Rainbow Fish

 One of my favorite children's books is Rainbow Fish.  Such a sweet story of giving and friendship.  A perfect message for little sewers.  This week during Sew Me a Story, we stitched up our own little rainbow fish.
 The project is quite simple and uses preschool friendly materials such as plastic canvas, thin craft foam (purchased from Dollar Tree), 1 silver foam sheet, tapestry needles (size 18), and craft thread.  Besides the foam, I purchased all the materials at my local craft store.
 The kids loved cutting out the fish scales!  They went to town cutting up the foam sheets.
Cut out a basic fish shape from the plastic canvas.  Starting at the tail end, begin to sew on the fish scales.  Each rainbow fish got 1 shiny scale, just like the book.
 After weeks of using plastic needles, the kids felt so grown up sewing with "real" needles.  Tapestry needles, size 18 are just right for small hands and easily sew through the thin craft foam.  The silver foam was much thicker, so I punched holes in the shiny scales.
Once finished, a googly eye was hot glued in place and a chenille strip began a perfect hanger.  I know the kids will enjoy hanging their rainbow fish on a doorknob or in their rooms.

Each one was unique, just like the little maker.

Sewn Sunflowers

 Sunflowers are one of my favorite flowers! They bring such joy and a promise of summer.

For our preschool "Sew Me a Story" series, we decided to stitch up sunflowers that will last all season long.   We read the wonderful Camille and the Sunflowers  to gain inspiration and get us started.  While we love this book about Vincent vanGogh, there are so many wonderful sunflower books out there like To Be Like the Sun and The Tiny Seed.

 The first step is sew the middle. Cut 2 pieces of burlap using a CD as the template.  You can certainly make the flowers larger if you like.  
Sew all around leaving a hole for stuffing.  Scrunched up tissue paper makes great stuffing for these little sunflowers.  After stuffing the circle, stitch up the hole.
Now it's time to add petals!  We used craft foam for the petals since we sewed with plastic needles, but older kids could use felt.
 Each flower needs about 5 petals.  The kids loved choosing their petals.
Every sunflower needs sunflower seeds!  We let the kids cut out seeds from black felt and use glue stick to attach them to their flower.
 For the stem, we hot glued a bamboo skewer into the flower.  This way, they can easily be stuck into a pot.
 When kids finished, they had fun using oil pastels to create sunflower masterpieces.  With preschoolers, it's always important to have an "I'm finished" activity to keep them engaged.
Love this little field of sunflowers!

Little Aprons

 We started off our new preschool "Sew Me a Story" series by making these cute aprons with pockets.
Our inspiration was Eric Carle's My Apron.  I found this gem in the public library and was immediately inspired to sew an apron.  After reading the book, we discussed ways that they might use an apron.  Cooking?  Gardening?   Building?
I prepped the burlap aprons for these 3-5 year olds by machine sewing on about 18 inches of ribbon on each side.  I also cut out pockets in various sizes and colors of burlap.  They loved choosing the perfect pocket to sew onto their apron!
 Using plastic needles and lacing strings, the kids carefully stitched on the pockets.
 I was surprised by how many kids just took off sewing!
 After stitching on their pockets, the kids drew paper objects to put into their apron.  There were lots of flowers and tools and even this dinosaur!
We enlisted several fourth graders to help us.  They were so sweet and it was great to see many of the kids we sewed with at this age, now teach sewing!
Everyone was so proud of their aprons and were excited to wear them home!

Sewing School 2 in French!

Bonjour!  Welcome to L'école de couture aka Sewing School 2.  We are pleased to announce a French version of the book published by Eyrolles.  How fun to think of little French sewers learning with Sewing School!

My daughter was thrilled to see her thought bubble in French!  "I didn't know I could think in French!"

The book stays true to the original including the binding and full-sized patterns.  Of course, all of the measurements are in metric units.

I was thinking about how English speaking children who want to learn French would benefit from L'école de couture.  The simple text and step-by-step directions are perfect for practicing a new language while crafting!

To find out more, visit the L'ecole de couture site.  Click on the "extraits" tab for page samples.  It's also fun to follow Eyrolles on FaceBook and Instagram.  C'est trés bon!

Sewing at the Garden

 This week, I had the opportunity to sew with the kids at the Carpenter Art Garden here in Memphis.  What a wonderful organization that really connects kids to art, nature, gardening, and culture.  I decided to make a felt version of the Just Right Pouch from Sewing School.
 I precut the fabric and threaded a bunch of needles so that the kids could sit down and begin to sew!  If you are interested in taking a sewing project to a group like this, my advice it to be VERY prepared.  Have everything ready to go so that you can spend time helping the kids sew, not getting materials ready.  Also, a simple, yet practical project like the pouch appeals to everyone.  
The scene at the Art Garden.  There were 6 craft tables going on, bikes being repaired, snacks passed out, and tutoring going on while I was there.  My two children (ages 8 & 11) helped out and I also recruited a teenage volunteer to help with the sewing.
The kids were excited to sew!  We had many first-time sewers join in, but many were experienced and so happy to make something.
 Many kids talked about learning to sew from their grandmothers and mothers.   
This young man sat by me all afternoon making pouch after pouch.  His mother taught him how to sew, and he was busy making pouches for the entire family!  I hope to visit the Carpenter Art Garden again and keep them sewing.

Writing Cloth Books

 I've had this idea in my head for awhile now -  using fabric to tell stories.  I was a little unsure about bringing it to Sewing Club with 30 kids ranging from kindergarten to fourth grade, but we took the plunge.  I'm so glad we did!
  The kids immediately took to the project, which we spanned over two weeks.  I cut out a variety of broadcloth squares, measuring 6x6 and gathered fabric with large and fun images.  Of course, I had to use Carrie Bloomston's Story fabric!  Along with fabric markers, the kids had fun using fabric to inspire their stories.
 They used glue stick to attach their images to the base fabric and then depending on mood, ability, and age, the images were sewed down, or not.  Some kids just had fun writing stories on fabric squares using fabric markers.

 Once the story was complete, it was time to bind the fabric pages together.  Older kids used the sewing machine to sew the pages together, while most kids used a whipstitch for the binding.  If there were too many pages or the words were written too close to the edge, I helped the kids improvise by just sewing together the top and bottom corners of the book.  It read just fine.
 One sewer decided to make a Story Pillow.  Love this!   She will have sweet dreams after reading the tale of "Princess Tutu"!
The best part was watching the kids share their stories with each other.  Yes, life is love!

Sewing with "The Mitten"

What a fun morning we had at Toddler Sewing and Story Time this month!  After our awesome librarians read several snow-themed books including this pop-up version of "The Mitten", we had fun sewing our own mittens and retelling story.

The mitten is made of low-loft batting, which is the perfect snowy white material for sewing when you're using plastic needles and lacing yarn.  I used Jan Brett's amazing drawings for the mitten pattern and animals.  Yes, you could make the mitten out of paper, but that's not quite as much fun!

 First, the kids sewed around the mitten with a little adult help.

Next, they colored the animals, which have a few holes in each for easy lacing.

The kids loved lacing the animals and putting them into the mitten at the end.

Not only were they strengthening fine motor skills, but we talked about animals, colors, order, and story elements as they worked.  That's a lot of learning for these little sewers!

Many of them wanted to wear their mittens too!  Luckily, in Memphis, the temps don't get too cold, so a batting mitten is realistic!