Simple Block Printing on Fabric

History last week was about the Golden Age of China (thank you Story of the World!). After reading about the ancient Chinese form of block printing, the kids wanted to try it out for themselves. We gathered objects from around the house and outside that might make interesting shapes when dipped in acrylic paint. First we practiced on paper, then we added our favorite prints to pieces of canvas fabric to make these simple zip pouches.

Learn from our endeavors and do your own block printing at home!


Supplies

  • Scrap paper and/or light colored canvas fabric
  • Acrylic paint
  • Glue (optional)
  • Cardboard (optional)
  • Paintbrushes (optional)
  • Various objects you don’t mind getting paint on (we used twigs, leaves, old wine corks, and a bunch of stuff from our recycling bin)

Set Up

Start by gathering supplies you’d like to use for your stamps. Kids can get really creative here! We ended up with wine corks, bottle lids, sticks, pencils, chopsticks, toothpicks, medicine cups, leaves, and probably more that I’m forgetting.

Next, make your blocks/stamps if needed. You can simply use the object itself. Or, if it’s too small to get a good grip on (like a plastic water bottle cap), glue the object to a small square of cardboard. Make sure to glue down the side that you will not be printing with.

Here are some of the “stamps” we used. We didn’t have success with the glue patterns (the ridges weren’t high enough), but the rest worked really well!

Cover the surface you’ll be painting on.

Squirt out small amounts of the chosen acrylic paint colors.

You’re ready to go!


Printing

Note: If you will be printing on fabric, I recommend having the kids try out different designs and stamps on paper first.

Let the kids explore different stamping techniques. Some objects may work well being dipped into the paint, some may work better having the paint applied with a paint brush. You may end up with a kiddo that just wants to use the paintbrush to paint, like I did.

Encourage them to try different patterns, allowing paint to dry between changing colors if the patterns will be overlapping each other.

Change to printing on the fabric once everyone is comfortable with the block printing technique. Acrylic paint can go directly on the fabric! We used a duck cloth canvas fabric, which absorbed the paint well and makes for sturdy zip pouches in the next step. Plus I had scraps left from banner making, so it was a win-win.

Such a simple, fun artistic foray!


Using Printed Fabric

If you will be using the fabric for anything other than display, let it dry for 24 hours. Then iron the fabric to set the paint.

Put your iron on the setting required for your fabric type (mine was quite hot). Place a piece of scrap fabric or parchment paper on your ironing surface, then place your fabric paint side down on top. Iron on the non-printed side of the fabric for 2-5 minutes, moving the iron back and forth slowly to avoid scorching.

Iron on the back side of the fabric for several minutes to set the paint.

If you’re looking for a way to use your fabric, make some of these fun little zip pouches! The “Easiest Lined Zip Pouch” is even simple enough for an older child to sew with minimal help.



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The Easiest Lined Zip Pouch

There are about 1,200 different ways to make a zip pouch. The one I’m sharing here is as simple as you can get for a lined pouch. Plus, it’s a great way to use a single piece of special fabric for the exterior.

For this tutorial, I used fabric that my kiddos did block printing on during a history lesson about “The Golden Age of China”. Check out this post to see how we used simple block printing to design our own fabric!

I’ll be showing you two sizes here, but you can make this zip pouch your own by changing the dimensions to any size you’d like. In the “Make It Your Own” section at the end of the tutorial, I’ll give you instructions on how to change the sizing to meet your own needs. To make this zip pouch even faster, simply omit the lining!

Okay, on to the “Easiest Lined Zip Pouch”.


Materials

Large zip pouch (8.5″ x 4.75″):
One 9 1/4″ x 10″ piece of exterior fabric
One 9 1/4″ x 10″ piece of lining fabric
One nylon zipper 9 1/4″ or longer

Small zip pouch (5.5″ x 3.75″):
One 6 1/4″ x 8″ piece of exterior fabric
One 6 1/4″ x 8″ piece of lining fabric
One nylon zipper 6 1/4″ or longer

If your zipper is longer than the width of your fabric, trim it down to size.

*The easiest way to do this is to close the zipper completely and line up the end with the zipper pull with the edge of your fabric (note, this should be the shorter edge of your fabric). Trim off the overhang on the opposite side. Make sure not to cut off the zipper pull! You may stitch back and forth over the new end of the zipper if desired.


Sewing Instructions

1.

Exterior fabric right side up, place your zipper right side down along the top edge of the fabric. Zipper pull to the left. Pin or clip in place.

2.

Baste zipper in place, 1/8″ away from the edge.

*Basting means using a very long stitch length to hold the zipper and fabric in place. Basting stitches will not be seen in the final product, they simply add stability to make the next step easier.

3.

With the exterior fabric right side up, place your lining fabric right side down on top. Line the edges of your fabric up along the basted zipper edge. Pin or clip in place.

*If you are using a directional print for the lining, place the fabric upside down so when the zip pouch is opened, the fabric will be seen in the correct direction from the front of the zip pouch.

4.

With the zipper foot on your sewing machine, stitch through your zipper sandwich 1/4″ away from the edge, using a regular stitch length.

5.

Open what you just sewed to reveal the zipper.

6.

Fold the fabrics back so the lining and exterior fabrics are wrong sides together, with the zipper showing at the top.

*If you’ve never sewn a zipper before, here’s a view from the side of what it should look like at this point.

7.

Press along the top edge of the fabric, being careful not to accidently iron (and melt!) the zipper. Top stitch through all fabric layers, 1/8″ away from the zipper.

*Here’s what it looks like from the lining side after top stitching.

8.

Place your fabric exterior side up, zipper at the top. Treating the lining and exterior fabrics as one unit, fold the bottom short edge up to top along the unsewn edge of the zipper. Pin or clip in place.

9.

Sew along the clipped edge with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Here’s what it looks like from the other side.

10.

Neaten up the unsewn edges on the zip pouch by trimming off any fabric that’s not lined up.

11.

*Note- I changed pouches here to work on the small one.

Here’s the ONE kind of tricky part of this zip pouch. Shift the zipper back on the sewn fabric so that the fabric at the top of the zip pouch folds accordion style. Do this on both unsewn sides.

See the step by step photos in the grid below if this looks confusing!

12.

Pin or clip the unsewn edges in place. Make sure your zipper is at least halfway open before clipping!

13.

Using your regular stitch length, stitch along the unsewn edges with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

14.

Sew along the raw edges with a zig zag stitch to prevent fraying.

*If you have a serger, you can use it to combine steps 13 and 14.

15.

Turn the zip pouch right side out, using your finger to push out all of the corners. Clip the top edge of the fabric along the zipper. Make sure it’s lined up nicely, as you’ll be sewing along that top edge.

16.

Top stitch along the top edge of the zipper. The corners will be a bit bulky, so make sure to use a sharp needle and go slowly. You don’t need to sew the bulky areas completely if it’s hard for your machine, rather leave an unsewn 1/4″ on each side.

*Start sewing 1/2″ in from the side and then backstitch. This will help feed the fabric through nicely and allow you to adjust to the bulky edge.

17.

Trim any loose threads and you’re all done!

*Here’s what the large pouch looks like on the inside. The directional print is right side up when opening from the front. The front edge (not shown) will be upside down.

Make It Your Own

There are several ways you can use this tutorial to make a zip pouch with your own special flair. Also, check out the free Stand Firm Zip Pouch for a different twist on this tutorial!

Change up the materials:

  • Design your own fabric with acrylic paint following our block printing tutorial.
  • Sew a quilt block to use for the exterior.
  • Use a meaningful fabric, such as an old shirt. If you want to use a stretchy fabric, interface with Pelon SF101 or a similar interfacing before sewing.

Resize:

  • You can make this zip pouch any size you’d like! Just make sure the width of your fabric is the same as your zipper length. See “Materials” for how to cut down a zipper to the size you need.
  • Keep in mind that your zip pouch will end up approximately 3/4″ smaller in width than your original fabric piece, and a little less than half as tall. For example, if you start with a fabric piece that is 10″ across and 10″ tall, you will end up with a zip pouch that is 9.25″ across and 4.75″ tall.

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Announcing – A Handmade Holidays Shopping Page

I’m excited to share a great opportunity for connection with other business owners specializing in handcrafted goods. This year will be Reclaimed for Good’s first annual “Handmade Holiday Shopping Guide”, featuring handmade *very* small businesses.

There will be a webpage dedicated to listing stores and services, and I’ll also feature one store each day on Reclaimed for Good’s social media feed starting November 5th.

No obligations, fees, or hoops to jump through, I’m just excited to connect people with lots of new creative, handmade stores!

Here’s what the “Handmade Holidays Shopping Guide” will look like:
  1. A dedicated page on my website www.reclaimed4good.com with photos and links to what you’re selling.
  2. A different shop featured daily on my IG/FB pages starting Nov 5th.
  3. Lots of tags in my stories to point people to your handmade goodies!
How to add your shop:
  1. If you’re unfamiliar with Reclaimed for Good and our mission, take some time to look at the website first to make sure it’s a place you’d like your store featured.
  2. Fill out and submit this Google form or click on the button below.
  3. Email a couple of photos to reclaimed4good@gmail.com that you feel best represents what you have to offer.

Entry deadline is October 30th.

Message, email me, or comment here with any questions!

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Baptism Banner Reflections

Over the past year, I’ve had several discussions with people about my method for making banners or wall hangings.

Let me tell you, it’s not a one step process!

In fact, even though I’ve made quite a few wall hangings by now, I still follow a detailed checklist I made for myself so that I’m less likely to goof up and skip steps along the way.

*fingers crossed*

I like to work with fabric that has special meaning to the recipient, cut the letters and/or images from this fabric by hand, fuse them to a backing I’ve hemmed, and then finish it by using my sewing machine to stitch the edge of each applique piece.

Is there a machine that could create a banner with fewer mistakes and more precision?

Probably.

Is there a machine that could make a banner in a fraction of the time it takes me?

Definitely.

But, is there a machine that could draw me into deeper connection with both the person I’m creating it for and to the materials in my hands?

Nope.

The connections of reclaimed fabric, faith meditations, and using my hands to create something new is what draws me to sewing.

So, for now, I’m going to stick with this laborious, slow process for making banners.

Because, in this current season of my life, unearthing meaning in creating and finding unending connections to Christ in sewing mean more to me than efficiency.

Discoveries

The past couple of summers, my older children took clay classes at a nearby art museum. While they created, the other kids and I developed a sweet routine of going on a walk, grabbing a snack, and playing at the park. Like so many things in life right now, we missed those days this summer.

Yesterday, though, we finally had the opportunity to recapture a little bit of that art class/mommy time joy. I dropped a few of the kids off at an art class, grabbed some hot chocolate from a local coffee shop, and the 2 year old, 5 year old, and I played a park until it was time for pick up. It was misting, the ground was wet, and it wasn’t our “usual” routine, but it felt like a beautiful glimpse of normalcy.

Discovering this new art class and playground got me thinking about all of the things we’ve missed over the past several months, and all of the things we’ve discovered along the way.

I’d love to hear what you’ve missed and what you’ve found, too! Here are a few of mine.


Relationships

We’ve all missed in-person time with friends, the kids especially. But with few friends around, our kids’ sibling relationships have deepened and turned into a rich blessing. Turns out our kids appreciate each other more the more time they spend together! What a sweet outcome during a difficult time.


Playgrounds

At first, playgrounds being closed made for some sad kiddos. Then we discovered several nature trails nearby that we didn’t know about before. Long hikes and wading filled in the holes that a closed playground left. Who knew there was such beauty in our little neck of the woods?


Sports

We are a sports loving family, so it was tough when Tae Kwon Do and little league baseball were cancelled. To stay active we started going on several bike rides each week and multiple walks a day. Let’s just say we got to know our small town quite well :).

Even better, we started doing Zoom yoga classes with Fit Mooney each Sunday afternoon. Our family around the country joined in the classes, too, so we were able to practice yoga “together” each week! These are such encouraging, accessible classes that I’m excited Melissa from Fit Mooney is letting me give away two free sessions (details at the end of this post)!


Family Gatherings

Since we don’t live in the same town as extended family, it was a long time before we were able to see other in person. Luckily, my siblings came up with some creative ways to stay connected! My sister gave one of our kids weekly Spanish lessons via FaceTime, another sister joined an online writing group that met live via Zoom, and my brother taught me the art of sourdough bread making all over the phone! I’m naturally suspicious of technology taking the place of face to face conversation, but it was wonderful to discover that it can be a great tool for connecting to each other as well. (The photo below is from when my brother and I finally got to bake together!)


Full Schedules

Of course we missed all of the travel plans and activities we had on the calendar for Spring-Fall of 2020. Along with music, sports, art, and other school/extracurricular events, we were going to travel to Washington D.C. and Tennessee as a family on carefully planned roadtrips. I learned, yet again, that you don’t need a full schedule to have a full heart. We filled our freed-up time with hikes, playing outside, making blanket forts, and reading good books aloud together (like Anne of Green Gables!). Slow things that matter more than all of the trips in the world.


Normalcy

Last, but not least, these past several months of missing normalcy have served to point us to the one Hope. Sometimes it’s not until everything is stripped away, that you remember what truly matters. Making Hope Pouches throughout the pandemic has reminded me over and over again that “my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness'”. It can be easy to forget true hope when life is running as normal!


Giveaway!

I love our weekly live yoga classes with Fit Mooney so much that I’m giving away two sessions! Live classes are Sunday afternooons, but a recording is available for those not able to make it at that time or for those who want to practice more throughout the week. These encouraging sessions span all abilities and age levels! I’m a beginner, and my kids even join in :). To win a spot in next the Zoom session on September 20th, comment on Facebook or Instagram with what your favorite “pandemic discovery” has been!


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Sewing with Kids – First Projects

Is your kiddo ready to sew a project and you’re not sure where to start? Here are some of my favorite beginning sewing projects that are just right for little hands.

For more info on how to start teaching your child to sew, check out the other posts in the “Sewing with Kid” series:

  1. Setting the Stage
  2. Hand Embroidery
  3. Machine Sewing
  4. First Projects

I’ve said it before, but I’m going to say it again: I’m so glad you’re interested in teaching a kiddo how to sew. It takes a bit of time and a lot of patience, but seeing a child’s eyes light up with joy as they build a life skill makes it worth the effort!


Pillowcases

Pillowcases are a great place to begin sewing. Plus they’re useful! Win. Win. Here’s my favorite pillowcase method and the one my kids started with while taking a class at our local quilt shop. To make this tutorial even easier, you can leave out the accent strip of fabric.

An envelope pillow cover is a another great, simple option! My kids helped me make a million and one of these for their dad’s birthday one year.


Framed Hand Embroidery

Take hand embroidery projects and frame them in the hoop for an easy and beautiful way to display your child’s work. Don’t forget that the handiwork doesn’t need to be perfect to warrant display! Here’s a good tutorial to get you in the right “frame” of mind.


Tote Bags

Like pillowcases, tote bags are simple and useful things to sew. You child can even add his or her own embroidery to make it unique! Here’s a simple tote bag pattern to to start with.


Accessories

Headbands, bookmarks, and pencil holders are great ways to use up scraps and let your child sew something he or she can use on a daily basis.


Patchwork Quilt

When you’re ready to move on to a bigger project, a patchwork quilt is a fun project with a child. It takes more time, but has such a gratifying, confidence boosting end result! I have a series of quilting posts here that break every step down for you if you haven’t quilted before. My posts use t-shirts for a quilt, but applies to quilting cotton, too! In fact, I recommend starting with quilting cotton if you’re making a quilt with a kiddo :).


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Sewing with Kids – Using a Machine

Welcome to the third post in a series of tips on how to help your kids build some basic sewing skills while developing a love for stitching and growing a deeper connection with you in the process.

There’s a lot to cover, so the series is split into four segments:

  1. Setting the Stage
  2. Hand Embroidery
  3. Machine Sewing
  4. First Projects

Today we’ll be chatting about machine sewing. You child will need more supervision at first when using a sewing machine (a needle through the finger is no fun for anyone!), but it’s amazing how quickly they’ll be off and running!

I’m so glad you’re interested in teaching a kiddo how to sew. It takes a bit of time and a lot of patience, but seeing a child’s eyes light up with joy as they build a life skill makes it worth the effort!


Machine Sewing with Kids

#16 – Get to Know Your Machine

Teach about the sewing machine before you teach sewing.

Page through and read your machine’s manual with your child. Knowing how the machine works will make sewing both safer and easier! If you don’t have your manual, most can be found online these days if you search for the make and model of your sewing machine.

For a basic diagram and explanation of machine parts, this is a helpful site.


#17 – Safety First!

Talk about the “safe zone” for your hands while sewing (keeping your hands an inch or more away from the sides of the presser foot while sewing). Also, stress remembering to stop the needle when having to look away while the machine is running.

Then discuss it again.

And again.


#18 – Start Simple

Like with hand embroidery, have your child draw lines, simple shapes, or straight line letters on fabric to practice sewing over.

Starting with this method instead of sewing together fabric pieces gives practice sewing straight and lets you experiment with what different stitches and stitch lengths look like on your machine. Plus, I find kids more likely to sit and stitch “worksheets” when they’re the ones who’ve designed them.

Once your child has straight lines downs, teach him how to backstitch at the beginning and end of a line. Next, teach how to pivot at corners, keeping the needle down.

Now he has all the skills needed for a simple sewing project!


#19 – Step in When Needed

Your child may get frustrated by not being able to keep the fabric straight. While she’s learning, you can gently hold the fabric with her as it feeds through the machine. Gradually help less and less as she gets a feel for how to guide the fabric as she sews.


#20 – Use Helpful Resources

Don’t reinvent the wheel.  First off, talk to other seamstresses in your life.  How were they taught?  How did they teach their kids?  Wonderful relationships and tips come from seeking out in person knowledge! 

No one in your life to reach out to?  Check out these great blog series on teaching machine sewing to children:

And you can always send me an email or message with any questions you have! Happy sewing 🙂


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Sewing with Kids – Hand Embroidery

Welcome to the second post in a series of tips on how to help your kids build some basic sewing skills while developing a love for stitching and growing a deeper connection with you in the process.

There’s a lot to cover, so the series is split into four segments:

  1. Setting the Stage
  2. Hand Embroidery
  3. Machine Sewing
  4. Sewing Projects for Beginners

Today we’ll be chatting about hand embroidery, which is both my favorite way to start a kid sewing and something I enjoy doing myself. There are endless possibilities with embroidery.

I’m so glad you’re interested in teaching a kiddo how to sew. It takes a bit of time and a lot of patience, but seeing a child’s eyes light up with joy as they build a life skill makes it worth the effort!


Hand Embroidery with Kids

#10 – Let the Child be the Designer

When teaching hand embroidery, let your child draw his or her own design on a piece of fabric and then stitch over it. You can use a pen or marker (also, see the tools suggested for hand embroidery in Tip #4).

A great simple “design” to start with is a letter or a name. You can then teach a running stitch or a backstitch using a thread color contrasting with the fabric.

Need to brush up on your embroidery skills before teaching your kiddo? Here’s a great tutorial for basic stitches.


#11 – Start on Cardboard

For very young children, have them draw a letter on a cereal box, then use a nail (or other sharp tool) to poke holes through every half inch or so.  They can use a large plastic needle with yarn or a shoelace to practice “sewing” on the cardboard before moving on to fabric.

Kids can also learn basic stitches on cardboard, plastic canvas, or even holes punched in felt or cardstock.


#12 – Lend a Helping Hand

Two ways to gently help your child when they’re struggling, without completely taking over:  

  1. Put your hand over theirs or place a guiding hand on their elbow  while they find the right place to poke the needle through the front or back of the fabric.
  2. Hold the hoop for them, leaving both of their hands free for handling the needle and thread.

#13 – Add a Knot

Does your child’s thread keep coming out of the needle’s eye?  Tie a small knot in the thread tail, leaving the needle in a loop of thread (see photo).  Once your kiddo has figured out the stitching process, he or she can focus on the dexterity needed to keep the thread from pulling out of the eye.


#14 – Try a Wash Away Pattern

When you’re both ready to move to something more complex, check out Sulky Stick ‘n Stitch.  You can print or draw designs on the paper, stick it on fabric, then soak the fabric after stitching and the paper dissolves, leaving just your embroidery behind.  Here are some other ways to transfer a pattern onto fabric.

Also, for the kid who enjoys freehand or abstract work, it can be fun to stitch without a design at all!  I always love seeing improv embroidery :).


#15 – Resources, Resources, Resources

Check out your resources.  There are tons of ideas and tutorials for how to teach hand embroidery to kids.  I’ve gathered my favorites below so you don’t have to spend precious time sifting through your favorite search engine.

Even better, find a friend who knows how to stitch and ask him/her to give you some pointers when you feel stuck!


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Sewing with Kids – Setting the Stage

Welcome to the first post in a series of tips on how to help your kids build some basic sewing skills while developing a love for stitching and growing a deeper connection with you in the process.

There’s a lot to cover, so the series will be split into four segments:

  1. Setting the Stage
  2. Hand Embroidery
  3. Machine Sewing
  4. First Projects

I’m so glad you’re interested in teaching a kiddo how to sew. It takes a bit of time and a lot of patience, but seeing a child’s eyes light up with joy as they build a life skill makes it worth the effort!


Setting the Stage for Successful Sewing

#1 – Know Your “Why”

Before you even pick up a needle or thread your machine, take some time to think about why you’re considering starting on the “teaching my kids to sew” journey. Knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing makes it easier to follow through with love and patience when things get tough, boring, or frustrating. It also lays the groundwork for how you’ll respond to your child when mistakes are made, as they often will be.

Are you looking to teach a basic life skill? Build connection with your child? Grow in patience yourself and teach patience to your student? Teach an art form? Aim for perfection in a particular skill or project? Some (or all) of the above?

This might seem like a silly, tedious exercise, but having explored your motivations will make the teaching process smoother, gentler, and more focused on your main goal. Whether that’s a set of highly skilled little fingers or a heart full of stitching memories.

You might find, too, that the only reason you’re thinking of teaching your child to sew is that you feel like you “should”. Speaking from experience, doing things simply because there’s some invisible “should” burden you, someone else, or society has placed on your shoulders, doesn’t lead to a great learning (or relationship building) experience.

Someone out there needs to hear this: You don’t need to teach your kiddos how to sew. They’ll be just fine with all of the other skills and love you pour into their lives!

If your “why” isn’t centered on a “should”, though, keep reading for more tips on creating a calm, confidence-building sewing experience with your kids!


#2 – Be Realistic

Have a realistic outlook and goal(s).

If you’re teaching a young child to hand sew, it’s not going to look perfect. If you’re teaching an older child how to use a sewing machine, the lines aren’t always going to be straight.

Please don’t expect perfection, especially at the beginning of the learning process. I’ve been sewing for years now, after learning as an adult, and I *still* don’t sew everything correctly. I suspect I never will.

You’re setting yourself and your budding stitcher up for major frustration and disappointment if you expect too much too soon.


#3 – Decide on Your Response

Considering the tips from the last two days will help you with today’s exercise: Decide ahead of time how you’ll respond.

If your child makes a mistake, how will you respond? When your student gets frustrated and wants to give up, how will you respond? When life gets hectic and you feel distracted and rushed during a sewing session, how will you respond?

Make the decision now to respond with patience and encouragement and you’ll be more likely to actually respond like that in the moment.

Note that I said “more likely”. Also don’t be hard on yourself when you respond negatively during a heated moment. Take a breath, take a break, model apologizing (if necessary), forgiveness (if necessary), and pick that needle back up with a fresh start the next time.


#4 – Use the Right Tools

Use the right tools. They make everything easier! Here are some of my favorites.

(The following contains affiliate links. While I appreciate your support of my small business by purchasing through these links, I always encourage people to check with their local quilt shops first!)

Handsewing:

Machine sewing:


#5 – Start with the Basics

Start with the basics. And stay with them until mastered (whatever “mastered” means to you).

For hand sewing, the basics are running stitch and then backstitch and whipstitch. For machine sewing, the basics are pinning, sewing straight lines, then pivoting at corners.

You can do lots of projects with just these basic skills! I’ll be sharing specific projects for the last post of this series.


#6 – Limit Distractions

When you sit down to sew with your child, make it easier for the two of you to focus by limiting distractions. If you have a toddler, maybe sew during his naptime. If you have a frequently buzzing phone, turn it on silent. You get the drift.

When I’m rushed and/or focused on other things, I’m more likely to get frustrated and impatient with my kiddos, and I’m betting I’m not alone in that!

With very young children, your sewing sessions won’t last more than 10-15 minutes, especially at the beginning. Carving out 15 minutes to solely focus on your child and the task at hand will set you up for success. Plus, it will plant a small seed in your child’s heart of feeling worthwhile and loved.


#7 – Encourage Independence

Let your child do as much as possible by him or herself.

Mastering a task is a great confidence booster at any age. Resist the urge to prematurely step in and take over when a stitch isn’t straight or your kiddo is doing something differently than you would. Instead, demonstrate and talk through the skill you’re working on, then hand over the needle and step back. You might be surprised!

Of course, help when asked and guide as needed, but encourage your child to fly solo and try to figure out mistakes on her own first.


#8 – Take a Break

Stop before it gets overwhelming.

Overcoming a bit of frustration is good for the brain and the soul but, too much can feel like a brick wall in the middle of the learning process. Learn to read your child’s (and your own!) signs of frustration, so you can stop sewing before the tears start or a blow up happens.

Try to end sewing sessions on a positive note, even when emotions are running high, by saying something like, “I can see this is starting to make you upset. Why don’t we take a break and try again next time? I’m so glad I got to sew with you today!”


#9 – Be Encouraging

Last tip before we get into the specifics of sewing – BE ENCOURAGING!

Teach process over perfection.

Building a life skill takes time, practice, materials, energy, and, most of all, encouragement from people in a child’s life.


Together we can find more ways to reclaim fabric
and breathe meaning, joy, and life into our sewing.


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How to Bind a Quilt Using the Backing

**Check out this post for an overview of our T-Shirt Quilt Sewalong**

In Weeks 6-8 of our “How to Sew a T-Shirt Quilt Series“, we squared, basted, quilted (or tied), and bound our quilts. During these weeks I showed you the more traditional methods of basting, quilting, and binding.

However, as with most of sewing (and life!), there’s more than one way to do something!

In this post I’m going to be showing you how to bind your quilt using the backing. I use this method quite a bit when working with minky backing, because it’s such a forgiving fabric. I know a lot of people get annoyed with its shifting, stretchy nature, but I actually enjoy working with minky! You can use any type of backing material with this method, though.

When using the backing of your quilt for binding, the changes come in all the way back during the basting process:

  1. Square up your quilt top as you normally would (detailed instructions for this are in this post on basting).
  2. Trim your batting so that it is the exact same size as your quilt top.
  3. Trim your backing fabric so that there are 4″ of overhang on each edge of your quilt top (to get this number, add 8″ to the length and 8″ to the width of your top).
  4. Baste and quilt as you normally would.
  5. Follow the steps below for binding.

Trimming

Lay your quilt out on a large, flat surface. (The quilt I’m using for this tutorial was completely sewn by my seven year old – isn’t it adorable??)

**Don’t worry about my backing being two different colors. We had to piece together two pieces of fabric to make a backing large enough for the finished top.

Place your cutting board underneath the quilt sandwich, and find a corner of the quilt that looks the most “square” to your eye.

Using your quilting ruler, line the edge of the quilt top up with the line 1″ away from the edge of the ruler. Trim along the outer edge. This will leave you with a 1″ overhang of backing fabric.

Continue shifting your ruler and trimming around one edge of the quilt. You may need to shift your cutting board from time to time as well.

Do this on each side of the quilt, square up the corners as you go.

Once you make it all the way around, trim the final corner and you’re ready to bind!


Binding

Remove the cutting board and make sure the quilt is laying flat. Starting on one edge, fold the overhanging backing fabric in half lengthwise so that the edge of the backing fabric meets the edge of the quilt.

Fold the backing fabric in half again so that it overlaps that quilt top by about 1/2 an inch. Pin or clip in place.

Continue folding and pinning all the way down the first straight edge.

Leave a few inches unclipped on both sides of the corners.

Hold one edge out flat while keeping the other edge folded over on itself twice.

Fold down the corner of the folded backing so that it creates a 45 degree angle and is lined up with the edge of the quilt top.

Fold the still flattened edge inward twice to complete the mitered corner. (The first fold will bring the edge of the backing fabric to the edge of the quilt top. The second fold will bring the backing fabric up over the quilt top and in line with the rest of the binding.)

Pin on clip to secure. You can see I use a lot of clips on this part!

Repeat these steps all the way around the quilt top. I used a ton of clips because I was working with a minky backing, and I’m an “overclipper” by nature.


Sewing

You’re now ready to start sewing down the binding. You can do this by hand or machine. I’ll be showing you how to sew it down with your machine in this post because this is a blanket that will be getting lots of use and washing!

Attach a walking foot to your sewing machine. Beginning along one of the straight edges, sew 1/8″ away from the interior folded edge of the binding, backstitching to start. Continue along the straight edge until you reach the first corner.

You have a couple of options when you reach the corner. You can do a simple pivot and continue along the next edge. Or you can reach the corner fold, pivot halfway, take a few stitches up and down that fold, then come back to 1/8″ away from the next edge and continue stitching.

I take those extra stitches along the fold to add a little bit more strength to the stitching there, but it’s not strictly necessary.

Continue stitching along all four sides, backstitching when you reach you first stitches.

Trim any loose threads and your quilt is complete!

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to comment on this post or message me on Facebook or Instagram. I love having a chance to help people find joy and new skills in sewing!


Together we can find more ways to reclaim fabric
and breathe meaning, joy, and life into our sewing.


-Sign up for our mailing list-

Be the first to know about new patterns, extra resources, and receive a quarterly newsletter full of great information and encouragement!

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