Our first home ec lesson of the summer was a lot of fun! My daughters are 11 (Helena) and 8 (Daphne) and at different skill levels, however Helena requested to start as a beginner along with Daphne as a refresher. I think that worked out really well for her because she felt more confident and we ended up altering Daphne’s lesson a little to make it less frustrating (and therefore still fun) for her.
Officially, the objectives I gave for our first lesson were; threading a needle, running stitch, and whipstitch. There are plenty of videos on YouTube that show these stitches well, but not in one place and it takes a little searching, so I’m gathering the best videos to illustrate them throughout this series.
Before we began, I set out felt, needles and thread in different colors. They both chose red felt, Helena went with blue thread and Daphne went with pink thread. In the middle of my ‘how to thread a needle’ instructions, Daphne threaded her needle. She was instantly good at it, which is always a nice little confidence booster! So right away, she was into it.
Then I showed them how to do a running stitch and explained to them that it can be used as a decorative closing stitch for stuffies and other cute creations. I also showed them how it can be used for gathering and making some pretty ruffles as well if you gently pull on the end of the thread. This video from Red Ted Art was especially helpful.
Once we began doing the running stitch, Daphne started getting frustrated. I know everyone has different thoughts on this, but just as in our regular homeschool lessons I will backpedal as much as is necessary to avoid frustrating the children. I always, always, find a level of whatever it is we are doing where they are comfortable and start there. Otherwise, they are likely not going to learn anything other than to dislike whatever it is you are trying to teach them. She was having a hard time holding the felt and it was bothering her that she wasn’t able to get her stitches as straight as Helena’s. Then in dawned on me. Where in sewing are all your stitches neat and orderly, even if you’re wobbily with a needle and thread? Cross stitching! Less than 5 minutes later, I set her up with some white aida cloth, an embroidery hoop and embroidery floss and she was a happy camper! Helena continued to work on the fleece with the sewing thread, and I used a ruler and a Sharpie to illustrate stitches that were 1/2″ apart.
Satisfied that they were comfortable with the running stitch, we moved on to the whipstitch. The first example I showed them was actually from an advent craft I made years ago. I closed all the pouches with the whipstitch, and they remembered when I did it. This video from Lauren Fairweather showed a wonderful example of using it to attach an applique and that’s what we used in our lesson! You can do it this way or you can use it to sew two pieces together.
For the applique, I just cut hearts out of a contrasting color of felt. First I explained the stitch, then we watched the video I embedded above and then I showed them how on my piece of felt. They happily started on their own and they each did a great job!
One Helena had finished whipstitching her heart onto her practice piece, Daphne was about 1/4 done and took a break. She did resume this project after and was happy with her progress.
This should be a fun, no pressure summer project. The point of today’s lesson was for the kids to learn to thread a needle, do a basic running stitch and a basic whipstitch. Mission accomplished! Next Sewing lesson will be on Friday when we attach buttons and trims – next home ec lesson is tomorrow though, when the girls will be baking cookies on their own!