Hello Everyone! Pati here…
Last week you got an email from me about a special “Give the Gift of Sewing — Teach Young Children to Sew” package — My First Sewing Book plus My First Doll Book, plus our Yes, I Can Sew! DVD. I’d like to tell you more about this exceptional program. I know this is a “Pattern Blog” but this program has patterns, too —patterns to make hand-sewn stuffed shapes from felt and machine-sewn stuffed shapes from fabric.
The how-tos are taught in My First Sewing Books, part of the Winky Cherry System of Teaching Young Children to Sew.
I first met Winky Cherry in 1991. She sent me a book she had self-published called My First Sewing Book. She waited until my daughter, Melissa, was 5 years old to ask me if she could fly to Portland and meet with me about publishing this book and five more in a system she had developed while teaching at a private school in Marin County, CA.
The first thing she did when she arrived was to show me how it worked, using my daughter as her student.
I was very impressed because she had written from experience—25 years teaching children from 5-10. She had a building-block system where each level builds on the previous one. The first three levels are hand sewing. She feels strongly that starting with hand sewing is better for five- and six-year-olds. They build patience and dexterity while having fun doing simple projects from felt animals in the first level— My First Sewing Book kit — which shows how to sew a bird but also includes patterns for 43 other shapes. (All the books come as kits with supplies to make the projects.)
Winky wrote the books in rhyme, which makes sewing rules fun and easy to remember.
She even has rhymes for getting ready:
Wash your hands before you sew.
Make a clean work space and you are ready to go!
Ask for snippers, pincushion, and thread.
Speak clearly and nicely, so we hear what you said.
Remember your manners. Be thoughtful and sweet.
It also helps to be careful and neat.
In Level 2 — My First Embroidery Book kit…children make hand-embroidered name samplers that they can turn into pillows.
My First Embroidery Book also teaches them embroidery skills they can use to tie their shoes (the embroidery lock stitch) and when they move on to Level 3 — My First Doll Book kit — where they make felt dolls with embroidered faces and yarn for hair. The kit comes with two doll cuts outs to sew, in two different skin colors, and rhymes like this offer a great mini-lesson in diversity:
A doll is special, and so are you!
Everyone is the same in some ways…but different, too.
Winky’s system allows children to progress when they are ready. They see what each other is doing and are inspired. Young children may stay with the first book for months while they sew and stuff many different shapes.
We asked her to write a teacher’s manual for others wanting to start a business teaching the hand-sewing levels. It includes psychology, structure, information about supplies needed, and reproducible handouts and marketing tips. It’s great for teachers, but parents, grandparents, and babysitters could make use of her guidance, too.
At a certain point, starting about age 7, the children are introduced to machine sewing, making the same shapes they made when hand sewing.
Level 4 — My First Machine Sewing Book kit — includes paper practice sheets. Children use the sewing machine, without thread, to stitch on these papers, learning to follow straight and curved lines, and to turn corners.
Once they’ve got that mastered, it’s on to the fabric project, a star, followed by as many other shapes as they want to sew.
Level 5 is My First Machine Patchwork Book kit, which continues instruction in using a sewing machine, as well as how to make them by hand.
The My First Machine Patchwork Book also comes with patterns for Morse code flags.
The final level — My First Quilt Book kit —puts those patchwork skills to work so children can make their own pieced quilts. The kit includes templates for designing a quilt. This book, like the patchwork book, brings in math lessons. The quilt book also makes use of embroidery skills when children choose to add appliqués.
When we invited Melissa’s school friends to come learn to sew while we photographed them doing all these projects, my decision to publish these books was reaffirmed. They loved doing this!
We recently revised the whole series of books making them full color and removing most of the rhymes from the machine series. They were fun for the younger kids, but silly to the older ones.
Here are some sample pages:
If the children in your life haven’t yet learned how to sew, I encourage you to explore this program!