Beginner Sewing Projects & Project Resources

The final day of How to Teach Sewing in Your Homeschool {Whether or Not You Sew} is all about Beginner Projects & Resources for Projects.

Blog She Wrote: Beginner Projects & Project Resources

Some Craftsy classes which are great for beginners:

Craftsy classes are an online venue (with an Apple mobile app) where the instruction is via video and you can view it as many times as you’d like. You can ask the instructor questions and the classes never expire. I almost never have to pay full price for a class. They always have one class or another on sale. We love Craftsy!

Bag Making Basics: Drawstring Bags & Bucket Bag- this one is a FREE class designed for beginners

Bag Making Basics: A Reversible Tote & Zipper Pouch- another free class for beginners

Sewing Studio- a great class for getting familiar with your machine and learning the basics of pinning, stitching, finishing, and pressing while doing a few projects.

Project Upcycle- we have enjoyed this class which takes older items and turns them into new things.

Sewing Machine 911- another free class from Craftsy which shows you how to use your sewing machine, how to troubleshoot, and how to keep it running trim.

Blog She Wrote: General Tips for Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool

Pinterest is a wonderful place to find sewing projects and ideas:

I have lots of Pinterest boards devoted to sewing. Feel free to follow any of them.

Sewing Skills- this board has techniques and tutorials for general sewing skills. This is a great sewing reference board.

Sewing Fun- this is where I pin ideas for myself and for R13. Some are more difficult than others, but lots of ideas for cute projects.

Sewing Camp- these are ideas mainly to consider for our sewing camp time. Lots of variety and fun for adolescent girls.

American Girl Dolls- there are a ton of doll clothes tutorials pinned here and these are some of R13′s best projects.

Quilting- obviously this board is for sewing that is quilting, but there’s all sorts of projects from beginner on up.

Yarn Fun- this if for yarn handicrafts like crocheting and knitting, but it relates and it’s a fun one! R13 is an avid yarn crafter. Her hand sewing has blossomed since those first years too and with it a love for handicrafts.

Blog She Wrote: Beginner Sewing Projects & Project Resources

Beginning Sewing Books We Love:

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Sewing School: 21 Sewing Projects Kids Will Love to Make- fabulous hand sewing projects for young kids on up

Sewing School 2: Lessons in Machine Sewing; 20 Projects Kids Will Love to Make- the sequel to Sewing School which has machine sewing projects for the young and up.

Simple Sewing (Klutz)- nicely kitted hand sewing set from Klutz.

Simply Sewing (Kids Can Do It)- nice projects for beginners

Hearts & Trees Art and Handicraft kits- these are seasonal kits put together by Amanda at Hearts & Trees. She always has some hand sewing included with the kit.

Blog She Wrote: Beginner Sewing Projects & Project Resources

Websites & Blogs, Plus Tutorials:

I asked R13 to send me some of her favorite blogs and tutorials to share with you. I added a few of mine in as well. Here we go.

Make It and Love It- these are her tutorials. We got a great little project from here for sewing camp one time. Valentine Tshirts.

Carrot Goodie Bags- by Betz White. R13 adores Betz White and received a great note back from her when R asked her about how she became a designer.

Spring Mini Tote- by Betz White. This is an upcycle project, but you can use materials you have on hand as well.

Easy Doll Dress from Skip to My Lou- she has quite a few tutorials R enjoys.

Gingercake- Lola Owl pattern. That’s what I11 made his owl with up there. Love this pattern! And was able to do it very well.

Max the Owl from Gingercake- another crazy cute owl patterns. Owls are HOT right now. Seriously.

Sewing School- the blog hosted by the authors of the book Sewing School. They are Kindergarten teachers who host a sewing school in their classroom and have summer camp. Of particular interest might be their advice on kids new to machine sewing. Also, they have lots of great hand sewing projects right on their blog.

I think this is plenty to get beginners started on the road to being independent with their sewing skills. Moms don’t be afraid to try it yourselves. Thank you for joining me for this series!

Please join the iHomeschool Network on a Hopscotch June 10-14, 2013 for some great topics from other homeschool bloggers!

Being the Mentor Your Sewing Student Needs

Day 4 of Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool {Whether or Not You Sew} is all about being the mentor your sewing student needs.

First, let’s get this out of the way…just because you may not have the skill to show your student what to do, doesn’t mean you cannot be a good mentor. This goes for any skill or knowledge set! So, let’s talk about how to get started and how to mentor and how to find mentors with more expertise than you have.

Blog She Wrote: Being the Mentor Your Sewing Student Needs

What is a mentor? Webster defines a mentor as a trusted counselor, coach or guide.

What is a facilitator? One that helps to bring about an outcome (as in learning, productivity, or communication) by providing indirect or unobtrusive assistance, guidance, or supervision.

Being a good mentor for sewing or any project your student is undertaking means being a mentor and a facilitator. You are a trusted guide but also someone who is aiding in an outcome…in this case learning to sew.

Blog She Wrote: Being the Mentor Your Sewing Student NeedsWho can be a sewing mentor?

  • You- I’ll give more specifics on how we as parents can mentor successfully, but this is a viable and successful option using the resources available to you.
  • family members- grandmother or an aunt. Someone in the family who sews a lot and is good at it. R13 spent a week with her grandmother when she was 8 and a gift for using the sewing machine was discovered!
  • older women within the community- who aren’t family members, but love to sew and would love to share their expertise with someone eager to learn. We have one such lovely woman in our lives who continues to be a mentor to R13. At times she has been more hands on, but now is a regular source of encouragement for R and keeps her busy with supplies and ideas. It’s wise to be careful of adults you aren’t familiar with, but don’t discount safe encounters with acquaintances who can teach what they know.
  • Craftsy- I love Craftsy! They have video courses for all skill levels of sewing students for a very reasonable cost. Often their classes are on sale. I’ve never paid full price for a class. The best part is being able to watch at your own pace, ask the instructor questions, and always owning the class. You can watch as many times as you’d like and it never expires.
  • Blog Tutorials- there are a LOT of sewing blogs out there and many bloggers provide lovely, easy to follow tutorials. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing specific ideas on projects and resources for beginners and I’ll have some blogs on the list. R13 learns new skills all the time from tutorials.
  • You Tube- if your student is having trouble with a stitch type or has other questions, chances are you can find an explanation on You Tube. What did we do without it all those years growing up? It’s easy to help your student safely search topics on You Tube and things get less complicated when you can watch someone else show you what to do. And guess what…this gets you off the hook!
  • Local Classes- We have a sewing cooperative in town that offers lessons and we have used them in the past, but I left it behind after a year because it costs too much both in time and resources. The time factor is huge. Between transportation and class time, you’ll have more time to sew if you stay home! Besides, once you start charging a premium price, I’m going to be much more critical of what happens during class. We had to let this one go.
  • Sewing Camp- I put together sewing camp for R13 so she could sew with her friends and all the girls could take advantage of all of the adults present. We have one mom who is an expert and two more who have a working knowledge and experience at the sewing machine. We search out appropriate projects with the girls’ help and we gather one afternoon a month for about 6 hours.

Blog She Wrote: Being the Mentor Your Sewing Student Needs

Blog She Wrote: Being the Mentor Your Sewing Student Needs

What can I do as a sewing mentor if I don’t really sew?

  • Do some learning of your own- read up on the topic especially the sewing machine manual. Watch some tutorials on using a sewing machine and making straight stitches. Try it out yourself. Remember, this isn’t about you becoming an expert (although that is an option if you’ve always wanted to learn!) but it’s about being able to steer your student in the right direction if he runs into trouble. It’s also a safe thing to do since your kids will be using the sewing machine. Ultimately, your student needs to drive the learning. You are the one keeping them on track.
  • Make yourself available- for consultation, questions, refocusing, offering encouragement, and reminding your student of his goals.
  • Help your student to set goals- this keeps the process moving in a forward direction and gives kids accountability. You’ll be encouraging them to reach these goals and reminding them what the goals are when things slow down. You can also adjust goals as time goes on.
  • Collaborate with your student- bring them to the table not only to set goals, but to evaluate them and to see where they are headed next. Remember to respect the student’s preferences (this is probably his big idea) while putting together the pieces of his instruction and guidance. Just like I had to adjust when I realized R13 was all about creating…while I was more about the created thing. How we approach the project is different and it’s important to help your student recognize and capitalize on her approach- not so much yours!
  • Check in on the availability and stock of supplies- You might ask, “Do you need anything from me for ___ project you are working on?” Listen to the answer and decide how proceed. Not only do you need to be sure your student has all the supplies for getting started, you want to make sure he can reach and get the supplies on his own. This is an age appropriate item, but whatever is safe to have ready have available without asking.
  • Provide space- if you have to put away every scrap and take it all out over again every time your student wants to spend time on sewing, you will lose momentum. Just think of how you are with your own hobbies. If you have a moment and it’s all packed away, what are the odds you are pulling it out? Slim to none. I know from experience. Make sure you have a good workspace that encourages creativity!

Blog She Wrote: Being the Mentor Your Sewing Student Needs

Customizing your sewing/mentoring experience:

As your student gains skill and confidence, the way you mentor will change. You’ll find yourself switching from more process oriented mentoring to growth oriented mentoring. You want to keep your student looking for new challenges to extend growth and learning.

Keep a project journal- this is one I picked up from Project Based Homeschooling. Have your student keep a journal (the student journal has been a standby long before I discovered PBH) and keep one yourself- keeping one myself is new to me other than notes in my planner. It can be a simple spiral notebook, a bound journal, and I even use Evernote where I can easily jot a note after taking a picture of what my students are working on (this goes for any project not just sewing).

R13 keeps a couple journals. One is for her patterns and ideas. Another is for her growing sewing business. She writes down things she’s sold and the price, how much something cost to make vs her profit, etc.

Keep challenging your student- use the notes you’ve made in your project journal to remind students of their goals and to ask questions about what is next and what else can you try? You want your student to stay on the leading edge and to keep pressing the envelope so she can go deeper and get more skills. Once your student gets better at sewing, my guess is you’ll find them pressing the edge themselves but you can be at the ready with reminders and questions.

Encourage your student to grow through community- sewing camp is a way to tap into community, but if you want your student to grow find a way for her to share her ideas with others. R13 has been reaching out to the community for a long time.

When she was 8 she offered mouse puppets and cookie bean bags along with the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie at a mom event. She sold out and had orders to fill by the end.

At 10 she offered colored pencil rolls and needle books at a local craft fair. Once again, she sold out.

Now she takes orders for items and if friends find something on Pinterest they think she can make, they ask and we work it out. In the last six months she’s made a car seat organizer, table runners, and crocheted owl mini purses. The owl purses are her biggest seller and she gets more orders every time she makes a delivery! She also made the flowers pictured below for an upcoming wedding.

Last month she was asked to leave a stack of business cards with our hair salon and was asked to bring things to sell. So tomorrow she’s prepared with about a half dozen items, most of her own design to leave in their boutique.

Perhaps your student will not ever make it to this point, but it’s worth knowing it’s out there and what the possibilities are. For R13 she knew early on sewing is her thing. It’s really the only things she’s tried that she’s wanted to do for more than one session. So, we started pouring in and this is the result. A girl with a mission.

Aside from business opportunities, R13 is the seamstress of choice for our VBS puppet show. Every theme calls for new costuming for the puppets and she cannot wait to see what she can come up with for the characters each year. Right now our school room is the staging area for her costuming ideas.

Blog She Wrote: Being the Mentor Your Sewing Student NeedsBlog She Wrote: Being the Mentor Your Sewing Student Needs

Being a mentor means providing the time, the space, the materials as well as the banter and idea sharing that come from being available when your student is working.

Keeping costs down means doing as much as we can at home to pour into this interest. Besides the price in time and resources, being creative about finding expertise allows us to dabble without a lot of commitment and we can customize the experience. It’s probably the homeschooler in me, but I like being able to chart our own course our own way and pulling experts in as we need them.

I hope I’ve shared some ideas today that will help you in mentoring your own kids in sewing even if you have little to no experience yourself. If you have more questions or ideas, feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Please join the iHomeschool Network on a Hopscotch June 10-14, 2013 for some great topics from other homeschool bloggers!

Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool {Whether or Not You Sew!}

One of the things I’m asked about the most with R13 being such an accomplished seamstress and designer is, how do I get my child started with sewing- especially if I can’t sew?

In years past, women learned to sew from their mothers and grandmothers. It was a skill you left home with ready to use when it was your turn to mend or sew new garments. In the last probably 20 years or more, not only are girls not learning it at home as much, but even school systems have been removing sewing from their home economics/family and consumer science programs. Although it may still happen, it is not a major part of the curriculum any longer. When I was in middle school, sewing was still half of any portion of home economics we had for the year. By the time I taught in a middle school in the same school system 8 years later, the sewing machines had been sold and it was no longer part of what had become Family and Consumer Sciences.

What does that mean for us today? It means that more often than not, a child who wants to learn to sew may not be able to learn from his mom!

This week, I’ll be sharing ways to teach sewing at home even if mom doesn’t sew!

Blog She Wrote: Teaching Sewing Whether or Not YOU Sew

Supplies to have on hand when you are teaching sewing:

  • fabric scissors- these are sharp and designated for fabric only. Dull scissors are difficult to use and chew up fabric. R13 likes a pair for cutting fabric and another pair for trimming that she wears around her neck. You almost never see her without them on when she is working on a project.
  • pins & pin cushion- you’ll need pins to hold fabric together before you stitch. We like the kind with the balls on the ends. They are much easier to see! The pin cushion keeps those pins in one place.
  • thread- we use Guterman thread because it behaves well in our sewing machines. As you get more experience, you’ll know what kind you prefer.
  • fabric markers- just for fun! They add dimension to any project and you’ll want items kids can use on their own as they are still gaining skills. We like the Crayola fabric markers.
  • measuring tape- you’ll want this for measuring fabric. You might choose to use a pattern or your kids might come up with something on their own. Either way, you’ll want to measure to see the dimensions as you get started.
  • needles & a needle book- needles are a must have for hand sewing and the needle book makes a great first project. I’ll be sharing projects, patterns and places to find them on Friday.
  • fabric- you’ll want to keep your budding sewer in plenty of fabric. Fat quarters are a great way to stock up on more than one pattern of fabric quickly. Stores like JoAnn’s often have sales on fat quarters.
  • doodads- things like rick rack and buttons to encourage creativity and skills.
  • sewing machine- depending on whether or not you want to teach machine sewing. Most folks do what to machine sew and stepping out to make that investment can be confusing. Tomorrow I’ll be writing about sewing machines- how they work and what to look for in a good machine. It’s one of those things that is hard for a mom who doesn’t sew, but kids are sometimes super interested in it. You’ll want to know what’s happening!

Blog She Wrote: Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool {Whether or Not You Sew}

Where do I purchase sewing supplies?

  • JoAnn Fabrics- or another fabric/sewing chain store. JoAnn’s has frequent sales and a coupon program. If you sign up for their flyer, it’ll come with 50% coupons.
  • Michael’s, AC Moore, and Hobby Lobby- are all general crafts stores with good coupons. Although they carry some sewing supplies, you will not find a full selection at any of these stores.
  • Sewing Shop- along with quilting shops are fairly high priced, but they are generally helpful to new sewing enthusiasts and carry high quality supplies
  • Second Hand Sewing Shop- these are shops with used fabric and doodads and sometimes they offer classes. We have found some really great fabric, books, and other supplies at ours.

A note on supplies: Initially you may be tempted to go conservative on the cost for supplies. Just keep in mind that good quality supplies will make the job of learning the skill easier. you don’t want to add frustration to a project by providing super cheap materials that are more difficult to work with. A finicky sewing machine, for example, can be very discouraging! I’ve seen people quit early on because of a bad machine.

Blog She Wrote: Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool {Whether or Not You Sew}

Be available as a mentor and a facilitator to your new sewing student:

This could happen in a variety of ways with different resources both of which I’ll be sharing later in the week. For now, know that part of teaching sewing at home is allowing your student time to learn and to manage her projects- especially if you are inexperienced and can’t always show the way exactly.

A good mentor means showing your child that learning doesn’t stop…by everyday immersion in a life that celebrates learning interesting things and doing challenging, meaningful work. – Lori Pickert, Project Based Homeschooling

You might choose to learn with your child or you can help make it happen. Being a mentor means being a guide to something your child wants to learn. The great thing in this situation is that your child is coming to you with an interest. Just think of the intrinsic interest and motivation already at play!  I’ll be writing about ways to mentor on Thursday.

Blog She Wrote: Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool {Whether or Not You Sew}

Provide a designated space for your sewing student to work in:

As with any great project or learning experience, environment is key. If your student needs to fish out lots of materials and find and clear a spot for her work every time she has the time or inclination to sew, you are going to lose valuable momentum. I know we don’t all have the space for every project out there, but see if you can dedicate some space all her own to work on projects. Whatever those projects might be.

Seeing work in progress and be able to immerse in the challenge without having to worry about cleaning up is so essential to going deeper in your work.

Remember that if you want your student to be in control and to lead the way in her endeavor to learn to sew, then the materials she needs for the job need to be at the ready. You’ll want to keep tabs on safety, but you’ll be on hand to mentor anyway. Workspace is about making the project/learning activity accessible. I could make a long list of things my kids have ownership over in their learning and all of them involve us relinquishing control over workspace. We’ve worked to carve out spots for our kids to engage in what matters the most to them.

Blog She Wrote: Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool {Whether or Not You Sew}

Sewing is a wonderful skill and many of us don’t have much, if any, experience in this art. If you have a child asking to sew and you don’t have the knowledge, then this series is for you!

Join me for the rest of the Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool {Whether or Not You Sew} series when I’ll be writing about:

  • Finding and Using a Sewing Machine
  • The Process of Learning to Sew
  • Finding Mentors with More Expertise
  • Beginner Projects & Project Resources

Please join the iHomeschool Network on a Hopscotch June 10-14, 2013 for some great topics from other homeschool bloggers!

Sewing Camp {October}

After some time off, we started up with Sewing Camp again. Sewing Camp (or more accurately Sewing Club but you cannot deny the fun at camp so I like the kitschy name) is a group of girls and their moms who gather together to sew- we sew fun things which teach a new skill or practice an old one. We all pitch in to pick projects and patterns and help the girls to work. We also make our own sometimes for more practice for ourselves. The best part of Sewing Camp, besides sewing with friends, is the cost. This is a materials and time only venture. And so worth our effort!

In October, we worked on the girls’ patchwork tiered skirts from last summer. Some of the girls had to add some length, but in general it went very well.

This project lent itself very well to using a serger. Finished seams are so fun to make with a serger! We just finished Sewing Camp December (postponed from November) so I thought I’d better finally post about October.

R12 needs to add in her elastic waistband and she’ll be modeling her creation soon. This month we worked on sewing caddies. We’re hoping for an extra meeting over the holidays. She spent today working on a related project while the machine was still on our school table.

It’s been enjoyable watching how independent the girls have become over the last year. We have some plans to make a batik among other fun adventures and we like to have the girls give input to project ideas. The most difficult part? Getting all the tastes and talents to agree on the next project!

Sewing Camp News & {How to Pull it Together}

We are set to begin sewing camp again next weekend. Our original start date was postponed due to much illness. I don’t know about you all, but we have already had the first intense little cold this season. I think everyone is almost on the mend! The last one came down with it the other day and he is holding his own so far. We’ve been on break since the spring time because of the move. We are excited to get going again.

What happens at Sewing Camp? We host 5 other girls and their moms at our house to work on sewing projects. We have some fun things to try this year- in particular, I’m looking forward to making some batik fabric.

How do we decide what project to do? As you can imagine, blogland is full of ideas and sewing blogs to give you ideas. R12 and I also really enjoy the Craftsy platform and have purchased some classes to enjoy together and sometimes with our Sewing Camp crowd.

How often do we meet? With so many busy schedules, we’ve had success with Sunday afternoons after church once a month. It might be fun to meet more often, but we have one family who travels an hour to get here and other folks keep busier routines than we do. This works really well for all of us. We go from about 1-5pm. We usually serve a quick lunch and get started. Camp ends when it’s time for two of the girls (and E14) to head to youth group.

How is Sewing Camp Set Up? We provide two sewing machines and a serger and another mom brings one or two machines and her serger. We set the machines up on tables and we have a cutting table as well. I put up some initial directions on our whiteboard/chalkboard and we explain how to get started. Then the girls just dive in and the moms give a assistance where we can. One mom is loaded with sewing skillz so we all get to learn from her!

Why Sewing Camp? I was looking for a way to get R12 together with other people who like to sew and to learn from others and with others without the big cost involved in taking classes. If you’d like to read more about how we pour into our children’s passions, you can read about it in the 10 Days Series by the same name. Sewing Camp is a way for us to do that with R12 and her sewing at a more reasonable cost with some friends.

I have compiled all of our Sewing Camp posts into one place and you can find the button (like the picture above) in my left hand side bar. I’ll continue to add to it and I hope you’ll find it encouraging. I hope to share some ways to get started with sewing at home and maybe that’s another great topic for a vlog post!