Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Teaching Children How to Sew: The Second Stitch

Once children are comfortable with bead work, they become more interested in the plastic canvas work.  I've tried many combinations for this work: yarn, plastic canvas needles, embroidery thread.  All were either too time consuming to set up each time a child wanted to do this work, or too difficult for the child to handle.  After 4 years of searching, I finally found what works best for us!

  • Plastic canvas (I use big sheets cut into smaller pieces for starters)
  • Rexlace cut into ~6" pieces & knotted at one end
  • Permanent marker to draw a line around the shape of the canvas.
  1. Grasping the unknotted end of the Rexlace, show child how to push up thru the plastic canvas square and pull until the knot hits the back of the canvas.
  2. After pulling up completely, the unknotted end goes back down through the canvas, again following the outline.
  3. Repeat until finished.

Variation:  Instead of an up & down motion (like a running stitch)  do just an up motion (like a whip stitch) so the Rexlace frames the outside edge.

Further variations include drawing different shapes within the rectange; using preshaped plastic canvas; sewing cards;  making your own sewing cards from cardboard and a shoelace;  a sewing block such as this one

I like the small plastic canvas shapes because the child can take the finished product home if they like.  Sewing cards and blocks are great for practicing the motion of sewing without the pressure of actually making something, which is why I usually have both available on our shelves.

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