I am so very honored to be included as a guest contributor to Sew A Softie Day! Trixi Symonds of Colored Buttons envisioned Sew a Softie Day as a way to share the craft of hand sewing. As a sewing teacher (and a mom!) I know first hand how seriously excited kids are about making things with their own hands. Sewing is a skill that they can learn that is super useful, accessible and fun. Yet there are so few adults in their life that sew anymore. I have a fun project for you In case you need a little inspiration to get started.
First, I'd like to share some thoughts on sewing with kids. To begin, ask them what they want to make. Kids really take to sewing when the rules are limited and they have lots of creative freedom and attractive materials to choose from. Good supplies are essential! I hate to sew with cheap fabric, flimsy needles and dull scissors. Sewing supplies don't cost that much money and the nicer felts, fabrics and tools make sewing so much more pleasurable. Get the better quality stuff. You will thank yourself. Kids are so much more invested in a project if they get to pick out the fabric and thread. Take them to the store, (seriously), and let them pick out the thread, felt, and buttons they like. The color combinations they choose are always fantastic.
If you are teaching a group of kids, have a sample made. Understand that sometimes what we think is terrific, they will not want to make. When this happens to you, try not to be disappointed! Ask them how they would change it and adapt. Kids know what they like.
Preparation is key. Precut the patterns, gather the supplies, thread the needles, tie the knots. Have it all ready to go. I find that simple 2-D shapes work best for little hands and growing minds. A simple shape is a blank canvas for them to embellish. (and they will!) Kids love to personalize whatever they make, More is more.
Turn on some music, thread some needles, snuggle up with your favorite little ones and have fun with it. To begin hand sewing with kids, I have them choose a small piece of felt and a few colors of embroidery floss. Then I draw a path of dashed lines each about 1/2" long across the felt. I give them a strand of floss and knot the end with a "tail" below the knot. We begin by pushing up through the back of the felt. We pretend that the needle is a dolphin or a mermaid who bursts up from the water (beginning of the line) and dives back in (the end of the line). However, the mermaid has to hold her nose when she dives (pinch the thread around the eye of the needle). Because she is just a little mermaid and just learning to swim. At this point we are focusing on process only. Wonky stitches are just fine! In fact, most kids prefer them. They want their stitches to show so that everyone else will know that they made it.
Kids need a lot of help threading needles and tying knots. They eventually get it, and when they do, they feel incredibly accomplished. They can't wait to help their struggling classmates.
When I joined Sew a Softie Day, my original project was going to be a marionette puppet. I thought it would be lots of fun and couldn't wait to show my resident focus group (my own children). While they liked to play with the puppets, stringing them and making them move correctly proved really frustrating. I needed plan B! Later that week, in one of my sewing lessons, a young girl asked to make an avocado "Shopkin". Shopkins! Yes, of course, Shopkins are the perfect project! If you don't spend a lot of time around elementary aged girls, Shopkins are these adorable little shopping themed characters. Food, household items, clothes. Cute stuff that kids collect, trade and promptly loose.
While this project is not exactly a Shopkin, it has been a huge hit. The ideas are endless and can be tailored to each child's interest. Omit the inner circle on the doughnut and suddenly, it's a cookie or an alien spaceship. Perhaps make 2 circles and it becomes a Starwars BB-8! Simple shapes, few "rules", cute details and fun colors. Are you ready to try it?
Embroidery Floss or Pearle Cotton
Embroidery needles with a large eye
Chalk pencil or Frixion pen
To begin, download and print the pattern. (Make sure that the scaling square measures one inch.) Trace around the templates and cut on the trace line. It may help to trace the pattern onto cardstock or posterboard and then cut the shape out for the kids to trace onto felt. Paper can be tricky for most kids to align, pin and cut.
Once you have your shapes, decide where to add the eyes, cheeks and smile. Since I didn't add a template for the eyes and cheeks, just have your kids cut out small circles out of scrap felt. I used a paper punch for mine.
To sew the facial features and details, we are going to use a basic running stitch. It's beautiful in its simplicity, utility and function. Vary it with size and color and it adds such vitality and expression to this project.
To sew the sides together (wrong sides together, we want to see those stitches!) I used a blanket stitch. Feel free to use any stitch you feel comfortable with.
Each Shopkin-ish is stitched and assembled in the same way. Eyes, cheeks, mouth, sprinkles, sides, stuff, close and finish.
I hope that you have enjoyed this tutorial and make something awesome with your special little ones. Thank you again, Trixi for inviting me to contribute.