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Getting Children Excited about Sewing

By Lacy Razor 


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Showing off a finished draw string bag.

Getting children interested in and passionate about sewing is more than just buying those huge plastic needles, colorful yarn, and throwing down some crisp construction paper. That just aint gonna fly next to all the other stuff competing for your child’s attention.

Having recently become foster-to-adopt parents, Josh (my husband) and I began working to come up with creative ways to get the children to take an active role in simple living. This is no easy task. Nope.

Helping make muffins

We started by taking baby steps: cooking, baking bread and cookies to give away, and making up a batch of homemade laundry detergent. The children loved each task and seemed to grasp the beauty of ownership when presenting their homemade goodies to friends and family. The words “I made these just for you” build so much confidence. Yet there was so much more to our lifestyle than simply cooking and creating household cleaners.

Just as any other thrifty and active family, we have a constantly growing mending pile. In fact, it expands to rapidly that one might think that it enjoys regular exposure to radioactive waste. As I pulled out my trusty sewing machine to tackle ripped jeans, torn sleeves, displaced pockets, split seams, missing or broken zippers, and countless button issues – I realized a huge department in our lives that we had yet to introduce to the children.

Sewing.

Aprons ready for sewing

Sewing is a foundation block of our household. I’ve made drapes, pillows, quilts, tablecloths, aprons, washcloths, towels, clothing, and countless other money-saving items. I haunt the local flea markets and yard sales for scrap fabric all summer long. As a military wife, I end up sewing various patches and name tapes which saves us quite a bit of money. But how to get my new children on board?

The fabric stash

First: fabric selection. For girls, find fabrics with glittery threads and cheerful patterns. For boys, find bold colors and strong masculine patterns. All of the selections must be easily washed and durable with great textures. Once you have gathered an assortment of these fabrics, let your children pick out their favorites.

Second: project selection. Keep it simple and useful. If your girl cares only for soccer -- please don’t force her to make a pot holder. If your boy loves all things indoors, don’t insist that he sew up a flag for his tree house fort. Let your children be your guide. My advice? Begin with a drawstring bag. Regardless of your child’s interests, they will love special bags to stow away their marbles, armies of little toy soldiers, doll clothes, favorite scented markers and colored pencils, and treasured rock collections.

Learning to sew

Third: make it fun. Play some music that you can all sing along to and get to it. Keep in mind that you may be doing a lot of the work yourself (depending on the ages of your youngsters) but that’s okay. Tell them everything you are doing as you do it. Pretend to be a television sewing guru. Use different accents. I like to pull out my best Robin Leach voice and be their guide as we place pins and measure seams. The fact that I am pretending to host Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous beside a gargantuan mending pile does not escape my notice. That’s just how we roll at our house.

Helping with the straight seams

Depending on the child, you may allow them to use the pedal, thread the needle, put pins in place, guide the fabric, and all that jazz. Don’t worry if they royally botch the project – it doesn’t matter! The important thing is that you are getting them involved in a sewing project and remember that kids (and adults) learn from their mistakes.

An easy and small drawstring treasure bag using fat quarters:

- 1 fat quarter (18”x 21” fabric sections)

- approx. 1 yard of ribbon, yarn, or some sort of cord (you can get really creative here)

1. From your fabric, cut one piece that is 6" x 6" (6.5" x 6.5") and one piece that is 9" x 21" (10" x 24").

2. Place the right side (RS) of square facing up, lay the corner of the rectangle about halfway down the square, RS facing down. Sew it in place using a ½” seam allowance starting ½” from the start of the rectangle. (All that “right side” business means is that the pretty sides of the fabric are facing each other.)

3. By carefully folding your work, continue sewing the rectangle to the square until you have made your way back around to where you first attached the rectangle with ½” to spare.

4. Turn your work and sew up the bag stopping 3” from the top to create a lidless cube, of sorts, with a “V” shaped gap at the top. Now, fold the edges of the “V” over ¼” and sew them to the back side of the fabric. This is where the drawstring ties. It’s okay if it isn’t perfect. No one is judging you. Least of all: me.

5. Fold the top down 1 ½” with your cord/ribbon/yarn/string in the fold. Feed the string through the “V” and tie the ends together so they do not slide back through the channel for you to fish out later. Pin the flap down and sew it all the way around.

6. Turn your work right side out and admire your handy work. You are one fine individual.

Check out these awesome instructions for a drawstring backpack made from fat quarters by Wendy Coburn.

Drawstring bag

These darling bath bags are so easy to make! You have options... you know how I love options! When I make these, I like making a matching towel. Then you have a set that is wonderfully soft, warm, and inexpensive.

MATERIALS:

Approx 3 yards of 100% cotton flannel or very soft light weight knit or woven terry cloth or fleece

Fleece, flannel, terry cloth binding

DIRECTIONS:

Cut 2, 1 yard (36 inches) pieces of fabric. If your fabric is a standard 45 inches you will now have an approximately 45 x 36 inch rectangle.

Lay your two pieces of fabric wrong sides together (so that the print/right side is facing out). Trim the pieces so that all edges are straight and they are the same size.

Using the fleece binding, bind the edges of the towel.

Sewing a terry bag

To make a matching wash cloth cut two 12x12 inch pieces of fabric from the other yard of fabric. Place the fabric wrong sides together and bind the edges with fleece binding!

To make the drawstring soap sack:

Cut out two 12 x 12 inch squares.

Zigzag the edges all the way around.

Place one square on top of the other so that the edges match up and with printed or "right sides" together. Pin in place.

Sew three sides with a 5/8 seam.

Cut the ribbon or string you want to use with plenty of excess string for tying purposes and fold the unsewn top down over it (around two inches). Pin in place.

Sew the flap down all the way around the piece and then turn it right-side-out.  

Voila! You have a nifty little soap holder for the bath with matching towels.

Don't forget to check out the Razor Family Farms Web site.