I decided to try sewing with my third-grade students this year. I was emboldened by taking the phenomenal free class on Instructables by Jessyratfink.
If you want to know how to do just about anything, there is a tutorial for it on Instructables. I was blown away how thorough and detailed this class was. In addition to that, it was beautifully photographed with clear and concise instructions. Well done Instructables and Jessy Ratfink!
We began by doing a very simple project: hand stitching together felt hearts. Our school has an Ellison Die Cutter so I was able to pre-cut the hearts on the machine. You could easily have students draw their own as we are limited in size by the dimensions of the machine. I cut several colors and made many extras just in case. I decided to use a thicker thread and larger ‘tapestry’ needles. I chose the tapestry needles for the size of their ‘eye.’ In hindsight, the tapestry needles were a bit dull and it was challenging for those with weaker fine motor skills to be able to pierce the fabric.
I taught the students to cut thread the length of their forearm and back. We doubled the thread and tied a simple knot. Next, we pinned the two pieces together to help keep them lined up while sewing. I showed the students how to open the ‘felt sandwich’ and push the needle up and through one of the layers. In this way, they were able to hide their knot. The running stitch might not have been the ideal ‘first’ stitch to teach them. Many of them began doing a ‘whip stitch,’ which students said felt more natural.
Some students wanted to stuff their heart to make a pincushion or a heart pendant. For those students, we stopped with enough room to stick our finger into the heart and used cotton batting to ‘stuff.’
I ended up using my own model as a great pin cushion for the kids!
The kids learned grit, resilience, and patience while learning a very valuable life skill.
In the end, the kids were very proud of their work and eager to share their gifts!
I’m a teacher-librarian at the Skokie School in Winnetka, IL. I’m passionately curious and hope to awaken that curiosity in my students! View all posts by Todd Burleson