My favorite part of teaching 5th grade art is teaching my students how to sew. They will agree, that my stuffed animal lesson is their favorite and always leaves each student with a cute lil’ stuffie and a new, invaluable ability: sewing.
The thought of teaching 60 5th graders how to sew every year, although daunting, is a lot easier than you think and trust me the kids LOVE IT… Especially the boys! Each year I hear several students say, “Mrs. Koul! My mom bought me a sewing kit and I made three pillows last night!” or “I had to fix a hole in my dads shirt!” or a kid will bring in the stuffed animals they made at home, their parents in awe that their 10 year old boy wants to sew the night away.
What you need:
- paper & colored pencils for the preliminary drawing
- an extreme amount of patience
Let’s get started:
To begin I introduce the work of an artist who makes stuffed animal as a living. I show a few examples of her work, talk about the process, found here, and then we begin drawing the idea for our animal.
To draw your stuffed animal, reminders:
- All corners must be rounded
- No part can be thinner than your thumb
- Draw the OUTLINE of your creature first then fill with detail. I have kids trace outline in sharpie to remind them when we draw on felt we only draw this shape.
- Fold your piece of felt in half and draw the outline of your stuffed animal with pencil. Be sure to fill the piece as they shrink a bit when turned inside out.
- Pin the felt together.
- Cut on the outline.
- Give each student a needle and thread and show them how to thread a needle. I find it’s easiest if you hold only a tiny bit of string and lower the needle onto the string.
- Once threaded students should match both ends of the string.
- Everyone has their own way of tying a knot. I was taught to aim the needle and string at each other, give the string to the fingers holding the hole of the needle making an O with the string, wrap the string nearest the tip of the needle tightly around the needle, grab the wrapped string with your fingers holding the needle and then pull the needle all the way out while squeezing the wrapped string until you feel a knot. If you know an easier way to get a nice big knot then by all means…
- Show kids how to make a stitch, I usually go in through the bottom, pull tight, in through the bottom, pull tight over and over. Make sure the stitches are tight and the closer together the stronger the stuffed animal!
- Make sure to leave a hole about half the length of your pinky for stuffing and turning inside out.
- Take out the pins and flip inside out like a sock. Use a pencil for limbs that are stubborn.
- Decorate! Use scraps of felt and tacky glue to add details.
- Stuff with cotton batting.
- Sew stuffing hole shut.
Snuggle with your stuffie! 😀