Bunk Bed Privacy Curtains

Bunk Bed Privacy Curtains (part 2)

Last fall I wrote a post about the bunk bed privacy curtains I created for my youngest daughter for her bottom bunk.

Last fall I wrote a post about the bunk bed privacy curtains I created for my youngest daughter for her bottom bunk. You can read that post here.

They turned out amazingly well; here’s a picture.

They turned out amazingly well; here’s a picture.

They turned out amazingly well; here’s a picture.

It’s only fair…

I also promised my older daughter, who sleeps on the top bunk, that I’d make her a pair too. Her curtains, I knew, would take a lot more work. First I bought ceiling curtain track and used a hacksaw to cut it to size. Then I asked my husband to drill in the holes for the screws.

While he worked on the track, I painted a thin board white to match their ceiling. We attached the track to one side of the board and then attached the board to the ceiling, drilling holes in the side of the board that didn’t have the track, right into a stud in the ceiling.

Drilling holes in the side of the board that didn’t have the track, right into a stud in the ceiling.

Drilling holes in the side of the board that didn’t have the track, right into a stud in the ceiling.

Unicorns and stars

Next up was the curtains themselves. She said she wanted ‘unicorns and stars,’ and for a theme like that you can always count on Sarah Jane Fabrics for something good. The only problem was the space the curtains took up was much larger than the width of a yard of fabric.

Undeterred, I cut the clouds and the stars from the grass and the unicorns and did the math on how to baste the fabric onto white canvas fabric to elongate the scene.

Undeterred, I cut the clouds and the stars from the grass and the unicorns & did the math on how to baste the fabric onto white canvas fabric to elongate the scene.

Undeterred, I cut the clouds and the stars from the grass and the unicorns & did the math on how to baste the fabric onto white canvas fabric to elongate the scene.

I painstakingly snipped around the curves of the clouds and the grass on the bottom and top pieces and then finger folded them over and ironed. I used starch to help the little pieces stay down. This was time consuming because I had to do it for four panels (two front, two back) and the top and bottom pieces of all four.

I love it when a plan comes together

My trouble paid off however.

My trouble paid off however.

My trouble paid off however. I diligently pinned the pieces to the main panel fabric of the top and bottom curtains and then sewed them in place with a decorative stitch.

I diligently pinned the pieces to the main panel fabric of the top & bottom curtains & then sewed them in place with a decorative stitch.

I diligently pinned the pieces to the main panel fabric of the top & bottom curtains & then sewed them in place with a decorative stitch.

Here are the two front panels. Gorgeous, no?

Here are the two front panels. Gorgeous, no?

Here are the two front panels. Gorgeous, no?

For the back panels, I raised the grass & unicorns up higher and added a strip of white on the bottom so the unicorns wouldn’t be hidden from my daughter’s view by the bunkbed railing.

For the back panels, I raised the grass & unicorns up higher and added a strip of white on the bottom so the unicorns wouldn’t be hidden from my daughter’s view by the bunkbed railing.

For the back panels, I raised the grass & unicorns up higher and added a strip of white on the bottom so the unicorns wouldn’t be hidden from my daughter’s view by the bunkbed railing.

Putting it all together

On the back panel, I then sewed drapery tape to the top of each panel. Then I sandwiched the top and bottom panels, right-sides facing, and sewed them together. Next I turned the panels and pressed everything neat and flat. I finished by top stitching the panels, and the opening where I’d turned them, closed.

On the back panel, I then sewed drapery tape to the top of each panel.

On the back panel, I then sewed drapery tape to the top of each panel.

Now it was time to puncture some holes in the drapery tape so I could add the hooks that feed into the curtain tracks. For this, I used my handheld sailmaker needles to pierce a hole in the tape but not through to the front of the fabric.

 

And voila! The curtains fed onto the track perfectly. But I wasn’t done yet.

For this, I used my handheld sailmaker needles to pierce a hole in the tape but not through to the front of the fabric.

For this, I used my handheld sailmaker needles to pierce a hole in the tape but not through to the front of the fabric.

Train your curtains

My daughter wanted to be able to block out the light of the night lights we use in the room, but also wanted to easily be able to open and shut the curtains too. I took the time to carefully fold the curtains into the bunched position, using ribbon and clothespins to maintain them in that shape while I sewed curtain tie backs. I call this ‘training’ my curtains.

 

I took the time to carefully fold the curtains into the bunched position, using ribbon & clothespins to maintain them in that shape while I sewed curtain tie backs.

I took the time to carefully fold the curtains into the bunched position, using ribbon & clothespins to maintain them in that shape while I sewed curtain tie backs.

Then I sewed two curtain tie backs and added some mini pompoms for a bit of whimsy.

Then I sewed two curtain tie backs & added some mini pompoms for a bit of whimsy.

Then I sewed two curtain tie backs & added some mini pompoms for a bit of whimsy.

I knew that my daughter would lose them if I didn’t think of a way to keep the tie backs attached to the curtains so I sewed a buttonhole onto each tie back (you can read my post about how to sew buttonholes here). Next I climbed up into her bed and hand sewed a button onto the back panel of each curtain.

Then I connected the tie backs to the curtains via the button hole. Now she can bunch the curtains to open them, wrapping the tie back around them and securing them with the Velcro I sewed on the tie backs. And when she wants to close them for privacy or to shut out the light, she just releases the Velcro and the tie backs remain attached to the curtains.

When she wants to close them for privacy or to shut out the light, she just releases the Velcro & the tie backs remain attached to the curtains.

When she wants to close them for privacy or to shut out the light, she just releases the Velcro & the tie backs remain attached to the curtains.

And I have a very happy six year old! Have you made your own bunk bed curtains? Tell us about it in comments!

 

———————————————————————————–
Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.
Skip Hop Children's Backpack Hack

Skip Hop Children’s Backpack Hack

Have you seen these adorable little children’s backpacks that look like animals? They’re made by Skip Hop and retail for around $20. The only problem with them is that, like many children’s backpacks, they don’t come with a chest clip. Kids’ shoulders are tiny and their frames are narrow. This means they usually can’t keep backpack straps on when there is any weight added to their bags. For the most part I see Skip Hop backpacks slung over a parent’s shoulder, carrying the bag for their children.

Have you seen these adorable little children’s backpacks that look like animals?

Have you seen these adorable little children’s backpacks that look like animals?

I decided to make my own chest clips for these puppies and for my friends who have the bags too. The result is a backpack that children can truly wear on their own.

A backpack that children can truly wear on their own.

A backpack that children can truly wear on their own.

To make your own, you’ll need to unthread the backpack straps from the base of the bag.

To make your own, you’ll need to unthread the backpack straps from the base of the bag.

To make your own, you’ll need to unthread the backpack straps from the base of the bag.

Once you’ve unthreaded the straps, you can sew a webbing piece for the right and the left strap that holds each end of your clasp. I used 1″ webbing and 1″ clasps. I got all of my supplies from StrapWorks.com.

I used 1" webbing & 1" clasps.

I used 1″ webbing & 1″ clasps.

I sewed a small loop of 3/8″ black elastic on the end of the webbing so I could roll up the extra webbing and tuck it neatly into the loop. These are examples of clips I made for friends.

These are examples of clips I made for friends.

These are examples of clips I made for friends.

If your child is really little, they may not be able to manage the clasp on their own.

If your child is really little, they may not be able to manage the clasp on their own.

If your child is really little, they may not be able to manage the clasp on their own.

If you give them enough time to work at it though, they’ll eventually get it. It gives them a great sense of independence and freedom.

 

And really, how adorable is this bag with the added chest clip?

And really, how adorable is this bag with the added chest clip?

And really, how adorable is this bag with the added chest clip?

What type of sewing hacks have you done to children’s products in your life?

What type of sewing hacks have you done to children’s products in your life?

What type of sewing hacks have you done to children’s products in your life?

———————————————————————————–
Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.
The Deeper Side of Toy Sewing Machines

The Deeper Side of Toy Sewing Machines

I remember being a child in a store when my mom was deciding to buy another child a toy sewing machine. I was too young for it, making it what could’ve been a dangerous option for me, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t jealous of the other child who would get the sewing machine!

Fast forward a couple of decades or so, and my brother asked me if a toy sewing machine he was thinking about buying would work. My response was something like, “No, they never do.”

Toys are for kids

In a world of game systems & electronics, toy sewing machines that may or may not work are still on the shelves.

In a world of game systems & electronics, toy sewing machines that may or may not work are still on the shelves.

This might be a misconception on my end of things in assuming that toy sewing machines will be, simply put, less than adequate. In fact, one or two of them probably do at least basically stitch together the small projects they come with. But it’s led to a question in my mind that I’d like to explore for a bit. That question is why sewing continues to be an intriguing prospect as the years roll by, to the point that in a world of game systems and electronics, toy sewing machines that may or may not work are still on the shelves. Even for adults, sewing can be seen as a throwback hobby, so why is it so appealing that a younger generation would still add a sewing machine onto their lists to Santa along with the latest Wii and the most impressive riding toy on the market?

Pass it on

Here’s a pass-it-on quality that goes along with sewing.

Here’s a pass-it-on quality that goes along with sewing.

Well, for one thing, there’s a pass-it-on quality that goes along with sewing, and as children, we were kind of prone to looking at what our parents were doing for inspiration. It’s no surprise this tradition passed on to today’s world if you think about things in that context. Our great-great grandparents may have needed to create their own clothes, blankets, etc. in a world that was very different than ours, and even when society changed enough to start negating that need through things like the division of labor, there were still probably little eyes looking up at the quilters and such who continued their crafts in spite of the changes, maybe out of genuine love of the endeavors. That generation could’ve kept the tradition going for another group of young eyes to latch on to, on and up to recent times when little eyes are looking at that little sewing machine that looks so much like the one at home.

Invaluable skills

Sure, you can pay a seamstress to sew the rip in your coat’s lining, but in the long run, being able to sew that lining yourself saves money.

Sure, you can pay a seamstress to sew the rip in your coat’s lining, but in the long run, being able to sew that lining yourself saves money.

It’s also practical! No matter who you are and what you do, you’re probably going to need something mended at some point in your life. Not only does this increase the odds of those little eyes seeing sewing in action, but it provides usefulness to the hobby that makes it a logical thing to learn. Sure, you can pay a seamstress to sew the rip in your coat’s lining, but in the long run, being able to sew that lining yourself saves money. I admit that most kids probably aren’t diving into the sewing world with money in mind, but being able to contribute with such a grown-up task could be appealing to them. Don’t believe me? Try baking a cake in a room full of kids and see how many offer to help!

A family that sews together stays together

Sewing, as it happens, has the added bonus of being so convenient that I can sew & watch my superhero movies at the same time!

Sewing, as it happens, has the added bonus of being so convenient that I can sew & watch my superhero movies at the same time!

Sewing, as it happens, has the added bonus of being so convenient that I can sew and watch my superhero movies at the same time! Because of this convenience factor, it can be an endeavor that comes with good memories and feelings for children. Think about it. If I were making a rag quilt, I could sit with my nieces while a cheesy cartoon played and fray the edges for the quilt. It’s a hobby that allows time for them, and that’s a detail that a child could easily appreciate. With those kinds of good feelings and that pleasant context, picking up a sewing interest isn’t that shocking!

A generational tradition

On the flipside, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles… We might appreciate the interest as well. Why? For one thing, it’s creative, which helps a child expand in imagination and think outside of the box. The little sewing enthusiast could construct a final product that really took time and effort, and that pride could be something that proves fulfilling enough to warm the nearby adult’s heart. Another appealing detail for the adults buying these toys and encouraging the interest is that sewing is a relatively safe activity for a child who’s reached an appropriate age. Clearly, you shouldn’t hand a three-year-old a sewing needle, but an older, more mature child would be able to dive into the hobby with little worry over injuries.

For child and parent then, this could be an easy interest to embrace! So, why was I confused about the continued existence of toy sewing machines again?!

DIY Chicken Aprons and Hen Saddles

DIY Chicken Aprons and Hen Saddles

Who knew chickens wore clothes?

Who knew chickens wore clothes?

When my girlfriend, Ella, asked me if I could make her a ‘chicken apron’ I thought perhaps she meant something like a heavy duty cover for when she is out in her yard working with her chickens. I of course said yes, but she quickly corrected me and explained that the aprons in questions were actually for her chickens.

Who knew chickens wore clothes?

It turns out that other chickens can be mean and may pick on or peck a member of their brood (even to death). Additionally, roosters can sometimes be too aggressive with hens. Chicken aprons, also called chicken capes, or hen saddles, can protect their backs from the claws of the roosters.

While I often create my own patterns when I sew, creating something like this for Ella’s chickens was beyond me. She found me a free pattern, which you can also follow here, and I got to work.

Heads up that this project is perfect for any pre-cut layer cakes (10″ x 10″ squares) you may have on hand.

Photo credit, left to right: Ella Sherman, MyPetChicken.com & WeAllSew.com.

Photo credit, left to right: Ella Sherman, MyPetChicken.com & WeAllSew.com.

My oldest daughter helped me pick out some fabrics and we sent a picture for Ella to choose from. I planned to make her three reversible aprons.

Here’s another interesting thing we learned

Never dress your chickens in pink, or red; it brings out their cannibalistic instincts and could result in the chicken getting pecked to death. Red & pink = no no.

Beware of chicken scratch. Red & pink = no no.

Beware of chicken scratch. Red & pink = no no.

Sketch it out

With my six fabrics decided, I drew out a pattern on each one. All of these are layer cakes squares I had in my fabric stash.

All of these are layer cakes squares I had in my fabric stash.

All of these are layer cakes squares I had in my fabric stash.

Ella lives in Southern California so she didn’t need any type of warmth or real thickness for batting. Still, I wanted them to be crisp, so I added a layer of Pellon 931TD, Fusible Midweight Interfacing to one side of each apron.

I wanted them to be crisp, so I added a layer of Pellon 931TD, Fusible Midweight Interfacing to one side of each apron.

I wanted them to be crisp, so I added a layer of Pellon 931TD, Fusible Midweight Interfacing to one side of each apron.

Once three of the sides had interfacing, I turned to decoration. If you plan to add rick rack or bows, do it before you sew the sides together.

Once three of the sides had interfacing, I turned to decoration.

Once three of the sides had interfacing, I turned to decoration.

Cut out a 10.5″ piece of elastic for each bib. You will pin each end where the arm (wing?) holes would be.

You will pin each end where the arm (wing?) holes would be.

You will pin each end where the arm (wing?) holes would be.

Place the layers, right sides together and pin (here you can see the elastic sandwiched between the layers).

Here you can see the elastic sandwiched between the layers.

Here you can see the elastic sandwiched between the layers.

Ok, here we go…

This is how it should look before you begin sewing. The pattern I used called for a ½” seam allowance, probably because it also called for thick batting. Choose your own seam allowance and sew all the way around, leaving only the neck hole completely open.

This is how it should look before you begin sewing.

This is how it should look before you begin sewing.

Here’s how mine looked after sewing all the way around. I trimmed away the excess fabric and made small snips around the inner and outer curves so they would lie flat once I turned the fabric right sides out.

Here’s how mine looked after sewing all the way around.

Here’s how mine looked after sewing all the way around.

Two important things to do once you’ve turned the fabric

  1. Take your time and run your fingers along the inside seam, popping the fabric out so it shows a great shape.
  2. Iron! I both ironed and starched mine once I had turned them.

Next, turn the neck hole down first a ½ inch then another ½ inch. Tuck the piece of elastic into where you’ve turned it, creating a casing. You will sew across the bottom of the folded fabric, taking care not to catch the elastic. When you are done, you should be able to move the piece of elastic freely back and forth in the casing.

When you are done, you should be able to move the piece of elastic freely back & forth in the casing.

When you are done, you should be able to move the piece of elastic freely back & forth in the casing.

Top stitch!

Have fun with your top stitching. I used a different decorative stitch on each apron.

And there you have it

This is easily a 20 minute project if you have all your supplies at hand. It’s wonderful for layer cakes and if you have friends who own chickens, these would make great handmade gifts.

It’s wonderful for layer cakes & if you have friends who own chickens, these would make great handmade gifts.

It’s wonderful for layer cakes & if you have friends who own chickens, these would make great handmade gifts.

Pop your presents in some pretty wrapping and send them off to be wild with some hens!

Pop your presents in some pretty wrapping and send them off to be wild with some hens!

Pop your presents in some pretty wrapping and send them off to be wild with some hens!

Have you ever made chicken aprons or a unique piece of clothing for an animal? Tell us about it in the comments!

———————————————————————————–
Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.
Leftover Fabric: The Toss Across Edition

Leftover Fabric: The Toss Across Edition

I think I’ve mentioned before that I have quite a bit of fabric leftover from the top layer of my quilt, right? Well, I do, and it’s interesting to come up with practical, usable projects that could give that fabric a purpose. This week, I did exactly that, and I’m going to share the idea that was a two-fold win for me: Using a little bit of fabric and creating something that I had a genuine reason for making.

Frozen Toss Across set , and it comes with simple blue throwing bags.

Frozen Toss Across set , and it comes with simple blue throwing bags.

So, my niece has this Frozen Toss Across set , and it comes with simple blue throwing bags. The idea is to tic-tac-toe with Anna or Elsa (whichever character you are) to win, but the thing is that we currently only have three throwing bags out of the original set that we can use. What that boils down to is that the two of us would play the game one toss at a time, and we’d have to keep going over to the board to retrieve the bags for the next round. Sure, it’s doable, but it isn’t as convenient as only having to go bag-retrieving every third toss or so!

Get resourceful

Yesterday, it occurred to me that I have small pieces of material and fewer throwing bags than we used to have. Why not use some of that fabric to make new throwing bags?

It’s a simple idea, and the process was fairly to-the-point. All I needed beyond the sewing essentials of fabric, needles, thread, and pins was something to fill up the bag, which I honestly had to think on for a while — maybe until I was ready to fill the throwing bag. I thought about trying small rocks, but I was sewing at night. Since I didn’t want to wait until morning to finish my trial sewing bag or go rock hunting at night, I needed another option. At some point, it dawned on me that I have blue sand that could work, but you might find something just as fitting for the purpose around your house. Just think a little outside of the box, and the fillings might take shape!

Time to begin

I took one of the pieces of fabric & folded it in half since the fabric size was nearly ideal to make two separate throwing bags.

I took one of the pieces of fabric & folded it in half since the fabric size was nearly ideal to make two separate throwing bags.

Now that we have the list of supplies, it’s time to get into how all of them came together into a Toss Across throwing bag. First, I took one of the pieces of fabric and folded it in half since the fabric size was nearly ideal to make two separate throwing bags. These bags needed to be small enough to flip spaces on the board, after all! Once I cut the fabric in half, I again cut it in the opposite direction so that what started as one piece of material was now four individual pieces — two for each throwing bag.

Luckily, these are small products, so I only needed about three pins to hold them!

Luckily, these are small products, so I only needed about three pins to hold them!

Then it was time to pin them. Luckily, these are small products, so I only needed about three pins to hold them! I took two pieces of the fabric and placed them together so that their printed sides were facing one another and pinned them on three sides to hold them steady. Note: This is also a good time to trim off any excess fabric on the ends if they’re terribly uneven with one another, though these seams will be inside the bag anyway. You don’t have to be too careful to make things perfect!

From there, it was time to sew, which was a pretty straightforward process! Three sides needed to be closed up completely, but I needed to keep that fourth side open to fill the sewing bag before I closed it as well. I simply sewed one side, then the next, and then the next. Then, it was time to flip the bag so that the printed fabric was now on the outside and add in what I decided would be blue sand to fill it. Again though, you can try a different tactic to fill the throwing bag — sand, beads, etc.

You can try a different tactics to fill the throwing bag — sand, beads, etc.

You can try a different tactics to fill the throwing bag — sand, beads, etc.

Be sure though while you’re filling the throwing bag that you don’t fill it too full. It’s important that it’s weighty enough to be able to turn one of the Toss Across spaces, but if it’s too full, you might have a hard time sewing that final side together. As it happens, I ended up towing the line, so for future projects, I might use a little less filling!

Once I’d finished with the filling, I sewed that final line together. I did this by folding the edges inward, kind of like I was wrapping a present, then folded the line downward to pin it in place. After that, I just had to sew what I’d pinned and cut the thread.

I did this by folding the edges inward, kind of like I was wrapping a present, then folded the line downward to pin it in place.

I did this by folding the edges inward, kind of like I was wrapping a present, then folded the line downward to pin it in place.

I have plenty of fabric to keep making these, but already with this one bag, I’ve evened up the throwing bag numbers so we can play two rounds at a time!

Sewing with Your Kids

Sewing with Your Kids

Sewing with Your KidsWhat’s your first sewing memory? For me, it’s when my mom came to nursery school and did a bean bag project with the whole class. We all got to take home a bean bag at the end of the day and I felt super special that my mom came in and shared her sewing machine and skills with my class.

Would you like to give a similar warm feeling to your kids, but you’re not sure how? My mom didn’t work, so she had the time, but many moms are juggling careers and kids and simply can’t take a day to visit nursery school. You can still create great sewing memories with your children.

Kid Sewing Circle

If you can’t go into your child’s school to show the class about sewing, bring the class to you. Pick a weekend and invite your kid’s classmates and their parents over for a kid sewing circle. Set up a bean bag game for them to play while each child has a turn working the sewing machine with you. Add some drinks and snacks to make it a sewing play date!

Doll Dress Up Day

If your child and her friends love playing with their dolls and giving them different outfits to wear, a doll dress up day can be a great way to create some sewing memories. The next time your daughter wants to have friends over to play, ask them all to bring their favorite doll. Let the kids dig through your scrap stash and choose their favorite fabrics. Then, while they play, help each kid create a special article of clothing or accessory for their doll.

Bedroom Spruce Up

Most kids at some point decide they want a “more grown up room.” This is a great time to create some sewing memories. Although making all the items necessary for a bedroom redo is a lot to take on, making a few simple accessories such as throw pillows allows your kid to add their own personal touches to their room while creating sewing memories.

What other ways do you create sewing memories with your kids?

Tips on Sewing with Kids

Tips on Sewing with Kids

Do you have a child in your life that wants to learn how to sew? If so, encourage that curiosity and allow them to learn this amazing skill. While the process of learning to sew is technically the same for children and adults, there are a few things more to consider when teaching young children how to sew.

Do you have a child in your life that wants to learn how to sew?

Do you have a child in your life that wants to learn how to sew?

What is the right age?

Can your child read? Can they follow simple instructions? Many of my friends begin teaching their children around age 7-8, however children as young as 5 or 6 can sew if they have the right maturity level and fine and gross motor skills to use a sewing machine. If they have the ability to hand sew, they can probably learn how to use a machine.

Adjust things to child size

When my 6 year old daughter sews with me, I place the foot pedal on a bathroom stool so that she can reach it while she sews.

When my 6 year old daughter sews with me, I place the foot pedal on a bathroom stool so that she can reach it while she sews.

When my 6 year old daughter sews with me, I place the foot pedal on a bathroom stool so that she can reach it while she sews. Consider what chair you have them sit in and make sure they can reach all the pertinent parts of the machine, like the presser foot lever and the wheel.

Go over the dangers

Spend some time demonstrating how fabric goes through the machine and how the needle is in constant motion when the foot pedal engaged.

Spend some time demonstrating how fabric goes through the machine and how the needle is in constant motion when the foot pedal engaged.

The biggest danger is the needle of the sewing machine. Spend some time demonstrating how fabric goes through the machine and how the needle is in constant motion when the foot pedal engaged. Describe the few inches in front of the needle as a ‘no-go zone’ and consider putting washi tape in a small rectangle forward of the needle to remind them not to get their fingers near the needle. Also explain how the foot pedal and needle work together. If they play with the foot pedal without paying attention, they could catch their fingers (or yours) if you are in the middle of demonstrating something to them.

Practice on paper!

There are many printables available online that allow children to practice “sewing” by having the children sew patterns on paper.

There are many printables available online that allow children to practice “sewing” by having the children sew patterns on paper.

An example of a paper sewing guide for children from www.welcometothemousehouse.com.

That’s right. There are many printables available online that allow children to practice “sewing” by having the children sew patterns on paper. This technique is convenient because the needle’s puncture holes are visible and the children can easily see where they are not staying in the lines. It’s also wonderful for helping them master sewing curves.

Engage your learner

If your child has expressed interest in sewing, try to let them start on a project they actually want to make. This ensures they’ll be invested in the learning process and will make them that much prouder of their final product.

Here is my then five year old daughter showing off the rag quilt she helped to sew.

Here is my then five year old daughter showing off the rag quilt she helped to sew.

Here is my then five year old daughter showing off the rag quilt she helped to sew. She made this as a gift for a teacher at her school who was expecting a baby.

Have fun!

Don’t make this something that is stressful. If you, or the child, are starting to get frustrated, take a breather. Sewing is a wonderful skill. Don’t let their first memories of it be of anger or frustration.

What tips do you have for sewing with kids? Please feel free to share in the comments.

—————————–
Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.
Bunk Bed Privacy Curtains

Bunk Bed Privacy Curtains

Privacy curtain open.

Privacy curtain open.

If you’ve ever been on a sailboat you might have seen little panels that draw closed across the sides of berths to give sailors a modicum of privacy. It was this tack I took when figuring out how to make each bunk in my daughters’ bed a small, personal space of their own.

Privacy curtain open.

Privacy curtain open.

Supplies

Here are the items you need to make your own bunk bed privacy curtains:

  1. Tension rod and curtain rod holders. We had to affix two square pieces of wood on either end of the bunk bed in order for the rod to fit.
  2. Shower curtain rings (I used clear).
    3. Fabric for the panels (mine are double-sided).
    4. Batting for structure (if using white or light-colored material).
    5. Drapery wands. These are especially useful for keeping little hands off of white fabric, plus they are a ton of fun. I got mine on Amazon in a mini-size by searching for RV Drapery Wands.
Drapery wands.

Drapery wands.

Put it all together

Each panel is 36”x29”. I sewed button holes along the top width and then used shower curtain rings to hang the panels. On my first attempt, I made the buttonhole too close to the top hem.

 

One of the things I love about sewing is how easy it is to remedy your mistakes. Here I simply sewed across the upper portion of the hole to align it with the others at the correct height. And unless you take a magnifying glass to the finished project, no one is so much the wiser.

 

The fabric is from Sarah Jane’s Magic line. I used a mix of Magic Parade Double Border in White Metallic and Lucky Stars in White Metallic.

Ta-da!

My girls adore these too, as you can see.

My girls adore these too, as you can see.

Projects that come together quickly and look awesome are my favorites. My girls adore these too, as you can see.

What types of quick projects have you done lately that really knocked it out of the park?

—————————–
Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.
Halloween Costume Pattern Round-Up

Halloween Costume Pattern Round-Up

Halloween is just around the corner. Plan ahead & avoid holiday headaches.

Halloween is just around the corner. Plan ahead & avoid holiday headaches.

Fall is in the air which means it’s only a matter of time before kids (and some adults) meander neighborhoods in search of candy. Halloween is loads of fun for everyone. I used to love to make my costumes as a kid and I bet your children would love a unique, made-by-you (maybe even with their help) costume too. Here are some of my favorite Halloween Costume ideas for 2016.

Wall-E Costume

I loved this movie and I know a lot of your kids probably did too. The title robot is so cute! I’m also a huge fan of reusing materials whenever possible. This awesome costume on Instructables uses old boxes and some other easily obtained

materials to make the cutest Wall-E costume ever!

Black Umbrella Bat

Bats are such an iconic part of Halloween. There are tons of bat costume ideas out there on the web, but I really love this one from Evil Mad Scientist. It’s fast and easy to make, requires few materials, and has huge wings and ears. Grab a black umbrella you don’t mind cutting up and a black top (sweatshirt for those in colder climates) and you’re ready to start.

Bag of Groceries

No one else on the block is going to have this costume, I bet. Take a look next time you hit the grocery store for some inspiration. This idea from Costume Works is sure to be a hit and it costs less than $5 to make. All you need is some brown bags, a box and save some of those food packages from your normal shopping trip to use as items in the grocery bag costume.

Sheep or Lamb

Baaa! This costume is great for kids and adults of all sizes and the directions are in Spanish and English. You’ll need a few supplies, but once you have them, it’s a quick 10 step process to becoming the cutest sheep on the trick-or-treat patrol. Add a little face paint to complete the look and make sure to say “baa!” at each house!

Monarch Butterfly

Butterflies are always popular. Buggy and Buddy provide great instructions to make kids’ size wings, but you can resize them for any measurements to make a monarch butterfly costume for everyone in the family. Or switch up the colors and be any butterfly you wish.

Kid and Baby Doll

Does your daughter love to dress up like a princess? Does she bring her “baby” everywhere? These costumes by Simplicity are right up her alley. In one pattern envelope you get three princess pattern choices and the matching one for the doll. They’re easy to make and absolutely adorable.

Classic Characters

Childhood is full of classic stories from Little Red Riding Hood to Robin Hood and everything in between. The devil and the joker are always popular too. This set of five classic costumes from Butterick guarantees you’ll be able to make a sweet costume for your kid in just one hour!

What other costumes have you made?

Teaching Kids to Sew

Teaching Kids to Sew

How Young is Too Young

Does your daughter (or son) hang around while you’re sewing? Do they seem really interested? Maybe they even beg you to show them or let them help? If you’re like most parents, this makes you happy that they’re interested, but unsure when is the right time to get them involved in your hobby.

Like many things in the course of childhood, the decision of when to teach your child to sew isn’t as much about chronological age as it as about maturity level. Before you teach your child to sew, they need to exhibit patience and ability to sit still and pay attention for an hour or so at a stretch. Manual dexterity helps, but isn’t absolutely necessary since you’ll be there to help with items like pinning and cutting.

Step 1: KISS

Even if your child doesn’t love momma kisses and hugs, keeping their first sewing project simple and fun will help keep their interest. Bean bags, doll pillows, and similar items are a great way to engage your child’s interest and help them learn basic sewing skills. They’re small enough to be completed quickly and not overwhelm your child with several steps.

Bean bags can be cut freehand without the benefit of a pattern. Depending your comfort level and your child’s interest and abilities, you can guide them through the setup and use of the sewing machine. At the end, you can both have a great time stuffing the bean bags and playing a game of bean bag tag.

Step 2: A Tougher ProjectHelp your child learn to read the pattern and understand how to lay out the pattern pieces.

 

Assuming the first project went well and they’re still interested, you can help your child pick a simple pattern to work on. Projects like simple doll clothes for American Girl sized dolls or a basic stuff animal can be great options. Give them some guidelines and set them free to pick out fabric.

 

Help your child learn to read the pattern and understand how to lay out the pattern pieces. If they’re up to it, explain about the different ways to fold the fabric based on how the pattern needs to be laid out. If you think they’ve got the dexterity, it might be appropriate to let them help you pin and/or cut the pieces. As with the simple first project, let them help you with the sewing machine if it seems appropriate to do so.

Things to Remember When Teaching Your Child to Sew

  • Every sewing project is unique – so is your child
    • Go at their pace
    • Keep their physical needs/abilities in mind
  • Start small
    • Keep it simple with an easy, fun project
    • Judge their interest and only move on to a tougher project if they want
  • Be patient
    • Just as many parents can’t teach their kids to drive, teaching your kid to sew may not work out
    • If teaching your child to sew is too stressful for both of you, check around for classes. Often places like the local YMCA will offer sewing classes for kids.