Kids Can Sew Shorts! Tips for sewing clothing with kids

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The weather is warming up and we've been making shorts! My afternoon sewing class on Mondays has been itching to make clothes, I could tell. This can be hard in a group setting, but pajama shorts were something I knew we could manage and I'm so glad we did! 

 Tips for teaching kids to sew clothes

Natalie made up a pair just for fun using Simplicity 8401 and it's such a simple pattern, I knew it would be perfect for my students. Plus, it includes a matching doll shorts pattern! 

This pattern takes just one yard of fabric and has only two pattern pieces! I've made pajama shorts with sewing classes before and we used a Jalie pattern that was much more complicated (although very nice). This Simplicity pattern was easy to fit and easy to adjust by taking in the side seams if they were too large. 

Here are a couple things I've learned when sewing clothing with kids: 

1. Size up. I either take measurements beforehand or ask their moms to send me the needed measurements so I'm prepared with the right sizes. It's easier to make smaller than to make bigger, so if someone is in between sizes, I go up!

2. Explain pattern sizing to them. Make sure they know that pattern sizes are different than ready-to-wear sizes. If you have a child who may be sensitive about the number of the size she is sewing, do what you can to make sure she knows that the number doesn't mean much. This can be hard, I know. To avoid the issue altogether, I've sometimes traced patterns and put only their names on them and NOT the size that I traced. Everyone gets their own pattern and no one has to dwell on what size it is. Instill in them that the beauty of sewing is that we can make things to fit our own unique bodies! My 13-year-old, who has a hard time finding dresses off the rack to fit her long and lean frame, sews a size 10 in patterns, but with a size 16 for length! 

 Natalie made her Easter Dress this year! We used New Look pattern #D0917

Natalie made her Easter Dress this year! We used New Look pattern #D0917

3. Give them one step at a time. Sewing garments can seem very abstract to someone not used to it. When sewing with one of my own kids one on one, we do read the instructions and I help them understand step by step, but in a group setting I offer one step to the class at a time and we do our best to stay together. It seems like ages 12 and up are better able to understand pattern instructions than younger ones, in my experience. 

4. Let them choose fun fabrics. I try to provide everything we need for my classes, including fabric, but sometimes I do let them know they are welcome to bring their own if they want, and tell them exactly what to look for and where to find it. Who doesn't love going to pick out their own fabrics?? For those who don't, though, I keep a stocked stash of fun and trendy fabrics. For this shorts project, I added a few trims to my stash too. Although I already have a nice stash of laces, I was low on pom-pom fringe and I knew that's the one they would all likely want (I was right!)

5. Explain useful terms as you go. For example, when cutting, show them the arrow that goes with the grain line and with the selvedge, and why you want the stretch to go across your body, not up and down. Don't bog them down, but help them learn terms that will be useful for next projects, like hemming, edge stitching, basting, casing, seam allowance. That kind of thing. Help them learn the lingo and they'll better be able to attempt using patterns on their own! 

 Sewing clothes with kids

I'm already brain storming more clothing projects because these girls really loved making something they could wear and most said this was their favorite project so far. Layla thinks circle skirts would be fun! I own the books #ootd and Girl's Guide to DIY Fashion and they both have some promising choices. I'll let you know what come up with! 

Cheers and Happy Sewing :)

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Upcycling jeans!

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Well, hello there, readers! I know it's been some time since I have posted. I let my life fill up just a little too much this past school year and I found I just did not have time or energy left to post anything remotely helpful for you. But we wrapped up our school year and I am excited to start sharing here in this space again! 

To update you on life here: I am still teaching sewing to kids and I am still sewing with my own kiddos. I am not currently creating sewing tutorials for YouTube, but it's not something I've decided to totally give up on, so we'll see in the future how I feel about that. I am glad those videos seem to be helpful to so many, though, according to the subscriber number! I am still sewing many of my own clothes and my kids are all still sewing as well. My oldest is starting to learn to use  patterns and make clothing too, which is so gratifying for us both! 

Yesterday in sewing class, we upcycled jeans into some really cute purses. Here's a photo of the finished product: 

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These were pretty fun. I had quite a stash of jeans that the girls had outgrown and a couple pair of Casey's and mine, but they all chose the purse sized girls' jeans. They all turned out so differently! 

I have been a long-time jeans upcycler. One time, probably fifteen years ago now, I made a library bag out of jeans and I have flat put that thing through the wringer with heavy loads of library books and it is still going strong! 

I thought I'd round a few good jeans upclying ideas that I've coming across recently while pinning ideas for my classes to use up this pile of jeans! 

  1. The Brother Sews blog has this great idea to make a modern looking tote bag out of jeans legs. I like this because it's non-cheesey looking and you don't even have to line it since the hem makes the top of the bag and the inside seams are bound with bias tape. Cool! 
 Photo from http://blog.brothersews.com/upcycling/earth-day-reusable-tote-bag/

Photo from http://blog.brothersews.com/upcycling/earth-day-reusable-tote-bag/

         2. I absolutely love these adorable bone shaped dog toys out of old jeans. We know they'd be sturdy too! 

 Photo belongs to: https://www.pillarboxblue.com/handmade-dog-toys/

Photo belongs to: https://www.pillarboxblue.com/handmade-dog-toys/

      3. You would have to have been following my sewing adventures for many years to remember this picnic quilt I made out of upcycled denim and cotton. The borders are vintage tea towels and the back is a sturdy tapestry from Urban Outfitters. These photos are from 2010 and this quilt is still going strong. We use it constantly, it just lives in the car. So turn those old jeans into a picnic blanket! 

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       4. If you search for denim teddy bear on Pinterest, you'll see how cute a teddy can be made from old jeans! Here's a great pattern to use. Teddy bears are not hard to sew at all, they're usually just two pattern pieces. You will just need some animal eyes, which are super easy to install (and are not the choking hazard that buttons would be, if gifting to a little one). 

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      5. Old jeans scraps would make great hair bows or triangle bags! You could get a lot from just one pants leg, making them great quick gifts! Find both those video tutorials below: 

I could on and on, there are so many things you could do with those old jeans. Here's some more just off the top of my head:

  • Doll jeans.
  • Clutch purses
  • Tablet cases
  • Notebook covers (use the back pocket on the front!)
  • Coffee cozies
  • Coasters
  • Wall hanging with jeans pockets
  • Throw pillows
  • Fabric flowers. The way the fabric frays make these extra cool!

Do you have any more ideas? What kinds of things have you made from jeans? 

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Kids can sew owl softies!

My Monday class girls chose this cute owl softie from the book Sewing for Children to make this past week and they turned out so, so cute! I didn't manage to get a photo of my students' finished projects, but I did get some of the owls my kids and I made, after the fact. 

Here's mine. Because who wouldn't want to sew along while teaching this class, right?? I made mine a feathered headband. Should I call him Woodstock? Is it even ok for a bird to wear feathers??

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My girls almost always join in on sewing class, but my son tends to wait until after class to make the projects that appeal to him (just too many girls, I guess) and he cut his out and sewed it almost all on his own! And whenever one machine became unthreaded he would just switch to a different one, lol. Sewing is a good skill for boys to have too. 

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In the book this is a hand sewn project, but we did ours by machine. 

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We've made several things from this book over the years. It was one of the first kids' sewing books we got, long before I started teaching sewing. My kids were able to make many of the items without help when they were younger! I'd call this one worth buying. 

**This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage when you purchase through these links. I only recommend things that I own, use and love! 

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Sewn Valentines

Happy Valentines Day! We had a couple Valentine themed sewing classes this past weekend and even though my Valentine is two oceans away, I still love getting in the spirit! 

I always plan two projects for my three hour classes, one more time consuming one and one for the extra time we may have. I thought sewing felt hearts onto actual paper cards would be fun for our extra time project and my students really got into it! 

Here are some samples I made:

 Sewn Valentines

Sewn Valentines

I had some heart patterns from our bigger project and I also got a few stamp phrases and ink pads out for them to use, plus a couple letter sets so they could make their own words. 

All the girls got so creative with these! 

Our main project for this class, though was Valentines zipper pouches, using this tutorial on The Polka-Dot Chair.  Zippers and boxed corners were new techniques for them and they did such a great job! 

Notice both Leah's headband and her t-shirt tassel on her pouch, both things she made using our YouTube video tutorials! Aw :) 

These were a really fun project and I always love how differently everyone's turns out! Kids are so creative. 

Cheers and Happy Sewing! :)

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