Kids can sew too! This inspiring guide includes 21 fun sewing projects for children ages 5 and up. With easy-to-follow illustrated instructions and cut-out patterns, young crafters will quickly be sewing up colorful pillows, potholders, dolls, blankets, and more. These kid-tested projects require only minimal supervision and most can be made using simple hand stitches, so no sewing machine is required. With plenty of encouragement and helpful tips, Sewing School ® helps young sewers develop their skills while sparking a passion that will last a lifetime. Also available in this series: Sewing School ® 2,Sewing School ® Fashion Design, Sewing School ® Quilts, and Sewing School ® Box Set.
About the Author
Andria Lisle is coauthor of Sewing School®, Sewing School 2®, Sewing School Quilts, and Sewing School® Fashion Design. She is Curator of Strategic Engagement at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.
Amie Petronis Plumley is coauthor of Sewing School®, Sewing School® 2, Sewing School® Quilts, and Sewing School® Fashion Design. She is an elementary school teacher at Grace-St. Luke’s Episcopal School in Memphis, Tennessee, where she inspires students to sew in the classroom, in an after-school sewing club, and at a wildly popular summer sewing camp.
Read an Excerpt
Welcome to Sewing School!
Do you know how to sew? Maybe you've already made something with a grown-up or a grandparent, or used a needle and thread to sew on a loose button. Or maybe you're brand new to sewing and can't wait to get started.
This book is filled with fun projects you will love to sew. And all of them have already been kid-tested by sewers from 5 to 13 years old.
Before you jump into sewing, please take some time to read this chapter all the way through. It's filled with all kinds of helpful tips for sewers — like what tools you should keep in your sewing kit and how to choose the right material for your fabric masterpieces.
Here are some other sewing skills you will learn about in this chapter:
* how to thread and knot your own needle
* how to sew a running stitch and a whipstitch
* how to sew on a button
* Most importantly, you will learn how to sew all on your own!
How to Use This Book
Sewing School is written for young sewers ages 5 and older. It is filled with step-by-step pictures and directions that make it easy to learn how to sew. We've added tips to make sure that everything goes smoothly so you have lots of fun. Here are the kinds of tips you'll find with each project.
Each project is rated with one, two, or three stars so you will know the skill level needed to complete it. If you are a brand new sewer, you can start with the easier projects and work your way up. The ratings work like this.
One star means it is an easy project. It is perfect for new sewers. You will sew, at most, two pieces of fabric together. You can make an easy project in about an hour.
Two stars means it is a skill-building project. You will get to try out some new skills, such as sewing on a button or adding some trim. You might want to spend all afternoon or even a few days on this type of project until you get it done.
Three stars means it is a harder project. These projects are meant to challenge you. They have more steps than the other projects, and they might take days or even a week to sew.
This is a short list of the skills you'll need to complete the project. You might want to go back over the lessons included in this chapter before you begin.
A Note for Grown-Ups
This is a message for your parent or another adult who might be helping you sew the project.
What You Need
This is a complete list of the fabric and supplies you will need to complete the project. You will find many of those supplies in your sewing kit. (See Lesson Two: In Your Sewing Kit.)
Make It Yours
All of the projects in the book are very basic. It is up to you to make them special. Here, you'll find a few ideas for putting your own stamp on a project.
In Your Sewing Kit
Kids' sewing kits are very similar to grown-up sewing kits, but they're not exactly the same. You will have more fun sewing if you have the right kid-sized tools. These tools don't cost very much money, and as long as you take care of them, you will be able to use them for a long time.
Here is a list of what you will need for your sewing kit. You can find more information about these tools in the Sewing Dictionary and the Resource Guide in the back of this book.
1. Chenille Size 22 Sharp Point Needles. Your needles will be your most important tools for sewing. A needle has a hole, called an eye, on one end and a point on the other. You don't want to misplace your needle — it can hurt if you accidentally get poked with one. Keep all of your needles safely stored in your sewing kit.
2. LoRan Needle Threader (for large-eye needles). A needle threader is a tool that will help you get the thread through the eye of the needle. Be sure to keep your needle threader with your spare needles.
3. Craft Thread. Craft thread is what you will use to sew your fabric. It comes in many different colors. It is also called nondivisible fray-resistant cotton floss.
4. Scissors. Scissors are an important part of your sewing kit. You will use them to cut fabric and thread. We like Fiskars for Kids scissors. Never cut paper with your sewing scissors — this will make them dull. Scissors cut fabric best when they are sharp.
5. Chalk and Pencil. Use chalk or a pencil to trace patterns and measurements onto fabric. Chalk works great because you can rub off any extra lines after you're done cutting.
6. Ruler or Measuring Tape. A ruler or measuring tape will help you measure exactly where you need to cut and sew. A ruler works best when you are working on a table or on the floor. Keep a measuring tape handy for measuring people, pets, or items that aren't flat.
7. Pincushion and Straight Pins (with large, round heads). Straight pins come in handy when you need to pin a pattern to your fabric or hold two or more pieces of fabric together. Keep them nearby in a pincushion.
8. Bodkin or Large Safety Pin. Either of these will be useful when you are making a casing or pushing elastic or string through a long, narrow fabric pocket.
Finding Out about Fabric
Learning how to choose the right material, or fabric, is very important. Sometimes you need a certain fabric to make a project in this book. Other times you can pick any kind of fabric you like.
Keep in mind that the colors and patterns of the fabric you use can tell the whole world how you're feeling. Fabric can also give clues about who you are or what you like. Maybe you want to use fabric printed with cats to make a Just-Right Pouch, or maybe you'd like to sew your dad a red, white, and blue Too-Hot Holder to use at a Fourth of July cookout. Use the Resource Guide in the back of this book to find out where to buy all kinds of printed fabric. Or design your own using muslin and fabric markers!
With a grown-up's permission, you can shop for fabric right inside your own house. Ask if you can have old sheets and pillowcases, towels, or even tablecloths for your fabric stash. Maybe you've outgrown clothes you can cut up to make something new. Just be sure to ask first!
If you're buying new fabric, keep in mind that most of the projects in this book call for fabric that's about the size of a sheet of paper. A ?-yard piece is a good amount to buy, unless you are making a big project like a skirt or an apron.
Here are some popular fabrics that were used to make the projects in this book.
* Felt. Felt is a great fabric to have around. It is thick and colorful and bright on both sides. Most felt comes from sheep's wool, although some felt is man-made. The important thing to remember about felt is that it will not fray — when you cut it, there are no loose threads that you have to hem or sew down. Felt usually comes in squares that are just the right size for the projects in this book.
* Fleece. Fleece is like felt, but it's softer and not as scratchy. A lot of times, fleece is made from recycled plastic water bottles! Be sure that your needle is sharp when you're sewing with fleece, because pushing a needle through this thick fabric can be tough. At the fabric store, ask if they have any small pieces of fleece on sale. Wash fleece before you sew to make it really soft!
* Cotton. Cotton fabric is easy to cut and sew, but it frays, or fringes, when you cut it. If you buy cotton fabric, ask a grown-up to wash it before you use it, because it might shrink a little bit. Afterward, cotton fabric might need to be ironed. If so, ask a grown-up for help.
Most cotton fabrics have two sides — a front and a back. Pay attention to the front, or good side, of the fabric when you're cutting and sewing, and be careful to keep the good side of the cotton on the outside of your project. The good side of the fabric is the one where you can see the print really well. On the other side, the print looks faded.
Sometimes you put the good sides out. Here, the elephants are brighter on the good side. When you sew, you can see all of your stitches.
When you don't want to see the stitching, you put the good sides together. The medals are brighter on the good side. Then you turn what you are sewing good side out.
Fabric stores sell cotton fabric by the yard (3 feet of material at a time). At many stores, you can buy as little as 1/8 yard. Or ask if they sell fat quarters, which are ¼-yard squares of cotton fabric used by quilters.
* Muslin. Muslin is a thin cotton fabric the color of oatmeal. If you want to use crayons or fabric markers to draw designs or a pattern on the fabric, muslin is a great choice. Try drawing your picture or pattern on paper first, then trace it onto the muslin with a pencil. It helps if you tape the fabric down to the table before drawing on it. Like cotton, muslin frays, but it doesn't have a good side.
Sewing School Rules
You already read these Sewing School Rules in Lesson One. Here are the reasons behind them.
1. Always know where your needle is!
This is very important. Just like a grown-up's needle, your needle is sharp and will hurt if it accidentally pokes someone. Never put a needle in your mouth! Take the time to make a needle book to keep in your sewing kit. If a needle does poke you, be sure to wash the spot with soap and water, and ask a grown-up to check you out.
2. Be safe.
Find a good place to sit and sew. This can be in your bedroom, a chair in the den, or an out-of-the-way spot in the kitchen. Wherever you go, don't walk and sew! And be sure to check in with a grown-up whenever you need to use an iron, or when a project calls for adult help.
3. Nothing has to be perfect.
What you sew might not look like stuff you could buy in a store, but that's okay, because you made it yourself. Most sewing mistakes are easy to fix. You can undo your stitches just like you can erase a line that you made with your pencil. Simply take off the needle, put it in your needle book, and carefully pull your thread loose; then start over. See Oops! Something Is Wrong! for more ideas about how to fix a project that's gone wrong.
4. Take your time.
None of these projects have to be completed in a single day, or even a week or a month. Sewing is not a race, so try to relax. When you want to take a break, store your project in a plastic bag that zips closed.
Ready, Set, Thread
Now it's time for one of the most important steps in sewing: choosing and measuring the thread and then threading your needle.
How to Make a Bobbin
Before you start sewing with your craft thread, you need to wind your thread onto bobbins. This is easy and fun to do, and it will keep your thread from getting tangled up.
1. First, cut some old cardboard (empty cereal boxes work great) into rectangle shapes that are about 1 inch wide and 2 inches long. Do not use your sewing scissors for this!
2. Cut a small slit into both ends of the bobbin. Slide the tail of the thread through the slit in one end.
3. Wind, wind, wind until all the thread is on the bobbin. Then tuck the loose end into the other slit. Now your thread is on a bobbin.
Measure the Thread
We like to use the Arm Length Rule when cutting thread. No matter how young or old you are, if you follow this rule, you will always end up with the perfect length of thread.
1. Measure the thread from your shoulder to your hand.
2. Cut the thread where you measured.
Thread Your Needle
Try using a needle threader to get the job done. We like the LoRan Needle Threader.
1. Put the hook of the threader through the eye of the needle.
2. Hook the thread.
3. Pull the needle off the threader.
4. Keep pulling along the thread.
5. Unhook the thread. The needle is threaded. It's magic!
Now, Tie a Knot
Once your needle is threaded, you need to knot the end of the thread to keep it from pulling through the fabric when you sew.
1. Wind the end of the thread around your finger.
2. Slip the thread off your finger. You made a loop.
3. Bring the short end of the thread up through the loop.
4. Pull tight. You made a knot! Use the same steps to make a knot when you are finished sewing or run out of thread. Do not cut the thread until you make a knot!
Get Your Stitch On
Your needle is threaded, and you have a knot tied at the other end of the thread. Now you are ready to sew your first stitch! Here are two kinds of stitches you will use to sew the projects in this book.
How to Sew a Running Stitch
The running stitch is the most basic sewing stitch. Use it to sew two pieces of fabric together or to embroider a picture or a design. When it's done right, the running stitch looks just like a dotted line.
1. Push the needle up through the back of the fabric.
2. Pull the needle and thread until the knot hits the back of the fabric.
3. Pinch the needle at the eye when you pull each stitch through. This way, the thread will not come out of the needle.
4. Push the needle down through the front of the fabric. Stitches should be about as wide as your thumbnail.
5. Bring the needle back up. Leave a little space between the needle and the last stitch.
6. Keep sewing. You are doing a running stitch!
How to Sew a Whipstitch
The whipstitch is another easy stitch. Use it to sew two pieces of fabric together close to the edge. Or whipstitch a single fabric edge to decorate it and to help keep the material from fraying.
1. Push the needle up through the back of the fabric.
2. Pull the needle and thread until the knot hits the back of the fabric.
3. "Whip" your needle around the edge of the fabric. Push the needle up through the back of the fabric.
4. Make even stitches, only sewing up through the back of the fabric.
5. This is a great whipstitch!
Oops! Something Is Wrong!
It's easy to fix your stitches — even easier than erasing a line on paper. If you mess up, all you need is a pair of scissors and a new piece of thread to get back on the right track. When you see a problem, stop, take a deep breath, and think about how you might fix it. Now you can get to work. Here are some of the things that might happen when you are sewing and the ways to fix them.
This thread is tangled.
Cut it close to the tangle. You might have to take out a few stitches so you can carefully make a knot. Cut a new piece of thread and start sewing again. Remember the Arm Length Rule!
This stitch is a whipstitch instead of a straight stitch.
Take the needle off the thread, so it's easy to undo the stitch. Rethread the needle and sew some more. Hint: You cannot sew backward.
The stuffing is falling out.
It's because the stitches are too big. Rethread your needle and sew between the stitches. Next time, make smaller stitches.
It's the wrong size.
These fabric pieces aren't the same size. If the sides don't match up when you put the fabric together, trim the bigger piece to the size of the smaller one. If you're making something to wear, you might have to redo the piece that's the wrong size.
This thread got doubled up.
Let go of the needle and carefully work the tail end of the thread out of the stitches. Be careful! Reposition your needle on the thread and keep sewing. Or cut the thread at the needle and make a knot. Then start sewing with a new piece of thread.
Sewing Machine Basics
You will not need a sewing machine for most projects in this book, although you are welcome to machine-sew if you already know how. Please remember that although you can sew much faster when you use a machine, you need to take your time. Get to know your machine before sewing a hard project. We recommend that you practice by making a So Soft Pillow or Cute Coasters.
Here are some tips for when you're using a sewing machine.
1. For the patterns in this book, the seam allowance is ? inch or the width of your presser foot.
2. Take time to pin together the fabric before sewing. Stop before you get to a pin. Then take it out and put it back in your pincushion.
3. To turn a corner leave the needle in the down position so that it is in the fabric. Lift up the presser foot, and turn the fabric. Then put down the presser foot and continue sewing.
4. Backstitch at the beginning and the end of a seam (sewing backward for a couple of stitches and then forward again). This will knot the thread.
5. After you're done sewing a seam and knotting the thread, cut the loose threads close to the fabric.
Excerpted from "Sewing School"
Copyright © 2010 Andria Lisle and Amie Petronis Plumley.
Excerpted by permission of Storey Publishing.
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