This is my new model for a maker workshop and/or makerspace program. The idea is that kids and teens can drop in and we will be focused on learning a specific skill or using a specific set of tools. I'm starting with sewing machines because that's what we have available and the most experience in using, but other options could be knitting/crocheting/weaving, woodworking (I need some equipment for this), and I am thinking about some fairly involved cardboard building for some point in the future.
We have six heavy-duty Singer sewing machines, donated by a patron. They are stored on a cart and there is a second cart with all our additional sewing materials - scissors, thread, bobbins, seam rippers, measuring tape, pins, notions, etc. We have tracing paper and pencils to rough out our own patterns or we can use the patterns from the Sewing School book series. We also have an ironing board and we just replaced our old iron with a donated (lightly used) one.
We have a large stash of fabric thanks to donors, primarily cotton and flannel, which I encourage kids to start with, and we also have a big bin of scraps.
For the set-up I have two machines per table, unless the kids bring their own, and start with setting up a few and then add more as needed. I have tables available for laying out fabric and cutting.
I have made materials with instructions for getting started and encourage newbies to read through these first. Because this is not a class, but a makerspace or workshop, I give basic instructions and then just let the kids experiment. Their natural inclination is to make lots and lots of pillows, so it's handy to have stuffing available!
I am available for advice and assistance, but depending on the kids' ages and abilities, I require them to rethread their own machines, etc. For those who haven't done this before and are sewers off their own bat, be aware that the kids will have a ton of raw edges, holes in their pillows and bags, crooked seams, and will just sew over things rather than rip them out and redo them. That's ok! This isn't a class where they learn to turn out a perfect product, but a chance for them to learn and explore on their own.