Category Archives: Sewing Class

Group sewing lessons I conduct

The Golden Age

This (school) year, we had 4 sessions (basically semesters) at Staten Island Dance and Art Center. Last year, my fashion classes were sort of, whatever I thought of next, but I wanted to use this structure to my advantage. With four sessions, I could pick four themes to jump off of. Well, really three- the last session is dedicated to our Annual Fashion Show of course!

The second session was dedicated to Old Hollywood Fashion. The girls loved it! I started with this fun Buzzfeed Quiz I made. I was scouring the web for a good one, but everything was just slightly too inappropriate for the 8-14 year old age range so… I made my own!

We started with a power point presentation, highlighting different looks that were in style in Hollywood in the 30s-50s- cigarette pants, LBD, you know. The girls were shocked when I told them it was technically illegal in some towns for women to wear pants when Katharine Hepburn was walking around in tailored suits. That’s always fun. It was nothing compared to the Victorian Steampunk lesson we just did!

The beginner class made Little Black Dresses in true Audrey style, but the Advanced class was allowed to get creative.

Elle got the iconic Marilyn Monroe as her Hollywood style sister, and decided to design a white coat as a nod to the flowy white dress. It’s made out of white minky and tulle.
Jessica, always the neat sewer, went with an Audrey-style LBD in navy. She tirelessly took the dress in and out again until she got the perfect fit!
Nadine, the speedster, had this dress done weeks before everyone else, even with me making her finish her edges. This dress is made of a nice velvet. The belt is actually recycled shower curtain holes. I do not know what’s holding them together.
Valentina the Daring- she loves tulle. Probably a little more daring than the old Hollywood starlets went, but it looks fabulous! She was very cold in this, however, since we finished this up in January!
The Rising Star of the Beginner Class- Arianna entered the program in the middle of the 2nd session and has really dived into it! She got a little experimental with her satin LBD and added some buttons.


I’d been trying to do it for a while, but I finally got my sister involved in my classes. She came to teach an Old Hollywood Make Up lesson and boy, was that a hit, even from the girls in there scoffing at make up (haha). I can’t wait to have Jessie back to help the girls design their Runway Makeup to compliment their runway looks!

The Make Up Artist herself


I’ve got a lot planned for the rest of the year. On the 31st we’re hosting Fashion Survivor, and in April we’re heading to Jo-Anns for a shopping trip.

The New Sewist’s Wishlist

One of the tough things about learning to sew is all the stuff you need. Some of that stuff is obvious, you need a sewing machine, fabric, needles. But which ones? And what else? If you’re looking to learn, pass this list off to anyone who asks what you want for the holidays!

Sewing Machine

Obvious, right? There are so many different machines out there, and they are definitely not created equally.

I tell all of my new students to get a computerized Brother. They are easy to thread, and are incredibly user friendly. This Brother XR3240 comes with lots of toys too- a seam ripper, some bobbins, an automatic button hole maker, even embroidery stitches. The best part is it’s on sale through Costco, so I highly recommend you pick it up!

A good sewing machine will make sewing a breeze. In my experience, the smaller, more inexpensive machines cause a lot of headaches for the novice. It’s not worth the savings!


You see thread at the supermarket, packaged with a few needles and a mini scissor. Don’t buy them! Especially not for your new sewing machine. These will often break when going around the machine. Purchase brands like Guttermann and Coats & Clark for excellent quality sew-all threads. After Thanksgiving, Joanns offers a thread tower of Guttermann’s most popular thread colors, which is something to look out for!


When I was a kid, I always used to ask for a yard or two of fabric, just to experiment with. Having some basic cottons with fun prints can be great motivation to get started sewing pillows and bags. You can buy pretty prints from most fabric stores by the yard or in quarters.

Pins and Cushions

This might seem obvious, but I show up to a few too many students houses without a pin in sight. Get ones with a large, round head so you don’t lost them in the fabric. There are also a ton of pin cushions out there, but I prefer one that can sit flat on the table (rather than a tomato). I’ve been using this one for about ten years! Throw a safety pin in there too- a small tool full of big uses.

Flip Flop pin cushion ftw!


Guess what! You can’t use the kitchen scissors! A lot of people don’t know this, so I’m telling you that right now. Paper dulls the blade of a scissor, and you need something really sharp to cut fabric. I use these, but really any scissor untouched by paper will do. Make sure you write FABRIC ONLY on the blade! Non-sewers seem to be drawn to fabric scissors to cut open boxes, for some reason. Beware!

Odds and Ends

Just some extras you want to check to see if you have- a ruler, tape measure, a pencil. Your sewing machine will probably come with a seam ripper (or as my students call them, the Soul Crusher, thanks Elle!) but you can get one with a nicer grip since you’ll probably be getting real friendly with it in your early days! The machine will also come with a few extra needles and bobbins, but if you want to be safe, you can pick up some refills to start with.

That should be everything! Happy Sewing!

The First SIDAC Fashion Show

It’s been a while since I have posted here. July has been a bit of a slow month after the craziness that was July. I costumed my first professional theatrical performance, “Waitng for Godot,” produced by Sundog Theatre at Wagner College. However, I was most excited for and proud of my fashion design students at Staten Island Dance and Art Center.

Overall, twelve girls walked in what ended up being a pretty short show. We had the entire place decorated with art that the kids had made, and a real red carpet for the designer/models to walk down. Some of them were a little nervous, but that’s okay- when they are real designers, they won’t have to model themselves!

Six kids were chosen for Advanced Fashion for 2016-17- Congratulations to Elle, Valentina, Catherine, Nadine, Jessica, and Katelyn!

Summer Dresses

I’ve been really excited the last couple of weeks because it’s almost time for SIDAC’s first ever fashion show! Last Friday I had them finalize the designs they’ve been thinking about all year, and I did my massive fabric shop this past weekend, and we’re kicking it into full gear coming up so we can get our designs out in time.

Our last big sewing project were these cute high-low summer dresses. For, you know. If warm weather ever actually comes to Staten Island. The next couple of 2 months are going to be pretty hectic, so I’ll have to look on these awesome projects to get through it when it gets tough 🙂

Ava in her watermelon dress
Ava in her watermelon dress
Daniela, the little ray of sunshine
Daniela, the little ray of sunshine
Jessica, pretty much ready for Project Runway at this point
Jessica, pretty much ready for Project Runway at this point
Slow and steady, Katelyn gets her projects done! :)
Slow and steady, Katelyn gets her projects done! 🙂

I am so proud of these kids, and I’m so excited to see what else they can do.


Also, can’t forget; the summer camp schedule is up! I’ll be teaching a bunch of programs, but my favorite is going to be the Harry Potter theme. I will be bringing my wand with me. And possible wear robes.


And the winner is…

On the last class before the winter break, the Staten Island Dance and Art Center’s fashion design classes competed in a Project Runway-style Upcycling Challenge.

Each team had two or three girls in it. They were to pick one old dress at random from a big garbage bag, then work quickly with their team to make it stylish. We started on the second-to-last week of class, and had our first ever paneled runway show on the last day.

I was so impressed by my designer’s sense of style! Soon enough we’ll be starting our big end of the year project where each of them will be making their own ensemble. Of course, I wanted to foster a sense of competition and reward, so there were winners. They were judged based on their technical skills, presentation, overall style, thoughtfulness, and integrity of design. The winners were Sophia & Jessica in 5pm class, and Jaclyn & Valentina in the 5:45pm class.

Prize was also a photo op with Miss Melissa ;D

Each designer got to go home with a fashion sketch book, and I hope they’ll bring it to our next class to show me all of their designs!

So proud of all my designers!


Pajama Makin’

After my delightful failure making a pajama set, my students fared much better in making flannel pajamas.

We had four weeks 90-minute sessions to put together these pajamas. They all got to pick their color combinations from the cool flannels I found at Jo-Ann. We technically finished up last week, but tonight was the final make-up session for kids who didn’t finish in time.

I love the look of pride they all have after they finish! For most of them, this was their first project, and for them to be able to wear it more or less comfortably is pretty cool.

Students in a Barbie World

On Fridays, I teach back-to-back fashion design classes. It’s really fun coming up with activities and challenges for them to do, while also getting in my two-cents of fashion history that I love so much. So today we learned about Rococo fashion, with my second class getting REALLY enthusiastic about how exactly Marie Antoinette lost her head.

We only had 7 barbie dolls (well, 6 barbie dolls and one really creepy Hannah Montana doll), so some of my studnts worked in teams. Solo or team work though, they came up with some really cute rococo-inspired fashion for their dolls.

Valentina (I love the gold on this one!)
Valentina (I love the gold on this one!)
The Dynamic Duo, Melanie and Isabella
The Dynamic Duo, Melanie and Isabella
Busy bees
Busy bees



Next week, if all goes well (meaning that Joanns ships my order!) we’ll be making Halloween-print skirts! I’m excited.

Fair Season

Polka Dolly

It’s time to get ready for Holiday Fair season! I’ve done these in the past, selling American Girl doll clothes, but this year I’m introducing the Gingermelon dolly. This little lady is the first created. She’s a cutie 🙂

I’m thinking of making different variety dolls (hair color and style, skin color), and have them all wear like the “basic” polka dot dress, and them make lots of cute clothes that can be bought desperately for the fashionistas in the room.

What else should I make?

Sewing Summer Camp!


Today I taught my first group sewing lesson today at Staten Island Dance and Arts Center! It was challenging, hectic, and rewarding.

The goal was for four girls under 12 years old to hand sew a bag with little-to-no sewing experience in three hours. Quite the challenge!

I had made a pattern for a cell phone purse, which some of the girls modified to be an iPad case. I had four stitches to teach them, plus some pre-drawn appliques, with the option to draw their own. A few weeks before the camp, I drew out the pattern and made a sample:

MQbagThat M was supposed to be a lightning bolt. It failed, leading me to sew on my initials and print out lightning bolts for the kids to sew on instead of them, too, failing and making M’s. Even though then we would have had a bunch of purses with a Miss Melissa tribute on them! hehe.

Anyway, all went well. Only one of the four girls declared that she hates hand sewing, and three of the four girls more or less finished their bags! Yay!

Now, I’m really looking forward to the fashion design class and sewing workshops starting in October. I have a better idea of the skill level to prepare for, and how exhausting it will be! I can’t wait to be exhausted like that. It’s so interesting to see how different kids react to sewing. Some find it tedious but worth it, some find it therapeutic, and most of the time they seemed excited for the challenge. I can’t wait to help my fashion design students make fabulous looks to walk the runway in at the Fashion Show!