On Teaching Fashion: An Adult Education.

Recently I have extended my teaching into adult education. A completely new area for me – as I have never had any experience outside of mainstream work. However, now with a few lessons under my belt I now love it, and half the enjoyment is meeting all the different ladies that come to the classes, and their varied reasons for doing so.

Spending my day with 16-18year old students in mainstream education, with qualifications to complete, work to mark and targets to meet, it is very refreshing to teach simply for the joy of passing on skills and seeing how the individual students progress in these classes. It is very rewarding when students in these situations pick up new abilities and skills in a short time frame of the class. My first piece of advice to anyone considering this is to bear in mind what the individual student wants to get out of the session, as some work very fast to learn, learn and learn more, whilst some enjoy the challenge with the social aspect of attending as well. Also, bear in mind, every individual- no matter how old they are, learns in different ways. So be prepared to think on your feet and alter the method of delivery to suit the situation.

Have you any experiences or opinions of the difference in delivery methods from mainstream education to adult interest classes?

I also enjoy when teaching adult learners hearing about their previous knowledge and experiences, which often comes from O-level Dressmaking. (The predecessor qualification to GCSE’s) Recently I was leading a class, and due to time constraints had tailors chalk out, ready to mark the students fabric for their darts. One student said to me that she didn’t think I would know what this was but she would use tailors tacks in that situation. My mum taught me tailors tacks at a young age- and I was delighted to tell this lady that yes I new exactly what they were and that I had some tacking thread in my tool box at the ready!


Tailors Tack

This brings me to think about fashion and dressmaking education today, and why has it changed since the 1970s and beforehand. My mum always tells me about a suit she had to make when she was at school, and unfortunately burning it doing the final pressing the night before her deadline! I also recently looked at the work completed by my Grandmother in her education- a series of beautiful samples of finishes and seams, all neatly pressed, labelled and with perfect precision. Why is this not taught today? Are we loosing the knowledge in education of how to develop a pattern and create a garment? Or is it a matter of lack of attention to detail today?

Sewing, in my opinion, is a life skill, and it should have presence in the national curriculum. I read an interesting article in the  newspaper last year about how celebrities and Hobbycraft were trying to raise awareness of the importance of being able to sew. (Article)  However it is very evident that the 21st century working generation are so used to this throw away, fast fashion, ‘ just buy a new one’ culture- with low price points of clothes and longer days at work, you can not blame them.

What is your opinion about the content of dressmaking education today? How is dressmaking taught in your country? Is it covered at school, or was it phased out?

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