Saturday, June 6, 2015

Creative Kids: Complete Sewing Guide to Sewing

On the Amazon Vine program that I am in to give product and book reviews, I rarely get a sewing book to read and review. The other day I was offered two, so I grabbed them. This one is Creative Kids: Complete Photo Guide to Sewing by Janith Bergeron and Christine Ecker. Published 2015 by Creative Publishing International. Softcover. 144 Pages. ISBN 9781589238237. Full color photo illustrations.

I had some problems with this book and many times, other than for the projects, I felt like I was reading a beginning sewing book for adults with children's projects thrown in to make it a 'child's' book. Here is my review:


I really, really, really wanted to like this book. I am all for teaching children to sew and to love and enjoy the experience. My life revolves around sewing as I have made 50+ quilts, have made most of my own clothes for 45 years, and also embroider both by hand and machine, I also sell sewing patterns on line under the name Moonwishes Sewing and Crafts and studied education in college, so I think I have the sewing knowledge to critique/review this book.

The first thing I looked for when I got it in the mail was what age group was the book for? Unless I missed it in several times going through the book it was not mentioned, nor did the Amazon product page. Why did I want to see the age group it is geared for? So many things hinge on the age factor when producing a book, such as font size, word usage, phrasing, clarity of photos and the need for adult supervision. The only hint as to age in the book was the actual photos with child models that looked to be in elementary school and photos of one of the author’s two children that were hand models. They also looked to be in elementary school. I grew up in a home where sewing was happening so I was ahead of the curve when it came to learning for myself. The author’s children most likely had been around sewing much of their lives also so if they had been asked if the understood something, then most likely they did, but that doesn’t mean other children would also find the instructions clear or easy to read at that same age level.

Why am I concerned with font size? I have a children's book sitting next to me that I will be reviewing next and the fonts in it are more than twice as big as the fonts in this book. Younger children that might be fairly new readers could have trouble with the smaller font. I know with my bifocals I was having trouble reading the book as the text was too close together. Of course if the book is for young or older teens, then that might not be a problem. There were words and phrases in the book that a younger school aged child probably can't read or understand yet. If a book is written for them, they should be able to read it without difficulty and with understanding.

I found it difficult to follow the photos and think a child might as well when the text says to do one thing but the photo is showing something else as well as there being photos that are literally hiding what the needle is doing. The text is poorly edited and does not always have the correct letter to signify each photo. The text also references using at one point a circle pattern that is not included in the book but is supposed to be. There is a tooth fairy pillow pattern at the back of the book that runs across two pages. I’m not really sure how the authors expected a child to trace it out when the lines go right into the gutter of the book on both sides. I would expect that to accomplish this, either the pattern will be the wrong size or the spine of the book will break leaving the book in danger of falling apart sooner than normal.

When it came to instructions on sewing techniques, they showed making a knot on the right hand finger. I’m not sure how most sewers do this, but I have always used my left hand for making a knot in hand sewing thread. There was no indication from the author that the child might want to try different hands if they couldn’t do this fine motor action of making a knot on a thread wound around your finger. They also instructed on how to thread a needle by pinching the thread around the needle and then threading the needle by pushing the thread bend into the needle eye. I’ve seen occasional references o this technique over the years in other books and have tried it previously but couldn’t get it to work. I tried again using the largest chenille needle with the biggest eye that I had and 6 strands of embroidery floss. It took 5 tries before I semi-accomplished it. This is yet another fine motor skill that might not yet be developed depending on the age of the child. How much easier it would have been to give the child a feeling of satisfaction of learning something new by using a needle threader. When the authors mentioned pinning a pattern to felt, they depended on the photo to teach as they didn’t explain the ways to pin something so that you aren’t poking yourself or getting your threads tangled when working with the pinned item.

When it came to giving instructions on sewing on the sewing machine, the child is instructed to read the manual (and I assume comprehend it). I know when my mom got a new machine when I was in 12th grade, I was not allowed to touch the machine until I read the manual thoroughly. This is yet again a problem perhaps with younger children. Are they able to read the manual with understanding. When discussing presser feet it seemed as if the author’s were expecting the child to possibly be buying more accessory feet as they got better with the machine. Whose machine is this, the child’s or an adult’s? At times they throw in the mention of doing something with adult supervision but it is rare. Most of the time it seems like the child is on their own on their own voyage of discovery.

The first project that the child was supposed to do with the sewing machine was sew on lines on papers without thread in the machine. Some computerized machines will not run without thread in them and the book doesn’t mention this. Sewing on paper, in my opinion, is a total waste of time as it just does not really give the same sense that sewing on actual fabric can. So much better to learn with fabric and feel like you have actually learned something. The first machine project, Scrappy Cards, would give the same learning focus with something to show for it at the end.

I suppose that many of the projects might interest a child depending on their age and personal interests in learning to sew. There are three garments to make, shorts, kimono robe and hooded poncho. All use the child’s measurements which are used to draft a pattern. None of those instructions suggest that they might want a sewing buddy whether an adult or child to help with the measuring. There is no explanation of using a simple manufacturers sewing pattern to make a garment so that would need further instruction.

You might want to try to see the book in person or download a sample, if available, before deciding to spend your money on this book. Take the time to go through it and be sure that you understand the project and what is being taught so you can be ready to handle problems and questions from your child.

After posting my review and trying once more to find an age group, I saw that the book was for grade school students. Depending on a school district that could be anywhere from K-6, K-4 or any other set up. It still remains that the younger students, won't have the vocabulary to understand what they are reading. Young teens who may come upon the book might find it and it's projects 'babyish'

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