Inspiring Kids to Sew With A New Book “Gemma Riley and the Fashion Fiasco”

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We’re all trying new hobbies this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One hobby to try with your kids is sewing. It provides a creative outlet for kids to express themselves as well as being practical. Who doesn’t need to learn how to sew a button or fix a tear or hem?

Plus, it teaches kids valuable skills. Cutting fabric, threading a needle and hand stitching helps promote fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, which are critical to child development. It also teaches kids to follow instructions and the art of patience. From there, they can graduate to a simple sewing machine.

Inspiring kids to sew is easy. Best of all, you don’t need to spend a fortune to start sewing—sewing needles, thread, fabric scissors and material are all that’s needed. Children are naturally creative and it doesn’t take long before they start coming up with their own ideas. Once a child masters the basic running stitch, they can sew just about anything.

Wondering how old kids can be before they should learn how to sew. Some say You can start kids aged 6 and older if you’re giving them a traditional needle and thread. However, if you want to get kids younger than that sewing, use cardstock. You can use cardboard sheets with punched out holes and a large dull needle and thread and get them to practice hand sewing.

For instruction, find a person who can sew like an aunt or grandma or search on Google for blog posts or videos about teaching sewing skills. Sewing machine brand Bernina has an instructive blog post about how to teach kids to sew including first sewing projects like pillowcases and drawstrings bags.

I’m not a sewer but my mum loves to sew and create. My daughter is now learning how to sew from her grandmother. She’s learning how to run a sewing machine including threading the machine and filling the bobbin and then learning how to sew in different styles.

Once kids master a few basic sewing steps, get them to start creating items. You can also set up a virtual sewing club with their friends. Kids can sew things individually in their home but share their items on Zoom calls or via text messages. This way, each person works on an individual task (socially distancing) while sharing in the camaraderie and encouragement that comes with a group activity.

You can also get them reading about other kids designing and sewing things. A new-release book from Pan Macmillan Australia Gemma Riley and the Fashion Fiasco by Jules van Mil is ideal for middle-grade kids. The central character, Gemma Riley, is a highly creative 10-year-old girl who lives on the twelfth floor of her grandmother’s fashion house, the House of Bonafete. She is instrumental in saving her grandmother’s fashion business from ruin with her resourceful nature and her belief in, ‘doing a lot with a little’. It’s a great motto for all of us.

As well as being an entertaining read, it will also make you and your kids want to start sewing. In fact, the book also includes instructions on how to make the same items Gemma and her friends create—a fabric friendship heart and bag, a fashion storyboard and customised sneakers. These are great little projects to get kids creative juices going.

The author Jules van Mil is a former teacher, designer, patternmaker and machinist and draws on her experience to write this new book for kids. After studying design and pattern-making, she worked in the fashion industry, first as an assistant designer and then on the teaching staff at the Whitehouse Institute of Design. She eventually opened her own design studio, a couture bridal wear business in Sydney.

My ten-year old review: “I like this book because it’s original. It’s set in the fashion industry and after reading the book, I wanted to sew more and design my own friendship heart bag.”

Gemma Riley and the Fashion Fiasco is published by Pan Macmillan Australia and available wherever good books are sold. RRP $16.99

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