I have a new favorite sewing book! Growing Up Sew Liberated by Meg McElwee just came out and, lucky me, I was asked to participate in the blog tour. The book is full of playful and easy sewing projects to make for children. Everything looks not only do-able and super cute, but like something that would fit our lifestyle and my sewing abilities. These are clothes and toys that we would use over and over again. The crossover tee and leggings? Yes! The learning numbers? Yes! The reversible cape? Yes! And the art satchel? Of course.
How could I resist the art satchel? Also labeled a “studio-on-the-go,” it is made to hold crayons, markers, and a drawing pad. What a perfect way to bring the art with us this summer – in the car, to the beach, or just to the backyard. With this, any child would be well equipped to draw anywhere and everywhere.
I made one for Maia using pretty batik fabrics from my local fabric store. And while the instructions called for using plexiglass as the main stabilizers, I talked with the store owner about alternatives (I had little time and didn't fancy going to the glass shop right then) and ended up using a firm fusible pellon (Peltex 72F Double-Sided Fusible Ultra Firm Stabilizer) and am happy with how it turned out. While it's not as stiff as the plexi would be, it's lighter weight, and I think (hope!) that the cardboard backing on the sketch pad will provide enough of a firm drawing surface.
The satchel holds 10 markers and 15 crayons. Don't they make you want to draw -- seeing them all lined up like that? And I love the splash of sunshine that the yellow lining provides!
I was planning to take the girls to the park and photograph them using the art satchel there, but alas, Daphne has been sick and we had our photoshoot at the doctor's office instead. The satchel kept both girls happily drawing while we waited, though! I brought an extra sketchpad for Daphne and they shared the satchel supplies.
Besides the art satchel and other awesome projects, Growing Up Sew Liberated is interspersed with great nuggets of wisdom about play, art materials, and learning. As a longtime reader of Meg's (since back when she was blogging as Montessori by Hand), I see the former early childhood educator coming through here.
I thought you’d enjoy reading one of the sidebars, so I asked for permission to include the one that accompanied the “studio-on-the-go” instructions.
Nature as teacher
Spending time outside, in nature, is such an important experience for children. I’ve outlined a few suggestions below to get you started on setting up a backyard that’s friendly for nature exploration. You’ll soon see that cultivating an appreciation for nature in your children is fun and easy!
- Plant whatever native foliage you can to attract local birds and butterflies, as well as planting herbs and other plants that are useful for kitchen and medicinal purposes. Check your local library for books on the subject. In front of each plant place a little marker on which you write the plant’s name and special characteristics.
- Keep a small piece of plywood or a larger, movable rock on the ground. Occasionally lift it up to discover what insects have moved in!
- Make a rustic sandbox by surrounding a space with large logs (and digging a trench to secure the lower 5 to 6 inches [12.5-15 cm] of the logs) and then filling the contained area with sand.
- Choose an area in the yard where you can leave a pile of dirt and provide child-sized digging tools. In rain, this will become a mud puddle – all the more fun!
- Encourage your child to find a special “Sit Spot” where he or she can sit quietly for a few minutes each day (and model the behavior yourself by finding your own Sit Spot). The idea is to become familiar with one small space, observing insects, birds, and animals that pass nearby. It should be a special space, and eventually, if you are quiet and still enough, the animals will grow accustomed to your presence, perhaps revealing themselves to you in new ways!
Informative sidebars like this one are scattered throughout the book, providing ideas that go hand in hand with many of the projects. The set of play numbers is accompanied by a two-page spread of “irresistible number activities” and an embroidered placemat project has a similar spread of “learning through everyday tasks.” The sidebars definitely add a helpful multidimensional aspect to this lovely sewing book!
Would you like a copy of Growing Up Sew Liberated? Meg is giving all Artful Parent readers 20% off signed copies of her book through June 16th. Click here to buy the book and enter the code ArtfulParent for the discount. Happy sewing!
P.S. She’s including a free reading pillow pattern with purchases of her book!