Sewing without pins

So my little girl turned six in the holidays. I gave her a sewing machine and we got straight into projects. She made a bag with a ribbon handle, a pin-cushion, an elastic-waisted skirt and she and her little brother each made one of the library bags above (I sewed on the applique badge).

At this stage, it is all about driving the sewing machine. She does not quite have the foot control to stop and start where she wants, so for the sake of the machine, this means no pins. Which is not too bad, I'm pretty scant with pins myself. I remember getting in trouble at school for sitting down to the machine without pinning my seams. I also remember my response...but my Mum doesn't use pins when she sews...and so skills are passed down the generations.

The skills we are working on are
- tracing patterns onto fabric with texta and cutting them out
- marking seam-lines with texta and sewing straight lines
- reversing at the start and end of seams (I'm a bit slack about this myself)
- pivoting at corners

For the library bags above, we used a neat little technique that I read about in Amy Butler's InStitches. For this method, the lining and bag are made out of the same fabric. Two rectangles of fabric are sewn right sides together, all around the edges, leaving a gap of about 10cm in the middle of both long sides of the rectangle. The bag is then turned right side out and one end (lining) is pushed into the other end (outer bag). A line is then stitched across the top of each side of the bag, forming the casing. Pretty nifty. We modified this technique a little to sew tabs to the bottom of the bag, for the straps to pass through. This allows the bag to be worn as a back-pack.


  1. That's great that she is starting early! Maybe by the time she's a teenager, she'll be proficient at sewing for herself, leaving more time for you to sew for yourself (unlike me, my mom was my personal seamstress for 20 years :) )

  2. Well done - proud moment for mum and daughter! And great projects too..

  3. My dd is six and also sews a bit. I like the bag tip and I think I'll steal it! You could use eyelets instead of loops maybe? With four layers of fabric to punch through they should hold well.

  4. These are fabulous.

    My 5 year old niece is getting interested in fabric... I'm terrified but I might be the dedicated teacher in the family. Given I'm still learning myself, this would be a great idea to start with. Without pins, of course. :)