Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Teaching sewing

It has been an uphill task, but finally we have reached a stage where Anjali is finally sewing fairly independently. I have thoroughly enjoyed facilitating this learning process in her.

About sewing: Sewing has, along with threading, beading and the like, been associated with eye- hand coordination. Myself, I have loved to sew since my first embroidery project at ten years old and despite the blip with school sewing lessons as a teenager, which put me off sewing, it has been a very reliable hobby.

Introducing sewing: I gave Anjali her first threading card when she was two - a shoe box lid with holes punched along the ends, with some yarn tied to it. She was not too impressed by it, I remember that she put the thread through  a couple of holes and then let it aside and began dancing.

Sewing cards: I made multiple sewing cards - Alphabet lacing cards that you thread through with a toothpick taped to some yarn, animal lacing cards for Sophia where I copied out an animal graphic with holed punched at the edges. The cream on the pudding were the 20 lacing cards with various images beginning with A that Anjali and I traced for her birthday goody bag last April.

Embroidery: When we went to Romania last time (Anjali was 4.5 and Sophia was 2.5), I bought a couple of embroidery hoops. Prior to that, I had done a number of sewing activities with her in which I made frames out of cardboard and tore up old t-shirt materials. None of the projects were very successful. Nevertheless I bought the hoops and some slightly think and colorful thread. I also got some cross stitch material - I am not sure what it is called.

The girls experimented a bit.Anjali used to embroider (in loose terms, as she is still working on running stitch) one petal, and then a whole lot of beads on the second petal and so on and so forth

A sewing and handwork corner: Sometime in the beginning of this year, I set up a sewing basket with yarn, Hama beads, normal beads, plastic needles etc. It was, in principle, a good idea, except that the needles kept getting lost. We cant find too many round ended tapestry needles in Singapore and I got rather annoyed at losing them.

These days I have taken to bringing craft books home from the library and Anjali has been inspired by these books. We have therefore been doing a number of  "real" crafts as opposed to random dabblings that look like a cross between Picasso and Pollack. For teacher's day, she sewed this

Materials: I have to say this about materials for sewing. Many books recommend felt since you dont have raw edges with felt. I took the advice and when i cut out the squares for this cat, I cut them out in felt. However, felt is very hard to poke with a tapestry needle. After about ten minutes of frustration, Anjali was still braving it and poking rather untidy stitches through the felt, but I felt so bad. I had an inkling that the only reason that she was actually doing this was because she wanted to give the cat as a present to her teacher. I made her stop and redo the whole thing after cutting up one of husband's old T-shirts. Since then, I have been very loathe to give felt as a material for sewing.

Projects: Saturday, Anjali sewed for two hours continuously. The project was a cat bag from a book on first sewing projects for 7 years old and above. We modified the pattern, using cotton instead of felt, substituting double tape when we got tired of sewing.The tapestry needle did go through cotton, but it was a lot of work poking it through and since I felt that Anjali could be careful, I attached a sharp needle to it instead.
 IN the meantime, Sophia was hard at work with this plastic thing - I am not sure what they are called - we have had one at home for as long as I can remember and have used it for multiple projects.

Grass is Sophia's speciality. She draws grass, she collages grass, and she threads grass in rainbow colors. Here, she is using a tapestry needle.
 Here is the back of Anjali's hoop. I think her stitches have graduated to neat rows
 And the front
 To my surprise, she finished the hoop work in one sitting, and then she woke up after her nap to continue working on the project.

This is what is was. I was not very strict about the sewing requirements, infacct I left it mostly to her. But here is the breakdown of work for reference of how much sewing the five year old can do.

Anjali sewed the semi circle in the hoop. I helped her take out the cloth and cut the shape out, turned it inside out, folded the top, ironed it for stability and gave it back to her. She then stitched the top. Thats tricky for a first attempt, since you have to be careful not to sew both cloths together. She made mistakes, twice, i think, and each time we cut the thread and reworked it. She also sewed the nose, the ears and embroidered the mouth.

I helped her to put the many layers of cloth to make the eyes bulge, and double taped them to the base. We used double tape for the googly eyes. I machine sewed the straps on for her.

 Happy model.

The next day they were at it again. A doll. To be more precise, Anjali is making a doll for Sophia and Sophia is making a doll for Anjali. Here is the dolls head and body.

Work in progress

Some general points: A hoop is very helpful as it holds fabric stiff. Anjali and Sophia sew running stitch with the hoop. it is also good for sewing two layers of fabric together as it can hold the layers. The only problem is that there is more cloth wastage with the hoop, but we can find use for scrap cloth at home.

Sophia is very cheerful that she can sew as well as Anjali used to and she is only 3.5 years old as opposed to Anali's 5.5. Anjali is very cheerful in that Sophia sews better than she used to at her age because Sophia learns from her and she didnt learn from anyone. 


  1. This is such a fantastic skill to have and one I wished I'd learnt as a child. I can't even sew my own hems!

  2. As someone who struggles to sew anything I am so impressed. Looks like she is a natural to me. Just popping over from Happy Family Times.

  3. How wonderful that they are both enjoying sewing so much!

  4. She looks so intent on her project! And you can tell they really enjoy it.

    Thanks for visiting Waldorf Wednesday. I hope we'll see you back this week!


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