Sewing and Designing With Your Children
How's your summer going? It's been pretty good weather-wise so far, so you may be keeping your kids outside a lot of the time. Although some days have been too hot to be out long, unless you're sitting quietly in the shade - not something children are well known for!
So, have you run our of ideas yet?
Have you tried sewing with them?
There are some ideas about both, below.
Sewing with Children
I've heard rumours of children as young as 3 learning how to sew and loving it. As long as their fine motor skills are well advanced enough, I don't see why they shouldn't. Certainly children only slightly older can have a go.
You can sometimes get hold of blunt-ended plastic needles, or use tapestry needles, with embroidery cotton (the fairly thick stuff you may have used when you were a child) and aida fabric with a low count. In case you haven't come across it, or don't recognise the name, aida is an even-weave fabric which is used in cross-stitch. It comes wth various sizes of holes / spaces. The size most commonly used in embroidery is probably 14 count, which has 14 holes per inch. This would be too fine for a beginner, so find aida with as low a count as possible. (Fewer holes per inch.) I think it goes as low as 3 or 4.
With aida , a needle and thick thread, you can decorate a small piece of fabric with cross stitch and running stitch to make a place mat. Don't forget about running stitch with another colour of thread wound through the stitches on the surface. It looks really effective and much more difficult than it is! Ideally. leave a tail on the back at the beginning and stitch it under the first few stitches. But if that's too difficult for a young beginner, leave a longer tail on the back, stick it to the fabric with masking tape (where the needle won't be going!) and then later, when the child has finished sewing, thread a needle with the tail and thread it through the back of a few stitches to secure it.
Small items can be made from felt, which doesn't fray and can be stitched with running stitch.
If you want to start teaching a child to use a sewing machine, there are lots of ideas on Pinterest, including my board, Crafty Ideas for Kids to Make.
This looks like a good place to start:
There are other ideas for sewing with children both on Pinterest (see my boards Crafty Ideas for Kids to Make, DIY Soft Toys and Dolls' Clothes) and here on our blog. (See 6 Crafty Things to do with your Kids.)
If you have lots of fabric scraps but don't want to sew, you could try some of the No Sew Fabric Ideas from my Pinterest board of that name.
Designing with Children
Did you see the tea towels I posted on Instagram and Facebook recently, designed by 6 year olds?
As long as you don't try to create a seamless repeat, designing can be as straightforward as creating any sort of artwork. Of course, you then have to upload it to our website, choose repeats and so on. But you can help a child with that - or they can help you! Even fairly young children these days are very knowledgeable about technological matters!
So, you can find a suitable way to create a design, upload it, get it printed, then put new-found sewing skills into action and make something! Wow! What a holiday project!
There are lots of ideas on the blog for ways to create a design. Some of the best to use with children (apart from using their drawings) are:
Using feathers - this will involve a suitable walk beforehand
Using rubber stamps - start on paper, then upload the designs into Paint.net or similar to manipulate them
Using coloured / patterned paper - this is simple but can be very effective. It's basically the method used for the tea towel above.
Using sun-print paper - another fun activity which can lead to a great fabric design and other craft projects
Blow-painting - a fun activity in its own right, this can make great fabric designs too.
We will, as usual, be hosting a children's design competition over Christmas. If your child enjoys the process and wants to do more, they can take part in that. The theme will be 'My Family' (which covers pretty much anything!), so you could, if it fits in, design something for that now.
I hope one or two of these ideas might be useful. Do share if you have a go, or if you find other ideas.
Top image painted by Linda Edgerton.