16 Jun 2017
June 16, 2017

Summer Sewing School

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Holding a Summer Sewing School is the perfect way for your kids, grands or nieces and nephews to learn the art of sew. I have a few tips and five marvelous tutorials that will help you pass on the value of handsewn to your littles!

Before You Start . . . Hints for Teaching Kids to Sew

  • Teach a little hand sewing. Sewing buttons and/or a small pouch for a favorite toy or treats are a great way to start!
  • Let the kids choose their fabric. Guide them of course, but your budding sewist will most enjoy using fabrics they chose for themselves.
  • Use good quality fabrics, thread, supplies and tools. Quality contributes to success! Don’t discourage your young sewist with poorly made, inexpensive materials.
  • Choose a project with quick results.  Something that can be completed in a day or two is best.
  • Plan for a short attention span. Sewing sessions should be two hours or less to keep the kids focused and having fun.
  • Pre-cut the first project. Give the kids a chance to concentrate on the sewing first!
  • Thread the machine yourself. Get them sewing, they can learn threading later. If your sewing machine has a slow speed – use it.
  • Teach and review safety. Establish a few rules with the sewing machine and tools to protect your young sewist as they learn.
  • Stay positive. Concentrate on the yeses and avoid the nos as much as you can.  Sewing should be fun!

Image Source: Skip to My Lou blog

Project One: Colorful Tote Bag

Cindy of the Skip to My Lou blog created a wonderful tutorial for a Tote Bag that will be a great beginning to your Summer Sewing School! It includes a pattern download and clear, step by step photos and instructions. It takes just ¾ yard of fabric all together and should be pretty quick to make. It’s a good project for learning straight stitching and the usefulness of sewing. Directions include how to use a common sewing machine stitch that eliminates the need for seam finishes. The tote is finished with a double row of top stitching that holds the straps securely – a great technique to learn!  And, if your proud, new sewist wants to make more, Cindy includes a link to another tote design at the end of her post. Click here for the tote tutorial.

Project Two: Laptop or Tablet Sleeve

This laptop sleeve designed by Amber of the Crazy Little Projects blog is a good second project for your Summer Sewing School. It can be made in about 10 minutes if you’re an experienced sewist, so your newbie can make it quickly, too! It’s an inexpensive project that will help young sewists learn measuring and cutting while practicing their new straight stitching skills. You’ll need about ½ yard of felt, a small amount of hook and loop tape and the device you want to cover. While Amber suggests a narrow seam allowance, for your budding sewist I would suggest a ½’ seam allowance that can be trimmed down if needed. Once the Sleeve is sewn up, planning where to place where the hook and loop tape will add a new skill to your young sewists “tool kit”, too. Click here for Amber’s tutorial.

Project Three: Pleated Headband

The adorable Pleated Headband designed by Jess of the Craftiness is Not Optional blog will teach entertaining and important skills to your Summer Sewing School student.  The sewn and interfaced headband is a “sleeve” that will be threaded onto a purchased elastic headband after embellishing. There are fun things to learn here! How interfacing works, how to make pleats and attach pearls, buttons or ribbons will be all be valuable to the joy of sewing that you’re teaching. Your soon-to-be designer will love choosing fabrics, combining colors and adding embellishments! While this is definitely a “girlie” style project, a young man may enjoy making it as a gift instead.  Click here for the Headband tutorial.

Project Four: Drawstring Backpack

A self-made or made-with-help Drawstring Backpack is a rewarding project for a more advanced young sewist. The Backpack I found on the Better Homes & Gardens blog and the following Busy Bag would be great “next step” projects. Your new sewist may be ready to tackle this on their own with a little help, or you may be the maker while they are your assistant. Either way, there are terrific opportunities for learning and working together!

The Drawstring Backpack needs ½ yard each of fabrics for the body and the lining, assorted fabrics for the pieced pocket and coordinating fabric for straps. Along with the fabrics, you’ll want batting and a few other supplies depending on how you and your student decide to make the Backpack. They’ll learn lots of skills in this project! Depending on the skill and interest level of your child, they can learn piecing, quilting, creating straps and making an optional name tag to attach. Let them sew and cut, but be ready to help where it’s needed! Click here for the Drawstring Backpack tutorial.

Project Five: Busy Bag

Back with Amber of the Crazy Little Projects blog, this Busy Bag is another good make-with-you project.  A little more advanced than the Backpack, it includes a chance to learn about creating pockets and inserting a zipper.  It’s a cool, exciting bag that includes pockets to hold markers, crayons, toys and a small notebook. Help your child pick fun fabrics and a contrasting or coordinating zipper and don’t forget the matching thread. Amber’s instructions are well organized and illustrated. You’ll create the elements of the Busy Bag first, then assemble them into the completed project. This gives you an easy way to break the sewing into short sessions so you and your Summer Sewing School student can work side by side. After all, sewing with a buddy is the best way to sew!  Click here for Amber’s Busy Bag tutorial.

Are you ready for a Summer of Sew now? One more thing before you start. Create a Summer Sewing School notebook to record your precious student’s new life skills. Include tutorials in page protectors and hole-punched card stock for fabric swatches, finished project pictures and plans. Choose a kid-friendly binder and present it with your smiling, solemn promise to pass on the joy of sew. You’ll be so glad you did and so will the kids!

About the Author


Annette Millard began sewing at the age of three, made her first dress at ten and is always happiest with needle, fabric and thread in her hands. Annette feels very privileged to have spent most of her work life in the sewing industry and loves teaching, making her own handmade wardrobe and writing about sewing. She spent over ten years as the newsletter and web site content writer for the Pacific Northwest's largest locally-owned family of fabric stores and is now thrilled to have the opportunity to share her passion for sewing with the Sewing Secrets community. Follow Annette and more of her sewing adventures on her own blog, www.sewfullife.com.

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