Sew Custom, Comfy Clothes with Jessica Kaufman!

Jessica Kaufman is a familiar face around the Folk School, having been a part of our community as an instructor, assistant, student, and host for many years. We’re excited to have her join us again this spring as she teaches “Sewing Simple Garments with Knit Fabrics” from March 17-23, 2024. Students can come learn how to sew their own custom comfy garments with stretchy knit fabric from the ground up. While basic sewing machine experience is required, this class is perfect for folks just beginning their journey into sewing with knits.

Read more from Jessica Kaufman and her upcoming class below! Interested in her class? Register today to secure your spot.

JCCFS: Tell us more about yourself. What’s your background in your medium? How did you get started?

JK: When I was growing up, my mother sewed a lot of our clothes, but I wasn’t interested in following patterns or making what was typically fashionable. As a teen I altered my clothing in a creative but haphazard sense, like chopping off sleeves and hemming with safety pins, and it made me feel incredibly inspired and free to start being able to picture and create a wardrobe that was closer to what I wanted to see. Later, in a theatre program in high school, I took actual sewing classes, and made my prom dresses for both 11th and 12th grade. As a college student in the late 1990s, I loved sewing my own little hippie tops and patchwork pants, and as a theatre major, I spent all my elective time in the costume department learning to bone corsets and trim jackets for period plays. I got a decent sewing machine in my twenties and started altering pattern pieces, learning by doing. But they were all woven fabrics, which required finishing edges, doing facings and linings, lots of “fussy” steps that I wasn’t very motivated to do. As a result, my handmade clothing was ill-fitting and fell apart too quickly. Finally, in my late thirties, I discovered the amazing and wonderful world of knit fabrics and sergers, plus online PDF patterns that I could print at home or at a copy shop. Knit garments are easy, easy, easy!

JCCFS: Tell us more about your class’s specific technique or process?

JK: I’m certain that all your go-to favorites in your dresser and closet are knits: think easy to wear, simple shapes, soft, and, surprisingly, not very complicated to construct. In this class I’ll be bringing dozens of my favorite patterns that all come in sizes XXS – 6X, each having a variety of styling options like cuffs, hoods, edges, and sleeve length that make them even more personalizable. Because I also teach dyeing, we may also dye up some fabric or our finished garments just for fun one day! I hope people of all ages, sizes, shapes, and genders feel encouraged to sign up for this class. Most folks will leave with at least three or four finished garments that will make them feel great in their bodies and their clothing.

Jess working in her studio in Asheville!

Custom sewn genie pants

 Example of class project

 Beautiful short cape with turtleneck!

JCCFS: Tell us about what students can expect to learn in class.

JK: I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned over the years of sewing garments with knit fabrics. From lightweight, slinky bamboo rayons to earthy, textured hemp blends, to sturdy fleeces and French terry, there are truly dozens and dozens of options to personalize your garment once you pick a pattern and size it just for you. We’ll get super specific about exactly what makes these fabrics and patterns we’ll cover in class a perfect marriage for your customized wardrobe.

JCCFS: What is your favorite aspect of the John C. Campbell Folk School? What do you most look forward to when coming back?

JK: My favorite aspect of the Folk School is how many parts of myself get to be nourished and playful. While at the Folk School for a week, I can enjoy communal meals, sing songs in the morning, dance together in the evenings, take breaks to walk in the gardens to see my favorite dye and basketry plants, and hear live old time music everywhere I go. I love the feeling of collective creativity when we mingle with folks learning and teaching in other studios. It’s truly the best adult camp out there.

JCCFS: Where do you draw inspiration from for your work?

JK: My inspiration is a combination of global and traditional textiles (especially their textures and patterns) and the back-to-the-land, work-friendly functional aesthetic of Southern Appalachia. I love overalls, handmade baskets, natural plant fibers, earth tones, and anything wool. The mountainous regions of my family’s Eastern European heritage and their traditional clothing and patterns also provide inspiration when I am thinking about how, as a person and an artist, I got to where I am today.

JCCFS: What have you been working on in your art practice lately?

JK: Currently in my personal art practice I am finally giving myself permission to combine the fabrics I’ve dyed with sewing and stitching methods, creating these little art pieces that involve batik, Shibori, quilting, embroidery, cross stitch, etc. Perhaps I’ll incorporate them into my handmade clothing at some point; the possibility is certainly there!

JCCFS: What tips would you give a student or aspiring craftsperson? Anything you wish you had known earlier in your career?

JK: As true as that the “starving artist” stereotype can be, especially for those of us without inherited or generational wealth, I think equally as important is the concept of living within our means. As a teaching artist, I may not have much financial power, but I am able to maintain a small, beautiful rented living space, a useful vehicle for hauling all my equipment, projects, and materials around, and to travel to teach crafts workshops, which lets me see the world and connect with others in a meaningful way. I don’t have to have a lot to do a lot!

JCCFS: Where can folks find you if they want to stay up to date on your work?

JK: My websites are and, and I have IG/FB/YouTube pages for both of those names. The best way to stay in touch is to join my mailing list “The Dyenasty” which you’ll find at

JCCFS: Anything else we should know about your class?

JK: I’d like to encourage folks to share this class with people in their life who may struggle to find clothes that really make them feel like themselves. All ages, sizes, and genders of people are welcome in my class. I believe that clothing should be made to suit our bodies, not that our bodies must be changed to fit store-bought clothing. A really incredible way to combat the struggle with a negative body image that many of us suffer from is by designing and making garments just for yourself, and lots of them!

A-line dress with pockets!

Skirted leggings

Upcoming Class with Jessica

Sewing Simple Garments with Knit Fabrics

March 17-23, 2024

Learn to sew swishy and flattering skirts, leggings, or gaucho pants from knit fabrics and patterns. Ideal for sewing on a serger or with the zig-zag stitch on your regular sewing machine, many of these patterns have only a few pieces to cut and sew. Comfy pants and skirts with a simple and comfortable “yoga” (fold-over) waistband and easy, pull-over dresses and tunics are a breeze! Patterns in this class are available for sizes XXS – 5X. Some prior sewing machine experience required.

About Jessica Kaufman

Jessica Kaufman has an MA in crafts education and is the owner of WAXON Batik & Dye Studio in Asheville, NC. With over twenty years of teaching experience, Jess has taught textile and fiber arts to summer campers, school children, highschoolers, and adults up and down the east coast. Her enthusiasm for teaching is apparent in every class she leads. Jessica also founded, teaching knitting and other crafts in New York City and North Carolina.

No Comments

Post A Comment