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About the Author
Nicole Blum is a coauthor of Ciderhouse Cookbook, Stitch Camp, and Improv Sewing. She runs Carr’s Ciderhouse in Hadley, Massachusetts, with her husband, Jonathan Carr. Blum is an artist and crafter whose work has been featured in FamilyFun and Parents magazines.
Catherine Newman is the coauthor of Stitch Camp and the author of Waiting for Birdy, Catastrophic Happiness, and One Mixed-Up Night. She is the etiquette columnist for Real Simple magazine, a regular contributor to the former New York Times Motherlode blog, and editor-in-chief of the James Beard Award-winning kids’ cooking magazine ChopChop. She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, with her family. Visit her at www.catherinenewmanwriter.com.
Read an Excerpt
Look at the shirt or jeans you've got on: wherever there's a seam — two pieces of fabric attached together — that's sewing. If you look closely on the underside of the fabric, you probably can see the stitches holding the two pieces together.
Sewing comes first in this book because we think of it as a basic life skill, somewhere between breathing and, maybe, fixing a bike! Once you acquire some basic sewing know-how — like threading a needle, knotting your thread, and making a couple of simple stitches — you can do all kinds of useful things, such as mend your jeans, stitch a patch to your scout uniform, or add a button to your favorite bag so it will stay closed. To say nothing of the fun things you'll be able to do! Like make your own clothing or Halloween costume, craft cute gifts for your friends and family, and, well, whatever you dream up.
We're also starting with sewing because you'll need basic sewing skills to finish or decorate many of the other projects in this book, even those that start with a different fiber craft, such as knitting or weaving. For example, you'll need basic sewing know-how to tackle the embroidery projects in chapter 2 and to sew up the felt projects in chapter 3! Luckily, this chapter will teach you what you need to know.
WHAT YOU NEED
Fabric. We mostly call for fabrics that don't fray or unravel around the edges, such as cotton jersey (also known as T-shirt fabric), felt, or polar fleece, because they're easy to work with and you don't need to hem them! Woven fabrics, like the kind button-down shirts are made of, are harder for beginners to work with, because they don't stretch at all, and they tend to fray at the edges. If you have a couple of big old T-shirts and a wool sweater you can shrink in the wash (see Felt the Fabric), you'll have all the fabric you need for the projects in this chapter. If you're using new fabric, it's a good idea to wash and dry it before starting your project, so it won't shrink later and surprise you.
Needles. You'll need a sharp needle with an eye large enough for the thread: an embroidery or chenille needle is a good bet; don't use a tapestry needle, which has a rounded, rather than sharp, point. (Trying to sew with a dull needle is very frustrating.) A stray piece of felt is a good place to keep your needles, or (once you learn to sew) you can stitch a couple of rectangles of felt down the middle to make a "book" for storing them.
Thread. We like embroidery floss (also called embroidery thread) because it comes in a million colors, and because you can separate its six strands by carefully pulling them apart if you want to sew with something thinner. (See How to Separate Your Floss for tips on separating the strands.) Alternatively, we like Dual Duty Plus Button & Carpet thread, a very sturdy thread made by the company Coats & Clark.
A needle threader. This optional item (shown above) is handy if threading needles is not your thing.
Scissors. Sharp ones are ideal; you'll need them for cutting both thread and fabric. (Cut paper with a different pair, since paper will dull them.)
White chalk or a disappearing-ink fabric marker. This will let you mark your fabric with the lines you want to cut or sew, while leaving you the option to change your mind or make a mistake. Regular chalk can be sharpened with a large-mouthed handheld pencil sharpener so you can make finer lines, which you can simply brush off when you're done sewing.
A ruler or measuring tape.
Pins. Straight pins are useful for connecting a pattern to your fabric before cutting or for joining two pieces of fabric together before sewing. Keep your pins in a pincushion for easy access.
Thread Your Needle
If you have a needle threader, great. But even if you don't, threading a needle is not difficult. For both methods, start by cutting an arm's length of thread; longer and it's likely to get tangled, shorter and you're going to run out quickly and be frustrated.
USING A NEEDLE THREADER
1. Push the pointy wire end of the threader through the eye of the needle. (The eye is the hole at one end.) Then slip your thread between the wires.
2. Pull the threader back out through the eye of the needle, making sure to hold one end of the thread to prevent it from working its way out of the needle. Pull the thread through so that you have a 6-inch tail.
For hand threading, our preferred method is the old-fashioned "lick and thread." Gross as it might sound, when you lick the end of your thread, you get all the individual strands to stick together into a point, and it's easier to poke this into the eye of the needle. Lick one end of the thread, then push that end into the eye of the needle. Pull it through so that you have a 6-inch tail.
Regardless of which method you use ... voilà! Your needle is now threaded. When you're pulling a stitch through your fabric as you sew, try pinching the eye of the needle to keep the thread from pulling out of it.
Knot Your Thread
This knot will keep the thread from pulling through your fabric when you start. The process works best when you begin by licking the end of your thread.
1. Use one hand to pick up the end of the longest thread tail. Wind the end of the thread around the pointer finger of your other hand.
(To sew with a double length of thread, pull the short thread tail until it is even with the long tail. Then wind both ends around your pointer finger.)
2. Use your thumb to push this wound thread off your finger while rolling it slightly.
3. Pull the loop down to the bottom of the thread, where it should catch into a knot.
Tie Off the Thread
When you get to the end of your sewing, you'll need to tie a knot on the underside of your project. Make sure to leave at least 6 inches of thread, or this will be very frustrating!
1. When you get to the end of your stitching (or near the end of your thread), turn your fabric over so you're looking at the back side. Make a tiny extra stitch so that the needle comes up through the place where your last stitch ended.
2. Before pulling the thread all the way through, poke the needle into the loop you just created.
3. Pull the thread tight to secure the knot against the fabric and snip the thread close to the knot. Sometimes we repeat the knot before snipping, for extra security.
MASON JAR SEWING KIT
Make a sewing kit that doubles as a pincushion!
What You Need
* 1 mason jar (the kind with a two-piece lid)
* Hot-glue gun
* Polyester stuffing
* Sewing supplies to store in the jar
How You Make It
1. Cut a fabric circle that's about 1 inch bigger all around than the lid of a mason jar.
2. Separate the lid insert from the ring, and wrap the fabric around the lid insert. Make a partial ring of hot glue around the bottom edge of the lid insert, leaving a few inches glue-less. Carefully press the fabric onto the glue to secure it.
3. Stuff polyester filling into the unglued opening until the fabric feels taut and cushiony, then finish gluing the fabric to the bottom.
4. Reattach the ring and screw it onto the jar. (Add a dab or two of hot glue to the underside of the ring if the pincushion seems inclined to fall out when you unscrew it.)
5. Now fill the jar with tiny scissors, thread, buttons, and safety pins — and stick your straight pins and needles in the top!
Sew a Backstitch
The backstitch produces very sturdy seams that don't pull apart, making it a great stitch for securely closing up something like a beanbag (see Beanbag That Is Also a Hand Warmer). It also produces lines of stitches so close together they look solid — perfect for tracing a drawing or writing. It's called a backstitch because with every stitch, your needle loops back to your previous stitch before making the next stitch forward. Try practicing on a scrap of fabric before stitching your project.
1. Thread your needle and knot your thread. Push your needle from the back of the fabric up to the front, pulling the knot tight against the fabric.
2. Push your needle down into the fabric ? inch behind where you started ...
... and bring the needle back up through the fabric one stitch length ahead of your first stitch.
3. Repeat step 2 until you have the number of stitches you want.
PROJECT BEANBAG THAT IS ALSO A HAND WARMER
Toss them into a bucket and keep score — and they're toys! Heat them in the microwave and pop them in your pockets — and they're hand warmers! Either way, this is a fun project that comes together quickly, and it makes a great gift. Make your beanbag as big or small as you like, or vary the sizes for different projects.
WHAT YOU NEED
* Enough craft felt, polar fleece, or felted wool (see Felt the Fabric) to cut a front and back piece
* Straight pins
* A small bowl (or a square cut from cardboard) for tracing (any size 3 to 5 inches is good)
* Embroidery floss or sturdy thread
* Sharp needle
* Rice or other grains, lentils or other small dried beans, or popcorn, for filling
* Kitchen funnel (optional), or a piece of paper or small spoon
HOW YOU MAKE IT
1. Stack or fold the fabric so there are two layers and stick a pin through the middle to hold the layers together while you're cutting. Trace the bowl or cardboard square onto the top layer with chalk. Keeping both pieces of fabric pinned together, carefully cut the shapes out. Taking your time here will make sewing easier, and you won't have to fix rough edges later.
2. Measure an arm's length of embroidery floss, thread your needle (see Thread Your Needle), and knot the end (see Knot Your Thread). Starting in between the two layers, push your needle up through the top piece of fabric and pull the thread through until the knot is snugly against the underside.
3. Stitch around the edge of both layers using a nice, even backstitch. It is important to make your stitches very close together so the filling won't pop out, especially if you're using rice.
4. When you have about 1 inch left open, stop sewing but don't tie off your thread yet; just lay the needle and thread out of the way or push the needle into the fabric to keep it safe. Use the unstitched hole to fill the bag with rice, beans, or the filling of your choice. A kitchen funnel makes this easy, but you can roll up a piece of paper to make a funnel if you like, or just use a small spoon and some patience.
5. When the bag is full, finish stitching until you meet up with where you started, then tie off your thread (Tie Off the Thread) and snip it close the fabric. If it's important to you to conceal the knot, you can push the needle between the two layers before knotting.
Sew a Whipstitch
A whipstitch is a quick way to sew together two pieces of fabric along the edge. It doesn't look as tidy as the blanket stitch, but it's easier. (Catherine uses it for everything!) Try practicing on a scrap of fabric before stitching your project.
1. Thread your needle (see Thread Your Needle) and knot your thread (see Knot Your Thread). Then, while holding two pieces of fabric together, push your needle up from the back to the front of the top layer only, so the knotted end is tucked between the layers.
2. Now "whip" your needle around the edge of the fabric to the underside and push it back up through both layers, so that it comes up near your first stitch. You can sew from right to left or left to right — whatever is more comfortable for you.
3. Repeat step 2, doing your best to make even stitches that are about the same length and distance apart, as well as the same distance in from the edge of the fabric. (If they're not even, that's fine, too!)
DIY BEANBAG TOSS
TO PLAY THIS FUN GAME, you'll need three beanbags and three empty containers of varying sizes: a bucket, a flowerpot, and a soup can, for example. You can play by yourself, but it's more fun with other people.
SET UP. Use a stick (or tape) to mark a line on the ground (or floor). Then arrange the containers in a row starting about 10 feet away, smallest to biggest (about 6 inches apart), with the smallest closest to you, and the biggest farthest away.
PLAY. Take turns tossing all three of the beanbags and keeping score.
* 1 POINT for the largest container
* 2 POINTS for the medium
* 3 POINTS for the smallest
* The first person to get to 20 points wins.
You can use a felt envelope for so many things: to store your jewelry, glasses, or Swiss Army knife; to wrap a small present or gift card; or as, yes, an envelope for giving (or keeping) an important letter. Feel free to use your own homemade felt (see Felt the Fabric), just expect it to be a little less smooth and even than store-bought felt.
WHAT YOU NEED
* Straight pins
* Paper envelope, opened at the seams and unfolded
* Craft felt (You'll need a piece that's a little bigger than your unfolded envelope.)
* Disappearing-ink fabric marker or chalk
* Embroidery floss or sturdy thread
* Sharp needle
HOW YOU MAKE IT
1. Pin the envelope along its edges to the felt, making sure to also put a pin in the center of the envelope, since you'll end up unpinning the edges. Use the marker or chalk to trace the outer edges of the envelope onto the fabric.
2. Unpin the edges of the paper envelope while keeping it pinned to the felt in the center. Then fold the envelope back up and re-pin the center. With a dotted line, trace around the outside of this rectangle. This line represents where you'll fold your finished felt envelope.
3. Remove the last pin holding the envelope to the felt and cut around the solid outside line.
4. Fold the cutout fabric on the dotted lines to re-create the envelope, then pin the envelope together as shown.
5. Measure an arm's length of embroidery floss or sturdy thread, thread your needle (see Thread Your Needle), and knot the end (see Knot Your Thread). Then push the needle up through one lower corner of the top layer of fabric, so that the knot ends up on the inside of the envelope.
Starting in that corner and taking care to not stitch all the way through the front of the envelope fabric, use a running stitch to sew the bottom flap up from one corner and down to the other corner.
6. Tie off the thread on the inside of the envelope (see Tie Off the Thread). This is easiest if you poke the corner inside out first! Then snip the thread.
If you want your envelope to close securely, you can add a button.
1. Near the point of the felt envelope's top flap, cut a very small slit for the button to go through. This slit should be smaller than you think you need. If you can't easily fit the button through, widen the slit very carefully and gently.
Fold the top flap down. Then with chalk, mark through the buttonhole onto the fabric underneath. That's the spot where the button will go.
2. Sew on the button (see How to Sew On a Button). Make sure to sew the button to the pocket only, and not to the front of the envelope.
3. Secure your buttonhole with the buttonhole stitch.
4. Fold the top flap back over and push the button through the slit.
Excerpted from "Stitch Camp"
Copyright © 2017 Nicole Blum and Catherine Newman.
Excerpted by permission of Storey Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of ContentsIntroduction: Get Ready!
Solo or Social
How to Thread Your Needle
How to Knot Your Thread
How to Tie Off the Thread
How to Sew a Backstitch
Project: Beanbag That Is Also a Handwarmer
How to Sew a Whipstitch
Project: Felt Envelope
How to Sew a Running Stitch
How to Sew on a Button
How to Sew a Buttonhole (or Blanket) Stitch
Project: T-Shirt Alchemy
How to Use an Embroidery Hoop
How to Separate Your Floss
Project: Mandala Sampler
How to Sew Embroidery Stitches
Project: Art Pillow
How to Write with Thread
How to Transfer Your Drawing
Project: Scout Badge
How to Get the Sweaters
How to Felt the Fabric
Project: Arm Warmers
Project: Cut-and-Sew Mittens
Project: Monster Coin Pouch
How to Wind Yarn into a Ball
How to Make a Slip Knot
How to Cast On
How to Knit Rows
How to Cast Off
How to Weave in Ends
Project: Phone Sweater
How to Change Colors
How to Knit an I-Cord
Project: I-Cord Jump Rope
Project: Cord-Slung Backpack
How to Chain Stitch
Project: Beaded Chain Bracelet
How to Single Crochet
How to Change Colors
Project: Pencil Roll
How to Increase Crochet Stitches
How to Decrease Crochet Stitches
Project: Hacked Sack
How to Over and Under
Project: Woven Patch
Project: Beaded Key Fob or Necklace
How to Cut a T-Shirt into a Continuous Strand
Project: Jar Jacket
Metric Conversion Chart
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I remember being at summer camp, and really enjoying the various weaving and stitching crafts we made one year. Now that I have an expecially “crafty” daughter, who won’t be going off to camp anywhere, I’ve wondered how to share those fun times — and the lifelong learning that went with it. So I am thrilled to share with her Stitch Camp: 18 Crafty Projects fro Kids & Tweens. We’ve each been working on some of the sewing, knitting, crocheting, embroidery, weaving, and felt projects offered in the book. Sometimes we’re sort of watching something on TV, or other times, just talking. I’ve been showing her how to do the knots that are included, and she’s explained how she did her “art pillow” project, with an old pillowcase, and we’ve been talking about how to improve on that next time. The text is clear and engaging, and the book includes beautiful — and helpful — photos, which show how to do each project, step by step. The layout is fun and easy to follow, and we both love the many asides and sidebars on things like how to make a ball of yarn, pom-poms, and yarn bombing. It’s fun creating our own fun crafts.