craft business, Kid's Sewing, Quilting, Tech Editing

Check out this super cute pattern!

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Meet Josefina and Jeffery!

Ira Rott is a well-known designer in crochet circles, but decided to translate one of her most popular crochet patterns into a sewing pattern.  This is the result!

Although rated for intermediate sewists, an advanced beginner would be fine with this pattern. It does introduce some techniques with which you might not be familiar, but it’s all part of the learning process, right?

And yes, yours truly assisted by tech editing this delightful pattern.

It’s available in her Etsy shop as a pdf download.  Get yours here.

Happy sewing!

craft business, Kid's Sewing, libraries, Quilting, summer camp, Travel

Fun Stitchy Things to Do With Your Kids & Grandkids This Summer

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That’s right!  The Row by Row Junior experience is back for 2018.  If you like to shop hop, be sure to take your mini-me along for the ride!  Your little one(s) will be able to enjoy Row by Row activities geared just for them. Go here for more details.

 

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Designed for kids and adults, this weekly downloadable sew-along-series starts at the very beginning. Week 1 covers sewing machine basics, sewing vocabulary and simple stitches. Week 2 features a really cute popsicle project that can be made in an afternoon. Be sure to visit the Janome summer camp site each Monday for a new activity.

 

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Finally, be sure to check out your local library to see what crafty activities are scheduled as part of the Summer Reading Program.  Maker Space and Crafternoon programs are very hot right now in libraries!  Best of all – most are absolutely FREE!  (Oh, and if your library has one – be sure sign up to read to the READing dog if your ‘lil stitcher is in grades 1-6).

craft business, Kid's Sewing, sewing classes

Let’s make some magic…

Travel pillowcase

Miss Teresa’s Magical Travel Pillowcase that is!

Join us on Saturday, January 13, 2018 from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at Stitch ‘N Quilt in Mableton to learn how to make a travel size pillowcase.

Cost:  $10.00 + supplies

The shop is offering kits (including a pillow) in either a pink or turquoise colorway. If you prefer to DIY, please bring your fabrics cut and ready to sew.

This is an EXCELLENT first class for those with no or minimal sewing experience.

Learn:
* Basic sewing vocabulary.
* How to maintain a consistent seam allowance.
* How to construct a French seam.
* Finishing details that make a difference.

We prefer that you bring your own sewing machine in good working order. If you need to borrow machine, please let the shop know when you register for the class. A limited number of machines are available for student use.

Not able to join us on 1/13/18? Here’s my magical pillowcase tutorial  with supply list and basic directions.

craft business, Kid's Sewing

Tips for Teaching the Munchkins to Sew

classroom set up
After 5 years of running successful kid’s sewing classes and camps, I’ve developed a Sewing Class Checklist for Teachers to help keep me organized. The checklist includes notes about snacks, first aid kit, sewing supplies and even a reminder about eyeglasses for me. I hope you find value in it.

Essential:

  • Sewing machine(s) with a speed controller.  This is especially important for younger students as they only know one speed – and this usually involves mashing the foot pedal all the way to the floor.   You can find both mechanical and computerized machines with a speed controller, but this feature will cost a little more. Do not automatically assume the computerized machine on sale for under $100 at the big box store has a speed controller.  Verify before you buy!
  • Extra sewing machine feet:  open toe foot, 1/4″ foot and a walking foot.
  • Heavy duty extension cord and power strip.  Just. keep. them. handy.
  • Classroom sewing basket with community supplies.
  • Small scissors for little hands; add a pair of lefty scissors while you’re at it.
  • Use GLASS head pins and little clips to hold fabric pieces together for sewing. Be sure to demonstrate proper pinning techniques.
  • Keep small baskets of fabric scraps within student reach to keep them busy while waiting for assistance.
  • Choose simple projects.  Track how long it takes you to make an item and then double it.  Triple that number for brand new stitchers. For a 2 hour class, If you can’t make the item in less than 30-45 minutes, select a different project. Make 1-2 samples of finished projects.
  • Precut everything unless you plan to incorporate cutting out as part of the class.  In this case, have pattern pieces (freezer paper works well) trimmed and ready to go

Running the class

  • HAVE FUN and maintain your SENSE OF HUMOR! Remember, you are dealing with kids and anything can/will happen!
  • Keep classes 90-120 minutes in length.  Incorporate a 10 minute snack time about 1/2 way through class.
  • Arrive 30 minutes early.  Set up any student machines you’re providing for use during class, set out scrap baskets, snacks and the community sewing basket.
  • As students arrive, have them (and grandma or other adult attending class with them) fill out a name tag.  Have students set up their machines and encourage them to “warm up” using fabric scraps found in the baskets.
  • Start class on-time.  Handle introductions, bathroom location, snack availability and other housekeeping matters before diving into the sewing project.
  • Show the sample and review first few steps.
  • No worries if a student does not have a 1/4″ foot –  instruct them to use the outside edge of the presser foot as a guide.
  • Monitor progress to keep everyone near the same step of the project.
  • Circulate among students, offering praise and assistance.
  • Do not be afraid to stop the class to reteach a concept.  If you find one student doing something incorrectly, chances are another student is, as well.
  • Demonstrate your process for sewing, but remind students that there is no single right way to sew. This is especially helpful if Mom/Grandma does things a little differently than you do.  
  • Allow time for show & tell.  If other customers are in the shop, encourage students to go show the grown-ups what they’ve made.
  • Take pictures during class (if you remember), but definitely during show and tell.
  • End as close to on-time as possible (15 minutes over is usually ok) and have students help clean-up the classroom before leaving.
  • Be sure to give any project hand-outs to grown-ups accompanying students. Most students don’t care, but the grown-ups sure do.
  • Give students a fun activity as a takeaway. It can be a sewing graphic to color, cartoon word search or matching game.  Include your contact information or business card with it.
  • Always thank the students, their adult chaperones and the shop/venue staff.
  • Leave the classroom space better than you found it. Turn off irons. Return tools to their proper places. Empty individual trash bins. Donate any snacks the kids didn’t eat to the community snack table.

Other considerations

  • Inquire about food allergies in advance. I have a “no-peanut rule” for the snacks I provide, unless I’ve taught the students previously and I’ve determined no nut allergies exist.
  • Inquire if students have asthma.  If your project requires the use of basting spray or highly scented products, you might need to find an alternative – or do that part of the project outside.
  • Try to find out the sewing ability of students BEFORE class. If you have a class full of students who’ve never touched a sewing machine before in their lives, you’ll need a helper or two (unless Mom/Grandma is staying with them).
craft business, Crafty STEM, Kid's Sewing

Running a Kid’s Sewing Club (or are you crazy?)

*Yes, I am crazy!  That’s a prerequisite for working with kids!*

One of the highlights of my day job is my weekly maker club.  Some schools refer to it as Genius Hour or Learning Clubs.  Our clubs meet most Fridays and last about an hour.  I host 3 different groups of kids during the school year.

Stitchy Stallion stats:

Leaders:  2 adults, sometimes 3

Grades:  Limited to 4th & 5th only

Members:  Max of 12 students per club cycle – 1 adult : 4 students works well.

Machines:  Six total – a mix of newer mechanical Janome, Singer and Brother machines. As with technology, a 1:1 ratio would be ideal, but we make it work by buddying up with 2 students per machine. 

Funding:  School/PTA is unable to provide funding for clubs (No surprise here as I work in a really high poverty area  – 98% free & reduced lunch). My club started with a sewing machine and supplies provided by a Donorschoose.org campaign.  Everything else has been donated by local businesses, friends, coworkers, or paid for by me.

Projects:  Plan for two projects during each 6-8 week club cycle.  A small project (potholder or felt stuffie) + 1 larger project (pillowcase, applique pillow) worked well. I always keep fabric scraps out for them to practice machine stitching.  If one of the group leaders must be out, we have a craft activity as backup (Clover pom pom makers and pom pom critters were a HUGE hit).   Hand embroidery is an activity that will be added to next year’s activity line-up.  For alternate activities that are free:  have students measure/sort fabric & inventory club supplies, watch a video clip (how thread/fabric is made by Cotton + Steel are GREAT videos), design fabric (by hand or using school software), search Pinterest or other preselected sites for projects that interest them.  Of course, if your school will allow you to charge a small supply fee, you can do even more projects.

Club Schedule:  Sign in, snack (every other time), quick overview and get to work. Stop 10 minutes early to clean up.

Supply Storage:  My club meets in the library.  I have a locked cabinet and a set of shelves in the storage room for my club supplies.  Sad to say, but stuff has a habit of disappearing at my school.  Scissors, pom pom makers and machines are all locked up in the cabinet or my office.  If I did not have a space to store sewing machines, we would be limited to mostly hand sewing projects.  When the day comes that I run this as an after school club, I will invest in a folding flat cart to transport machines and supplies.  (I plan to have 4 of the same kind of sewing machine – computerized with a speed controller). I will also have more time for set-up and take-down (which I do not have now).  

What makes it work for us:  Pre-cut all projects ahead of time.  Designate two helpers who can come 10 minutes early to help set out sewing machines and tools prior to club. I’ve also found snack-time to be a good way to give me an extra 10 minutes if I need it. Select projects based on student input and the supplies you already have on hand.  My sewing friends have been exceedingly generous with de-stashing their unwanted fabric and sewing supplies in my direction.

What’s in it for me?  Right now, I am able to use my maker club as an idea incubator/testing ground for potential projects to offer in Saturday Kid’s Club at the quilt shop or summer sewing camps.  I also get to view sewing through a newbie’s eyes on a regular basis.  Those of us who’ve been sewing for a long time tend to forget what it’s like to be in their shoes.

How can I use this experience to grow my crafty biz?  While visiting my niece in Boston, I wandered into a crafty maker space called Gather Here. I LOVED the concept. This gave me the idea to offer a mobile craft/stitch lab that catered to after-school and homeschool groups. The existing day job makes it a bit of a challenge at the moment, but one day I can see myself offering after-school clubs at local elementary schools or in RV parks as we toodle around the USA.

Helpful resource for those considering starting a club:

Running a Sewing Club from the Utah State University Extension Service (4-H)

Also check out my Pinterest pages for kid’s sewing projects (here and here) and be sure to review the wealth of information on my Virtual Sewing Classroom website.

craft business, Kid's Sewing

Now offering private sewing lessons near Marietta Square

Parents reached out on Facebook asking about sewing lessons for their ‘tween daughters this summer.

Ask and ye shall receive!

A local biz graciously agreed to let me use their classroom/meeting space for private lessons – as long as no event was scheduled. Works for me!

Private lessons are $35.00/session & up.   You’ll bring your own sewing machine and bring your own fabric for each project we make. Want to bring a friend? You and a friend can share a session for $25.00 per person plus supplies.

Want to try your hand at sewing before you invest in a machine?  An introductory class is $55.00 and includes all materials necessary to make a simple pillow or pillowcase, plus use of a machine and sewing tools for that session.

Sessions last approximately 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Instruction and projects are specifically tailored to YOUR needs.

Classes are for kids of ALL ages from 7-77+.

 

 

craft business, Kid's Sewing

DIY Applique Letters

Well, it seemed like a great idea to have the kids make monogram pillows for next our club project…

A win-win activity to incorporate some technology standards, make a project selected by the kids and meet one of my goals of clearing the clutter in the club storage area by:

(a) Reducing the donated fabric stash by strip piecing the back of the pillow (cutting strips with my Accuquilt GO!).

(b) Incorporating  a technology component by having students create their own applique initials using Word and print them out already reversed. (My fave font for applique projects is Marker Felt – printed in outline at a size of 275 pts)

Club meets tomorrow, so I was being proactive by running through my lesson plan ahead of time using resources at school (not my personal MacBook Pro).

Hit a slight snag with creating the applique templates.

The school district limited the font choices in Wor23-mad-smiley-free-cliparts-that-you-can-download-to-you-computer-and-b6pbfs-clipartd and I don’t have administrative rights to install additional fonts.  

Phooey!


So what’s Plan B for a creative teacher with a zero budget for clubs?

Find a source of freebie printable alphabet letters!

(1) Lower case in a cutesy font (already reversed for fusible applique)

(2) Block letters already sized  (need to be reversed)

(3) Italic style (need to be reversed)

To reverse the letters, you can turn the printout over and trace the shape directly on the paper-backed fusible web.  Darken the original printout  with a fine point Sharpie marker to make it easier to see the reversed letter through the paper layers. A lightbox or a sunny window will help speed the tracing process.

Top Tip:  If you don’t have access to technology, you can borrow a set of punch-out letters from a teacher friend.  All you have to do is turn the letter over before tracing.  And yes, it pays to pick up a cutesy font pack in 3″, 4″, 5″ and 6″ sizes when you find a set – even in an ugly color – in the markdown bin at the teacher supply store!