Madeleine's class was very busy in Term 3 producing two amazing work of art:
Sewing and handicraft are a big part of Montessori education - children are shown how to make very simple sewing cards at 2, sew on buttons at 3 and by 5 are making embroidered cushions and doing huckaback. There are so many things I love about a Montessori education, but you can imagine, I have a particularly soft spot for the way that sewing is taught and valued.
Every year the school has a fundraising ball and each class creates an artwork that is auctioned at the ball to raise funds for the school. This year Madeleine's class used Prints Charming
screen printed linens as the basis for their work.
Every child was given one of the screen printed pieces to work with. They chose the colours and embroidery techniques they wanted to use. Some children liked to follow the lines, some liked to cover them completely, others liked to make beautiful patterns outlining the lines. Each piece is different, each piece is beautiful.
With sewing so close to my own heart, I am now so thrilled to be the lucky owner of the red one.Attached to the embroidery when we bought it was the story behind the work written by Madeleine's teacher - the inspiration, the process and the challenges."No child was hurt in the making of this embroidery! No fingers pricked Sleeping Beauty style
, no eyes poked, no-one embroidered onto their chair! In fact, if you want anything embroidered, bring it to the Amazing Class Embroidery Guild!!"
I know it is a very cheesey title but I couldn't resist - I have two very proud girls.
While that cheeky little boy you can see in the back of this picture was fast asleep on Saturday afternoon, Madeleine, Pippa and I whipped up a sewing storm. Ever since Pippa gave up her day time sleep, Madeleine and I have struggled to find time to sew together. Well, this weekend we found a solution - Pippa joined our sewing circle and she loved it.We used the great book Sewing School
. It has a perfect selection of projects that Madeleine can do fairly independently and that Pippa can do with help from me. They picked out the hat pattern, traced off the pattern together and then we all cut and sewed. Pippa sat on my lap and was totally absorbed in ever stitch. Madeleine needed a little help tying the knots but the rest was her work.They had such a good time together and are so proud of their hats. They wore them to Grandma's birthday celebrations and Madeleine took hers for Show and Tell at school
.She even found the time to whip up a scarf to complete the outfit.
Here's to more Saturday afternoons sewing with my girls.
Isn't it interesting how our fears and worries change as we grow older?
Madeleine still doesn't like stories about wolves or anything else she deems scary, but ask her about sewing and she has no fear! "Mum, when can you show me how to make a zippered purse..... I want to make Pippi a quilt for her birthday, so I think I will ask Granny to show me...... I like your Japanese embroidery book, I'm going to make a pencil case with a Hula girl, a hibiscus and some sea shells on it...." Many of these projects are never started, let alone finished. However Madeleine has this quiet confidence that she can sew. It is not a scary unknown to her. She feels that if there is something she can't do yet, it won't be long before she can.
I think most adults have left behind their fears of the monster under the bed, but we often seem to have apprehensions that can hold us back. We feel that if we haven't actually been taught something, then we can't do it.
Take this picture for instance:
This is a pile of zippers. Yes, they do have teeth but they are not big ones and I don't think anyone has ever sustained a fatal bite from one. (Please, correct me if I am wrong!)
And this little guy:
It's a zipper foot. If you can use these two things a whole world of sewing opens up for you - bags and purses, skirts and dresses.
When I read blog comments and talk to people who come to our classes, the zipper and the zipper foot seem to be the monster in the sewing cupboard for many.
Many people think they can't put in a zipper but most haven't had the confidence to try. Our beginner students are amazed and then thrilled when we show them how to make a zippered purse in their second class. But you don't have to learn these skills in a class. You can ask a friend or family member to show you. And if you don't know someone who can help you, there are so many amazing resources on the web - pictorial tutes and videos.
What have you got to lose? An hour of your time, a $2 zip and some fabric scraps. If you are successful, you'll have a bounce in your step for the rest of the day and a huge new list of sewing projects you'll want to try. And if you're not, chalk it up to experience and schedule some time to have another go.
My current monster in the sewing cupboard is sewing cloths for myself. At university, I played around with board short patterns and party dresses. More recently I have made a few skirts. I have a long list of patterns I want to try but never quite find the time (read confidence!) to give them a go. I am willing to sew complicated stuff for my kids, but there is that monster growling at me from the cupboard when it comes to sewing for myself. I worry about the fit. I don't want to look homemade!
But, I have decided that monster has to go!! I am working on an Amy Butler Liverpool shirt and have pulled out the Japanese pattern books, in an attempt to make myself a large part of my winter wardrobe.
Anyone else have a sewing monster that needs banishing? I'd love to hear about it. Maybe we could help each other along. Let's not let our monsters stop us from trying new things!
I am very excited! Today we have our first guest blogger. Many of you will have seen pictures of our guest throughout our blog and gallery
but you may not be aware that she has a passion for sewing herself. Our guest today is Madeleine!
I had the wonderful experience of interviewing Madeleine on our lounge on Sunday afternoon and this is what she had to say:Tell me a little bit about yourself.I am 5 and I am the oldest in my family. I go to school and I like it. I like to do the Roman Arch and Decanomial Square. Our family used to have a fish. It was my sisters but it died, but I still have my four chickens.I like to jump on my trampoline. I am going to start my own website called Trampoline Tricks.I like to do lots and lots of sewing.When did you first start to sew?Well, I started sewing when my Mum got very interested in sewing. I was four and a half.Who taught you to sew?
My Mum, my Granny, my Auntie Cara and my school teachers Karen and Robyn.Do you enjoy other crafts?I like to make things out of paper and cardboard. My Ganny and Papa gave me a weaving loom for Christmas and I am making myself a headband with it.What sewing projects have you done?I really liked making my sewing bag at school and my embroidered T shirt. I am looking forward to doing some huckaback and an embroidered pillow.I like sewing with felt. I have made a pocket locket and sunglasses cases
for my Dad and Grandparents and I am planning to make one for my Mum.Have you ever sewn using a machine?Yes, but I need my Mum to watch me.Can you recommend any sewing books for children your age?I like to read my book Made by Me
and D.I.Y. Kids
. I have also enjoyed reading The Mary Frances Sewing Book
with my Mum and Dad.
Today you are going to talk to us about making your embroidered T shirt. Can you tell us where you got the idea for it?
I saw one in my Made by Me book. Here are some pictures of the one I made:
It looks fabulous! Can you tell us what techniques you used?
I chose the buttons from my Mum's button jar and sewed them around the neck to look like a necklace.
I used a water soluble marker to draw on my designs and then stitched them with running stitch.
I used an embroidery hoop to keep my stitches neat.
I enjoyed this project so much I plan to give my friends embroidered T shirt kits for their birthday presents so they can make them for themselves.
Well, I would like to thank Madeleine for sharing her sewing ideas with us today. I know I would be very happy to feature any of her future projects on this blog!
Today, I promised I would show you how you can help your child make a felt sunglasses holder as a gift they can give for Christmas.
So here is a picture another one to inspire you further:
This is a good project for a child who has done quite a few sewing cards and is ready for something more complicated. Obviously, the less sewing experience your child has had, the more help they will need. Felt is great for young hands to work with and creates a lovely finished product without having to worry about raw edges. Remember - preparation is the key. I will run you through the steps that I think are worth doing before you start with your child.
Let's start with a list of materials:
- felt - ideally 100% wool (it comes in such beautiful colours, will last for ever and won't pill) Main colour - 18x20cm, Contrast colour 9x9cm
- embroidery thread
- a water soluble marker or dress makers chalk - Children love water soluble markers. It is truly magical to watch that blue colour disappear when you dab on a little bit of water!
- pins and a needle
- sewing scissors
- a teeny tiny hole punch - mine measures about 1mm across (this is not essential but does create a nice finish)
- Choose a shape for your embellishment - I usually use cookie cutters for templates - stars, hearts, circles, a letter of the alphabet all work well. Cut one out of the contrast piece of felt.
- Fold your piece of main felt so you have a piece that is 18x10cm. Cut a gentle curve on the double on the bottom corner
- You will have 2 pieces that look like this:
- Grab your teeny tiny hole punch and your embellishment. Punch holes evenly around the edge a stitch width apart.
- Make the same holes on your main piece of felt, but only on half of the edge. Your child will only need a guide on the top part of the fabric as they will only be stitching from the front. It should look like this:
This next bit is the only fiddly part, so bare with me!
- Pin the embellishment firmly to the front of the sun glasses case
- Push a pin through one of the holes you have punched on the embellishment. Flip the felt over and where the pin exits, mark it with your water soluble marker. Do this for each punched hole.Your child will use this as a guide when they are using running stitch to attach the embellishment to the case.
- Don't remove the securing pins until the embellishment is stitched in place or your marks will not line up with the holes.
- If I have confused you, have a look at these pictures!! I promise you it is quick and easy.
Push the pin through the hole from the front.
Flip your felt over with the pin still inserted and mark where it exits with your water soluble marker.
Your work is done. Now let your child have a go!!!
- Thread an embroidery needle with 3 strands of embroidery thread. Double it over so your child will be sewing with 6 strands and tie a knot in the end.
- Get them to start by stitching on the embellishment. Use running stitch - in exactly the same way you would do a sewing card. Use the punched holes as markers on the front and the dots you have marked on the back as a guide for where to place the stitches. Help them to tie a knot once this stitching is complete.
- Fold your main piece of felt in half and pin securely
- Use whip stitch (also known as over and over stitch in our household) to stitch the case together. Knot your thread. Insert your needle so it comes out through the back layer and the knot is sandwiched between the two layers of felt. Bring the needle around to the front, put it into the first punched hole and then push it through both layers of fabric. Move onto your next hole, always stitching from the front:
Congratulations!! You are done.
I hope you and your child have fun and that the lucky receiver of this gift feels appropriately honoured!!
One last thought - you can use the same techniques to make a variety of different things - a Christmas stocking with an embellishment on it, a Christmas ornament or a little felt pillow for your child's favourite doll.
One of the questions we regularly get asked at Sew Together is "Do you run sewing classes for children?" (The short answer to this question is "No, but we are thinking about it"!) There seems to be a real interest in teaching children to sew, even by mothers who are not confident at sewing themselves.
I think for some people it is about sharing something they find enjoyable with their children but for others it is about teaching children a useful skill for life. For me, I teach my children about sewing for both these reasons but most importantly because it is fun! I love having Madeleine on my lap as she feeds the fabric through the sewing machine to make a peasant top. She is pretty keen to operate the foot pedal at high speed too! I love seeing the pride that Pippa feels when she looks at the Christmas ornament she and I made together.Today, I thought I would share with you some of my thoughts about sewing with children from the very beginning. Next week I will show you how a child with a little bit of sewing experience and a little bit of help can make a great Christmas gift for their Dad or Grandparents - a sunglasses case
.Let's get started
.When sewing with children
- Start simple. Madeleine and Pippa both attend a Montessori school and it is there that I learnt the value of giving children a series of small achievable projects that continually build skills. For both my girls their sewing debut was at about 2 and consisted of a sewing card - a single straight line across a piece of cardboard made up of about 8 stitches. Tiny holes had been made by their teacher in the card and they were given a tapestry needle threaded with embroidery thread and shown how to push the needle though, turning the card from one side to the other. With time the sewing cards can become more complicated - circles, squares, hearts, even two shapes interlinked which can be sewn in different coloured threads. Madeleine has since moved on to more complex projects - she can competently sew on a button, make a fragrance bag and sew a simple hand stitched softie. Amanda Soule, in her book The Creative Family has a lovely first sewing project that a very young child can do. She suggests placing a coarse piece of fabric in an embroidery hoop and showing the child how they can do free form stitching pushing a tapestry needle back and forth through the fabric. Pippa's Christmas decoration is a variation of this project.
- Be Prepared. With any sewing project for a young child it is worth thinking it through carefully before you even suggest sewing as an activity to your child! Break the project down. Think about ways in which it can be simplified or preparations you can do beforehand to make the project more manageable. From personal experience, once the word sewing is mentioned to my children they want to start straight away. Frustration levels run high if they are waiting for me to trace off a template and cut out fabric.
- Let them use the good stuff! There is something very appealing about beautiful crafting materials, soft cottons in colourful designs, 100% wool felt and a rainbow of embroidery threads and knitting wool. I think children appreciate this as much as we do. I know it adds to the cost but show your children how to use these materials sensibly. Most projects that young children make don't require much fabric and if all goes well they will make something that you will want to keep forever.
- Let them use the real stuff! This is probably a little controversial but I think children need to know that pins and needles are sharp and hurt if they get stuck in your finger and that scissors can cause damage if not used with care. My children's Montessori teachers say that a child will not know that a glass is fragile and will break if you drop it, if they have only ever been given a plastic cup to drink from. I feel the same way about sewing equipment. Carefully supervised, my children have access to most of my sewing kit. (I draw the line at my rotary cutter and hot glue gun!!!)
- Be an inspiration to your children. Let your children see you sew and the pleasure it brings you. Let them see you learning a new skill, making mistakes and learning step by step. If I am sewing, my children want to sew. I find it works well if we have projects we can work on side by side.
So I'll finish with some inspiration for next week. This is the sunglasses case Madeleine made for her Dad last Christmas when she was 4 1/2.
She has also made them for all her Grandparents. Next Friday I'll show you how your children can be giving them as gifts this year, with a little bit of help from you!
PS. Have you seen all the softies for Mirabel? If you are in Melbourne go and check out the display in the window at Meet me at Mikes. Otherwise, check out the photos here