Learn How to Sew Like a Pro

Story by Ashley Shickler, staff reporter

Photo of instructor, Lila Martinez provided by herself.

CNM is scheduled to add an advanced class to its new sewing and costuming program in the spring of 2020 and Lila Martinez, one of the program’s first instructors and curriculum designers, said she is passionate about art and finding creative ways to help students learn.

The advanced class will teach students drafting, draping, tailoring, millenary (hat making), printing fabric, digitizing, and working more in an advanced computer setting, she said.

“Being one of the program’s first instructors was exciting because I got to create a lot of the curriculum for the 101 class and get a lot of feedback from the students on what they would like to learn,” she said.

Martinez started teaching the subject in the fall of 2018 and will be teaching the advanced class starting in the fall of 2020, she said. She will also continue teaching the intermediate classes and DeDe Gonzales has been teaching the introduction classes since her start in the spring of 2019.

The students learn very thorough hand sewing and machine sewing skills in the basic class, Martinez said.

“Many students who take the basic class never touched a sewing machine, whereas some of the other students do this for a living, but they still were able to learn so much,” she said.

One semester, the students made pillows, stuffed animals and aprons, and a lot of the students hadn’t even really looked at a commercial pattern before, so it’s really introducing them to that world, she said.

The classes are two hours and 45 minutes long, so she said she tries to break them up by lecturing the first part of class and then introducing the students with visuals and tutorial links.

Since students could either go on to a university or right into the working field, she would like them to be ready for both, she said.

For the intermediate class, the students had to make an alteration, design garments for an upcycling project, and participate in creating a stock garment for CNM theater stock, she said.

“Organizing and maintaining the stock has actually become a student-created thing, which I am really excited about because all the costumes hopefully in the future will have been created by students,” she said.

Every Thursday, the class watched a film that is costume-focused while the students worked on projects, she said.

“I like to approach my classes through the theater and film perspectives, so I always teach both methods because I am experienced in both worlds,” she said.

Although the class is really fun, the class does have deadlines, quizzes, and tests, she said.

Martinez said she has been in the industry professionally for 15 years and has been teaching for 10 years.

“I got the bug when I was 18 during my first year at UNM and have been absolutely passionate since,” she said.

Martinez taught at UNM’s Division of Continuing Education, Children’s Choice, children’s summer camps, and Hardwood Art Center and said she loves to teach children.

Martinez said she loves and lives by the quote, “The meaning of life is finding your gift; the purpose of life is sharing it.”

“I see how much art influenced my life in the most positive ways and I would like to continue to share that gift with others,” she said.

Martinez also co-owns the non-profit theatre company, Blackout Theatre, along with Leonard Madrid (a CNM theatre instructor).

“Our theatre community here is amazing,” she said.   

Martinez has had other opportunities offered to her in bigger cities but has a special place in her heart for CNM and is really grounded here, she said.

“I am really excited to be teaching at CNM and am thankful for Leonard Madrid, Josh Bien, and Dani Belvin – all the people I graduated UNM with, who are also teaching here,” she said.

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