Monday, January 21, 2013

Learning to sew...

Is it already half way through January?  Here I promised myself that I would start blogging in earnest in 2013.  I'd been a total slacker in December and though it wasn't like I didn't do anything blog-worthy, I just ran out of hours in the day. January is here and my posting record thus far is not particularly stellar. Enough of me.

I gave one of my granddaughters a sewing kit for Christmas.  She had expressed a desire to learn to sew. Even though I didn't start until I was 10 (that was the entry age for the 4-H program in my community), age 9 is probably not too young, depending on their coordination. She's a rock star soccer player, so I had to assume that her hand eye coordination was probably better than mine. We decided that Tuesday evenings would be a great night to get together. 

I had to think about how to teach a young girl to sew.  In 4-H, your first project is the famous green 4-H collar, after which, you learn to make a simple apron.  The days of girls wearing aprons in the kitchen (if they even know how to cook these days?) is long gone.  I wanted her to make something that she could actually wear - that way, she would see the rewards of learning to sew. In addition, I did not just want to stick her in front of the sewing machine and go at it without some knowledge about fabric, tools, etc. Memories of sewing right through my fingernail at age 10 still haunt me today.

I decided to make her a sewing binder and fill it with some simple information for aspiring seamstresses. In the binder I included a list of concepts that we would learn, a drawing of her first project, an envelope with her pattern piece, a list of simple terms, etc.

A simple gored skirt is a great first project, and certainly more fun than making an apron or a square pillow.  The pattern has only one piece - you cut out as many panels as you need top fit your waist, and then a couple extra to make sur it will slide over her hips.  The panels are sewn together and serged. The waist will have a casing with elastic and the hem will be serged, turned and machine sewn.

Since fit is key to sewing clothing, I wanted Reyna to know her "measurements".  Because she is just learning to sew and won't be making things that are too complex in the beginning, I took only 5 measurements: Bust, waist, hips, skirt length and pants length.

I was pleased how quickly she learned to find the grain of the fabric and how to place the pattern on the fabric using the grain arrows.
 She got the hang of pinning the pattern and she was a whiz at cutting out the skirt panels.

Cotton fabric used for quilting is a good choice for a first project - it's easy to sew and it's relatively inexpensive. 
 I chose four different purple prints. I knew she would like purple, but next project we will take a field trip to the fabric store and learn a little about picking out fabrics and patterns.
After cutting a number of panels, I laid them out on the table so she could see
what her skirt might look like. 

It's important to learn the basics about handling a needle and thread as well.  I learned to baste as a little girl by making yo-yos: those cute little round puffy circles that you can sew together to make a quilt, or even clothing.  In the summer, my cousins and I would wake up
from our outdoor camp out on the lawn and start sewing yo-yos.
I taught Reyna how to thread a needle and cut her circle using a 4" square of fabric, folded into quarters and trimming the corners off.  We then learned how to sew a button to the middle of the yo-yo. These little embellishments will be added to her gored skirt after it is sewn together.
This Tuesday is the big day - we learn to use Grandma's Viking and her serger - hey, why not just jump in, even though I never learned to serge anything before I was 40!!! Her Mom and I decided an hour and a half is a good session time (we still are easily distracted and subject to boredom). Two other granddaughters will be joining us this week.  Lexi has already sewn a little bit at home, so I am anxious to see where she is at with her abilities - then we'll go from there!
Laurel. Getting Reyna ready for the Dress a Girl Sewfests...ya think??
Sharing today with


  1. What a wonderful thing to do...pass on your love of sewing to your granddaughters. This purple gored skirt will be beautiful to match Reyna and her smile. Blissful Stitching...

  2. HA! The opening line of this post.. I have the same problem. Thank you for posting this, I have been wanting to learn to sew more than a button and hem!

    Hello from your newest follower, over from the blog hop Creative Mondays

    Hope you can stop by sometime :-)

    Have a great week!

    cobalt moon jewelry

  3. What a joy it must be to have a granddaughter with whom you can share your passion.


Thanks for visiting my blog. I appreciate all those who share and leave their comments very much. Laurel

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...