Art Attack: All Dolled Up

In a world of busy-ness and responsibility, it’s just as important to take a few moments exploring the creative side of life. Join us as we share ideas on how to get those imaginative juices flowing and explore a world of art!

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Summer_ArtMy kids really like dolls. So, when this interesting project came to our attention, we were all over it!

What is the project? Making your own stuffed doll! The concept is simple, but how easy is it really? Honestly… it was a bit of a challenge.

Here is what you’ll need:

fabric
scissors
needle/thread
batting (or other stuffing for your doll)
embroidery thread

The concept is fairly straight-forward. You cut the following pattern out of your fabric of choice, add details of the dolls face with embroidery thread, sew and stuff your doll. Easy, right? Um; well… Let’s just say the littles found this to be slightly harder than they would have liked. It wasn’t that they couldn’t do the project, but that it didn’t turn out half as nice as they would have liked.

Doll Pattern

A doll can’t go unclothed, at least not in our house. Clothes needed to follow. However, we found this to be even more of a challenge. I think we had grand ideas of what to create without having a firm grasp of basic principles.

I wish we could say the project finally got finished and it turned out wonderfully. However, we copped out. In other words, we quit! We definitely need to back up and work on something a little more simple. When we have the basics down, we’ll come back and tackle this project like pros. Until then… back to the cutting floor.

Time to Chime In: Have you ever tried a project that proved too much for you?

Work Hard, Play Harder: Sew Much Fun

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…” (Ecc. 3:1) Join us as we explore a season of fun and family! Help us discover new ways to enjoy family time and build lasting memories.

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Summer_work-playNow I know sewing might not be fun for everyone. To be honest, at times, it isn’t much fun for me. (At least, not in those moments when I am wrestling with my machine or trying to stuff an oversized pillow and sew it shut.) Generally though, sewing is a lot of fun!

There’s nothing quite like taking a scrap of fabric, or an old item you plan to reuse, and turning it into something creative and unique. My girls have been practically begging me to dig out the sewing machine (I keep it tucked away, we don’t have room for a sewing area in our house. I wish!) and teach them the ropes. This week, that’s just what we did!

While I usually tend to jump into life’s activities full throttle, I am trying to understand that kids usually do not do well with this method; especially when it comes to new skills being learned. I thought we had better ease our way into machine sewing and did some online searching for the perfect project to start us off.

What I found was an amazing website, with a section specifically designed for teaching little people how to sew. Skip to My Lou was just what I was looking for. I downloaded her helpful practice pages and off we went!

Sewing Practice Sheets

Click on the picture to be directed to the Skip to My Lou website.

So far, the kids are really liking it. Even my little man was excited to get in on the fun. He was the first to test out the machine. (As he is the youngest, I thought it best to let him go first and not test his patience.) They all did a wonderful job on their projects.

The first sheet, dot-to-dot, we did with a simple stitch. Nothing fancy, just an opportunity for them to better learn the skill and how to work the machine. The second sheet, the maze, we chose to be a little more creative. For each line of the maze, the kids were allowed to test out various patterns that came on our sewing machine. All together, we have over 26 different stitches to work with.

We learned a lot today! We experimented with stitch length, width, and tension. They learned how to thread the machine and thread the bobbin. They learned how to start off a project, turn corners, and finish neatly.

As this was the kids’ first attempt at machine sewing, we thought doing these two sheets was enough for one day. After all, one machine and four kids takes a lot of time! In the future, I might need to invest in one more; just so the kids aren’t having to wait as long to get some work in. We’ll see…

For future projects, because there will be future projects, I think we will be using quite a few ideas found on Nana Company; as well as Skip to My Lou. Nana Company has a plethora of ideas, starting with THIS adorable snack mat.

A great day of fun. Plus, it knocked another ‘pin’ off my list of ‘to-dos’!

Time to Chime In: Do your children sew? Who taught them and how often do they put their skills to use?

Keepers #15 (2013-2014)

There is nothing like a simple sewing project to lighten the day. After several weeks of more difficult sewing projects, we decided to slow things down a little. Our project of the week: bookmarks!

These bookmarks are super easy and quite fun! We found the idea on Pinterest and quickly decided this was a must for the girls. All you need is a length of ribbon, a button, and a small band of elastic (we used a rainbow loom piece).

Keepers #15 (1-11) Keepers #15 (3-11) Keepers #15 (4-11) Keepers #15 (5-11) Keepers #15 (6-11) Keepers #15 (7-11) Keepers #15 (8-11) Keepers #15 (9-11) Keepers #15 (10-11) Keepers #15 (11-11)

Based on previous projects, I expected the girls to take more time with these. Surprisingly, they finished more quickly than anticipated. Their sewing skills are starting to increase! (Of course, there was a little less sewing involved as well.)

Everyone seemed to enjoy these projects and I hope they will find them useful. I know our girls can never have enough bookmarks; we are just a bookworm family!

Have you ever made your own bookmarks?

Keepers #14 (2013-2014)

Where has the year gone? It seems like things just got started and we are already winding down. Only two more Keepers meetings to go before the year is over. Before we get there though, a few more lessons remain to be taught. This week… hand sewing with fabric!

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Keepers #14 (9-10)

I don’t think any of the other girls finished their project before the day was out, but my little ‘Mouse’ went without snack just so she could finish hers.

Keepers #14 (10-10)

Then… my little girl promptly went home and worked on a few additional projects I had purchased just for my girls. So cute!

One more week of sewing to go and then, our end of the year party! This was a particularly fun week for all of us. The projects were so cute and so easy to create.

For those interested in doing these yourselves, we found these (thank you, Mrs. Yeh) at Michaels in the American Girl section. There are several varieties to choose from and so many options to help you be creative.

I’m not sure about the other girls, but I know we’ll be stopping by Michaels to pick up a few more for ourselves. This was so much fun!

Keepers #13 (2013-2014)

The month of April finds us Keeper girls still focusing on our sewing lessons. Unlike March, however, we have decided to tackle a few projects. Hopefully, the girls will find these less stressful and intimidating than a few of the stitches previously taught.

We brought along our handy-dandy sewing kits, ready to conquer the project of the day. While most sewing projects involve fabric, our first venture entailed paper!

Keepers #13 (1/10) Keepers #13 (2/10) Keepers #13 (3/10) Keepers #13 (4/10) Keepers #13 (5/10) Keepers #13 (6/10) Keepers #13 (7/10) Keepers #13 (8/10) Keepers #13 (9/10) Keepers #13 (10/10)

Sometimes it’s hard to guess what little fingers will find challenging or not. We thought we had picked an especially simple project, however we discovered several of the younger girls still struggled with this. In addition, being that we were ‘sewing’ on paper and not fabric, a few of our girls lacked any interest in this project.

We are pleased to note that most of the young ladies were excited. They thought the animal cards were adorable and really enjoyed adding the sewn embellishments to their projects.

The girls were encouraged to be creative with their cards. While we did give them suggested colors and a thread count for their embroidery floss, they were free to experiment with different amounts of thread (less or more) and to mix their colors for a more dimensional affect.

While none of our girls finished all four of their animal cards in class, most completed at least one in the hour given; some had a second one almost complete. They were encouraged to take them home and finish when an opportunity arose.

Lest you think I have a creative bone in my body, the images we used and the idea itself were taken from THIS awesome website. I highly recommend heading over there yourself. You’ll be inspired and encouraged to take on your own sewing adventure.

Hopefully, next meeting’s project will be even more successful; we will be sewing fabric animals!

Keepers #12 (2013-2014)

Wow! Our Keepers year is almost finished! Four more weeks to go and we are through. It seems hard to believe that an entire year has almost come about. Where does the time go? Before we get ready to relax for the summer, however, we want to finish strong. There are still a few more weeks to go and there is much to learn.

March saw us focusing on our sewing skills. Last time we were together, we spent the bulk of our time putting together the most adorable sewing kits using mason jars. At the end of our meeting, we did have a few moments to learn one stitch, the running stitch, but not much else.

This week, we wanted to review those skills learned previously and add a few more to our repertoire.

Keepers #12 (1/7) Keepers #12 (2/7) Keepers #12 (3/7) Keepers #12 (4/7) Keepers #12 (5/7) Keepers #12 (6/7) Keepers #12 (7/7)

We opened up group with a little practice time. The girls threaded their needles, knotted them, and practiced their running stitches. After a few minutes, we pulled them over to a side table and taught them a few new tricks.

The first stitch we taught them was a back-stitch. They caught on very quickly and seemed to enjoy a little diversity in their growing skills. We gave each of the girls an 8×11 piece of white felt and had them trace three lines down the middle. They were asked to practice their running stitch down the first line and the back-stitch down the second. The third line was for either stitch they preferred. We specifically instructed the girls to use colorful thread, so we could inspect their work and so they could more easily see their progress.

After a few minutes, we had the girls review tying off their stitches and once again pulled them over to the side table. This time, we taught them how to do a hemming stitch.

The hemming stitch proved to be a bit more difficult for the girls, but most of them caught on after a few moments practice. Even some of our adult ladies had yet to learn this stitch, so this was a fun, growing experience for all of us!

Our third, and final, new stitch of the day was the catch stitch. I think this stitch is lots of fun; you get to make X’s with your thread! The girls thought this was cute too, but they did have a little trouble catching on. I spent a little time walking around showing them individually and then they seemed to grasp the concept.

A few of our girls found these exercises to be entirely frustrating. Patience is definitely a must when learning to sew by hand. I really wish we’d had more grown ladies on hand to give more person-to-person assistance. Over all I think we did well though.

A few of the girls mentioned they had been working on their own projects during our break. This is always encouraging to hear; the girls being inspired to take what they’ve learned in group home and create something for themselves.

Next month will find us continuing our sewing, but this time we will have a specific project with which we are working. Hopefully, the ladies will find this entertaining and educational.

Till next time….

Keepers #11 (2013-2014)

Every once in a while, it’s fun to tackle a large project, instead of working on smaller ones which offer instant gratification. This was our thought process for handling the planning of both March and April. Instead of four smaller skill sets, we chose to pick one large one which would span all four meetings. Our project of choice: teaching our girls how to sew by hand!

I should probably note… I have no training in this field. That meant one of two things. Either I was going to be really bad at teaching because I have little experience in this OR I was going to be a decent teacher because the girls were going to be learning from someone who is not going to assume prior history and is at just a slightly higher level than they. That said; our time together was incredible!

Instead of immediately starting in on a major project, I thought it was important to begin with the basics. Our girls should learn how to handle basic sewing notions before they try to complete a project. I also wanted to get the girls started with their own sewing kits. This was our starting point.

Last summer, I “pinned” THIS amazing website to aid us in our sewing endeavors. I thought our girls would really enjoy creating personal sewing kits, making it their own. These mason jar sewing kits were the perfect fit! They are simple to make and incredibly adorable.

After creating our kits, we spent a few moments filling them with various notions and explaining the purpose behind each item. We made sure to include a mini-lesson on various needle types and thread variations, as well.

What good is a kit, if you aren’t going to use it? Each young lady was given a medium-sized rectangle of felt, a ruler, and a marker. We encouraged each girl to draw a few lines on her felt and then our first sewing lesson began! We taught them how to thread their needle (both by hand and with a needle threader); how to tie off their thread; and one basic stitch, the running stitch.

It took several minutes for the girls to learn the running stitch, but before long everyone was doing just fine. We gave the girls a little time to complete several lines of practice and then taught them one final skill for the day; tying off their stitches.

Keepers #11 (1-7)

 

Keepers #11 (2-7) Keepers #11 (5-7) Keepers #11 (6-7) Keepers #11 (4-7) Keepers #11 (3-7) Keepers #11 (7-7)

After our meeting, one of my girlfriends alerted me to a new offer by Joann’s and Craftsy. For a limited time, you can sign up for free, online classes to help you become more proficient in sewing. Need a little help figuring out your sewing machine? Interested in learning how to piece together hand-made garments? Would you care to learn more about quilting? This offer just might be for you!

If you’re looking to get your littles involved in a few sewing endeavors, Skip to My Lou might be just what you’re looking for. There are tons of awesome ideas to help you and your child start their sewing adventure, with lots of projects to tickle your fancy. If you go nowhere else, definitely stop here and take a gander.

So far, our lessons are going very well! The girls are having a great time and they are excited to be learning a new skill set. I’m glad they are having fun because we aren’t done yet! There are several more stitches for us to learn in our next meeting, followed by a two-part project we’ll begin in April. We can hardly wait!

Who taught you how to sew and was it with machine or by hand? Have you taught this skill to your own children yet?

Full Steam Ahead

As if life isn’t already filled with “busy-ness”, our family is going to be charging full steam ahead during the next several weeks. We have a slew of activities planned and today was just the start of the all the fun!

Today we had a full schedule of events. We started off doing fall co-op with our homeschooling PSP, moved onto a library visit, rounded off with a park day, and ended with getting some paperwork done. Whew!

Marine Biology

My baby boy had a marine biology class this morning, during his co-op hours. He had lots of fun and learned quite a bit.

Speech

My oldest daughter had a speech class today. She was very uncomfortable, but she made it through. We are going to be doing some practicing before next week to help her get more comfortable.

Animal Habitats

My middle girls took an animal habitat class. Today’s lesson was on the life cycle of the frog. They even had a special visitor in class… a red bellied toad!

Math Games

I taught a class for the Kindergarten kids as well. During second period we played math games. Today’s lesson was on making tangrams and creating some neat animal shapes!

Heroes of the Bible

Second period meant Heroes of the Bible for my middle girls. They made neat notebooks and even got a cape to go with it!

Sewing

Second period was basic sewing skills for my oldest girlie. She had a lot of fun with this class.

Park Day

Just a few of our girlies who joined us at the park. It was great weather and great fellowship!

Dragons

Once again, our dragon friends graced us with their company and, once again, my youngest gal wouldn’t leave them alone!

Good Eats

My baby girl eating up her pizza. She WAS supposed to be eating her salad, but her dragon friends brought pizza to share… so… the salad was forgotten.

Our co-op classes were an absolute blast! We had so much fun and learned a lot. Thanks so much to the other teachers who helped make today special. We can’t wait for next week!

The park was awesome! The breeze was stupendous, the food was lovely, and the fellowship was sweet. I love getting together with my other mommies and listening to how their lives are going.

Today was definitely full, but it was all worth it. Now it’s time for some R&R!

If you could teach any co-op class, what class would you teach?