Wednesday, June 05, 2013

A Safer Alternative to Straight Pins

Do you think your child is too small or lacks enough coordination to use straight pins?

A few serious pokes from a pin could be enough to make you question safety. It may turn a child off sewing, too.

If your child understands that by moving his hands without thinking means he may poke himself, that’s good. He is self-aware and will improve at avoiding the pins.

But, if your new sewing super star is always forgetting to watch out for pins and getting poked, he might not be ready to use them.

This does not mean he can’t learn to sew. It just means thinking outside the sewing basket. Luckily, there is a safe alternative to using straight pins.

Can you guess what it is?


Simply line up the 2 pieces of felt as you would for straight pins, but slip on hairclips to hold them together instead.

Hairclips can easily be moved around the perimeter of the sewing project as needed just like a straight pin! And will be safer for little, inexperienced fingers.

Happy stitching J 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

How to Sew a Whip Stitch

A whip stitch is the first stitch I teach my students. It's an easy stitch to learn. And, it's useful.  

There is a rhyme I learned to help children remember how to make a whip stitch. It goes like this. 

Come up through the dot, pull all the way through.
Now, what is the next thing that you do?

Come up through the next dot, pull all the way through.
Now, what is the next thing that you do?

Come up through the next dot, pull all the way through.
Now, what is the next thing that you do?

And so on, repeating until the sewist automatically remembers what to do.

When teaching small people to sew I cut felt into familiar shapes which they sew together and stuff. I draw dots around each perimeter to show the children where to sew each stitch. It’s like the old, pre-school sewing card idea. You can read about why I do this here.  

Now, let me explain the above verse. When the rhyme says, come up through the dot, it means poke a threaded needle through a pre-drawn dot from the back of the project toward the front.

Pull all the way through reminds children that they need to tug on the needle until the thread pulls snugly. They should check every once in a while to see that there are no extra loops, twists or knots in the thread.

Using quality thread helps reduce the chance of twists and knots. I use a 30 weight crochet thread called Cebelia by DMC.

What is the next thing that you do? This alerts the sewist that the whip stitch process is about to start over again. (S)he needs to whip the thread around the outside edge of the fabric in order to be able to be ready to poke the needle from the back of her project up through a dot again – the next dot in the line of dots.

Continue sewing stitches by directing the thread over the fabric's edge each time and coming up through the next dot. It begins to look like this...

Each new stitch is made by coming up through the next new dot. Always from back to front.

This stitch is called a whip stitch. 

Happy sewing!