September 3 – It’s National Sewing Month

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About the Holiday

September was proclaimed National Sewing Month in 1982 to remind people of the importance of home sewing to the country and the fun this hobby can bring to kids and adults alike. The history of sewing is one to marvel at. With only a thin needle and different colored threads, women used to sew elaborate, multi-layered dresses with intricate decoration, tailors created formal suits for every occasion, and mothers outfitted their entire (big) families by hand. The invention of the sewing machine created new industries in fashion, textile manufacturing, farming, and merchandising. This month, introduce your kids to the art of sewing!

Floaty

By John Himmelman

 

Mr. Raisin lived alone and didn’t like anything but sewing. One morning he discovered a basket on his front steps. The note attached read, “‘All yours! Too much trouble! Good luck!’” When Mr. Raisin brought it inside. and opened the cover, though, he saw nothing—that is until he looked up. There “a puppy was stuck to the ceiling!” Mr. Raisin tried to dislodge it with a broom, but the puppy just floated into another room.

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Copyright John Himmelman, 2018, courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

After he finally caught it, Mr. Raisin was about to shoo the puppy out the door when he realized that it would just float away. Mr. Raisin brought the puppy back inside and gave it some food. Seeing that the dog couldn’t come down to eat, he “tossed the cornflakes one at a time into the air.” Full and happy, the dog next wanted to go for a walk. Mr. Raisin tied a leash to the puppy and took him out.

Mr. Raisin’s neighbors took the little dog for a balloon or maybe a kite. They also thought Mr. Raisin was a bit nutty. “‘Blah,’ said Mr. Raisin.” Back home, Mr. Raisin returned to his sewing and most of the time, the puppy was not a bother. In fact, Mr. Raisin soon found he had grown to like the little dog. He even gave it a name—Floaty.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-floaty-balloon

Copyright John Himmelman, 2018, courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

One day while Mr. Raisin and Floaty were outside, the leash snapped and the dog floated away. Mr. Raisin was devastated. He tried sending a bowl of food up with balloons in case Floaty got hungry, and “he searched the skies day and night for his little dog.” But Floaty was nowhere to be seen. Floaty, meanwhile, wanted so much to go home.

As “Floaty floated farther and farther away,” Mr. Raisin went back to his sewing. He sewed and sewed. One night a storm raged. Floaty shivered as thunder boomed and lightning flashed around him. Suddenly, the little dog heard Mr. Raisin’s voice. He was right there to rescue Floaty—in a home-sewn hot-air balloon. He happily pulled Floaty in, and the two floated back toward home.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-floaty-floating-away

Copyright John Himmelman, 2018, courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Although it took Mr. Raisin a while to embrace Floaty, young readers will instantly fall in love with this airborne little puppy and the cantankerous and emotionally dried-up Mr. Raisin, who’s actually a softie inside. John Himmelman’s tiny, pointy-nosed Floaty and rotund Mr. Raisin make a sweet and heartwarming pair, and kids will laugh at the accommodations Mr. Raisin must make for his special pup. With growing suspense, they will wonder how the two will be reunited after Floaty’s leash breaks and he soars away into the sky. The vision of a smiling Mr. Raisin coming to the rescue in his homemade hot-air balloon as well as Floaty’s overjoyed expression at seeing him will delight readers.

Floaty is an adorable story of love found, lost, and found again that will tickle kids and quickly become a favorite on home and classroom bookshelves. The idea of a floating dog and how an owner might feed, walk, and play with it could lead to some fun discussions or drawings during classroom or library story times. 

Ages 4 – 8

Henry Holt and Company Books for Young Readers, 2018 | ISBN 978-1250128058

Discover more about John Himmelman, his books, and his art on his website.

National Sewing Month Activity

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So Much to Love about Sewing! Word Search

 

Sewing is a hobby with a vocabulary all its own. Can you find the fifteen words related to sewing in this printable word search puzzle?

So Much to Love about Sewing! Word Search Puzzle | So Much to Love about Sewing! Word Search Solution

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You can find Floaty at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

February 16 – International Month of Black Women in the Arts

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About the Holiday

During this month we recognize the contributions of black women across the fields of literature, fine, performing, culinary, and healing arts. To celebrate, research black women artists and attend exhibits, readings, or other events that showcase these talented women.

Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe

Written by Deborah Blumenthal | Illustrated by Laura Freeman

 

From the time that Ann Cole Lowe was old enough to thread a needle, she loved to sew. While her momma and grandma worked at their sewing machines, making dresses for the socialites of Alabama, Ann sat nearby turning “the wisps of cloth” that fell to the floor into “flowers as bright as roses in the garden.” Even at a young age Ann understood that “doing what you love could set your spirit soaring.”

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Image copyright Laura Freeman, text copyright Deborah Blumenthal, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

When Ann was only sixteen years old, her momma died. Not only did her mother’s death leave Ann bereft, it left her in charge of the business, and many women were waiting for gowns, most importantly the Alabama governor’s wife. “Ann thought about what she could do, not what she couldn’t change.” She sat down and finished the dresses. “Then she stood up and ran the business.”

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Image copyright Laura Freeman, text copyright Deborah Blumenthal, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

In 1916 a woman in Florida hired her to sew dresses. She also sent Ann to design school in New York. Because she was African American, however, Ann was required to study in a separate classroom by herself. Ann was not deterred. She continued to make unique gowns and dresses, and her client list grew. Finally, Ann had saved enough money to open a salon of her own in Manhattan. Sometimes she didn’t have enough money to pay all the bills, but she persisted. Her life was about “what she could do, not what she couldn’t change.”

One day Ann received an order for a wedding dress from a woman who was marrying a United States senator. The woman’s name was Jacqueline Bouvier and the man was John F. Kennedy, a future president of the U.S. Ann bought 50 yards of ivory silk taffeta and designed a beautiful dress with a bouffant skirt and pleated bands decorated with tiny wax flowers. She also made the dresses for Jacqueline’s attendants.

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Image copyright Laura Freeman, text copyright Deborah Blumenthal, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Then ten days before the wedding, Ann walked into her workroom and discovered that a water pipe had burst, flooding the dresses, material, everything. Ten of the sixteen gowns Ann had sewn were destroyed. “Ann though about what she could do, not what she couldn’t change.” She ordered new fabric, hired more seamstresses, and went to work. On this job she lost money instead of making it, but none of that mattered. In eight days all of the dresses were ready.

When Ann delivered the gowns to the mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, the butler who answered the door told her workers needed to use the back entrance. Ann replied that “if she had to enter through the back door, the bride and bridesmaids wouldn’t be wearing her dresses for the wedding.” The front door swung open. On the day of the wedding—September 12, 1953—the whole world oohed and aahed over Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy’s gorgeous gown and her bridesmaids’ dresses, but not many people thought about or knew the name of the woman who had created them. “Why? Because Ann Cole Lowe was African American. And life wasn’t fair.”

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Image copyright Laura Freeman, text copyright Deborah Blumenthal, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Ann continued to design and sew party dresses and evening gowns for the women of high society. She “didn’t make fine clothes to get rich or famous,” however, but, as she once said, “‘To prove that a Negro can become a major dress designer.’” In 1961 Ann finally gained public recognition for her work when she was named “Official Couturiere” in honor of the 33 ball gowns she created for an elegant ball in Omaha, Nebraska. She proudly accepted her award as the fashion world applauded.

An Author’s Note explaining more about Ann Cole Lowe’s life and work follows the text.

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Image copyright Laura Freeman, text copyright Deborah Blumenthal, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

With straightforward storytelling adorned with lyrical passages, Deborah Blumenthal reveals Ann Cole Lowe’s lifelong love of fashion design, her struggles, and her ultimate acclaim. Lowe’s natural talent, single focus, self-confidence, courage, and persistence come through as she overcomes obstacles and prejudice to become the first African American couture designer. Children interested in fashion and history will find much to spark their curiosity and desire to know more about the woman and her times. Blumenthal’s repetition of Lowe’s philosophy to think about what she could do instead of what she couldn’t change will inspire readers to push past difficulties and find solutions.

Laura Freeman’s full-bleed illustrations are as bold and vivacious as Ann Cole Lowe herself. Beginning with the endpapers, which are scattered with drawings of Lowe’s one-of-a-kind gowns, Freeman takes readers on a tour of the workrooms and salons stocked with the fabrics that gave form to Lowe’s creativity. While the backgrounds are typically brilliantly colored and patterned, twice Freeman places Lowe on a completely white page—after her mother has recently died and she is left alone to finish dresses and when she is segregated from the other students in design school. These pages make a moving and effective statement. Children fascinated by fashion will love seeing the beautifully depicted gowns, and may be stirred to create styles of their own.

Ages 4 – 8

little bee books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1499802399

To learn more about Deborah Blumenthal and her books for children, young adults, and adults, visit her website!

Discover a gallery of illustration work by Laura Freeman on her website!

International Month of Black Women in the Arts Activity

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Create Your Own Party Dress 

 

With this easy craft you can make a  fun sheath dress for playing dress-up. It’s also a great party activity! All you need is a plastic or paper party table cloth, Sharpies, and your imagination!

Supplies

  • 1 plastic party tablecloth (1 cloth will most likely make 4 dresses)
  • Sharpies or other permanent markers
  • Ribbon, scarf, crepe paper garland, or other material for a belt
  • Scissor
  • Newspaper, old sheeting or other material to protect the floor

Directions

  1. With the table cloth folded along one edge, cut a rectangle the appropriate size for the child
  2. In the middle of the folded edge cut a V-shaped or rounded opening for the child’s head. Begin with a small opening and enlarge it as needed
  3. Lay the dress on newspaper or other material to protect the floor
  4. Draw and color shapes, lines, figures, or other designs on the dress
  5. Slip on over a shirt and pants or leggings
  6.  Add a belt with a ribbon, scarf, piece of crepe paper garland, or other material

Picture Book Review

January 27 – It’s Creativity Month

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About the Holiday

January is a time for reflection and new beginnings. What better time to start thinking creatively and finding your inner artist, scientist, inventor, thinker? Go ahead and do the thing you’ve always wanted to do!

Stitchin’ and Pullin’: A Gee’s Bend Quilt

Written by Patricia C. McKissack | Illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera

In this story told through poems, a little girl begins telling of her life, starting with a recitation on Gee’s Bend Women: “Gee’s Bend women are / Mothers and Grandmothers / Wives / Sisters and Daughters / Widows.” They are every kind of woman you know, doing every type of work and activity. “Gee’s Bend women are / Talented and Creative / Capable / Makers of artful quilts / Unmatched. / Gee’s Bend women are / Relatives / Neighbors / Friends— / Same as me.”

In Who Would Have Thought, the girl muses on how perceptions change. “For as long as anyone can remember,” she says, the women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama have created quilts that were slept under, sat on, and wrapped around the sick or cold. But now those same quilts are “…hanging on museum walls, / their makers famous….”

When she was just a tot “Baby Girl” reveals in Beneath the Quilting Frame, she played under the quilting frame, listening to her “mama, grandma, and great-gran / as they sewed, talked, sang, and laughed / above my tented playground.” She remembers the “steady fingers  /[that] pieced together colorful scraps of familiar cloth / into something / more lovely / than anything they had been before” as her mother sang her a lullaby.

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Image copyright Cozbi A. Cabrera, courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers

In Something Else, “Baby Girl” is growing too big to play beneath the frame. Her legs becoming longer and her mind full of “recipes for eleven kinds of jelly…how to get rid of mold…and the words to a hundred hymns and gospel songs” while she waits her turn at the frame. Finally, in Where to Start? her time comes. The girl asks her mama how to begin and she answers, “‘Look for the heart. / When you find the heart, / your work will leap to life… / strong, beautiful, and… / independent.’”

In Remembering, the girl thinks about how her mama has told her that “cloth has a memory.” As she chooses the cloth that will become her quilt she sees the life and the history in each. 

Nothing Wasted sees Grandma pulling apart a red-and-white gingham dress stitch by stitch to become a quilting square that the girl suddenly knows “will be the heart of my quilt.” In Puzzling the Pieces the girl and her grandma stand over the quilting frame fitting the squares together in the perfect way to tell the girl’s story. Her quilt comes together piece by piece to tell the history of Gee’s Bend in The River Island. The brown strips along three sides mirror the muddy waters surrounding her town. The fourth side is a green strip—“a symbol of the fields where my ancestors / worked cotton from can to can’t— / can see in the morning until / can’t see at night.” Lined up next to the green strip are six squares representing the small communities “where families with / the same name / are not kin by blood / but by plantation.”

Being Discovered is portrayed with “a large smoke-gray square”—the color of the Great Depression and the 15 minutes of fame Gee’s Bend garnered when discovered “by sociologists, historians, / educators, and journalists” who came and went, leaving Gee’s Bend “the way it had been / before being discovered.”

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Image copyright Cozbi A. Cabrera, courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers

In Colors, the girl’s grandma explains the meanings and feelings behind each colored cloth. “Blue cools. / Red is loud and hard to control, / like fire and a gossiping tongue.” Green, orange, yellow, white, pink, and all the others have their own personalities. “Grandma says, / ‘Colors show how you / feel deep down inside.’”

In Pinky, the harrowing facts of the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama frame the story of one marcher, Mr. Willie Quill who broke horses for the Alabama State Mounted Patrol and was saved from the Police attacks when one of the horses he’d trained knew his voice. In Dr. King Brings Hope, the little girl adds a “Patch of bright pink / to remember Pinky’s story. / Next to it I sew / a spotless white patch for the hope Dr. Martin Luther King / brought to the Bend” and goes on to tell how her grandma saw Dr. King at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church and what it meant to her.

By and By follows the girl as she adds “golden thank-yous, for James Reeb,” a “bright blue piece of velvet for Viola Liuzzo,” and a “big plaid people circle of white, black, brown, yellow, and red for Reverend Dr. King, all “killed for believing in justice.”

In the 1960s, The Sewing Bee tells, Gee’s Bend quilters were once again discovered. There were buyers for the handmade quilts, but stipulations. The girl asks her grandma if she was part of the Bee, to which she replies, “‘Yes, / more money. Less freedom. I chose to stay free.’”

At last all of the patches are laid out and the time comes to stitch the girl’s quilt. Five women stand at the frame “all stitchin’ and pullin.’” They work “in a slow and steady rhythm” relaxing and enjoying being together until the quilt is finished. In Finished, the last stitch is sewn, and the thread bitten and knotted. The girl has hundreds of ideas for future quilts. “Quilts that are about me, / the place where I live, / and the people / who have been here for generations.”

Further poems unite the history of “Baby Girl,” her family, and neighbors, and an Author’s Note about quilting and the women of Gee’s Bend follow the text.

Patricia McKessack’s free verse poems capture the close relationships and camaraderie of the generations of women who join around the quilting frame to share and pass down their art and their heart. McKessack’s conversational verses, on page after page like the patches of a quilt, reveal the complexity of this handmade art form in the way intimate talks between friends unveil a life. Readers learn not only about the little girl and her own thoughts, but the history and influence of her immediate family, world events, inspirational figures, and deeply held beliefs that make her who she is and ties her to the other Gee’s Bend women.

Cozbi A. Cabrera’s stunning acrylic paintings take readers inside the heart of the Gee’s Bend women, depicting the girl’s home, the table-sized quilting frame where the women collectively work, the plantations, the protests, and the changes that came but did not unravel the convictions, values, and love of the little girl’s family. Readers can almost hear the talking and singing of the Gee’s Bend women as they stitch their quilts, and the comforting, embracing environment is evident on every page. Cabrera’s portraits of the little girl, her mama, and her grandma are particularly moving. For What Changed, Cabrera depicts a yellow school bus appearing on the dirt road from the right hand corner of the page. In the side mirror a dot of a house comes into view, reminding readers that no matter how far these women are from home, Gee’s Bend is always with them.

Children—and adults—will find Stitchin’ and Pullin’: A Gee’s Bend Quilt inspirational and uplifting. This volume of poetry can be read at one sitting and delved into again and again, making it a wonderful choice for home libraries and a must for school, public, and other libraries.

Ages 5 – 12

Dragonfly Books, Random House, 2016 (paperback edition) | ISBN 978-0399549502

View a gallery  of fashion designs, dolls, and other handmade art work by Cozbi A. Cabrera on her website!

Creativity Month Activity

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Design a Quilt Coloring Pages

Quilts are so much more than pieces of material sewn together—they’re life stories! Here are two quilt coloring pages for you to design and color. What does each piece mean to you? As you color each section, write a sentence about an event or thought that is important to you.

Quilt Template 1 | Quilt Template 2

Picture Book Review

June 23 – Let It Go Day

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About the Holiday

No, this isn’t a day dedicated to re- re- re- re- re-watching that movie. It’s a day to take a step back and take stock of the feelings you’re keeping inside or the little irksome quirks that drive you crazy. Are they really worth all the stress? Today’s a day to find inner peace, make amends, or turn disadvantage into advantage.

It’s Tough to Lose Your Balloon

By Jarrett J. Krosoczka

 

Most people wake up each morning with great ideas for a having good day, but sometimes things don’t work out the way they’re planned. For kids, small mistakes, accidental mishaps, and unexpected disappointments can loom large. Frustrations and perceived unfairness can elicit tears or anger, and it’s sometimes hard to know how to comfort an unhappy or upset child.

In It’s Tough to Lose Your Balloon Jarrett Krosoczka acknowledges that sometimes bad or sad things happen, but he reveals to kids how looking at the event from a different perspective or through someone else’s eyes can bring consolation and even happiness. As the title states, it’s hard for kids to watch a balloon suddenly slip through their fingers and float away, but imagining all the other people who will see it and smile can help. Having a picnic on the beach when the unthinkable happens? “It’s sad to drop your sandwich in the sand…but it’ll make some seagulls very happy.” And you know it will make you laugh to watch those crazy guys swooping, diving, and squawking over that now-crunchy snack.

The idea of sharing hurts with others to create a new scenario or a different kind of enjoyment while forming closer bonds is another positive way to turn disappointments into teachable moments that benefit all. As most kids know “it’s never fun when you break a toy…” but with a upbeat attitude they can have “fun fixing it with Grandpa.”

Wet shoes? Melting Ice-cream cone? Scraped knee or new baby sitter? In Jarrett Krosoczka’s hands these letdowns can lead to new freedom, innovation, distinction, and joyful experiences. It’s Tough to Lose Your Balloon can help anyone see “disaster” in a whole new light!

Krosoczka’s illustrations ingeniously depict the way an unexpected mishap or disappointing moment can make someone feel—alone, exposed, and vulnerable. Left-hand pages present the problem while the right-hand page shows the crestfallen child in full color on a black-and-white sketched background. The positive transformation becomes a two-spread, full-color of happy pride and fun abandon. Life can be full of little bumps in the road, keeping a copy of It’s Tough to Lose Your Balloon on the shelf can help smooth the way.

Ages 3 – 7

Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2015 | ISBN 978-0385754798

Visit Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s Website to see more of his books and discover fun activities!

Let It Go Day Activity

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Worry Buddy

 

Sometimes worries don’t seem as bad when they are shared with someone else or to at least set aside for awhile. With this craft you can make a friend to help lesson worries, disappointments, fears, and anxieties. And it’s pretty good at hugs too. Older children may like to create this as a sewing project, while younger kids can make it easily with fabric glue. Make your Worry Buddy as unique as you are!

Supplies

  • Fleece or felt in different colors
  • Buttons, two larger in the same color and two smaller in a different color
  • Fiber fill
  • Fabric glue or thread
  • Paper
  • Pen or pencil

Directions

To Make the Body

  1. Cut a 16-inch piece of fleece
  2. Fold the fleece in half
  3. Glue the sides together (older children may enjoy sewing the sides together with simple straight stitches)
  4. Leave the top open
  5. Turn the body inside out
  6. Fill the body with fiber fill

To Make the Hair

  1. Cut a 5-inch piece of fleece or felt
  2. Fold the fleece or felt in half
  3. Glue or sew the folded fleece into the opening in the body
  4. Cut the fleece or felt in ¼-inch strips across the top

To Make the Face

  1. Glue one set of larger and smaller buttons together, repeat with the other set
  2. Glue or sew the buttons to the top part of the body
  3. Cut a nose and mouth out of fleece or felt
  4. Glue or sew the nose and mouth to the face

To make the pocket

  1. Cut a 5-inch piece of felt in the shape of a square-bottom or rounded bottom pocket
  2. Fold down an inch of the top
  3. Glue or sew the pocket to the middle of the body

To share problems with the Worry Buddy, write worries or fears on a slip of paper and put them in the Worry Buddy’s pocket. Your Buddy will keep those problems so you don’t have to.

June 13 – Sewing Machine Day

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About the Holiday

Patented in 1790 by Thomas Saint, the sewing machine revolutionized the textile industry. No longer did clothes and other fabric items need to be made by hand. The sewing machine made this job faster and less tedious. Long a favorite hobby for clothes makers and crafters of all types and ages, sewing is creative and fun! If you like to sew celebrate today by making something new or sharing your talent with a beginner. If you’ve never sewn, consider trying it—needle crafts, either by hand or using a sewing machine can become a life-long enjoyable activity!

Sewing School 2: Lessons in Machine Sewing

By Amie Petronis Plumley & Andria Lisle | Photography by Justin Fox Burks

 

Sewing and crafting are popular hobbies shared between friends and family. Skills that were once passed down from generation to generation are being rediscovered by kids and adults alike through widely available craft and sewing chain stores and books like the Sewing School series. In this second edition, kids are taught everything they need to know to feel comfortable at a sewing machine and create awesome projects they can really use.

Divided into five sections, Sewing School 2 is easy to navigate and builds on skills presented in previous chapters. The first section “Getting Started” provides 13 lessons that cover choosing a sewing machine, the elements of a well-stocked sewing kit, learning about different fabrics, how to do basic stitches and techniques, and laying out and cutting patterns.

With clear photographs on every page, kids will easily be able to understand the concepts being described. “Anatomy of a Sewing Machine” points out each part of a machine, from the spool spindle to the take-up lever, presser foot, stitch selector, and more. The most common stitches are depicted here too—straight, reverse, stay, and reinforcement stitches share the page with short discussions of what a bodkin and pinking shears are for.

Budding sewers will learn about the right and wrong sides of fabrics, how to sew “right” sides together and turn the project inside out, and the way to stuff a pillow and finish the opening. One chapter is devoted to starting off right as well as tips on guiding the material through the machine.

After kids have been introduced to the basics, it’s time to try out those new skills! Four sections containing five projects each let kids make items for all the important aspects of their lives. “In My Room” shows them how to make a pillow with a space for secret messages, a welcome sign, a pocket organizer, a sleepy teddy bear, and a striped blanket. The “Let’s Go” section is perfect for kids on the run. Projects include a coin holder, a handy pouch for carrying extras, and a safe place for their electronic gadgets.

The projects in “Time to Play” prove that sewing results in plenty of fun! Things like stuffed guitars, microphones, backpacks, game boards, and decorative hangings are just a stitch away. Finally it’s time to take sewing outside with a section titled “The Great Outdoors.” Kids will wonder how they ever got along without their snack pouch, belt with pocket, water bottle carrier, scarf, and portable tree stump—huh? You’ll just have to get the book and see!

Each project comes with a one-to-three star difficulty rating, a list of all materials needed, a list of the skills used, how to personalize each project, and tips for adult helpers.

The final pages help kids out when things just don’t go as planned, how to do hand-sewn work, and tips for adults who are working with a group.

Amie Petronis Plumley and Andria Lisle have created a wonderful resource for anyone wanting to get in on the fun of sewing. The easy-to-understand directions and conversational tone of the book will put kids at ease, and Justin Fox Burks’ photographs of children using the concepts and happily displaying their work will make beginners excited to start sewing. Burks’ up-close photos of the parts of the sewing machine as well as each technique make Sewing School 2: Lessons in Machine Sewing a leader in its field.

Ages 7 and up

Storey Publishing, 2013 | ISBN 978-1612120492

Sewing School Takeaway Project

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Save-My-T-Shirt Pillow

 

Sometimes it’s so hard to give away a favorite t-shirt! With this project from Sewing School you don’t have to! Use your hand-stitching skills to create a pillow that will make your room even more awesome! Click here for the Save-My-T-Shirt Pillow directions.

Sewing Machine Day Activity

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So You Like to Sew Word Search

 

Sewing has a vocabulary all its own! Find the words related to this fun hobby in this So You Like to Sew Word Search puzzle! And here’s the Solution!

February 6 – Lace Day

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About the Holiday

Lace, that delicate material that trims clothing, covers tables, ties up hair, and makes anything seem more dainty and lovely, has been used since the 1500s. When you look at the intricate patterns and fine threads of lace, it’s hard to believe that people once made it all by hand. Lace makers were paid well for their art by the fashion industry, which used it to attract distinguished customers. While lace is mostly made by machines now, the handcraft is making a comeback. Today’s reviewed picture book is about a girl whose lace work was invaluable.

Fiona’s Lace

By Patricia Polacco

 

In Fiona’s Lace author-illustrator Patricia Polacco weaves a tale of family love and America’s early immigrant heritage that is as intricate and lovely as the material we celebrate today. The story begins in Ireland, where Fiona and her sister Ailish live with their muther and da. They live happily in Glen Kerry, where their father works in the textile mill and their mother teaches Fiona her art of lace making.

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Copyright Patricia Polacco, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

In the evenings the girls are entertained by family stories, especially their favorite about how, when their parents first met, their mother left a trail of lace from the factory to her house for her young suitor to follow.

When the textile mill closes, Fiona’s family signs a contract indenturing themselves to a family in Chicago. The voyage to America is long and arduous, but when they arrive in Chicago they marvel at the grand houses and elegant clothes, imagining that this awaits them too in their new home. The reality, however, is much different. Their 2-room apartment is ramshackle, and only by working two jobs can their parents make enough money to live on.

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Copyright Patricia Polacco, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Fiona wants to help and soon finds that dressmakers will pay handsomely for the lace she makes. The family’s money tin begins to fill up and they are prospering. One night while Muther and Da are away working, a fire rages through Chicago. Fiona and Ailish escape with only the money tin and Fiona’s lace. They run far from home, but worry—how will their parents find them?

Remembering their favorite story, Fiona cuts her lace into strips and ties bits of it along their route to their hiding place. The girls cower in fear until they hear the familiar voices of their parents. Happily reunited, the family lets go of what they have lost, but Ailish cries over the now sooty, torn lace. Ma reassures her and brings comfort, revealing that far from being ruined, this scorched lace is the most valuable and cherished of all because it saved the family.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-fiona's-lace-trail-of-lace-story

Copyright Patricia Polacco, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Patricia Polacco’s heartwarming and harrowing story of an Irish immigrant family is a beautiful reminder of the unique talents and strong bonds that built America. Readers will be enthralled by Polacco’s realistic dialogue and detailed storytelling in this compelling and suspenseful tale and will cheer as Ailish cleverly uses her ma and pa’s trick and her own skills to save her family.

Polacco’s gorgeous illustrations bring the time period alive for young readers, portraying the intricate art of lacemaking and the clothing styles that made use of this delicate trimming. Her depictions of tenement living are realistic, yet reveal the love and close family ties within through a warm color palette and the inclusion of cozy comforts brought from Ireland.

Fiona’s Lace is a wonderful book for classroom and home story times.

Ages: 4 – 8

Simon & Schuster, New York 2014 | ISBN 978-1442487246

Discover more about Patricia Polacco and her many, many books on her website!

Lace Day Activity

Hide-and-Seek Game

While Fiona and her sister used a lace trail to lead their parents to their hiding place, you can have fun making a hide-and-seek game for your friends. This game can be played inside or outside

Supplies

  • 1 or 2 yards of lace, cut into sections about 6-inches each. You can use lace to celebrate Lace Day or use string, ribbon, or other kinds of material
  • Choose something to hide – this can be a toy, a secret letter, a snack, or anything

Directions

  1. Hide the item you choose in a secret place
  2. Determine the starting place for your hide-and-seek game
  3. Along the route from the starting point to the hidden item, tie the sections of lace onto things like lamps, furniture, stair banisters, door knobs, etc. if  you’re playing inside. If you are playing outside, tie it onto trees, bushes, bird feeders, swing sets, etc.
  4. For very young children the trail of lace can be straightforward; for older children the trail can be longer and more difficult