Do you remember the book that was such a hit in the 80s: All I Really Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten? Its theme was an uncomplicated one, explaining how the world would be a better place if, as adults, we would conduct ourselves by the simple rules we learned as children: share, be kind to one another, clean up after yourself, and remember there are times for work, play and learning. First among these rules: share. At Sew4Home Summer School, that rule rules: give a gift, do a project with a friend, teach someone to sew. You don't need a lesson plan prepared. Just start from the beginning. Then go step-by-step, having your new-to-sewing friends do the hands-on work, helping where needed, and making sure they understand each step before you go to the next. We've collected eight Project Pairs to Share that are perfect ways to get started.
Making something with your own two hands is a skill to be valued. Which means... it's important those of us who know teach other people to sew. It's fun, it saves money, and it's an amazingly creative outlet. Everybody loves the finished product. It's the sewing process people find daunting. Let them in on the secret that sewing is fun and relaxing, especially when shared with friends.
Liz & Jackie's Pillow Covers An A Flash
A pillow is the number one "beginner project" recommendation from just about everyone we talk to. It's super easy and instantly gratifying. A couple years back, S4H seamstress team member, Jackie and I attended the Craft & Hobby Association show in Anaheim, CA. We hung out in a tiny 10' x 10' booth for several days. There was a fair amount of time spent chatting with show attendees, but there was also a fair amount of down time. So, we made some pillows with fabric scraps we'd brought along! This completely proves neither lack of space nor limited time are sufficient excuses for not making your own home décor. The other lesson from this tutorial is how a clever bit of geometry can transform a plain square pillow into a much more interesting pieced pillow. Start with a square and slice it into pieces, then put it all back together again. The only thing to remember is to add ¼" - ½" to each piece anywhere there's going to be a seam.
Patio Party Groovy Hostess Apron
Aprons are always super popular because they are so fun and easy to make. And, here at Sew4Home, we are proud to be a little bit famous for our creations. They are a great project to share because you can use the same pattern and instructions, but by varying the fabric and trims, you each will end up with a totally unique look. The base pattern of our Groovy Hostess Apron is courtesy of American Patchwork & Quilting®. We give detailed instructions for how to add the contrasting bottom band, waistband and ties, and the pretty pocket. If you're throwing a summer patio party, this cute little half apron is just the thing to insure the table décor doesn't steal all the glory. I know I hate it when the placemats look better than me! Once you and your pals on a roll, you might also want to sew and share our Cocktails at Eight elegant hostess apron, our long and lovely old-fashioned apron, or our brand new Ombre Triple Tier apron.
B&W Eiffel Tower Pom Pom Pillow
If your sewing compadre has graduated from the simple pillow, it's time to teach her or him how to kick it up a notch with some trim and covered buttons. In May of 2010, we did a striking series of pillows in the classic decorating palette of black and white. It never goes out of style and is anything but 'basic.' The combination can look crisp and casual or sophisticated and stylish. Black is a color that anchors and grounds; in fact, any room will benefit with a bit of black to add definition to its focal point color. You can certainly use any combination, but we do recommend a beautiful print from which you can feature a focal point design across the tufted center. This tutorial shows you great steps for fussy cutting fabric, attaching trim, and making covered buttons. The finished look is one that would go for BIG bucks at stores and in catalogs. You can make one for a fraction of retail, and it will be unique to you... and the friend with whom you share!
Quilted Pencil Cups
I chose this cute little project to share because it reminds me of my days in Bluebirds (back in the day, that's what baby Campfire Girls were called) when we would gather once a week around the kitchen table at Mrs. Burrier's to do crafts. We often had to save things to bring for that day's project, maybe some string or an egg carton or, of course, an empty soup can to make pencil cups. For our French Desk Set series in Moda's French General Rouenneries, we knew we needed a couple classier Pencil Cups. These are quilted and feature a leather accent tie and cute button. Classy? Yes. Easy to make? Double yes! Would Mrs. Burrier be proud? Triple yes!
If you and your sewing pal are more advanced, you'll enjoy this tiny, tidy tote that hangs from your wrist. It's perfect for those times you want to travel light – with just the essentials at hand. Just 5" x 7", it can still hold all the necessities with room to spare. Zip up your spending cash, a couple o' credit cards, maybe a bit of makeup and a comb. Ours has a detachable strap, so you can unclip it, and drop it into a bigger bag, like a handy wallet. This is a perfect project to use up bits and pieces. You and your friend can both bring out your bags of favorite scraps to swap and share. In fact, your only purchases are likely to a little interfacing, zippers, and the hardware for the strap. So versatile, so itty-bitty cute, and with our excellent step-by-step instructions and photos ... so easy!
Dog Collar And Leash
A great way to share the fun of sewing is to get folks involved in a project for the furry friends in their lives. Some webbing, ribbon, hardware, and a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon, and you can teach your friends how to make their very own boutique style dog collars and leashes. We show you the secret of working with invisible thread to stitch the ribbon to the webbing. The hardware is a little bit of a brain teaser to figure out how to use, but we have lots of pictures so you can see exactly what you need to do to weave everything into place. When this collar or leash starts to show wear, simply cut off the webbing/ribbon and reuse the hardware to make a new one. Good quality hardware lasts a long time. Or, make your new collar and/or leash using hardware salvaged from an existing old set you may have on hand. You can use plastic or metal fittings.
Fresh Linens Pillowcases
I'm a good sleeper, and I firmly believe there's nothing better than nodding off on a new, freshly laundered pillowcase. A pretty pair of pillowcases is a great beginner project. So fast and easy, you can start at noon and be napping by 3:00. We've used this same pattern to make holiday versions, children's versions even satin and velvet versions. It's the perfect way to freshen up the guest room for your summer visitors.
Napkins & Ties
The cloth napkin; you simply can't ask for an easier home décor project. If you are just getting started or teaching someone else, napkins are always a winner. We kick ours up a notch with beautiful decorative stitching all around the edge. We used the Janome Horizon Memory Craft 12000 with its 9mm stitch for ours, but just about every sewing machine, even the basic ones, have at least a few decorative stitches built in. This is a great opportunity to try out some of those pretty stitches. This project also shows you how to make a coordinating fabric napkin ring that "ties" together all the beautiful mix-and-match napkins. We used the same fabric on the front and back of our napkins because the prints in Joel Dewberry's Heirloom collection are so rich and vibrant we felt we had plenty of mixing and matching happening by varying the fabric napkin to napkin, but you could go totally wild and make yours reversible. Well... I don't know if that's totally wild. Making napkins while riding on the back of a motorcycle doing 110mph down the Autobahn.... now THAT'S totally wild.
A final note if you are teaching someone to sew: a good machine helps you sew, a poor one frustrates!
Quality tools are essential, especially in sewing and craft. If you have to fight with your machine, sewing will not be a pleasurable experience. Poor quality machines and problems with mechanical parts make what should be a rewarding process nothing but a series of frustrations. That's just a shame, because the sewing itself isn't frustrating! You don't have to break the bank and buy the most expensive machine available, but you should buy the best machine you can possibly afford. A good machine makes sewing easier and the results more professional. We are very lucky to have Janome America as one of our Sew4Home sponsors. Their machines make everything we do easier and more fun.
If your friends are in the market for a machine, have them check out these articles:
You might also like our recent sponsor snapshot profile of Janome America, President and CEO, Toshi Takayasu.