Celebration Garland: a sewing project for the boy!

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Boys can sew, too! The other day Elliot came into my sewing room and said he wanted to sew something. He’s always been fascinated with my sewing machine — he’s a “how does it work?” kid, big time — and I love that he’s so interested in sewing! Some of you may even remember the little video I made when he first started sewing. When I asked him what he wanted to make, he said he wanted to make a decoration for his birthday, which is next month. So I thought, why not let him sew some scraps into a garland? It’s a similar concept to the felt heart garland I made a few years ago (see The Easiest Heart Garland Evar) — except instead of felt, I just chopped up some colorful scraps into a big pile of strips:

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And he put them under the presser foot (carefully!! We talk about safety with the sewing machine every time we use it), sewing across the middle of each strip, and then adding another strip at a time, with a few stitches after each one.

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Once he got the hang of it, he really went to town! He is tall enough now that if he stands next to my sewing table, he can both reach the machine and step on the pedal by himself. This project is great because it helps kids get the hang of the pedal and the speed of the machine with very little risk of messing things up.

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He had fun and was really proud of himself. I loved having a quick and easy project that kept him busy for a half-hour (with supervision from me, of course; I never let him use the machine when I’m not in the room). He even came back to it the next day and added more. I made sure he left a few inches of thread tails on either end to make it easy to hang up. Then we took some pictures (with this turtleneck)…

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…and hung it up in our dining room. I think it looks pretty cool!

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Does YOUR boy like to sew? I love great ideas for sewing projects that can be done WITH your kid, not just for your kid, don’t you? Or does having your kid in the sewing room make you crazy? Believe me, I’ve been there, too.

Celebrate the BOY 2013

This post is part of Celebrate the BOY, a series of boy sewing posts hosted by me and Dana of MADE. Here’s what we’ve done so far:

DAY 1: Rae: Saffron Pants and Color Roundup / Dana: 5 Steps to the Basic Tee
DAY 2: Rae: Little Bit of Color Hoodie / Dana: Pants Roundup
DAY 3: Rae: Hoodie Tutorial / Dana: Kids Shorts/Pants with Back Pocket Tutorial
DAY 4: Rae: Show your Stripes Turtleneck / Dana: 13 DIY Fabrics
DAY 5: Rae: Stripes Roundup / Dana: Favorite Tee Shirt Buddy Toys

Head over to made to see what Dana’s up to! or check out my Celebrate the BOY archives for even more boy sewing posts! And don’t forget to add your photos to our Celebrate the BOY Flickr group!

23 thoughts on “Celebration Garland: a sewing project for the boy!

  1. My toddler likes to come up onto my lap and sew a bit if I’m working in the dining room. He especially likes the serger, but I’m generally too terrified to let him run it. My teenagers started doing some small solo projects around age five. Now they’re both prone to say, “could you just make me. . . ” to which I respond, “I’d be happy to help you design/cut/baste that yourself.”

  2. Rae! You got the IKEA sewing machine afterall! How do you like yours? I’m just back from seeing the folks in Singapore so am too jetlagged to really think straight and write a half decent comment. Love the garland for a kid-sewing project. And have been enjoying the Boy posts – those mustard pants (or did you call them saffron? Saffron was better Am brain-dead; can’t remember) were really, really chic!

    • Hi L!! So yes!! I got the IKEA machine!!

      But here’s the thing: I think it works better for me as a backup machine than for Elliot as “his” machine, you know?

      I actually prefer letting him use the Bernina because it has such awesome pedal action (so it doesn’t go crazy fast right away if they step on it too hard), and the pedal is more sensitive than the IKEA. He tends to step too hard on the IKEA pedal and then the threads break.

      SO…anyway, I do like having it for sure, just think for the boy the Bernina is better, you know?

      So glad you’ve been enjoying the series — welcome back!!!

      • I agree with you on the Ikea machine being a good adult backup. My kids don’t sew on either machine (my Ikea one or my Pfaff) unless I’m there to help – simple reason being that they just aren’t old enough to handle an electric machine and fabric layout and whatever on their own, adjustable speed pedal or no. I’m sure if I gave them printer paper and removed the thread from either of my machines and told them to go perforate the paper to their hearts’ content, they could run with it and be totally independent. But add thread, stitching lines, seam allowances, bobbins, tension and fabric manipulation and I find I need to be there to uh… facilitate the sewing actually happening. So with my kids anyway, it makes no difference whether they’re using a $40 kid-sized one or a several-hundred-dollar full-size one. I think when my kids get older, like middle-school age, they’ll enjoy the Ikea one more than they do now. If not, at least I’ll have a good spare machine for myself!

  3. What a perfect project for kids to learn the very basics! Room for fingers away from needle, nothing needs to line up, instant gratification… My daughter is currently obsessed with paper chains (seriously – you should see our house) and has been asking to sew with me, but is really too young for even a pin cushion project. We’ll be doing this soon!

    Love that you’re including ‘the boy’ in celebrate the boy this year!

  4. This is so great! I love that you taught him to sew. I actually haven’t done that yet with Lucy but I think it’s time. Love all that color!

  5. I love this! My eight year old son has shown an interest in sewing. So far we have done beanbags and a simple bag (with no handles). He would love to make something that I would in turn hang up on the wall!

  6. My 5yr old boy loves to sew! I started him at age 3. His favorite thing is bean bags, because he can raid the scrap bin, cut and pin and sew himself, then hand sew, and then play!

  7. My son is fascinated by my sewing machine. He loves to watch me sew. I let him hand me needles, pick out thread, etc, but at 3 1/2 he’s still too young for me to feel comfortable letting him try the machine. Someday soon though! Boys can totally learn to sew!

  8. Such a great idea! On my list of Things To Teach My Kids Before Adulthood, sewng is at the top, for my sons and daughter. We’ve done some projects, but nothing they’ve been able to really just sit down and do without me directing most, if not all, of the process. This would be perfect to let them just do their own thing and gain confidence on the machine. Super cool! Thanks!

  9. hey elliot nice job! i like how the garland looks hanging with all the strips being a slightly different lengths

    my boys also like to sew, but they are too young to use the machine yet. they only get to help pin and place their hands on mine and sew with me.

  10. Hi – this is a super cute idea! Just a really dumb question though – how do you get the several stitches in between each strip without the machine eating the thread??
    Love your site!

    • Bethanie,

      My machine lets me take about 3 or 4 stitches before it starts to “eat up the thread”…it’s definitely better on my Bernina than my cheaper machines though; you may have to just put them a bit closer together (maybe 1 or 2 stitches? it will still work!) before adding another piece if your machine won’t behave.
      :)

  11. What a fantastic idea! My almost 6 year old boy loves to sew, and we have made a few very simple projects together. I’m sure he would get a huge kick out of a project he could do all by himself! Funnily enough, I didn’t think of getting him to stand so that he could use the pedal himself, LOL! His birthday is also next month, so I’m sure it would be a fun project for him to make for his birthday party. Thanks for the fantastic inspiration!

  12. Man that kid is the coolest. Love this so much. Em keeps asking to sew, and even drew me a “pattern” for a dress I’m supposed to help her make for her best friend…kid’s a taskmaster!

  13. Rae I read your post regularly and I also read the “simple homemade” blog and this post was listed under current posts I am reading. Thought you would like to know and congratulations!

  14. That is a brilliant idea – my 7 year old son is really keen to learn to sew (because inventors really need to know how to sew in case their inventions need fabric!) We have been practicing sewing straight lines on scrap pieces, but this sounds way more fun – and productive (and means I can skip making that bunting for his bedroom that I have spent 2 years not making).

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