Monday, January 16, 2017

Tips For Teaching Children to Sew

Nearly a year ago, I started teaching sewing classes for kids. At the time, my youngest student was just eight years old.

Right before I flew to South Dakota for Christmas, I decided I wanted to teach my granddaughter (that cute little girl pictured in that photo up there) to sew.  She's almost five years old.  From my supplies, I put together a kit which consisted of various colors of thread and a few needles.
I purchased this ballerina doll kit from a craft store. After reading through the instructions, this sewing kit mainly had you "gluing" one piece onto another. I did not want to teach her how to glue. 

Using the kit, I did a little prep work to turn it from a gluing project into a sewing project.  I used my sewing machine and sewed some of the items together like the ballerina's tulle skirt.  Then I sewed gathering stitches along the top of the tutu skirt. Next, I sewed the trim from the kit onto the ribbon to create the leotard.  I even sewed together two little sleeves.

Once I got to my daughter's home, my granddaughter was excited to sit by me as I showed her some basic hand sewing skills.  I taught her how to sew with a needle so that the thread doesn't become unthreaded as she sews.  To do this, I had her pinch the thread as she pulled the needle through the fabric.  I let her pull the gathering threads on the tutu skirt so it would fit snuggly around her doll's waist.  Next, we tied a square knot with the threads and hand stitched the threads to the doll's body so the skirt would not slip off and become lost (you know kids, right... always losing things).  We pinned the pieces onto the doll body and then she sewed the blue ribbon leotard onto the doll's body.  Using embroidery thread, we embroidered blue eyes and a little red mouth onto the doll's face.  

My daughter and I were amazed at how long my granddaughter sat next to me and sewed.  Usually, the attention span of a child this age is about 10 to 15 minutes.  She sat next to me for at least an hour maybe longer and stayed attentive the whole time.  After about an hour, this is the progress she made on her ballerina doll:

I recommend having all your supplies ready before you teach a child.  Involve the child in each of the steps of sewing like threading the needle, tying a knot in the thread and stitching.  Teach them how to thread a needle, sew with a needle and then how to knot the thread when they are done stitching.  The best way is to show the child and then watch them as they try to mimic what you just showed them.

Keep in mind the attention span of the child you're teaching. It'll help you keep your patience. Hopefully. Also keep in mind the project's simplicity. Children generally like the project you choose to be finished the day you start it, so choose something easy to start with. Do some of the prep work first. You'll be thankful you did.

We tweaked the pattern as we went. For instance, I did not like the all ribbon ballet shoes the kit came with, so I created some of my own using pink felt and some of the pink ribbon that came in the kit.

I'm so glad I took the time to teach my granddaughter how to sew.  It was fun seeing her little hands enjoy the power of sewing.  Go ahead and be brave and teach a child to sew.  Pass along this'll be glad you did.  xoxo Grandma

Friday, January 13, 2017

Refashion Licensed Apparel

My husband has several favorite sports teams he loves.  He usually makes sure our grandchildren have licensed apparel from these teams.  His favorite team though is the San Francisco Giants. He is a die hard fan! I love that he wants our grandchildren to learn to love his teams! Well, as you're probably aware, purchasing licensed apparel can be costly.  Months ago, I was given a child's San Francisco Giants sweatshirt. Sadly, the zipper on this sweatshirt was broken. What good is a sweatshirt you can't zip? Replacing the zipper would have been tricky on this particular jacket, so instead I decided to cut off all the team logos, because they were in perfect shape. 

I then purchased a fleece-lined black sweatshirt for $11.00 from Walmart.  I took those MLB logos, pinned them onto the new sweatshirt and using a close zig zag stitch (see the image above to show you the size and width of the stitch), I machine embroidered the logos in place.  I recommend using the same color of thread as the jacket.

In less than 30 minutes, I had a new Giants sweatshirt for my youngest grandson.

When I showed the newly decorated sweatshirt to my husband, he actually approved. Out of curiosity, I looked to see what a new SF Giants sweatshirt with a zipper down the front would cost, they were at least $40.  

This simple refashion resulted in a nice savings, a happy resourceful grandmother and a darling, warm grandson in his new San Francisco Giants sweatshirt.

Happy refashioning licensed apparel!  xoxo Grandma  

Monday, December 19, 2016

Make a Doll Sized Shopping Bag

It's coming down to the wire, Christmas is almost upon us.  Time to get that last minute shopping done.  To help with that shopping, I've created this doll sized shopping bag to share with you.  Never fear, this is an quick and easy sewing project.  An added bonus for this project is that today, I'm sharing with you my pattern along with the tutorial to help you make this darling doll accessory.  

These are so easy to sew together, you can make a bunch in very little time.  After you're done making your doll shopping bags, wrap a mini present or two and add them to your shopping bag.

These shopping bags also make a cute container to put a gift card into or a small piece of jewelry.   I'm sure you'll think of other creative ways to use these mini shopping bags.

Supplies needed:

2 beige felt squares,
18" of jute
Beige thread to match felt
Accent pieces of felt to decorate the bags
Mini red pom poms, optional
Contrasting embroidery thread

Free Pattern:  Download the pattern here.

  1. Cut out beige felt using this pattern.  Pin the sides together and sew using a 1/4" seam.
  2. Sew the bottom seam together using a 1/4" seam.
  3. Fold the fabric together and punch small holes in the felt at marking.  (I used a tool called a Crop-a-dile to punch my holes.)
  4. Pinch bottom seams on both sides of the bag together and pin.
  5. Sew the bottom seams together with 1/4" seams.
  6. Cut jute into two, 9" pieces.
  7. Thread jute from the middle of the bag to the outside of the bag.  Tie a knot into the end of the jute.
  8. Now the fun part, decorate the bag with small felt items like holly leaves and berries or mini red pom poms.
Have fun making this doll shopping bag.  Once you've made one, I'm sure you'll want to make more.  How are you planning to decorate your bags?  xoxo Grandma

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Twenty-two Favorite Handmade Toys

One of my favorite things to sew are toys.  I just love creating a little treasure to take with me on a trip and give to my grandchildren.  Below is a list of some of my favorite toys that I've made, along with links to all the details of how you can make it too.  And BONUS: most of these little creations include a free pattern.  So, if you're in the mood to get your creative juices flowing, dig right in! This list is for you. 

1.  Miniature Stuffed Owl, free pattern and tutorial found here

2.  Long Legged Santa, a free pattern found here.

3.  Long Legged Rabbit, here.

4.  Seahorse toy, free pattern and tutorial found here.

5.  Teepee, big enough for an adult to stand up inside.  Link to the post here.

6.  Stick Pony from a sock tutorial, found here.

7.  Snowmen from scraps of fabric. Check out this post.

8.  Nativity Finger Puppets, here.

9.  Franklin the frog, here.

10.  A little miniature doll and some doll clothes too, found here.

11.  A fabric fairy house made from an old sweater (or felt). Go to this link.

12.  A fairy cottage made from an old sweater (or felt), here.

13.  This little toy elephant is found here

14.  A toy fish, perfect for a young child. Learn how to use a toy rattle to put inside a toy for pennies, here.

15.  Stuffed monsters, free pattern and full instructions here.

16.  How to create more stuffed monster toys with ideas on how to vary the pattern here.

17.  Stuffed Monkey, link to the free pattern and ideas on how to make a girl or boy monkey. Go to this post.

18.  30 Minute Stuffed Animal, complete directions on upcycling a tee-shirt found here.

19.  Make a mini beaver, link to the pattern found here.

20.  Doll sized 1950's poodle skirt found here.

21.  Doll sized travel suitcase tutorial.

22.  Make a few bendable fairies.  For inspiration, go to this post.

The best thing about this list is that most of these posts offer a simple tutorial that you can use to create your own ideas. Go ahead and make a new toy for someone you love or better yet for a charity that you love. It might be fun to incorporate some of these creations into a New Year's resolution! 

Merry Christmas to everyone!    xoxo Grandma

Monday, December 12, 2016

Fabulous Felt Food

Just like a lot of you, my Thanksgiving weekend was spent preparing a lot of food too. My food was a little different though. And inedible. It was made out of felt. 

A few of my granddaughters are getting a play kitchen for Christmas, and their mom asked if I would make some felt food to go along with it.  I knew it would take a while to make these items and since I had to ship them to her, I worked all Thanksgiving weekend to crate these delectable but non edible treats.

Click on the description under each photo for a link to my personal favorite free patterns which I used to make these felt food delicacies

 Ice cream cones, Circus animal cookies.....


Birthday cupcakes complete with little candles.

Slices of cake....(This kit came from a 100 yen store.  If you're lucky enough to visit Japan, make sure you visit these stores.)

Bananas with real stickers....

and oranges

I think my food turned out pretty fun looking. Hopefully my little granddaughters will enjoy playing with it as much as I enjoyed making it. 

Happy gift making.  xoxo Grandma

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Warm Winter Dress

Nothing shouts warm and cozy like clothing made from shirting flannel! 

I love how the fabric made sewing this dress easy.  Shirting flannel is so comfortable too.  If you've ever worn shirting flannel you understand it feels like you're wrapped in a soft, flannel blanket.

I had a hard time finding a shirting flannel that my daughter liked.  I ended up choosing these black and white fabrics which complimented one another.  They are a perfect match for a classic, casual winter dress.

The big pockets were cut on the bias out of the large check adding a fun contrast to the small checks.

The trim on the large checked sleeves is the tiny checked fabric.  I love the way the small and large checked fabrics were able to play off of one another adding more interest to this dress.

The pattern I used was a vintage Butterick #3842.  

The pattern shows a raglan three-quarter length sleeve, patch pockets and neckline binding.  It also shows a ruffle at the end of the sleeves but I opted to add self-made bias tape from the small checked fabric instead.  This pattern was fun and easy to sew.  I would recommend this pattern and of course the fabric is just amazingly soft and snuggly! Perfect for a chilly winter day.  xoxo Grandma

Linked as my favorite thing I sewed for a child in 2016 to Project Run and Play.  I love the vintage pattern used and the warm shirting flannel.  I want a dress made out of the same cozy fabric.