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I spent a lot of time (and had a lot of fun!) preparing for the Guide Needlework Meeting and now I’ve modified the plan to cover Key to I Can: Sewing Magic for Brownies. (See the after meeting report at the bottom of this post).

What Sewing Magic says..Sewing books Brownie VersionThink about what tools and materials are needed in sewing.   Try to (a) Make a gift that includes sewing for a special occasion, such as Mother’s Day; (b) Make your own wrapping out of old calendars, magazines, dishcloths, or fabric remnants; and (c) Wrap your gift.  We’ll do the discussion and part (a) here.  We’ve done gift wrap as part of other program so – because of time – this meeting won’t cover (b) and (c).

How we’ll complete Sewing Magic… We’ll make a simpler version of the Guide Sewing Book (page 1 was an embroidered cover, page 2 was 2-3 buttons sewn on, and page 3 was prepared needles and safety pins – done by the girls).   The Brownie one will be like the original needle matchbook from Make it Do – but the girls will sew one button on the first felt page as an embellishment.  Page 2 will be pre-threaded sewing needles and safety pins (prepared in advance), and page 3 will be a small zip bag of spare buttons.

Supplies Required:

  • Sewing needles (I like big embroidery needles with big holes for threading) – enough for everyone.
  • Needle threaders for your sanity
  • Thread in a few colours
  • Suggest that leaders bring their own snips or scissors (adults don’t always like kid sized scissors)
  • Big magnet for picking up spilled pins (it’ll happen)
  • Pin cushions or a couple of clean kitchen sponges.  (Rule is that you’re either using a needle to sew, or it is in the pin cushion!  No putting it on the floor!!)
  • Decorative buttons for inside front page – 1 per girl (plus a few for leaders to demo)
  • Card stock (or card – I used File Folders for the Guide Meeting) cut into covers – as shown on Make it Do
  • Felt – pre-cut into squares that fit into your card stock covers above.  2 per matchbook.  I have 18 girls and 5 leaders so I’ll make 23 x 2 felt “pages”
    • page 1 – left blank (that’s where buttons will go)
    • page 2 – Guiders to pre-assemble a page with pre-threaded needles and some safety pins.
  • Jewellery Sized baggies (close to the same size as the felt squares) with 3-4 shirt buttons inside.
  • Bandages (2-3 per girl) for putting inside the sewing kits (to be prepared)
  • First Aid kit – girls will get poked.
  • EVERYONE bring a stapler!
  • Sewing badges (if you want to have the girls sew them on their badge sash)

Here’s the plan:

6:30 – Arrival gameThread the needle.  Girls line up in two rows with hands up to create an arch.  The last couple joins hands and goes through the arch and re-form hands at the front of the line.

6:40 – Circle Time

6:50 – Brownie Circle

7:00 Program – Brownies make a needle book decorated with a button on the inside cover.

Description of Activities

  • In smaller groups, girls will be lead through the different stages of the book assembly.  (1) Thread Needles, (2) Sew a button, (3) Assemble the books, and (4) Sew a badge on sash if there’s time (and if we’ve done the shopping).

Describing it to the girls:

  • We are making sewing kits (can be used as a gift – or a keepsake – covers (a) of the program requirement) that will have some buttons, a few safety pins and some sewing needles that you can use to help mend things.  Tonight you’ll learn how to thread a needle and sew a button.  It is important to listen and go slowly. (Covers discussion of what tools are necessary)
  • First Aid Station – The sewing meeting is a good time to talk about how to apply a bandaid.
  • In three or four groups… Get as many adult helpers as you can for this meeting!  The smaller the groups are, the more successful this will be.  (We’re hoping to get four or five).Sewing books Brownie version 2
    • Step 1 – Show girls how to thread needles.   The hardest part is putting a knot at the end.  (needle threaders are our friend)
    • Step 2 – Make page 1: Show girls how to sew a button onto a piece of felt.  Just one in the middle.  This is a decoration.
    • Step 3 – Page 2 – put the needle page (pre-assembled by a Guider) behind the button page.  Get a bag of buttons from the pile too.  It goes behind page 2.
    • Step 4 – put a cover over the pages, and staple together like a matchbook.  Guider Help should be offered.
  • And that’s it – OK , it isn’t going to be an easy meeting – lots of sitting and being quiet. But that’s a skill too.  If necessary, have the girls run around in between steps (you can use the time to transition too).

7:30 – Begin assembling any kits that aren’t done.  Start an active game to get the sillies out – and to reward their patience.

7:45 – Campfire

7:55 – Close

I’ve really simplified this one… and I’m not sure if I’ve overdone it.  But button sewing took sooooo long for Guides.  I’m worried that Brownies will take even longer.  What do you think?  Help!

UPDATE – Tuesday’s meeting went really well.  I have to say that sewing is not everyone’s cup of tea (the wigglers are not going to like this meeting – at All.

What worked:

  • We had lots of helpers (ratio was 1:3) and with something as fiddly as sewing, that’s important. (Jen, Shawnna, Tracy, Chan, Caitlin… you’re all awesome!)
  • Everything was ready in advance.  This is a very hands on meeting and there was NO time for cutting or prepping the next step.
  • Some groups got it faster than the others… and had time to sew two buttons on.
  • I made my own needle threaders.  These are the key to this operation. (I made my own because I could make super durable ones with really big wire loops).  I will add photos later.  =)
  • Each group had their own tray of stuff – scissors, needles, thread, felt, covers, etc.  There was no need to walk away.  We kept most of the girls’ focus (most, not all).  I also gave each set of leaders a tour of their tray – and a quick lesson on how I mean for them to show the girls how to thread… so we had a sort of uniformity.
  • I remembered later that evening to let parents know that we sent their girls home with needles and sewing kits  (especially if there are younger kids in the house).  E-mail is my friend!

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