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.

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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?

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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.