Friday, 29 January 2016

Teaching Debut with Cats

Recently I was privileged and honoured to be accepted as a tutor with the Queensland Embroiderers' Guild to assist with the 2 day children's holiday classes during the final week of their school holidays.  The necessary paperwork was completed and all tutors handed the kit with explanations for the project that was going to be taught so we could stitch it up ourselves first.  It was an appliqued cat and mouse design using blanket stitch for the applique and fly stitch, stem stitch, chain stitch and french knots for facial and detail features.  The front, backing and wadding were to be then machine sewed around the edges, turned out, slip stitched and a running stitch around the border to finish off.

As you can see I worked my blanket stitch to match the stripes and also did a very, very small blanket stitch around the cat's eyes to hold them firmly in place - actually, they looked like pretty eyelashes.

So...the first day of the classes arrived and I was given two sweet and polite 11 year old girls (who were school friends) to help and found out that one of the girls had already taken a couple of QEG holiday classes previously, but for the other girl it was the first time she had picked up a needle and thread.   I helped them select their choice of background fabric, cat fabric and the threads to either match or complement their cat colour choice and I think they really enjoyed that part of the process.  I could see them using their visual skills to imagine the finished look.  We then set to work ironing the design on to the fabric and after showing them how to pull 2 threads from a 6 skein length of thread easily without it becoming knotted and a total mess (they thought that was really cool), set about threading up and learning their first stitch - blanket stitch.  

Now as can be expected - particularly with the first timer - the stitches were a little loopy and uneven to begin with and there was a bit of intervention on my part to help with tension and maneouvring corners and points, but I was really surprised at how quickly they picked up their skills.  By the end of the first day (about 4-5 hours work), one girl had completely finished all the appliqueing of her cat and head, bow and mouse and the other only needed to finish appliqueing the cat's head.  

On Day 2, I enlisted the help of another tutor as I was finding that both the girls were needing one-on-one help with the more finer facial details.  I must admit too that I felt this was quite intricate work for learners so it was important to help them as much as possible. By lunchtime their work was at the stage of machine stitching the layers together around the edge (done only by one of the ladies who had been delegated this job) which just left the turning out, slip stitching and running stitch around the edge to be completed before the end of the class.

I asked the girls' permission to photograph their work and because they were just so proud of themselves happily agreed.   

This first piece was done by the young girl who had taken classes previously.  I think she has created a very friendly looking cat with a rather lopsided smirk and kind eyes.

This piece is the embroidery done by the girl who was a beginner and never threaded a needle in her life before.  Her cat might have a slightly 'detached' head, but yet again a friendly and engaging face and smile.

What was so enjoyable for me was seeing the pleasure and satisfaction that both gained from these classes.  And what I also found interesting was that the beginner admitted she enjoyed Day 2 the best because she learnt different stitches and felt she'd achieved so much.  I could tell they were so, so proud of their efforts and have decided to use their embroidery pieces on their bedside tables as showpieces.  

Both girls want to attend the next holiday classes because they had so much fun and I can honestly admit that I found it a most enjoyable experience also.  It is indeed heartening to see young talent with an enthusiasm towards embroidery.  In this modern age these skills could be considered a lost art because of the younger generation's desire for instant gratification.


'A person can succeed at anything for which there is enthusiasm' - Charles M Schwab


No comments:

Post a Comment