Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Sewing with Kids: Week 1 - Hand-Sewing

This is the second post in my Sewing with Kids Series.  You can find my first post here on what is needed to get started.

No matter what kind of sewing you do at some point you are going to need to thread a needle, hand- stitch and make sure the stitching doesn't come undone.  Whether you are sewing on a button or repairing a hole in clothing these are essential to any type of sewing project.  Even though the kids are itching to get right to the machine I make them learn to hand-sew first.  It may sound boring at first but to spice it up I like to have them rummage through all the bright colors of embroidery floss and create a simple embroidery project.  This time I chose to have them cross-stitch a letter (an initial) and then have them add to it whatever else they want in the time that the class allowed.  During our next class we are going to turn it into a pin cushion to add it to their sewing kits.
The photo below is the sample I created.

What is taught during this week:
How to cross-stitch and simple embroidery.

How To Sew a Simple Cross-Stitch Letter

Supplies Needed:
White square of fabric - I precut 1 for each child that would fit in their embroidery hoops.  (These will later be cut down into 3 1/2" squares to sew into the pincushion.)
Frixion Pen or other disappearing tracing pen.
Embroidery Floss
Embroidery needle
Letter pattern
Small Embroidery Hoop (Not absolutely necessary but it makes it a lot easier.)

1.  They will choose a letter and using their Frixion pens will place the letter pattern (you can find a pattern here) underneath the fabric and trace putting x's where the squares are.  I brought a light pad which made it super easy to see but you can also just hold it up to a window.

At this point they are just concentrating on their letter.  They can decide later, depending on how much time is available what else they would like to add.

2.  Next they will learn to thread a needle and make a knot in the end.  I have a printed full-color handout I give kids so when they get home and have forgotten they can refer to it.  I also have the same tutorial here.

3.  I use just basic embroidery floss and have them separate the strands so they are using only 2 strands.  It's a little easier to get through the needle for the first time. The length is about their arms length.

4.  Next they just start stitching each x starting at one end of their letter and working their way around.
     A few challenges they will find:
        - Little knots happen in the floss.  It's important not to pull on these (which makes them tighter) but to use their needle to pick them apart.
        - They may also loop the thread around the hoop (meaning they went into the fabric the same way twice).  They will need to unthread the needle and back the thread out.
        - The biggest challenge I find is keeping the needle on the embroidery floss.  There are ways to "tie" the thread on needle but most kids after it falls off 5 times will start to get the hang of it.

5.  I also teach them how to knot the thread on the backside when they are done.  Here is a tutorial for that too.

Sewing Basics: How To End Your Hand-Sewing and Make a Knot

When you have used up your thread, are done sewing or need to change colors, you must knot or tie off the thread in someway or all of your lovely stitches will come undone!  You could just tie a knot in the thread but unless you get it right next to the fabric it your stitches will loosen up and not look as pretty anymore.  

*Important!  When you have about 5-6” of thread left then you are ready to stop sewing and knot your thread. If you don’t leave enough thread then you won’t be able to make a knot.

Make sure the thread is coming out of the back.  Turn your project over and work from the backside. 

Where the thread is coming out of the fabric take a super tiny stitch.  

Pull the needle and thread as you normally would but not all the way!  Leave a small loop.  Then take your needle and go through the loop 2 times and pull it tight.

This should make a knot.  If it didn’t work the first time keep trying.  More than one knot is ok!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Sewing Basics: How to Thread a Needle and Knot It to Start Hand-Sewing

I very often hear from someone that they just want to know the basics of sewing.  How to sew the "right way".  Well, there are lots of ways to do it the right way or a way that works for you.  I love to see the ways that people have for different techniques, sewing or otherwise.  Isn't this an awesome time we live in that we can pop online and read a blog or watch a YouTube video!  It's so much easier to be "self-taught".

I thought I would run through a few very basic sewing techniques.  These will be helpful for anyone who has never sewn, forgot some things or just wants to see someone else's way of doing something. I will also be referring to these periodically in my other sewing posts such as my Teaching Kids to Sew series.

Here we go!

How to Thread a Needle and Knot It...to Start Sewing

Thread your needle.  Leave one small tail and one long tail.  If you have trouble getting the thread through the eye you can lick the end of the thread, twist it in your fingers and/or cut it at a 45 degree angle.

Hold the needle with your thumb and pointer finger making sure the thread won't come out when you pull on it.

Take the long thread with your other thumb and pointer finger.  Bring the long end of the thread and the needle together to make a circle.  Slip the thread into the thumb and pointer finger that's holding the needle, keeping the circle.

With your free hand wrap the long thread around the needle 3-4 times.

Point the needle up and slip the wrapped long thread between your fingers on the needle. 

With your free hand, pull the pointed end of the needle up while still lightly holding onto the twist with your other hand. 

Keep pulling so the twist goes off the needle, along the thread and right down to the end of the thread.  

It will make a knot at the end.  If it didn’t work the first time keep trying.  You’ll get it!