Thursday
Oct162014

Sew a Book

Once upon a time, books were treasures. They were kept in castles. They were guarded. And only a few very chosen people were allowed to read them. They were valued like gold and jewels. Because each and every book was made by hand. People worked hard to create paper. They lettered each word with ink and a feather. And then they had all these pages. How did they hold the pages together?

They sewed them.

Children found this idea fascinating. We looked in books to see the bindings. Most have modern glues. We did find a few with stitching. 

I shared a few ideas for stitching their own books. They loved becoming authors and illustrators after sewing. I invited them to write about anything they wanted. What freedom! It could be fiction or non-fiction. A field guide to flowers in your yard or to dragons. We saw books about kittens. Books about the seasons. Books about unicorns. And books about flowers. I plan to revisit the idea and make more complex designs throughout the year. A wonderful first sewing project for all ages.

Ages

  • All ages (these were with 5-8 year olds). Older children got into the history of bookmaking. They also dove into the writing and illustrating of their own stories. Younger children enjoyed threading beads and sequins.

Supplies

  • Paper
  • Construction Paper (or watercolor, anything for a cover)
  • Needle and Thread
  • Hole Punch
  • Binder clip
  • Sequins and beads

Preparation

  • I cut the paper (any size works). I cut the construction paper so it could fold around the white paper (double the length of the white paper)
  • I folded the construction paper around the white paper and secured with a binder clip
  • I punched four holes along the folded binding edge. All the papers were now held together with the binderclip, keeping the holes aligned. Aha! moment :)
  • I doubled and knotted thread on the needles (tips about our needle and thread choices are in our book)
  • I tied the thead around the first hole- actually went through and then back up through the loop in the thread. Any knotting will do. The books were ready for sewing!

With Children

  • We talked about history and sewing. We talked about taking our time. I showed how the needle can go back through a hole more than once to create a decorative binding.
  • We talked a lot about not taking the binderclip off until after you sew through the holes. Pages will slip!
  • Children threaded beads and sewed beads and sequins along the way.
  • They discussed what they would write and draw. We talked about books with no pictures and books with no words. They really got to thinking about the process of creating a book.

I tied off threads and they drew and wrote. As long as the threads didn't wrap around the open side of the book, it was all good. They loved their books for many reasons. And wanted to make more! Which is always good. Love inspiration :)

Wishing you happy sewing today!

Please note: This post contains an affiliate link. Should you decide to purchase our book, a small percentage returns to the forest. Your price remains the same. Thank you!

Tuesday
Sep232014

Wishing Heart

Let's begin with a wish. A hope. A dream. Let's made crafts to celebrate our wishes. Because the best wishes are from the heart.

This was my first sewing project of the year with second and third grade students (7-9 years old). Most had used needle and thread before. I wanted a project that would let them explore. A project that let everyone be successful. Whether they wanted one decoration. Or a hundred and one :)


Supplies:

  • Felt (two colors for each heart)
  • Needle and thread (chenille needles and crochet thread)
  • Safety pin 
  • Beads and sequins
  • Slip of pretty paper for name and wish
  • Optional: a third, smaller felt heart to decorate

Age: 6+

Prep: Cut hearts. Secure them together with a safety pin. Double and knot thread on the needle. Sew one stitch at the top hiding the knot between the two hearts. The stitch and the safety pin keep the felt together while children sew.

Children: These hearts are a lovely first sewing activity because almost everything is beautiful (expect for tangles). Children add a bead or sequin to one side of the heart. They push the needle through felt anywhere they like. Big stitches work just fine.

Now the needle and thread is on the other side. Add another sequin, bead, or both.

You can also add the little felt heart. Be careful when going through three layers of felt. It may take a little practice.

Add all of the sequins and beads that make your heart happy.

Helper: Just encourage. Sort out any tangles. Take off the safety pin once the two pieces of felt are secure.

Most design choices will be fine. Long strings of beads. Loops around the outside of the heart. Crisscross stitching. It's all okay. This allows children to experiment with sewing. And have fun! They can stitch around the outside if they like, but it's not needed.

Tie a knot. Move the string to the center for hanging if there is enough string left. If not, add a string. Many children strung beads on their hanging thread to catch the light. If beads go on the hanging thread, be sure to tie a knot around the last bead so they don't slip off.

Children: Write your name and a wish on a pretty slip of paper.

Each class hung their hearts in a special area of the room.

One is lovely. A collection is gorgeous. 

Have fun sewing this week!

For more insights about sewing with children and teaching children how to sew, consider our Forest Fairy Crafts book. It shares our favorite needles and threads along with stitches, troubleshooting, and more. The link is an affiliate link. Should you decide to purchase, a small amount returns to the Forest. Enjoy :)


Sunday
Sep212014

Wishing Stars

We start a journey with expectations. And children are often told "don't do this," or "don't do that," as they start an adventure (like a new school year). Think of all the rules, the rules, the rules :)

So I like to think of the things we do want for our adventure. What do we want to create? How do we want to feel? What should we bring to this journey?

Children often wish for things. Things like ponies or candy. I want to wish for things we cannot touch. Kindness. Friends. Creativity. Beauty. Hope. Love.

And, every once in awhile, a child cracks my heart wide open with a wish. Like this one.

Something about crafting allows us to feel deeply. To share deeply. Creating a space where we can express ideas that are big and mighty. They connect us. As we sew or bead or knit, we create together. We create  community. 

The stars can be very simple or made fancier.

Optional: Children can watercolor or decorate their own paper. We have painted squares on both sides, then we cut into stars. For time's sake, I watercolored and cut these stars.

Supplies:

  • Stiff paper
  • Needle and thread (I used friendly blunt needles and crochet thread)
  • Beads and sequins
  • Hole punch

Prep:

Watercolor paper on both sides and punched a hole. Double the thread and tie a knot. Go through the hole, then back through the loop in the thread. The thread is now attached to the star and ready for decorating.

Ages: 5-7

For children:

Write name on one side of the star and a wish on the other side. If a wish is hard to choose, add a few beads while thinking. Wishes can take time. Decorating the star is also lovely. Thread sequins and beads. Hang in a sunny place to see the sun shine on your wishing star.

Helper: When tying off, be sure to tie around the last bead, or else they can all slide right off the thread. I loop the needle through the last bead a couple of times to secure all the other beads on the thread.

Enjoy! One class hung them on a branch. Another hung them from the ceiling over their gathering space. All those wishes watching over the children. Beautiful! These inspire a lot of discussion and create a lovely space where children celebrate wishes coming true :)

This wish? To read. May all your wishes come true :)

Thursday
Aug282014

The First Forest Beasts

The Forest Beasts are here!

We had such fun designing these softies. The kids chose all the shapes and colors. I helped with the sewing machine- especially with the faux fur. That material is hard to sew!

I am inspired to think of easy, early tricks for sewing machine skills. The kids loved seeing their ideas become real life cuddle-monsters :)

These may be the first, but they sure won't be the last beasts :)

 

PS- Ian had a friend visiting. These were just as fun for the boys as the girls. A great boy craft! *Not that I believe certain crafts are for "boys" or "girls". I just see how they respond to different ideas. And the boys (and girls!) loved this one!

Friday
Aug012014

Tie Dye Adventures

Tie Dye is timeless.

Seriously. I thought tie dye might be a fun glimpse into my college years. I could share an activity from my youth. I learned that what felt "dated" to me was "all new" to them. And they LOVE it. The process was magic.

And they learned a lot along the way :)

So we started with the Jacquard Funky Groovy Tie Dye Kit. The kit came with directions, dye, rubber bands, and one pair of gloves (which became imortant later). We looked online for inspiration. We learned a few different techniques for using the rubber bands. Anika tried a swirl. Mila wanted a stripes. Ian wanted a bullseye. 

They each had a t-shirt and a white tea towel/flour sack which was thin cotton. The Flour Sack Towels were a surprising hit. They are used as doll and stuffie blankets, dancing scarves, and decorations. We found them on a whim and I'm so glad that we gave them a try. Each child got a shirt and a scarf.

Anika (11) could manage the rubber bands on her own. For Mila (6), I encouraged her to loop the rubber band once, then I cinched each one with a few more loops. Ian (5), pointed to where he wanted the rubber bands and I put them on for him. When they were done, we placed plastic bags in the shade (one for each child). I've dyed before, so I know what happens when projects are close to each other (dye easily puddles and moves to the other project). So we gave each project plenty of room. 

The kit came with red, blue, and yellow. And one pair of gloves. I let Anika wear the gloves. She started with the dye. Then I wanted to have fun, too. We planned to jump in the pool afterwards so using a little without gloves would be fine, right?

Wrong. My hands were dyed for days! My fingernails, especially, looked like monster-hands all yellowed and green. Next time, I will get extra gloves :)

Anika and I used the bottles while Mila and Ian told us where to add the colors.  We were careful not to let the dye puddle underneath the project (keeping each area the chosen color).

After awhile, mixing became fun too!

The colors were so vivid! And the directions had a lot of illustrations, which Anika appreciated. I asked her to read a lot of them to me, so information reading practice, hurrah.

Oh, one idea was to place marbles or bouncy balls inside the fabric before adding the rubber band, thus creating the bulls-eye effect. Fun stuff. We searched Pinterest and found lots of inspiration :)

We had extra dye when the kids finished. And a couple of four sacks. So I decided to dip-dye. I asked the kids to predict what would happen. I found old containers that I wasn't worried about ruining. I draped the towels over a child-chair (that I also wasn't worried about ruining). And we tucked a few inches into the dye. Science! What might happen and why?

By now our workspace was nice and messy. So I made sure that nothing sat in a puddle of unwanted color (brown) and we left everything to sit. This was hard for the kids because they wanted to open their creations right away. I can understand that! Practice patience :)

And by now my hands were a mess! Oh, you can see the fun directions in this image. Perfect for older children.

We let the projects sit. And sit.

The dip dye started its science-magic.

We looked up how water can travel "up". We let everything stay overnight. The next morning, the blue had traveled up half of the towel! I didn't get a photo of that, sorry.

The kids were amazed. Then I wore the gloves (I learned my lesson the hard way) to snip the rubber bands carefully and rinse excess dye. The kids were thrilled by what they had created. Awesome!

I held their projects up for them to admire, then tossed everything to wash and dry (as instructed). Finally, the shirts were ready to wear.

Each one turned out different. Exactly like the kids who made them :)

These child-led crafts are delightful and rewarding for them. Look what can be made! 

I remembered why I wore so much tie-dye in college. It's fun!

Ian loved the activity as much as the girls, so this is definitely fun for boys and girls. The best part is that, every time they wear the shirts, they remind us of happy times. And that never goes out of syle :)

This is not a sponsored post, but the links are affiliate, so if you decide to try your own tie-dye adventure, a small percentage returns to the Forest. Your price remains the same. Thank you!

Happy dying!