When I started my quilt shop in 2010 we did children’s classes offering a 3 day class for kids 8 to 16. I promoted the class through the local park and recreation district to help bring in students. I would have two teachers teach three classes, “Get to Know Your Sewing Machine” ending with a pincushion. “Making a Pillowcase” and “Pajama Bottoms”. What I found was that with 2 instructors and 6-8 students it wasn’t easy.
- Kids brought machines that had various issues and usually no manual
- Two instructors weren’t enough for 6-8 kids
- When an instructor helped one student with a problem everyone else stopped what they were doing
- The three classes cost each child’s family between $75 – $100 for the classes and projects
- By the time QuiltWorks paid the instructors and the park and rec for their fee, we made no money
- Finally my instructors said they didn’t want to teach it anymore, it was too frustrating
But the kids were so proud of themselves at the end of each project and parents loved that their kids were learning to sew. Every woman that walked into the shop during these classes were so happy to see kids learning to sew. They loved to share their own experiences of when and how they learned, who taught them and now much they used the skill over their lifetimes.
I discontinued the classes but knew that someday and somehow I had to put these entities together, the kids, the parent and the adult sewers. When I came up with the idea of matching mentors and kids it was so that one mentor could work with one or two kids on sewing machines that we knew worked and projects that would be successful for the kids, the mentors and donors. What I wanted was a program that would be easy to implement and be free for families.
At the time of this writing STM at QuiltWorks in Bend has about 61 kids in or through the program. The best part is that the mentors come in, grab the machines and projects, the parents drop off the kids and no one from my shop or myself have anything to do with it! It just happens over and over and over. My office is above the classroom and when I come downstairs almost every day at different times, there they are, a mentor with kids learning to sew! When we start to run low on a project myself or someone emails the STM email list and requests more kits for the Pillow Pal or the Caddy or the Pillowcases. A calendar is kept that schedules the shop classes and events and there are enough machines and space for two matches at a time. The majority of the matches take place in the afternoons between 3:30 and 5:30.