Thursday, February 5, 2015

Valentines Love Bugs: Sewing With Kids

These little love bugs are colourful good-natured critters that kids can sew and give to their friends and family this Valentines day. Filled with rice grains, they are soft and pliant and will fit snuggly into the palm of your hand. They make gentle loveable companions who will happily live in a pocket or sit quietly on a desk while you work.

And if you're interested in finding some more endearing projects to sew with your kids you might want to take a look at my book, Sew Together Grow Together, which has 20 similar projects to make with your kids.

Kids love hand sewing but it's also a great activity for improving their hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, concentration, and just a really fun way to build self-confidence and independence by showing them that they can create some amazing things.

What you need:

Red felt
Pink felt
Rice grains
Wiggly eyes

What to do:

Cut out a 5" square from the red felt.

Download the TEMPLATE. Use the heart template to cut out a heart from the pink felt.

Handy Hint: Thread the needle using about 30" of thread, then bring both ends of the thread together and tie in a knot. This stops the thread slipping from the needle, which is helpful when your child is sewing.

Sew a running stitch down the middle of the pink heart.

Pin the pink heart onto the red felt.

Using a chinagraph or 3B pencil, draw on legs. If you want, you can cut out the template with the legs, place it on the red felt, and trace around it to help you position the legs.

Sew the two pieces of felt together by sewing around the heart. Leave a 1½” opening...

…and fill your love bug with rice grains. Pin...

...and sew the opening closed.

Cut off the remaining red felt to complete the love bug's shape and glue on wiggly eyes.

Valentine love bugs are a common sight in my home at this time of year. Their natural instinct is to search for and find a lifelong friend so if you're lucky enough to have a single love bug in your home please make him or her a companion ASAP…here's my little fellow happy and content with his newly found soul-mate:

P.S. You don't have to use the colours I've chosen. Kids love to experiment and they come up with really interesting colour combinations. Also, if you don't want to use wiggly eyes you can make you own eyes very simply from circles of felt and attach them with glue or a single stitch.

Happy Valentines Day, Trixi

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Five Things To Think About When Teaching A Child To Sew

My youngest daughter Yiscah first started sewing when she was three. I vividly remember how she used to peek into the room whenever I was teaching a class so she could watch the older girls sew. After every class she’d ask me why she couldn’t join in. Being the wise parent, I told her that she was too little just yet but she always insisted she wasn’t. One day I decided to let her sew something simple and to my surprise, she did a pretty good job… and she altered forever my ideas about when a child can begin to start sewing.

I still find people who believe, as I once did, that children have to be a bit older before they start sewing. Not true. So here are some tips to help you maximize enjoyment and minimize problems when your child begins sewing at a young age.

1. Getting them excited

There are lots of ways to get your child excited about sewing. Showing them a book of projects and letting them choose what they wish to make is always a good idea … as is letting them choose their fabrics and the colors of their embroidery floss. The basic rule here is simple: the more they do by themselves, the more they’ll enjoy it.

Even if they can’t manage the sewing on a project they’ve chosen, just watching Mum involves them more deeply than we might suspect and is a sure way to ignite their desire to sew something all by themselves.

2. Using good quality materials

Good materials are essential for a good experience. Sewing supplies are not expensive, so make sure you choose good quality felts, fabrics and embroidery floss.

Acrylic felts are the least expensive but they can feel a bit hard and scratchy to sew with. I personally love using wool blend felts as they’re soft, easy to sew with and reasonably priced.

Also, instead of using regular sewing cotton, I prefer to use embroidery floss, and I recommend using a brand like DMC as cheaper products tend to break. Recently I've started using Aurifil cotton mako thread and love it.

Use an embroidery needle with a large eye that makes it easy to thread. Make sure your needle isn’t blunt. Sewing with a blunt needle can be difficult and frustrating.  And it’s a good idea to first sew a few stitches yourself in order to check that everything works as it should.

3. Stressing safety

Explain to your child that scissors and needles are sharp and can be dangerous if not used sensibly. In classes I stress that needles have to be put back in containers and we always do a floor search to check for needles that may have dropped. Scissors are always closed and put point down in a jar after sewing.

It doesn’t really matter what safety behaviors you decide on, what matters is that your child sees that you treat these things with caution and knows that this is what you must do when you sew. I’ve found that when children really want to do something that requires responsibility, they have no difficulty behaving as they should.

 4. Accepting that wonky is ok

Young children begin to sew with large, wonky stitches and their sewing lines are often crooked. With a little practice, however, their stitches rapidly improve. Don’t do the work for them. Let them sew their own stitches and they will be proud of what they have accomplished.

Sometimes young children’s work becomes messy simply because they forget to look at what they are doing. A gentle reminder to look at their work while sewing can bring about a miraculous improvement. Hand sewing doesn’t require excessive concentration and the modest demands it does make will actually help to improve your child’s ability to concentrate.

5. Making the projects your own

There’s nothing wrong with copying a project exactly as it’s given but this never really compares with the feeling you get when you make a project your own. So don’t be afraid to adapt things, to change them, and to make them to suit your own and your child’s interests and wishes.

You can also drop in to Mollymoo Crafts where Michelle has adapted Baby in a Pouch. The original project is small enough to fit into the palm of a child’s hand but Michelle and her daughter wanted something that could be hugged, so they made the baby and her pouch much larger giving the project a very different feel.

This post is part of a series done in conjunction with Lisa Press who blogs at
Part 2 of the series will be simple projects to start your child hand sewing or machine sewing.

Have fun sewing, Trix

P.S If you'd like to sew some projects with your kids have a look at my book Sew Together Grow Together

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Not Happy

Raul isn't really happy with me these days. Recently, Stephanie at Modern Sewciety interviewed me for her podcast and this is where the problem lies. Stephanie asked what my favourite project in Sew Together Grow Together was and I foolishly told her it was the Triplets, of course I really meant to say Raul but I wasn't thinking straight…so Raul if you're reading this my favourite project in Sew Together Grow Together is…YOU

and if you'd like to listen to the interview it's here:

Happy New Year, Trixi

 P.S. Also, thanks Jayne at catablog for organising my interview with Andrew Moore at 2GB: 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Design and Sew your own Christmas Stockings, West Elm Bondi

The Christmas rush is in full swing. Below are stockings from the Design And Sew Your Own Christmas Stocking Workshop I held for adults at West Elm Bondi in Sydney this week.

If you'd like to make your own Christmas stocking you can find my tutorial hereAnd if you live in Sydney I hope to be running more tutorials at West Elm in the New Year.

Enjoy the holidays, Trixi

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

No Sew Sock Snowman from Downunder

As most of my recent tutorials  have been sewing projects, I thought it might be a nice change to make a crafty no sew project. This little sock snowman makes a great "desk friend" or paper weight and because he's filled with rice he's nice and squishy to hold too.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Easy-to-Sew Froggy

Froggy has always been one of my favourite easy-to-sew creations, possibly because he reminds me of the beanie frogs I loved when I was a child or perhaps because he's just so sweet and charming.

It seems Froggy isn't only my favourite but has made his way around the globe and is enjoying himself in France, Germany, New Zealand and the United States.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Lisa Press on teaching children to machine sew

I "met" Lisa who blogs at PhoebeandEgg on Instagram and was enchanted by the amazingly beautiful dolls she creates. We share a love of sewing and teaching children to sew. I teach hand sewing, Lisa teaches machine sewing. We thought that swapping posts would be a great way to bring our different skills together. 

A young sewer at a workshop I recently gave for parents and children at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2014 

You can pop over to Lisa's blog PhoebeandEgg to see my post on Five things to think about when teaching a child to hand sew and here's Lisa's post: