View Full Version : Need Help from Crafty Types!

dolores haze
11-26-2012, 07:44 PM
I am doing preliminary research for a curriculum I will be writing soon. It's entitled 'The Social Sewing Circle' and is based on the tradition of women coming together to work with their hands as they socialize. The curriculum is for adult learners with disabilities. Some of the learners have quite severe intellectual impairments. The curriculum focuses on learning some basic social skills while making a beautiful and/or useful sewing craft.

The projects need to be extremely easy and this is where I'm having a little trouble. I've been looking at so many different sites (over 2 mill hits on google - gah!) as I search for projects, mostly focusing on projects for young children because those are the easiest. But they are also very child-centered projects. My curriculum is for adults and the projects need to be age appropriate. Another thing to consider is that many of the learners will have poor fine motor skills, so a larger project is better. The smaller and more fiddly and complex it is, the more they're likely to get frustrated and give up.

Do you crafty types have any suggestions for very easy, but adult, sewing projects? Or for sites that have a very large number of easy sewing projects? Or any other suggestions for me in general? Do you have a suggestion for a final project that they could all work on together? I was thinking of a patchwork project like a baby quilt or something. How difficult is that?

I'd appreciate any and all help. I can sew a button on and run a sewing machine, but that's about as far as my skills go.

11-26-2012, 07:58 PM
Keeping it within the needle and thread realm, have you looked into cross stitching?

Some patterns (like these (http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CFEQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.123stitch.com%2FCrossStitchSt ampedKits.html&ei=q5CzUKPUMImC8AT6yYCwDA&usg=AFQjCNEMIRh96_kBeeLWRDlmgT0VyMVAAw&sig2=H1mT0hEzTSqymsK3VJ16gw)) are stamped onto the fabric with washable ink - no need to count stitches or keep track of a paper pattern.

Cross stitch needles are typically more blunt-tipped than regular sewing needles and so are a little more forgiving of less than dexterous fingers.

Kitty Pryde
11-26-2012, 09:20 PM
Oh, that sounds so fun! I have some ideas. I do sewing with 4th graders, and sometimes younger, and I have worked with lots of ppl with disabilities. I use long, thick, blunter needles, I think the last ones I bought were tapestry needles, but you can browse around at Jo-Ann Fabric. Sewing on felt is by far the easiest, because it's thick, forgiving, and easy to hold. And felt is easy to cut with a decent pair of kid scissors. If it absolutely has to be cotton, I would make it easier by putting it into an embroidery hoop so the fabric stays flat. And don't use thread, use embroidery floss, the full thickness of it. It's easy to see and easy to work with. You can also cut a longer length of it, put the needle in the center, and tie a knot in the very end, that way the needle can't come unthreaded. And you can make the project easier by marking the stitching lines in washable marker or chalk.

Here's a big project the second graders did: each student picked three colors of felt and made a bullseye type shape by cutting and sewing 3 different sizes of felt circles together, one atop the next. Then they picked out a piece of another fabric, and the teacher sewed the bullseye on, making a quilt square. All the completed squares were stitched together to make a nice wall hanging quilt.

For the fourth graders, I did a lot of projects out of a book called The Cuter Book, by Aranzi Aranzo. The projects are mostly really small "felt mascots", cute little characters. You can blow up the patterns to be larger, and most of them can be sewn with an easy whip stitch, or a running stitch around the outside (instead of sewing right sides together and flipping it right side out). They are so cute that the patterns are pretty forgiving. They make little stuffed animals or little pillows. You can also sew the felt shapes onto other stuff like blankets or bags or hats.

Google "no sew fleece blanket" for another nice project--you cut fringe around the outside of 2 pieces of fleece and tie the fringes into a nice warm blanket. You might need to precut the fringe. It makes a cozy crib blanket or lap blanket.

Some students with very poor motor skills might do better with a lacing type project...you could punch holes in the felt shape, and they could use yarn or shoelace to lace up and down around the shape.

Projects that are too small are bad if the students don't have the fine motor skills to make it happen. But projects that are too big are also frustrating, because it feels like it takes foreeeeeeeeever to do and they might not want to finish. If I think of anything else, I will post it.

11-26-2012, 09:26 PM
What an awesome project! First thing I would do is use dogpile as a search engine (I hate Google). Dogpile dot com seems to me like a mind reader in picking up what I'm looking for.

Second, have you tried YouTube? That's an excellent resource for craft how tos and ideas. I never would have guessed it. There's all sorts of how tos on any crafts. If you're looking for joint projects, which might be great for social skills and working together, I'd suggest quilt making. That can be very basic. Your crafters can work individually (makes their own squares) and together (stitch the squares together and stitch the quilting).

Best wishes for your wonderful project!

dolores haze
11-26-2012, 10:43 PM
Thanks, guys! Will incorporate these suggestions. I knew I'd come to the right place! *grin*

11-27-2012, 12:02 AM
There are beautiful little pieces of embroidery or embellishments that are gorgeous on things like table linens, X-mas tree skirts, etc. You have to place them and sew them on, but you don't actually have to make them.

I'm doing that to have a Jacobean tablecloth and napkin set :)

There are iron-on things, too, but I like the totally hand-sewn and embroidered stuff. Think of trim like embroidered ribbon for borders, etc, and the possibilities are endless! How about a pretty hosiery/lingerie storage bag? Ooooh :D

I could make a pretty storage back for my neck brace, now that I think about it (and disabled stuff). It collects sweater fuzzies that look stupid, so a bag would be nice!

11-27-2012, 01:21 AM
Would something like this be too complicated?

I've had a few items made from plastic bags during the last few years - a braided rug that I used in my kitchen and I have a gorgeous and suprisingly durable bag that I use during the summer to take to the beach, but the braid is smaller which may be more problematic.

The great thing about these projects is that they would be using a material that is free and you are recycling.

11-27-2012, 01:23 AM
I hear adults with disabilities are easily able to decorate styrofoam wreaths, poking seasonal 'picks' into it until no styrofoam shows. I don't know about other people, but I have wreaths which have nothing to do with Christmas or winter.

Was just at a store with felt holiday pillows (http://www.crateandbarrel.com/winter-solstice-24x16-pillow/s219749), done by hand, parts stitched, parts glued.

Threading beads for necklaces, curtain trims, and other large-bead projects is within the grasp of most people.

Decoupage is, too, although you'd have to be doing a large piece for everyone to participate.

I can also recommend a place to look: Craftster.org has lots of cool stuff people are making, with tutorials for how it's done.

Maryn, thinking this is a lovely idea

03-10-2013, 07:58 AM
Along the same lines as Laurie suggested is stamped crewel, similar to embroidery but with yarn (& the needle is usually larger & blunter). This might work for your group as well. Also keeping with the sewing theme and building on your patchwork idea, it was very common for each woman in a quilting circle to make a square that was personalized then make one project with all the individual squares. That way they could pick from different options, as long as it makes a square or can be sewn onto a square.

03-10-2013, 12:46 PM
Felting could be a good project. You can get felting punches that are basically several needles grouped together onto a dowel, which makes felting quick and relatively easy. Felted fabric can then be sewn together to make things like handbags, belts, cushions, and other things that aren't too childish. And if you sew the fabric using wool thread you can hand-wash and felt the seams together neatly.

Old wool sweaters can be felted and turned into cosies, pot-holders, cushions and other nice things with a bit of simple sewing.

If you're interested in other crafts, knitting could be great and can be combined with felting and sewing. Chunky wool yarn and thick needles can be used to make quick and simple designs.

Applique is a great way to create lovely work without needing to get too fiddly. If you want to use nicer fabrics, a bit of stabiliser ironed on the back will make the fabric much more forgiving. I've seem some absolutely gorgeous quilts that were pretty much entirely made using applique and a bit of straight stitch.

03-11-2013, 02:01 AM
I think this is a lovely-sounding project. You've gotten some great suggestions. I wanted to mention, on the topic of a lot of simple projects being geared toward kids, could you use the opportunity to make something geared toward kids as a service opportunity? For example, I once ran a project where people made a whole bunch of very simple dolls, and they were shipped to an orphanage in Thailand. I'm sure there are all sorts of similar opportunities, or you could make your own. Simple felt puppets could be donated to a children's hospital, local preschool, etc. Or, like Kitty, suggested, the no-sew fleece blankets could be donated to a homeless shelter, etc.

Good luck!