Sunday, February 23, 2014

Teaching My Nieces to Sew

I am blessed to have two beautiful nieces who both have an interest in sewing.  How fun it is for me to sew with them!  We started by making pillow cases a few years ago.
They loved using my machines.
The older one made a pair of pajama bottoms not long after.  I matched it with a pajama top from OOP M5744.  She was a natural.  Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures.  However, she came back for another lesson -- a sleeping bag for her American Girl doll.
We used some vintage fabric from my childhood.  Does anyone else remember the "Smiley Face" craze?  It took more than one visit to finish, but she did a fabulous job.
The quilt on her bed is another project we worked on together when my quilting-aunt came for a summertime visit.  The quilt top was a family collaboration, but my aunt did all of the machine quilting. 

For most of last year, (2013) I was on a mission to find two good-working, used, sewing machines that were easy to thread for each girl.  By the end of the summer I had found one in a resale shop and one on Craig's List.  Niece # 2 (daughter of brother # 2) received her Janome Sew Petite for her birthday, and Niece #1 (daughter of brother #1) received her Singer machine for Christmas.  Their excitement made my year.  

The winter break provided an opportunity to sew a little with Niece #2.  She is using the same pajama pattern to make a pair of pants from the fabric I gave her for Christmas.  As the equal-opportunity aunt that I am, I made her a matching top from OOP M5744.  I really like that pattern. She hasn't quite finished the elastic or hem yet, but here is the top.

You may have noticed the picture at the top of my blog.  My sweet little guy is well loved by the nieces and nephews.  The print on this fabric looks a lot like him and was a hit.  

Sadly, the print was not done well, making it noticeably crooked on the finished garment.  I started the lesson on using a commercial pattern with the importance of cutting on the straight of grain.  How disappointing!   We lost more than a quarter yard of fabric by washing and straightening and had to go to the store for more.  I carefully explained that we would probably not find the fabric, but could use black for the bottoms and some white flannel I had for the bodice.  She decided she liked that idea, but could not live with the white bias tape I had in my stash.  It had to be black.  

Off we went to JoAnn's.  I was horrified to find that the store had only one yard of black flannel.  Panicking, I began to assure her that we could come up with Plan C just as I spotted the dog fabric!  She wanted both pieces made with "all dog."  I was a little disappointed because the straighter print on the new piece of fabric looks a little wonky with the crooked bottom piece.
I used my serger to finish the inside seams, but had my niece use the zig-zag on her machine for the pants.  She was very excited to see that her machine could finish the edge so nicely.

Can't wait to show you the finished set.  She is a natural sewist--just like her cousin.


  1. So nice of you to take the time to pass the sewing skills on to your family members!
    I too recently sewed with some seriously printed off grain fleece from joann's. It's my next post. :)

  2. I am starting to wonder if any of the fabric is printed on grain anymore. Looking forward to your post.

  3. The girls are doing very well with their sewing. How exciting for them to have their finished items. The smiley face fabric looks good for the sleeping bag. Shame about that off grain fabric, but it has worked out. Love your blog header - such a lovely photo

  4. Oh how I love to see young people interested in sewing! Looks like the girls are doing a great job. You must be a good teacher!