Sewing Camp - Project One of Four

Sitting at the driver's seat for the first time behind the wheel of a sewing machine can be pretty daunting.  It is a real electrical running machine that seems to have a mind of its own when you put your foot on the pedal.  The motor runs so fast and the wheel starts turning so quickly you cannot even see it turning, then the fabric begins to pull uncontrollably under the feed dogs. With haste, you must gain composure and take control by placing your hands in the correct position and adjust the foot pedal speed to just the right amount - not too fast - not too slow, all while keeping that fabric in the same position on the stitch plate so you end up with a straight seam. 

A loomed sample of knit on the left and woven ribbon as a sample on the right.

A loomed sample of knit on the left and woven ribbon as a sample on the right.

The thirteen teens at the Fairfield Woods Branch Library sewing camp did just that - they conquered the sewing machine. They began with all the visual introductions of learning the difference between wovens and knits, types of fabrics, sewing notions, safety, the anatomy of the sewing machine and then hands-on with threading the machine and loading a bobbin.  They progressed to practicing on paper using templates from the book, The Best of Sewing Machine Fun for Kids. The paper practice allowed them to learn to keep a straight line as well as pivoting through their paper maze.

Now they were ready for their first project.  This was the easiest construction project for them, but with respect to the planning, it was the hardest.  The library was given a generous donation of gorgeous flannel cuts.  That was the challenge - they were curvy cuts - not the ends of bolts or straight cuts - curves.  What can you make out of curvy fabric? Got it! Small sized flannel rice heating bags.  The flannel was so thick and warm.  It was perfect for such a project.  

The project was made with two rectangles cut 11" by 4". Instead of using a straight stitch they sewed with an imitation serger stitch (as I like to call it) - a straight stitch combined with a zig zag stitch.  This combination stitch was to prevent the rice from falling out of the bag (believe me this happens). Once all three sides were sewn, they filled the bag with a half pound of white uncooked rice. It was easy to pour as we had pre-measured the rice and put it in quart size plastic bags.  When it was time to fill up the heating bags, they snipped the bottom corners of the bags and poured from the newly created funnel. It worked great - no one spilled their bag of rice. The hard part was keeping the rice at the opposite side from the closure so they could sew up the opening.  Success! Everyone had a functional rice heating bag. 

These bags are so practical and can be molded to fit your body.  Put them in a clean microwave for about one minute and the gentle heat lasts about twenty minutes. The next day some of the teens reported them lasting up to an hour.  It will vary based upon the strength of your microwave.

These bags are also so versatile and can be used without heating them.  Just use your imagination on all the different ways they can be used: 

~ warmed to soothe an aching neck ~ a book weight ~ a prop for a techy device ~ a smaller square can be used for a toddler's game of hopscotch ~ a large heated bag can be sewn for an old cat to lie on ~ small bags for a toss game ~ even tinier bags for pattern weights ~ a game of tic-tac-toe ~ sewn in a variety of colors for young toddlers ~ juggling ~ etc.

How will you use these bags?