Handicrafts – sewing projects for beginners

The child is only truly educated who can use his hands as truly as his head, for to neglect one part of our being injures the whole…
Any work which employs the creative instinct to good purpose and produces a reputable and artistic result (not mere exercises which waste the children\’s time and material for nothing) finds favour with us.

Moozle had her first lesson on the sewing machine a year ago and is quite confident using it. I get it out for her and she can thread it up and start sewing but I still need to keep my eye on her and help her with some things. My machine is a great little basic Elna my Dad bought us for a wedding gift twenty-six years ago. We didn\’t have a TV and Dad asked if we\’d like one for a wedding gift and I quickly said NO, but I\’d love a sewing machine. It hasn\’t skipped a beat in all that time.
I\’ve taught all seven children to use it & being a machine, I had no trouble convincing the boys to try it out.
I\’ve always set it up on the kitchen table because it\’s a central place & I can keep my eye on the user. One day I left it for half a minute & when I came back I found my 2 year old son kneeling on the chair with a scrap of fabric underneath the needle of the machine. He was looking very serious, waiting for something to happen. It gave me a fright (not that he could reach the pedal but one of the other littles could have gone under the table and pressed it) so I\’ve always been careful since then to make sure that whoever is sewing always turns off the power any time they leave the table. Moozle is the youngest child but she also always turns it off.

This week I got her to make a storage bag for our plastic bags and here is what she did:

What you need:

A rectangular piece of fabric – we used a piece about 22\” x 20\” (56cm x 51cm)

2 pieces of elastic – I had some that was too wide so I cut in longwise to make it just under 1/2\” wide and cut two pieces about 6\” (15cm) long
Large safety pin

What you do:

Sew a border along each of the shorter sides for the elastic to go through. Ours was about 1\” in width – you have to be able to get the safety pin through easily.

Fold material in half lengthwise & sew the edges together leaving the two ends open for the elastic to go through.

Attach elastic to the pin and thread a piece through both top & bottom seams and secure ends of elastic by sewing them together with zigzag stitch.


This is the fiddly bit. Tuck the raw edges away from sight and sew the seams closed. Not exactly neat but it\’s not going to come undone:

Fill with plastic bags – finito.

These little wall hangings were done by my two older girls when they were around ages 9 and 11. One of the boys also did something similar when he was 14 years old. This will probably be Moozle\’s next project. It combines hand sewing (the picture is worked in backstitch) and the patched border and binding machine sewed. With this basic idea you can do all sorts of variations and the girls experimented with dying the background fabric (we used plain calico/homespun) with tea, Parisian essence & other concoctions.
I\’ll post instructions when she\’s done it.


6 thoughts on “Handicrafts – sewing projects for beginners

  1. Hi Carol, Thanks for these instructions; I am sure they will come in handy! And thanks for taking the time to share your wealth of experience via your blog; it definitely comes in handy!Best wishes,Angela


  2. I love how you chose a sewing machine over a TV! My kids are just getting to the age where I can start thinking about actual handicrafts. Do you have any suggestions for boys? I can think of a hundred things to teach my daughter, but my mind goes blank when I think of what to teach my son. I know he can learn the more girl oriented things too, but I'm trying to think past those…Thanks for linking up to Trivium Tuesdays!


  3. Amy, for younger boys we used some simple electronic kits; making circuits that turn on a little light bulb, buzzers, simple motors. This was an easy project: http://journey-and-destination.blogspot.com.au/2014/07/handicraft-project-for-boy-hammer-nail.html; Lego has some motorised cars/motorbikes; meccano also have some; they made wooden swords, shields; paper mache armour – helmets; catapults, slingshots; wooden models eg planes, animals – found these cheaply and they glued the pieces together; model cars etc – collect and paint them. Salt dough – I've seen some great ideas which you could use for boys or girls – library would have books on this. We gave them old appliances minus the plugs – toasters, phones – to take apart; bird feeders, gardening.


  4. Pingback: A Homeschooling Year for a 9 year old Girl – Ambleside Online Year 3 | journey & destination

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