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Anyone done sewing (particularly patchwork) with primary age children?

(20 Posts)
ElderberrySyrup Tue 11-Oct-11 09:33:22

Hopefully I can pick people's brains smile

My dcs' school (dd is Y2 and ds YR) has put out a call for parents to run arts and crafts clubs to help them retain their Artsmark, and now my youngest is in preschool I can volunteer.

I have been a keen quilter for the last 18 months or so and have always sewn, but haven't ever taught it to kids, so I have no idea of what they might be able to achieve. (I was very competent at primary age but then I grew up with my mum doing it around me so I guess most kids won't have that.)

The clubs are going to run over 6 half hour sessions, so virtually no time at all shock especially if they have never sewn anything before, and will be limited to 6 children.

I'm thinking some kind of very small bit of patchwork ought to be good, because it will allow them to be creative in choosing and arranging materials, then all the bits they make could be sewn together or appliqued into a hanging or onto a cushion cover. I was thinking English patchwork because it means they can do the cutting out (because accuracy isn't so important as long as the templates are good) and it needs to be by hand, not a machine, but would the oversewing in English patchwork be far too difficult for them? If I pressed the papers onto the patches, hopefully even the ones who are totally new to sewing could manage the basting.
I'm thinking the way to manage it would be for each session to have a defined job (eg choosing fabric, cutting out) and then I would finish up their bits in between sessions so they could move onto the next stage.

Does anyone have any experience of sewing with primary age kids and can tell me if this sounds viable? Also, what age should I offer to do? My current thinking is Y3 and above (if only so I don't have to teach dd).


NiecieTheTerminator Tue 11-Oct-11 13:02:06

I have helped out making purses before. They were made of felt retangles which you fold into 3rds or there abouts so that you have a flap. Blanket stitch up the side and then to decorate they appliqued a shape on of their choice. I remember DS1 did a castle shape as that is what he was into at the time.

I haven't helped with this but they also made a whole school wall hanging where they had a tree shape (can't remember if it was drawn or some clever soul cut it out of fabric) and then everybody cut out the shape of a hand on fabric and appliqued it onto the tree outline. It was quite impressive when it was finished. They could embroider their initials on. It would look good as evidence for the Artmark if it were hanging in the school - call it the tree of knowledge or something equally schooly

The younger children in infants did cross stitch with large plastice needles and binca and that was about their limit really. I think you are right to offer it only to the juniors.

Also now i think of it, we have done tie dye as well. You could get the children to tie dye one week and then cut the fabric into squares and sew it together another week - make a cushion cover or something. Or tie dye very cheap plain t-shirts which is getting away from quilting a bit but still fabric craft.

Felt is a good medium for sewing and applique which small children - very forgiving. You make it bigger and more impressive by making a messenger bag size too - that should keep them busy for a few weeks! smile

NiecieTheTerminator Tue 11-Oct-11 13:07:34

Sorry meant also to comment on your idea for the patchwork not go off on my own tangent telling you what we have done when I helped in school - that isn't what you asked! blush

I think yrs5 and 6 would be able to cope with the basting. I don't think the younger ones would be able to stitch small enough ime.

How long are you planning on running the club do you think? You could start off with easy stuff and move onto the patchwork when you have a measure of what they are capable of and they have had some practice.

ElderberrySyrup Tue 11-Oct-11 13:12:30

Thank you so much Niecie, and it is really good (& interesting) to hear about what you did too. I like the tree of knowledge!

The school is just asking people to do it for 6 weeks though I'm sure if it was a success it could carry on longer.

Making things out of felt is a v good idea.

ElderberrySyrup Thu 13-Oct-11 12:27:10


Deux Thu 13-Oct-11 19:07:02

I think patchwork would be a bit ambitious to start with. And you and the children would benefit from having a project that they can complete quite quickly to begin with.

I think using felt would be a good place to start as you don't have to think about fraying plus you can use a blunter needle.

One of the first things that I ever made at primary was a felt egg cosy and I clearly remember doing it. You need 3 arch shaped pieces of felt then oversew the pieces together in a contrasting coloured embroidery thread so the seams are on the outside. My mum and dad still use mine <proud>. smile

You can set up a small 'loom', say 8 inches by 6 inches and get the children to weave different coloured wools through so that they create their own piece then use it to decorate. I attached mine to felt and made a purse for my mum.

Simple cross stitch on large squared whateveritisyoucrossstitchon. I remember making a recorder case. Or you could turn it into a gift card.

Sounds great. Have fun. smile

overmydeadbody Thu 13-Oct-11 23:20:25

I think English patchwork is a little bit ambitious if you've only got three hours.

I have done lots of sewing with primary aged children, and the best projects by far are the felt stockings for christmas. Children applique a design onto their stocking, sew it in place by hand and then stitch the two bits of the stocking together to make their stocking. Mor advanced kids sew their stocking together with a running stitch with the two sides rights sides together, then turn right way out so the stitches aren't showing, younger kids just use a blanket or running stitch to sew the two sides together with wrong sides together.

I have helped make a tapestry before, where each child gets a small peice of white cotton fabric and then draws a pattern on and then embroiders over the pattern using a variety of stitches, and all the pieces were then sewn together to make a wall hanging. It took ages and ages and ages though!

Good luck ,it all sounds good.

Rivercat Thu 13-Oct-11 23:27:08

I did a club with primary children where they each embroidered a square, similarly to overmydeadbody.The squares were added into a village quilt which hangs in the church. The kids still love to go and find their own square. It would be nice to think that some of them got a taste for crafts from it. I enjoyed it greatly, though I must have rethreaded about 1000 needles before I got the hang of tying the things on!

startail Thu 13-Oct-11 23:50:04

Be warned children under 8 cannot thread needles and cannot tie knots in cotton.
There is a reason why a lot of craft kits say 8+. Unfortunately Brownies start at 7grin.
If you only have 30 minutes you will have to keep it really simple, felt stockings sound good, felt ghost hand puppets worked well with the Brownies as did Humpty Dumpty style Easter finger puppets. Trying to make bees out of gathered circles (like the clowns you see in idea books) was a nightmare, they just couldn't do small neat running stick near the edge so nothing would gather up neatly and they took forever. We only got them finished due to my two brilliant Guide helpers. (a couple of 13 year olds who were way more use than many of the Mothers)

ElderberrySyrup Fri 14-Oct-11 08:55:34

This is brilliant, thank heavens for Mumsnet!

I will give the patchwork a miss and explore the wonderful world of felt, then.

And I will be prepared to rethread a lot of needles.

BigBoobiedBertha Fri 14-Oct-11 09:16:09

OH yes, I had forgotten one of my boys did felt stockings in the infants - there was an awful lot of glue involved though!! With slightly older children they can do a bit more stitching - running stitch to sew things on and blanket for sewing together. Juniors can handle a needle but they do need rethreading a lot although some of them enjoy the challenge of doing it themselves - I certainly found by yr 5, some were OK with it.

Applique will certainly allow you to indulge your quilter's skills. smile

Enjoy yourself! I quite envy you actually.

BigBoobiedBertha Fri 14-Oct-11 09:37:26

Oops! I forgot I name changed. In case you were wondering I was Niecie before - my post looks a bit wrong if you didn't know I had posted before on this thread.

Deux Fri 21-Oct-11 18:39:58

Just thought I'd pop back on this thread to say that there are lots of fairly straightforward felt projects in Prima Christmas Makes that could easily be adapted.

They have a little bag that you could hang from a tree as an ornament or use as an Advent type thing. Just a rectangle of felt folded in half and sewn at the sides. Ribbon or the like for the handle. smile

mustdash Fri 21-Oct-11 18:49:17

I did a craft club with P2 and P3 last year (Y1/Y2) and we made glove puppets. I think I got some instructions via TES, but basically a template out of their own hands on greaseproof paper, cut out the fabric, decorate (eyes from buttons, beards/hair from fur fabric or thread, ear rings even) sew the two sides together - voila. We did it on golden time (30/40mins), and most children took 3 - 4 weeks.

It was great fun, and some of them were really beautiful. Some children did need a fair amount of support though, and I struggled with a group of more than about 5. 6 wouldn't be impossible though if you had the patience of a saint, and were determined to make them do it all themselves - ie ignore all the "mrs dash can you just do the tricky bit round it's ear for me..." requests.

NorksAreMessy Fri 21-Oct-11 21:53:10


I thread up three times the amount of needles than there are children in advance, so you are not trying to thread, you have them ready
I fold the thread in half and knot it, so that it can't come undone.
I provide simple pincushions and am very strict about their use
I employ a strict 'queue up to see me' system to avoid chaos

Good luck

NorksAreMessy Fri 21-Oct-11 21:54:10

Ooh, I am a jewellery tutor, and we might be making felt brooches, or threading beads with a needle etc.

jicky Fri 21-Oct-11 22:16:14

At the ds school they sew felt hand puppets in year 2, but it does take hours for the whole class to finish.

There used to be a cross stitch club for years 3-6 and they used to make really nice Christmas cards.

If you are running next half term I think Christmas themed stuff would be good. As well as stockings you could also do tree ornaments, I saw some really simple ones today - stars of thick white felt with a very simple pattern stitched on in red thread, and a ribbon loop. You can also do simple stuffed Christmas tree shapes and decorate with small buttons, ric rac or ribbon.

aleene Fri 21-Oct-11 22:25:57

Canvas binka is good for doing easy cross stitch with children. they can use big needles and it is good for those who have never used them before. Boys enjoyed it as much as girls.

NorksAreMessy Fri 21-Oct-11 23:33:07

In fact, you can even get plasticneedles, for health and safety purposes

mustdash Sat 22-Oct-11 15:20:42

Norks, threading in advance in genius. So simple, and it would have made such a difference.

Not to worry, we are making fireflies now! Real lighting up ones.

Good luck with the sewing Elderberry.

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