First Sewing Projects for Little Ones [Free tutorial and pattern]

MoonMunkie made Yellow-Stitch Fifield a week or so ago. It was her first sewing project and she was so thrilled with herself. Stitch came on holiday to Yorkshire with us and he been given a veritable palace to live in.

It was so successful that I’m going to put together a book of first sewing projects for little ones. And to give you a taste of that, here is a pattern and tutorial for Stitch. It uses the smallest amount of fabric and stuffing, so you can probably make it without needing to buy anything. However, I would definitely recommend purchasing a set of doll-making needles. They are large enough to allow more independence for small people learning to sew, but are still sharp enough to sew with. See my previous post for more tips on teaching small people to sew.

Materials11794312_10153419749700491_5740603297487370971_o

Wool felt off-cuts

Stuffing (wool roving or polyester filler)

Anchor embroidery thread I like Anchor, as I’ve said before!

Doll-making needle

30cm wool in contrasting colour

Pattern (Free PDF download)

 

 

Instructions

Body

  1. Cut 2 body pieces from felt and place them together, right sides out.
  2. Thread a doll-making needle with embroidery thread, tying a knot at the end.
  3. Show your little person how to push the needle through from the front to the back, carefully drawing the thread all the way through to the knot.
  4. Bring the needle back to the front, the yarn trailing over the top of the work. Move the needle along about 0.5cm (1/4 inch) to the left and push it in from front to back again. [TIP: if they need help keeping stitches even, make dots on the fabric to show them where to put the needle in.]
  5. Continue this whipstitch all the way around, leaving about an inch open.
  6. Stuff the mouse with wool roving or polyester toy filler.
  7. Stitch up the gap using the same stitch.

Ears

  1. Cut two ears from felt. We used a contrasting colour.
  2. [Optional] Fold the ear in half. Mark the dart line in pencil. Use a small running stitch to stitch the dart. This will give the ear more shape, but is not essential if it’s too fiddly for little fingers or they are in a hurry. Repeat for second ear.
  3. Help your little person to attach the ears to the body, about a third of the way down from the pointy end of the mouse. Sew straight through from side to side, through the flat edge of both ears.

Tail

  1. Cut three lengths of wool against using the line as a measure.
  2. Leave 5 cm (1.5 inches) at the top, tie a knot to secure the 3 strands together.
  3. Plait the strands and tie a knot near the end leaving a cute fluffy end.
  4. Use the 5cm at the top, to tie the tail through a stitch at the blunt end of the mouse body.

Eyes

[Option 1] Draw ‘em on with a felt tip pen. Cute and quick.

[Option 2] Stitch back and forth on the spot, from side to side through the entire body in a contrasting colour.

[Option 3] Buttons look cute, but can be fiddly for tiny fingers.

 

Happy Stitching!

Really Easy Felt Cupcakes [ Free Tutorial with PDF pattern]

I’m hoping to take part in Handmade Monday, over at lucyblossomcrafts next Monday. This is going to be the first time that I’ve joined in a link party, but I hope I’ve understood how it works!

 

We’ve been at the cupcakes again! Although this time they’re felt and completely calorie free. We had such a great time that I put together a PDF pattern with instructions to share at Handmade Monday. I hope it goes ok! Do drop me a line in the comments below and say hi!

I’m just putting the finishing touches to 2 more tutorials which will be uploaded before the end of August, so drop back in soon!

037Materials*

Wool blend felt offcuts

Anchor embroidery thread in matching or contrasting colour

Needle

Pattern (Free downloadable pattern and instructions PDF)

Silicon cupcake cases (optional)

6 cup baking pan (optional)

* contains Amazon affiliate to a product I recommend. See disclosure  for more info.

Instructions

  1. Use the pattern to cut out the various pieces of the cup cake – don’t feel constrained by the colours. Go wild!
  2. Using blanket stitch, attach the base to the smaller curve of the cupcake side. Ease the curved edge around the base. It’s a bit tricky, but felt is very forgiving, so don’t worry too much. (I like Anchor 100% cotton thread – much longer-lasting and less tangly than the cheaper multi-buy brands.)
  3. Stitch the 2 short edges of the cupcake side together.
  4. You could turn the inside out now, but I rather like the stitching effect on the edge.
  5. Attach the icing top, centrally, to the cake top. You could use a contrasting colour for a fancy icing effect. Use running stitch or any decorative stitch.
  6. Attach the cake top (with recently stitched icing) on to the cake base you completed in step 2.  Again, use blanket stitch and don’t forget to leave an inch empty to stuff!
  7. Stuff with wool roving for a nice weight or with polyester stuffing if you prefer.
  8. Continue with the blanket stitch to close up the hole.
  9. At this point, if your cupcakes are going to be a toy, it’s worth considering over-stitching the top and bottom seams for sturdiness. For a pincushion or decoration, this step probably isn’t necessary.
  10. To make the icing swirl, tie a knot in a long piece of matching embroidery thread. Along one long edge, make a fairly loose running stitch along the edge. Don’t tie it off when you get to the end. Slowly
  11. Pull the thread to gather up the fabric. As it begins to wrinkle, encourage it to twirl. Don’t go too quickly. It will eventually curl in on itself, in a spiral.
  12. When it is swirly enough, use the tail of the thread to firmly stitch the bottom of the spiral so that it won’t untwist.
  13. Using blindstitch, attach the swirl to the centre of the icing on top of the cake. Again, if it’s going to be a toy, take some time over this so that it won’t come off during play.
  14. For authenticity, you can place each cake you make into a silicon cake case. For play purposes, a cheap bun tin also adds an extra element of fun.

Et voila – cupcakes. Make some for your little chef today!

 

Teaching Small People to Sew

11794312_10153419749700491_5740603297487370971_oIt gets confusing when I talk about MoonMunkie. The original MoonMunkie is my oldest daughter.  She spent a lot of time awake at night when she first arrived. I had PND and spent a lot of time sewing to get through it. (If you want to read more about my journey out of PND then you can head over to my other blog Followed By a Black Dog. I don’t need to write it any more, but I keep it as a reminder.) That’s how the name was born.

Since I started my little art and craft business, it seems that I’ve become MoonMunkie. It doesn’t really matter at all. We’re all Munkies together here. But this post is about the original and best. My amazing winter baby. My MoonMunkie. She’s 5½ now. Unbelievable.

She sewed her first softie this week. Yellow-Stitch Fifield, commonly known as “Stitch” is a purple mouse. He’s made from wool felt, stitched with yellow wool, stuffed with raw wool roving. He has BIG pink ears. You can probably guess what they’re made of. And, if we’re being honest, he’s a wee bit cheeky. He’s not keen on bedtime. He has commandeered the dining room furniture from the Sylvannian Families. He sleeps on their table. He likes to hide and then we all have to spend AGES looking for him. We haven’t been able to find the NowTV remote control since he arrived, and although I’m not directly accusing him of hiding it, you have to admit it’s a bit of a coincidence.

I digress. Tips for teaching small people to sew was my purpose for being here. And here they are:

Mostly, it’s about allowing the small person to have ownership of the project. Show them some simple projects on Pinterest and let them think about what they want to make. Guide them in the direction of simple shapes and little and therefore fast projects. Quantity is way more important than quality when you’re 5.

Let them choose their own fabric, or at least the colours. Wool felt makes sense because it’s forgiving, doesn’t fray and comes in at least a bazillion colours. I buy kilo bags of pure wool felt offcuts from Ebay for not a lot of pounds. They have tons of shades and are perfect for so many crafts. And being offcuts I don’t get all precious and obsessive about cutting into them.

Purchase a doll-making needle. They are reasonably sharp, but long and quite chunky.  Easy to thread. Easy for small fingers to hold and manipulate. Hard to lose. Unlikely to get swallowed by SmallestMunkie. I found a bodkin was too short and too blunt to sew with, even for grown up hands. I had to show MoonMunkie that I could press it against my skin and it didn’t hurt. She was worried about getting scratched, but the doll-making needle was very easy to control and we had no injuries.

Allow for short concentration spans and for messy workmanship – see my note on quantity not quality. I firmly believe that if we encourage mistakes and free thinking now, it will develop creativity and a love of the task in hand. Tidiness and “perfection” will come along in their own time.

Choose a strong, chunky yarn for first stitching. Pick a contrasting colour to the fabric so stitches can easily be seen

Whip stitch is a good one to begin with. The needle only goes in one way and comes out one way. No “which side am I on?” confusion. It’s fast. It’s sturdy. You can quickly see where you’ve been. The rhythm of it is conducive to finishing a project.

Resist the urge to help unless asked. This is hard for me! I like things even and neat. MoonMunkie wanted the mouse finished fast. I sat on my fingers and bit my tongue and just allowed her to stitch. She loved it so much, and that was my reward for not interfering. She was pleased with what she’d achieved, rushing off to show MisterMunkie.

Finishing touches may be hard for little, inexperienced hands. Stitch had to have yellow button eyes. Had to, you understand. So MamaMunkie had to do those, or they would become a choking hazard for SmallestMunkie. A piece of wool was attached as a tail, but it wasn’t taily enough, so it was replaced by a short chain of crochet. Again, MamaMunkie needed to assist there too, but only when she was asked!

She adores her finished mousie. So do I, but I love him because I watched her concentrate and work hard and make it herself. And I saw her feel good about it when she was done. She already wants to make him a baby!

 

 

 

Coming Up Roses

Out for a walk in Bury St Edmunds with MoonMunkie today and we came across a lovely treat. Elsey’s Gallery run by Cate Hadley.  A tiny little exhibition space we’d never spotted before, tucked away from the main street. And even better: a show of work by young textile artists from West Suffolk College. Coming up Roses: A selection of garments and soft furnishing.

It was a little treasure. MoonMunkie was entranced by the display and I could see her struggling between knowing she shouldn’t touch and desperately needing to feel those flowers. Her good manners won out, but it was a close call! I think that can be used as a test of good textile work. You should feel the need to stroke it, feel it, scrunch it. Sadly, the batteries on my phone died after the first picture. So I can’t really show you most of the exhibition – but that just gives you a reason to go there and see it for yourself. It’s on until May 28th. Head down Risbygate Street as if you were going out of town. It’s down the Elsey’s Yard alleyway, towards the Maltings project. If you go past Wilkinsons you’ve gone too far.

Elsey’s Gallery is open Friday, Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Visit this weekend! Tell them MoonMunkie sent you!