Pink Castle Blog

The Best Sewing Machines for Teaching Kids

Posted by Katie Remski on Sep 19, 2017 9:41:08 AM
  

Teaching kids to sew can be a fun and rewarding experience with a little patience and the right tools. Since "kids" sewing machines often found at a toy stores are typically poor quality, a basic sewing machine is a much better investment (on the same note, a real, effective sewing machine isn't a toy and should only be used with adult supervision.) Here's a few things to look for and keep in mind when choosing a sewing machine for teaching children:

1. Size

Just because the child is small doesn't mean their machine should be tiny-- a small/medium sized machine will accomodate a wider variety of projects such as quilts and apparel while still being light enough to stash away when not being used. 

2. Speed

A machine with adjustable stitch speed is helpful for teaching kids, especially because they tend to be rather "lead footed" on the pedal at the begining! Adjusting the speed lets you start them slow and gradually increase speed as they get the hang of sewing straight seams. 

3. Features

Having a machine with limited options may seem like a good idea to keep things simple, but there are a few features that will make sewing more fun and more efficient for kids just starting out. Decorative stitches help kids learn to sew straight lines with a big reward in the pretty pattern, and an easy buttonhole tool gives them the opportunity to practice sewing buttons and make easy closures for pouches and pockets. 

Here's a few machines we like for teaching children how to sew: 

Janome Sew Mini

The Sew Mini is the smallest, most basic and affordable of the Janome lineup, but it's still a great first machine option! With its compact size and cute colors, the Sew Mini has just a handful of stitches and would be good for teaching young sewists. 

Janome Sew Mini at Pink Castle Fabrics
Janome Hello Kitty at Pink Castle Fabrics

Janome 18750 Hello Kitty

Though it looks cute as a button, this is no joke of a sewing machine-- it's got all the features of a good basic machine, with a decent selection of stitches and a clear LCD screen. This one isn't sold online, but if you're near our shop in Ann Arbor, feel free to stop in or give us a call to try it out! 

 DC2015

The Janome DC2015 is a machine that combines simplicity and efficiency in one snappy red package! with a wide range of stitches and feet, plus a speed adjustment slider, the DC2015 could easily be anyone's everyday go-to machine. 

Janome DC2015 at Pink Castle Fabrics

Janome 6100 at Pink Castle Fabrics

Janome 6100

This one's a brand new member of the Janome family! The 6100 is similar to the DC2015, but updated with new stitches and also has the speed adjuster. 

Anna Maria Horner M100

While this is no beater machine, the AMH M100 is a beautiful investment machine that makes you wonder why anyone would want anything different. 99 stitches, removable extension table, speed adjuster, and automatic thread cutter are just a few of the features of this lovely machine. Am I biased because this is the machine I own? Maybe, but look at those roses! Any young girl would be happy to have this machine out on display. 

Janome AMH M100 at Pink Castle Fabrics

Remember, if you're not sure which machine will best fit your needs and budget, contact us and ask! We're always happy to help, especially newbies just getting introduced to the sewing world. 

See all Janome machines online!

Topics: anna maria horner, hello kitty, Janome, kids sewing, kids, m100, beginner, beginer, new to sewing, sewmini, 6100, dc2015, teaching, learn to sew, amh m100

Noodlehead Divided Basket in Cotton and Steel Menagerie Canvas

Posted by Katie Remski on Aug 7, 2017 11:06:00 AM
  

Cotton and Steel Menagerie Canvas by Rifle Paper Co You can never have enough storage bins-- it's a scientific fact. The Divided Basket pattern by Anna Graham's Noodlehead Patterns is a soft and flexible bin with a divider panel in the middle to help you organize small items. I knew as soon as I saw the Menagerie Jungle Canvas from Cotton and Steel's latest Rifle Paper Co. collection it had to be a children's book basket. After my success with the Poolside Tote, I couldn't wait to get started! 

For the lining, I used Essex Yarn Dyed Linen in the color Seafoam, which is a pale green. The stabilizer is By Annie's Soft and Stable, my go-to for all projects that need structure. I love the smooth, flawless look it gives when layered with canvas-- it's almost like it's one with the fabric. I used 1" cotton webbing for the handles, and Aurifil 50wt thread for all stitching. 

I opted for the pocketless version of the basket to best show off the large-scale print without interruption. 

Cotton and Steel Menagerie Canvas by Rifle Paper Co
Cotton and Steel Menagerie Canvas by Rifle Paper Co  I sewed the entire basket on the Janome Skyline S7, and I can't even begin to describe how much easier AccuFeed made the process-- at one point, I was sewing through canvas, 2 layers of linen, Soft and Stable, and webbing all at the same time, and the machine hummed along like it was nothing. If your machine doesn't have AccuFeed, definitely use a walking food to help keep all the layers smooth and feeding through the machine at the same rate. Wonder Clips instead of pins are also a big help for holding all layers in place. 
The Divided Basket is overall a real cinch to sew, the only complicated part being the divider-- even then, go slowly, read the directions throughly, and have a seam ripper nearby. Once you've sewn in the divider, you understand the construction and the second basket you make (trust me, you'll want dozens) will be even easier. All the instructions are clear and easy to follow, and the steps are very logical. The only part I had trouble with was keeping my topstitching straight, but changing to a 1/4" foot helped immensely. Cotton and Steel Menagerie Canvas by Rifle Paper Co
Cotton and Steel Menagerie Canvas by Rifle Paper Co

 If you're looking for a soft storage bin pattern, the Divided Basket is a great option. I'd rate the skill level for this pattern as confident beginner-- it's easy at the start and finish, and just challenging enough in the middle to build up your skills. It's really fun to get to work with some substrates like canvas and linen (the pattern works with regular quilting cotton too) and doesn't use a lot of fabric. Wouldn't this make the best gift for a child's birthday, pre-loaded with a few good books? 

Happy sewing! 


 Shop Menagerie by Cotton + Steel Now! 

Topics: Bags, Cotton+Steel, kids sewing, Noodlehead, skyline, For the Home, linen, kids, menagerie, divided basket, basket, tiger canvas, canvas, essex linen, Techniques, Home Decoration

Free Pattern: Girls' Fully Reversible Skirt

Posted by Katie Remski on Jul 27, 2017 11:39:33 AM
  

reversibleskirt-3.jpg

Do you know a little girl who loves to change outfits multiple times throughout the day? While expressing themselves though fashion may be fun for the kiddos, the laundry can start to pile up! Enter the Girl's Fully Reversible Skirt, a free pattern for a simple, twirly skirt that's just as much fun to sew as it is to wear. The comfy elastic waist and choice of two favorite fabrics will make it a wardrobe staple, and the ease of sewing (no pattern pieces! no interfacing! no zippers or buttons!) will make it easy to sew up a whole closet full. 

Download the FREE Reversible Skirt Pattern PDF!

A free pattern for a  girl's fully reversible skirt from Katie Remski at Pink Castle Fabrics

 

My favorite thing about this skirt is the way it is 100% reversible without the usual piping, binding, or added bands that are typical for reversible patterns. All you need is two different prints, enough elastic to fit comfortably around the child's waist, and an hour or so for cutting and sewing. 

A free pattern for a  girl's fully reversible skirt from Katie Remski at Pink Castle Fabrics

Another wonderful thing about this skirt is you can customize it in so many ways. Make it shorter or longer, add fullness, stitch on some applique or pockets, whatever makes you (and the recipient) happy! The sewing is very, very easy, especially once you get the hang of sewing down and around the side seam. 

A free pattern for a  girl's fully reversible skirt from Katie Remski at Pink Castle Fabrics

For the fabric for these skirts, we chose two new lines in the shop-- the skirt at left is made from "Double Dutch" by Latifah Saafir for Hoffman Fabrics. Aside from the line having the perfect name, how could we resist an ice cream bar skirt for a little girl?! Not to mention that if (ahem, when) popsicle juice drips onto her outfit and you've still got to get through the grocery store, just flip the skirt over to a clean side. The happy, colorful geometric dots on the reverse side look like something from a retro arcade game. 

 

For the yellow skirt on the right, we used "Supernova' by Rae Ritchie for Dear Stella Fabrics. This line of science-inspired motifs, including these glasses, will appeal to the girl who would rather read books and pair her skirts with high top sneakers (how sweet would this be with a cardigan for school?) The reverse of the skirt is Dear Stella Scallop Dot, which makes for a simple basic perfect for pairing with busy shirts.  A free pattern for a  girl's fully reversible skirt from Katie Remski at Pink Castle Fabrics

 Download the FREE Reversible Skirt Pattern PDF!

Here's an image for your Pinterest boards: 

A free sewing pattern for a skirt for little girls that's fully reversible from Pink Castle Fabrics

Topics: kids sewing, latifah saafir, skirt, Free Pattern, dear stella, Apparel Sewing, kids, reversible skirt, girls, kids clothes, Techniques

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