how to sew. If either of these things are going on, you’re qualified to teach adults how to sew.
You don’t have to teach crazy technical things at first. Most people don’t have any sewing experience since their 8th grade home ec class and just want to know how to thread their machine and maybe make a cute tote bag and then go from there.
Teaching adults how to sew is really not that different than teaching kids. You’re teaching the same skills like cutting out a pattern, pinning the fabric pieces together and then sewing it together to create a finished project. This is true no matter what age you’re teaching.
Fear Number 2: Adults don’t have any time to sew.
Yes, it’s true that SOME adults don’t have time to sew. I’ve found that yes, some adults are totally overscheduled and don’t have time to do anything but maybe go to work and take care of their family. But that’s not everyone. There are plenty of people out there who have an interest in learning and growing and trying different things. There are plenty of people who aren’t consumed with taking care of small kids and would love to try a new hobby that gets them away from their day job and their looming stresses of day to do. Just because maybe YOU’RE too busy to be taking on any new hobbies any time soon, doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of people out here who’d love to learn how to sew from you and are willing to make the time in their schedule.
Fear #3: Adults are too picky and too hard on themselves.
Now yes, in my experience this is a true statement. I do find that teaching adults is challenging in a way that usually doesn’t come up in kid’s sewing classes.
Adults expect to be really good at this new thing the minute they try and forget that learning a new skill requires practice and patience.
But it’s our job as sewing instructors to remind people of this while we teach them. We can coach them along the way that stitching a perfectly straight hem on your khakis the first time around is crazy. We can encourage them to try it a couple of more times and see how much they improve.
It’s also our job as sewing instructors to teach our adult students to believe in themselves and celebrate the wonderful things they can accomplish when they learn how to sew.
I wanted to touch on all of these fears because I find that a lot of sewing instructors who say they don’t want to teach adult sewing classes have one important thing in common. And that’s a lack of confidence in what they do.
As entrepreneurs we need to have a little more confidence in ourselves than the regular person. As much as I hate the term “Fake it till you make it” having a little bit of this in our day to day can be really helpful, especially when we’re first starting out doing something.
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Now let’s move onto the pluses of teaching adults vs. teaching kids to sew.
Pro #1: The biggest reason I LOVE to teach adult sewing classes over kids sewing classes is that they’re a lot less rowdy and they’re a lot more organized.
If temporary chaos bothers you a lot, you might actually be more cut out to teach kids sewing classes. Kids classes can be a little crazier due to the higher energy levels. Also the studio is going to probably be a lot messier in a kids class than in an adult class.
Pro #2: When you’re teaching adults how to sew, the skill level is going to be more advanced. If you’re a stickler for sewing rules and traditional methods of sewing teaching adults might be more rewarding and just make more sense to you. It’s tough to make sure that 8 year olds are pressing open every seam or even just sticking to the correct seam allowance.
Pro #3: The last plus for teaching adults is how it pushes my own sewing skill level when I need it.
I love to offer new classes for things that I am not great at. It forces me to teach myself something new so I can offer it in a class. This makes me get better and keeps things more interesting and fun.
Okay finally I want to talk a little bit about some marketing tips for getting signs up for your adult sewing classes.
#1 - If you’re already teaching kids classes, you already have an entire market of adult students just waiting to learn how to sew. The moms and dads of younger sewing students are going to want to learn how to sew, especially if they just purchased a sewing machine for their son or daughter. Utilize this audience you have right in front of your nose to introduce your adult sewing classes.
#2 - Build your audience by hosting private sewing events & parties for adults. I don’t know about you but I’d be way more excited about attending a Make your Own Handbag Party vs. a paint & sip party, any day. When I was first starting my business, this is the way we began. We hosted hundreds of bridal showers for making your own sewing project and they were a blast. And this was a great way to get the word out that we offered other sewing classes that people could come back and attend without the entire bridal party, if they wanted.
#3 - Design workshops that give your students a real sense of accomplishment. In our studio, we call them Make & Take workshops and the entire class is designed around making one thing from start to finish in the allotted class time. People love to know that during the time they’re taking the class, they’ll work towards an end goal and potentially go home with their finished project.
And my last marketing tip is one that has worked very well for our studio. But we had to be VERY careful about how we implemented it.
We have an ongoing groupon offer for our most basic class. We allow people the chance to purchase this class on groupon for ½ the normal price. This way people can get a taste for sewing in a very basic 2 hour workshop. Then we use this as a platform to gently sell them more of our classes.
You have to make sure that the class you’re offering is priced so that even with the severely discounted groupon price you make some money. You also have to make it a class that you can take a lot of students at one time. We’ve found that even though the class is very discounted, we’ve used the groupon platform to attract a lot of students to our other classes and they’ve gone on to take almost every class we offer.
If you’re not already teaching adults how to sew and considering it, please go for it. Most adults don’t already know how to sew. They just want to learn basic things, like how to take the sewing machine they got for christmas out of the box how to thread it and how to make the bobbin work. You know these things. Teach a class for it.
And - If you’re not sure how to structure that class, check out my adult sewing class curriculum over on the website. It’s our Sewing machine basics class and I share with you minute by minute what to teach in this really basic 2 hour sewing class that we run in our studio at least 2 times per week for like the last 12 years.