Virtual sewing classes have been so effective that they will remain an option to provide my students with the flexibility to learn how they want.

When pivoting in 2020 to teach exclusively online, there were many challenges and questions, in particular, how long would it need to last and could all aspects of sewing really be taught virtually? With online being the only option to continue teaching, I had to find a way to provide lessons to my students and with the same level of personalized instruction. So I modified my sewing projects, curricula and workspace to convey techniques for both beginner and advanced students in an online environment.

The result has shown that online sewing lessons can be just as effective as in-person, for adults and children at all skill levels. Understandably, some students were unsure if they could learn how to sew online, especially beginners who had never used a sewing machine before. However, using my approach and system of multiple cameras, I’m able to provide an immersive learning experience and guide students in great detail through the steps they need to take.

For new students, we start with the fundamentals of operating their sewing machine so they’re confident to use it on their own. I know what you’re going to ask next – what happens when something doesn’t work correctly, like if the machine gets jammed, how do you fix that virtually? Guess what, projects not always going to plan, tools breaking and machines getting jammed are all part of sewing and something students need to learn how to address. Even though I include basic troubleshooting, when problems arise in online lessons these are opportunities for students to learn more essential skills. I walk them step by step through the process of fixing the issue so they learn to do it on their own and are better prepared for when it happens again. I’ve even had students tell me that they like online lessons for this very reason, because it forces them to do things themselves rather than watching me fix it for them. 

What I like about online lessons is that it has provided me the opportunity to teach students across the country and actually offer more lessons. I have students coast to coast, and many have been with me for more than a year that started as beginners and are now taking on advanced projects. Without needing to travel or prepare my studio for students, I’m also able to teach more in a day and have greater availability to schedule lessons at my students’ preferred times.  

Of course, online lessons aren’t for everyone and I know many are eager to get back to in-person, so I’ll eventually open back up to in-person lessons too. But “getting back to normal” doesn’t mean everything has to go back to the way it was and we scrap online learning. If anything, this experience has reinforced that new approaches can come out of challenges that can lead to new solutions and expanding learning opportunities.