Sewing: Preschool Sew a Story

I recently finished up teaching a preschool class that I labeled “Sew a Story.” The premise was: we read a few books on a theme and then do a few pre-sewing activities that correlate with the theme. While it ended up being a much bigger class to prep for that I had anticipated, I have to say that it went really well and my little group of preschoolers did awesome (not to mention their awesome parents who stayed and helped!)

Here’s a glimpse into some of the activities we did. I’m hoping to either put together an e-book of activities or a series of posts here sometime in 2017 because so many of the sewing activities that we did are just too fun not to share!

Rainbows: we did some weaving
sew a story

Buttons week:
sew a story

Sew A Story

Gardens: we made some sunflowers and a small flower garden
sew a story

Spiders: we made some webs


It was a 10 week class and we did about 2-3 activities with 2-3 books per class. I’m excited to put the whole curriculum together into some form to share. Check back in the new year!

Continue Reading

Sewing for little hands: Build a Softie



This spring I had the great joy of teaching a few Saturday sewing classes to some great girls and one of my favorite classes was our Build a Softie day. Last Sunday was Sew a Softie day around the world and while I’m a little late to the game I wanted to share this fun activity we did in our class. This is a great designing and sewing activity to fill these last, crazy hot days of summer before school starts up again.

First up, you will need to gather some supplies:
cotton fabric and felt scraps
trim, ribbon, ric rac etc
polyfill stuffing
chenille #22 needle
thread (I recommend either thin crochet thread or cotton perle embroidery floss size 5)
a needle threader (I highly recommend Loran needle threaders)
buttons for eyes
directions for making your pattern buildasoftie

How to Build a Softie:

Build a Softie Class

Using your Design a Softie sheet, first figure out what shape body you want your softie to have. Using a sheet of printer paper, draw out the shape of the body (make sure to draw it a little bigger than you want it to be. This is called adding a seam allowance – that’s the little bit of fabric that is in the inside where you sewed the two pieces together) Repeat this process for the legs, wings, arms and the rest of the body parts you want to include. Remembering ever time to draw your pattern pieces a little bigger than you want them to be. Cut out your paper pattern.

Build a Softie Class26824689400_bbe05e6a8e_b

Taking your fabric scraps and your paper pattern, cut out the pieces of your softie. Make sure you cut out 2 body parts (a front and a back), two wings, two arms/legs etc. For the ears I recommend using felt because it’s a bit stiffer and the ears will stand up by themselves.

Build a Softie Class
Build a Softie Class

Now decide if you want to add some trim to separate the head from the body. You can use ribbon, ric rac or even a strip of fabric. Pin this down to the front of your softie and take it to your sewing machine. If you know how to sew with a zig zag stitch, go ahead and sew this down with a wide zig zag straight down the middle of your trim piece. Repeat on the back of your softie (if you want).

Next up, decide what sort of face you want for your softie. Add some eyes, a nose or a beak and using a whipstitch or a running stitch sew these onto the front of your softie.

Now you need to sew your legs and arms. Match each leg up with it’s front and back with right sides facing (this means the backside of the fabric is showing). Sew a straight stitch on your sewing machine all the way around the sides – leave the top open. Check to make sure you don’t have any holes and once you’ve sewn all of them, flip them right side out. You might need to use a chopstick or a seam ripper to help you pull out all the edges.

Build a Softie Class

Now take your arms and legs and pin them in place to the right side of the front piece of your softie. They should each be laying inside. Put the back piece on top – with right sides facing – and pin it to the top.

Build a Softie Class

Sewing really slowly on your machine, sew a seam all around the outside of your softie. Make sure you leave an opening in the side for stuffing. I like to leave my hole on the side between the arm and the leg. Before you flip your softie right sides out, stick your hand in the hole and take out all the pins.

Build a Softie Class

Then flip him right side out and your arms and legs should flip out! Go ahead and start stuffing. And stuff and stuff and stuff!

Build a Softie Class

Sew up the hole with a whipstitch.

Build a Softie Class

And give your new little friend a big hug!

Continue Reading

sewing for little hands {sew a rainbow hoop}


One of the first stitches to learn as a new sewer (whether you have big hands or small hands!) is a running stitch. In sewing class this week, we practiced sewing this stitch by making rainbow hoops just in time for St. Patrick’s Day next week. This is a great first project that creates such a fun little wall hanging (or blanket as some of my girls decided).

First up, gather all your materials:

Sewing rainbows. 101 class spring 2015

  • dmc cotton pearl floss in red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple (see below for why cotton pearl is a better option for new sewers)
  • 3 yellow buttons
  • black felt for the pot of gold pattern
  • a 6 inch wooden embroidery hoop
  • white felt cut a few inches larger than the hoop (see notes below)
  • a size 22 chenille needle (see notes below)


And here’s how to make your own rainbow hoop!

1. Take your white felt and put it in your wooden embroidery hoop. How do you do that? First put the hoop part without the screw on the table, then put your white circle on top of that and last take the hoop part with the screw and push it down on top of your felt and the other circle. You made a hoop sandwich!

2. Use the image of this black pot and cut out your pot of gold using black felt. Your pot should measure roughly 2 inches wide by 1 1/2 inches tall.



3. Either glue or sew down your block pot on the left or right side of your hoop.

Sewing rainbows. 101 class spring 2015


4. Now it’s time to sew down your gold – er. buttons.

Sewing rainbows. 101 class spring 2015

Lay your buttons one at a time where you want them to be on your pot of gold. Thread your needle with some yellow thread and remember when you sew a button you always come up from the bottom, through the hole to the top. Pull it till you hit your knot and go back down through the other button hole. Repeat this about 3 times and pick up your second button. Make sure you come up from the bottom!

5. After you have your pot of gold, now it’s time to sew the rainbow. Did you know there’s a trick to remembering the order of the rainbow? It’s called ROYGBIV – red, orange, yellow, green, indigo (or blue) and violet (or purple). So thread your needle with the red thread and let’s sew a running stitch!

Sewing rainbows. 101 class spring 2015

Start over by your pot of gold and bring you needle up from the bottom. Pull it till you hit your knot. Then, move your needle about as long as your fingernail and push it back down into the fabric and you’ve made your first running stitch! Keep going as you make a curve all the way around your hoop. You are making a C that is standing sideways!

Keep sewing all the colors of the rainbow – starting at the pot of gold and sewing around the curve.

Sewing rainbows. 101 class spring 2015

6. To finish your hoop for hanging – you can either leave the extra felt around the edge like a ruffle or you can use some craft glue (or a hot glue gun with a parent’s help) to glue that extra felt to the inside of the back. Use some left over thread for hanging and find a happy spot to hang your rainbow!

Sewing rainbows. 101 class spring 2015


Here’s a few tips for new little sewing hands:

Why cotton pearl floss? Cotton pearl is a great first option because it doesn’t split into strands like typical embroidery floss. It comes in a great variety of colors and it’s thick enough to make a good line when doing first embroidery projects that isn’t too thick or thin.

Why felt? Felt is a great first sewing fabric for lots of reasons. It’s great because the edges don’t fray, it comes in lots of great colors and patterns and needles glide through it smoothly – but not so smoothly that your knot comes through the top.

Why chenille #22 needles? These are a great first needle because they have a larger eye for the thread to come through. But they are sharp!

I forgot to mention needle threaders: probably one of the best purchases I ever made for my little sewists, was a needle threader. There are lots of options out there, but the best I’ve found is either the Loran Needle threader (which you can find at JoAnn’s Craft Store) or a metal one similar (which Hobby Lobby sells). Stay clear of the little plastic ones with a little wire loop. Those fall apart faster than a biscuit crumbles.

Continue Reading