The Sewing Lesson
However, we went from her not even being able to thread the machine properly to not only having the basics on how to operate her machine properly, to being able to sew a finished project with straight lines! (check out my snazzy green nails!)
We did a few dry runs on printer paper (which, as evidence of how old I am, I kept referring to as typewriter paper) and no thread just to get the hang of speed control and making straight lines. This was how I was shown how to practice 23 years ago when I sat down at a sewing machine for the first time in the sixth grade. You don't waste fabric and thread that way! We also covered how to sew square corners and curves.
In order to demonstrate a lot of this, we made a pillow cover. I had her buy a pillow form and some fabric before I got there, along with all the basic tools. We talked about how to add seam allowances to get the right measurement. We discussed the difference between a simple pillow, where you leave an opening on one end, stuff it with fiberfill, then stitch it shut, and the envelope style pillow that we made where you can slide the cover off to wash it.