Tag Archives: kids

My First Sewing Pattern

For the past two years I have had an item on my to-do list that never gets checked off.  That item is: create a PDF sewing pattern.

As of today, that item is now checked off!  After months (er…okay…years) of percolating I finally took the plunge and just did it!  It was perhaps just a wee bit more work than I had anticipated, but I can’t tell you how much I actually enjoyed the whole process of it.  Okay, I will admit to a few cries of frustration as I navigated the learning curve of digital drawing, but I am SO PROUD of the finished work.  And I am pretty sure this won’t be my last pattern! :)

If you have visited my shop lately, or if you follow me on Facebook, you might remember this:

Finger Puppet Sewing Pattern

Well, now there is a sewing pattern so you can make one of your very own!   Like all of my favourite PDF patterns, I included lots of photos to make the process simple and easy-to-follow (I hope!)  This is a great scrap-busting project, and a fun way to upcycle a mint tin.   Both the pattern, and the finished product, are available in the shop.

What have you been checking off your to-do list lately?




Animal Hospital Restoring Lost Limbs

Animal Hospital: How to Restore Lost Limbs

Animal Hospital Restoring Lost Limbs

Did you ever have a stuffed animal or plush toy who lost a limb?  We are big stuffie lovers at this house, and sometimes a precious stuffed friend just gets loved too much.

But never fear!  A quick trip to the animal hospital (or sewing room) can have him all fixed up in no time!

Step 1: Clean the Wound

Sometimes, as in this case, part of the limb is still attached.  Other times, the whole limb might be detached from the body. Either way, we want to clean up all those loose threads before we start stitching.  Simply clip them off with a pair of sharp scissors.

Repair a Stuffed Animal

Step 2: Prepare the Needle

Thread a needle with some thread that matches the fur of the stuffie (as close as you can.)  Tie a knot on the end and you’re ready to go!

Threaded Needle

Step 3: Stitch on the Limb

Start by burying the knot inside the stuffie where it won’t be seen, and pulling up the needle at the edge of the hole.  If the limb is no longer attached to the body, choose a spot to start stitching and hold the limb in place as you stitch.  The arrow in this photo shows where I buried the knot.

Repairing Stuffed Animals

When you are finished stitching, you won’t want to see your stitches on the outside of the stuffie.  Keep your stitches small, tight, and close together.

Begin by taking a small stitch in the fabric along the opening.

Replace a Lost Limb on a Stuffed Animal

Pull the thread tight and then take a stitch in the limb, down close to where you want it to sit in the opening.

Stitching a Stuffie

Pull your thread tight and take another stitch along the opening.

Then take a stitch on the arm.  You’ve got the idea.  Keep doing this all the way around the limb until it is all stitched on.

As you go you may have to keep tucking the limb back into the hole.  If it’s really being stubborn you could try keeping it in place with pins.

Voila!  The limb is repaired and there is not a stitch to be seen!

Save a Stuffed Animal!  Sew on his lost limb.

Step 4: Tie a Knot

This is an important step.  After your stuffie is healed, you don’t want to see him back in the hospital for a long time.  To keep that limb secure you want to make a good knot.  There are a few ways to do this, but this is the method I use.

Begin by taking a small stitch in the crease where the arm meets the body.  Pull the thread, but not all the way.  Leave a loop as shown below.

Fix a Stuffie

Take your needle and pass it through the loop.

Pull on the bottom thread (see arrow below) to close the original loop, and to make a new one.

Animal Hospital Sew on a Lost Limb

Pass your needle and thread through the new loop and pull on the bottom string again to create a loop.

Pass your needle through the loop for a final time and pull on the bottom thread to create one more loop. At this point there will be a spot where the threads overlap, close to where you made your first stitch.  This will become your knot.

Stick your finger on this spot to keep the knot in place and pull on the thread until your last loop is gone.  You now have a knot!

Stuffed Animal Repair

To tuck the knot back into the stuffie where it won’t be seen, pass the needle down into the fabric as close to the knot as you can get, and take it out about an inch or so away.  Pull the thread through, and pull tight (you don’t want to break the thread, but you want some force to pull the knot into the fabric.)  Cut the thread close to the stuffie.

Stuffed Animal Hospital

Step 5:  Give Your Stuffie a Hug!

All fixed!  Don’t you think he deserves a hug for being so brave?


Do you have a stuffed animal lover at your house?  Have you ever had to repair an over-loved stuffie?  What was your favourite stuffed animal as a kid?  I’d love to hear your stories!

Capes for Kids

One of the joys of being able to sew is to share the things I have made for others.  Sometimes that is through gifts to friends and family, sometimes that is through selling items in my shop, and other times it is through donating handmade items to charitable organizations.  I love to think of my handmade things being used by those who could use it most!

In the summer of last year I was introduced to the Craft Hope website.  Every other month or so the author posts a new opportunity for crafters to get involved in, using their talents to help others.

This month, the project was capes for kids.  Believing in the value of dramatic play as I do, how could I pass this one up?

Using this awesome tutorial for reversible capes, this is what I made:

Capes for Kids

The pink fabric was gifted to me by an on-line friend who was clearing up her stash (check out her amazing patterns!) and although flannel might be an odd choice for a cape, I loved the pattern too much to pass it up for this project.  As a child I loved absolutely anything soft and cosy (who am I kidding?  I’m still a sucker for anything soft and warm) so hopefully that will just be a bonus for some cape-wearing kiddo.

Aren’t the guitars and hearts fun?  Who wouldn’t want a cape that does double duty – is she a superhero, or a rock star?  :)

Capes for Kids

If you want to make some capes yourself, there is still time (the deadline isn’t until Jan. 31), and there is even a new-sew version of the cape for those who don’t sew!


Big and Meap, My newest create-a-creature friends!

I realize there have been a lot of these create-a-creature posts recently.  As the holidays approach I do seem to spend a lot of my time bringing creatures to life (and significantly less time cooking, reading, and doing all of the other things I usually do, but those posts will return, I promise!)

But I never get tired of it.  Because each one is so different.  I love it even more when the creatures have names, and stories.

These two pictures were drawn by sisters and sent to Santa.  The story will be told that he liked them so much that he couldn’t help but turn the drawings into real live toys.  I even wrote a letter to each artist on Santa’s behalf.  It was kind of fun to be both Santa’s elf and head of communications on this job. :)  And seriously, if you were Santa, wouldn’t you want these to be the next toys your elves made?

Meet “Big.”  I don’t know what a Moshling is….but they are awfully cute!

Then there is “Meap.”  I’m not sure if he will learn to speak English, but there was a lot of “meaping” going on in my workshop this week while he waited for his friend Big to come along.  I’m just glad he wasn’t shooting his lasers….

Both are now on their way (by Santa’s sleigh, of course) to their new home!

A Few More Creatures Greet the World!

It has been a whirlwind here this week.  I switched some days with my co-teacher and so worked as a full-time teacher this week.  I loved being with my students all week, but I had forgotten how tiring teaching Kindergarten can be!  In amongst that I also taught sewing to a very full class of students every day after school.  And now, even though I am exhausted, I still say I loved every minute of it.  I am sad to say I never did get an opportunity to pick up my camera again, but there were some amazing projects.  Everything from wildly creative stuffies, to the young boy who decided he wanted to learn to make a hat and independently figured out  a pattern and sewed the thing and walked out of the classroom sporting his new outerwear.

Somehow, intermixed with all of that craziness, a few more creatures were born in my own sewing studio and are now on their way to meet their owners and creators.  They are all part of the camp project I mentioned before.  Due to my late-night creating hours and the fact that I both go to work and come home in the dark, the last few photos don’t quite do the drawings, and creatures, justice.  But I didn’t want to hold them here when they were so anxious to be off to their new homes!

Welcome to the world, little creatures!

My Very First Sewing Class for Kids

This week I am running a week-long sewing class as part of my school’s after school program.  I must say that I am LOVING it! (yes…that was shouted….with a big smile….and maybe even a little dance across the room in happiness…)   I have a few more students than I originally planned for (as of today, 21 young sewists ages 5 – 10), but with two helpers it has been a manageable number.

The theme of the week is stuffie-making!  (of course!)  We began with a stuffie that we drew on muslin and then stitched to a piece of super-soft fleece.  I got the idea from the book Sewing School and the kids are loving it!

Although the hour seems to fly by and my hands always seem to be busy, I did manage to get some photos of two of the stuffies that were finished today.  You can imagine the proud faces that brought them to me as they declared “I’m finished!”


Aren’t they amazing?

Some of the sewing students are moving on to an all-fleece stuffie tomorrow.  I can’t wait to see what they come up with!




A Few New Friends

Making custom creatures is quickly becoming one of my most favourite things to do.  I love the variety of it.  I love the challenge of it.  And I love that what was once a drawing, an idea, something that existed in the imagination, is now a real live stuffed toy, ready to be loved by the one who imagined it.

So I was over-the-moon excited when I was asked to create creatures for children who attended a camp especially for children whose lives have been touched by cancer.  While at camp this summer, they each had the opportunity to draw a creature they would like to see brought to life.  And over the next several months, it is my job to make them a reality.

I am, as always, amazed by the creativity and personality in each drawing.

This bear head was just crying out to be made into a cuddly pillow!  Who wouldn’t want to snuggle with this friendly face?

And then there are these two.  Don’t you wish you knew the story behind them?  I know I do….


I am so thankful to be entrusted with this amazing job!  It truly makes me happy to see these three ready to go to their forever homes! :)


Whatever Floats Your Boat

No matter how many times it happens, I am always amazed what a group of young children can come up with when left to their own devices.

Yesterday afternoon, we made boats.

Other than providing materials, and the direction to make a boat that floats (of course!) I left them to discover on their own.

And as they worked, they discussed the merits of different materials.

They talked about what a boat should look like.  They wondered if they made a boat a different size and shape if it would still float.

They debated whether a cardboard boat would remain afloat.

And rather than answering their questions, I asked a few of my own.  Like “If you think a cardboard boat would get too wet, what could you do to protect it?”

In the midst of all this boat-talk, there was also learning about working with materials.  Puzzling over how to get pieces to stick to one another, how to make holes in the middle of a box, how to balance one object on top of another, how to work with plasticine.

And as I guide them to learn and discover on their own, I know the learning runs much deeper than the things I simply tell them.

And then, with twelve brand new boats in hand, we headed outside to test the waters!

“It floats!”

“It floats!”

“It floats!”


“Hmm…what happens if I put water inside my boat……”

“Hey!  This yellow tape floats!”

And then the bowls of water became vessels for all sorts of floating things on the playground.  And then sand from the sandbox.  And lots of stirring with fingers and squishing and scooping of mud.  My young scientists were still at work discovering long after my job was done and the after school program began.

Taking it Further

  • Older children could test out materials and models before designing what they feel to be the “best” model
  • play an advanced game of “will it float?”  Go beyond the usual items.
  • Learn about different types of boats and build a boat for a specific purpose
  • Take water exploration in new directions.  Provide funnels and tubing and containers and see what they can come up with (I once did this with a small group of seven and eight-year-olds who spent several days designing elaborate water-moving machines.)
  • Have children find ways to make their boats move in the water (and maybe even have a boat race!)

Don’t you just love it when learning is so much fun?

Have you ever seen a stuffie this cute? Teaching kids to sew.

For the last few months I have steadily been teaching my students how to sew.  It began with a plastic canvas project that was part of a special “learning lab” that we do at my school.  To introduce the topic of sewing I brought in a number of things that I had made for students to see.  Including an elephant stuffie.

“You made that stuffie?”

“How did you do that?”

“Are we making stuffies?  Can you teach us to make stuffies?  Yeah!!!”  (coupled with lots of jumping up and down and cheering from the rest of the group.

Well, we weren’t making stuffies.  But I promised the students that if they worked hard at learning how to sew that one day we would make stuffies together.

And hard they worked.  Every single one of them sat on our meeting mat for an hour (this is Kindergarten and Grade One.  This is not something I see every day!) stitching colourful yarn in and out of their plastic canvas shapes.  Some of them even got mad when school was over for the day!


So almost every day after that I was asked “Are we going to make stuffies today?”

And then the day finally arrived – stuffie day was here!

I kept things simple for this young crew.  For some of them, this was the first time they had been allowed to handle a sharp object! :)

They began by drawing and cutting a basic stuffie shape out of scrap paper to be their pattern.

Then they chose their fabric and used their pattern to cut out the body of their stuffy.

That evening I started a needle and thread for all of them.  That way they could get right to sewing the next day without waiting for me to help them thread their needles.

They watched intently as I showed them how to do a whip stitch (which they remembered was like going around the edge of the plastic canvas.)  Then I let them on their own!  There were a few tangled threads, one or two poked fingers, and a lot of needle threading, but then it was time for stuffing.

“Eek!  What’s that?  It’s so fluffy!”   Suddenly a group of small hands were plunging in and out of the stuffing bag.

Once they had their fill of feeling the squishy stuffing, they stuffed their critters and sewed the final hole shut.  I helped them with tying the knot in their thread and they were on their way!

Out came the fabric glue and a huge bag of scraps from my sewing room, and they went crazy adding eyes, noses, fins, legs and tails.  Then they came back for more sewing so their stuffies could have pillows.  And blankets.  And collars.  And whatever else they could think of.

Seriously, how cute are these critters?



Yesterday, I brought our bag of sewing supplies out again and asked if anyone wanted to sew.  I had an instant stampede of students to the meeting area!  So more stuffies were made, and this time some of them realized that they could sew on their legs, eyes and ears and didn’t have to use the fabric glue at all.

And I’m a happy teacher, threading needles, tying knots and watching all of the sewing happiness!

Have you taught kids how to sew?  What projects have they enjoyed the most?

Pretty as a Picture

This little lady is pretty in purple.

I especially love her beaded necklace.

It was one of the first things she asked about when she jumped out of the page – “Do I have my pretty beads?”

Yes, yes you do.  And your necklace is super soft, just like the rest of you.

I hope she is smiling all the way to her new home!

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