This section is from the book "School Needlework. A Course of Study in Sewing designed for use in Schools", by Olive C. Hapgood. Also available from Amazon: School Needlework: A Course Of Study In Sewing Designed For Use In Schools.
Sewing over outlines pricked on cards gives profitable variety to manual work. The object of this kind of work is various. By it the child acquires the use of the needle. He becomes familiar with the elements of form, the different lines, angles and geometric figures, and by constantly working with them according to certain laws of harmony and arrangement, he is enabled to apply these laws in the expression of new forms, fostering the inventive and artistic sense. The child's sense of color is developed, as he is guided by the teacher in the selection of colors, and is shown wherein they blend harmoniously. The sewing serves also as a most efficient means for illustrating any subject under consideration.
This work assists in training the character, by the exercise of the child's three-fold nature, physical, mental and moral. Physically he gains control of his muscles and acquires dexterity. His mental power of observation is trained by the close observance required in the proper representation of surrounding objects. His moral being is developed by the necessity of exactness, patience and care, and by the privilege that the child has of giving of his efforts in the form of the simple little things that he makes.
The first lesson in kindergarten sewing should not exceed half-an-hour in length, and may be given on working with worsted a circle perforated on a card. The teacher should be furnished with long-eyed, blunt-pointed needles, and a thread-case filled with split zephyr, silk, or coarse sewing cotton (the latter can be obtained at a kindergarten supply store). Before the lesson the teacher should have all preparations completed, the needles threaded with short lengths of worsted, which is tied into the needle to prevent its becoming unthreaded, the circle pricked on the cards, and the work begun.
A simple explanation should precede the work, telling what is to be done; why the knot is on the under side; what we will call the circle, e.g. let us call this circle a path, and build a fence on it, so that we may keep our sheep inside, or some other simple illustration to arouse the interest and lend a zest to the work. Now show the pupil how to put the needle down through one hole, which hides the point; let him look for the point, which he finds by turning over the card; bring the point up through the next hole, pointing it towards the ceiling. This explanation may be given in the form of a play of hide and seek, and must necessarily be repeated several times; individual attention should be given to each one. Before the work goes very far numerous accidents may occur, as the worsted breaking, the card tearing, etc., but we must remember that this is the first lesson, and the little fingers are entirely unaccustomed to such work, and a real effort is made by them. Before working around the second time, further illustrate, e.g. we have now partly finished our fence, but what are all these openings between the stitches? We must fill them in, by going around again, so our sheep cannot get out.
The advancement necessarily will be slow, but in time they will be able to follow any pricked line. The backward may be stimulated by praising the best work, and the reward of taking the cards home is a great incentive.
Encourage them to thread their own needles, using a few fibres of cotton-batting to cover the ends of the worsted; and also encourage them to fasten their thread; this is done by putting the needle into the nearest stitch on the wrong side, again putting the needle in, and leaving a loop, pass the needle through the loop, and draw closely.
Try to follow nature, as much as possible, in the selection of colors, as, work an apple with red or yellow, and have a brown stem.
A convenient case for holding the worsted, silk and cotton, cut into the required lengths, may be made by taking a piece of silesia (or any material) about twenty-seven inches long, and eighteen inches wide. Have a centre piece sixteen inches long and fourteen inches wide. Bind the edges of each piece, and stitch them together with rows of stitching one inch or less apart, according to the kind of thread to be placed in it. At one end place flannel leaves for needles, and at the other make a full pocket for odds and ends. When the lesson is through the ends may be folded over before rolling, and everything is secure.
It is well to allow the children to select their colors, draw the worsted from the case, and make their own combinations.
If the children do the pricking they need to be supplied with a pricking needle or a shawl pin, and a pad made of heavy felt, glued to cardboard. The holes should be one-eighth of an inch or farther apart.
Cards may be either stamped with the designs, or merely pricked. There should be a separate card for each series. When many copies of a design are needed, a cardboard pattern may be cut, and the design traced by it; or a hektograph may be used. The designs may also be reproduced by using tracing and impression paper. A pantograph is very convenient for enlarging or reducing designs.
The illustrations on pages 190 to 197 will give an idea of kindergarten work. Before beginning the regular series of linear sewing, the circular course (page 195) is generally given, thus expressing the ideas of the first gift lessons. Ideas of color may be further impressed by filling in the sewed forms with colored crayons.
Linear sewing, as illustrated on pages 190 to 194, begins with the simplest elements of all geometric forms or designs, and leads by combinations to complex figures in artistic work.
The 1st series embraces the vertical line, then its opposite, the horizontal; combinations making angles. Combinations of angles to make a border, stair pattern, etc. The geometric figure from the same angle follows; another combination makes the Greek cross.
Combinations of the same angles, part of the lines twice the length of the others.
Combinations of vertical and horizontal lines of unequal length, the vertical twice the length of the horizontal.
Combinations of vertical and horizontal lines, the horizontal twice the length of the vertical.
The oblique line, and its combination into angles, borders and geometric figures.
(No illustration.) Combinations of the vertical with the oblique of a square.
(No illustration.) Combinations of the horizontal with the oblique of a square.
Combinations of oblique lines of different lengths, one line twice the length of the other.
Combinations of vertical, horizontal and oblique lines.
Introduces the diagonal of a vertical oblong.
Introduces the diagonal of a horizontal oblong, and following patterns are given combining the elements of series 10 and 11.
Combinations of vertical and horizontal lines of unequal length with oblique; the oblique being the diagonal of vertical oblong.
Combinations of vertical and horizontal lines of unequal length with oblique; the oblique being the diagonal of horizontal oblong.
Equilateral triangles and their combinations.
Followed by more complex combinations leading to greater artistic efforts. The illustrations on page 196 represent the seedling maple, and the full-grown leaf; the apple leaf, bud, blossom and fruit. The illustrations on page 197 represents the bee and honey-comb; the cocoon, moth and silkworm; the snail and his shell; the bird and her nest. These may be enlarged (page 202), and used in connection with nature lessons.