This section is from the book "Scientific Sewing And Garment Cutting", by Antoinette Van Hoesen Wakeman. Also available from Amazon: Scientific Sewing And Garment Cutting: For Use In Schools And In The Home.
When the needles are placed in the pupils' hands, it should be explained that if the hands are not clean the needle becomes rough, and that no one can sew well with a rough needle, or when the material on which it is used is soiled. Explanations of this sort should be made as often as possible in order that the pupils may work intelligently and not mechanically. The first needle used should be a long-eyed and dull-pointed chenille needle. There are three reasons why a beginner should have this sort of a needle:first, because it is a strain on the unaccustomed eyes of a child to attempt to thread a small-eyed needle; second, because often the child cannot thread it without assistance, and it is most desirable to have her work independently from the first; third, because an ordinary sharp-pointed needle is likely to prick the fingers of an untrained worker.
The thimble should be of gold, silver, or aluminium, the latter being the best cheap material for common use.
It should be explained that the thimble is placed on the second finger because it is stronger and longer, and more conveniently situated than the others for pushing the needle through the fabric.
The very best needles should be used, and an emery must be constantly at hand to keep them perfectly smooth.
The thread used in sewing should be just as long as the arm of the one who is using it.
It should be explained that the work is usually done from right to left, and is begun with a backstitch and without knotting the thread. It has been found by repeated experiments that a knot in the end of the thread is not a necessity until the pupil reaches the fourth grade, and it is better that it should not be used until the necessity arises. In this connection let it be remembered that this course of sewing is progressive, and has been arranged in all its details with reference to the general plan of unfoldment as advocated by Froebel and other great educators.
The first thread used is a good quality of cardinal red Saxony yarn; and it should be explained that the proper way of drawing the thread is between the second and third fingers, not only because it is more convenient, but for the reason that it is more graceful.
It is better that the teacher take charge of all implements and the models used by pupils, until they have passed the second grade, placing them in boxes provided for the purpose.
Correct Way of Holding the Needle.