Sewing with Children: woven shapes

To continue my series this week of sewing with children, today I’m moving things along a bit with another activity suited to slightly older children (and yes I tried this with my pre-schooler and no it didn’t work at all!) Instead of needle and thread, this activity uses needle and ribbons to create patterns within plastic canvas. Like the perforated card I featured yesterday, the existing holes enable children to further their mastery of basic sewing skills, whilst introducing a wonderful opportunity to develop their creativity. Read on to find out more.

But before you do! If you haven’t discovered it already, please do take a look at my Creative Sewing Challenge; its a monthly challenge for sewers of all interests and abilities. You receive a new prompt each month to inspire your sewing, and I also share ideas and tutorials linked to each theme. Free, fun and open to anyone! Find out more here or sign up below:

On with the tutorial…you will need:

  • Plastic canvas; you can buy this in a variety of shapes and sizes
  • A selection of ribbons (they need to be fairly thin in width as anything too chunky will be difficult to feed through the holes)
  • Tapestry needle
  • Scissors

I used a circle plastic canvas shape, with a view to turning it into a decorative ornament eventually. But you can get all sorts including Christmas themed shapes; lots of potential for new and interesting projects!

Choose some ribbon and thread up a tapestry needle. As mentioned yesterday, older children will be able to do this for themselves, younger children might need a bit of help to get started.

Tie a few knots in the end (big enough so they don’t just slip through the holes) and begin to sew. Anything is possible here; from free and easy stitches of all sizes and in all directions, through to a more focused exploration of specific types of stitch. I started with a row of running stitch, straddling two holes at a time…

…followed by another row of running stitch in a different colour, this time straddling 3 holes at a time to vary the size.

I then changed direction with my stitches, to create a row of vertical lines, followed by another row of running stitch.

I went on to try out how a back-stitch row would look (kind of smart it turns out)…

And finished by securing a button and a bead in the very middle.

To further experiment with how different stitches would look, I revisited a row of running stitch and wove a different colour ribbon between each one…

I then finished by wrapping ribbon around the very edge of my circle, using my loose ends to create a loop for hanging.

But really anything goes. You could try:

  • Experimenting with monochrome colours, using shades of limited colours and hues
  • Photocopy the plastic shapes and create a design in advance
  • Join woven shapes together to make a 3-D piece of artwork
  • Research different artists and textile artists who use weaving and patterns within their work

Even just a combination of different colours and stitches provides infinite possibilities for how these shapes could turn out, all the while helping with the development of sewing skills. The plastic material is easy to work with, so ideal for children who might get frustrated with fabric flopping around. And the size of the shapes provides enough of a challenge whilst giving a good sense of progress.

Join me tomorrow for what I feel is a natural progression from the activities I have featured so far this week; making an embroidered needle case.

And don’t forget, the Creative Sewing Challenge is a lovely way to keep your own sewing practice fresh with ideas and new challenges – feel free to sign up today!

Plus here’s a handy pin for later…