and Needle Arts


Are You Into It?girl sewing

Stitch This! Use your sewing skills and creativity to make clothes, pillowcases, horse blankets, or anything else you can stitch, knit or crochet!

  • Learn to create clothing or other items for yourself and others
  • Learn about fibers and fabrics
  • Apply design elements and art principles to your constructed item
  • Learn how to safely use sewing equipment

Here’s what you can do all year!

Starting Out Basic / Level 1

  • Learn to use your sewing machine, its attachments, and other equipment (cutters, needles, scissors, etc.)
  • Sew on a button by hand
  • Make a pillowcase or totebag for yourself
  • Select fabric and a pattern for a project
  • Learn to read care labels on fabric items
  • Sew accurate seams at various widths
  • Learn to knit, crochet, or hand-embroider simple projects

Learning More Intermediate / Level 2

  • Learn to use a serger or sew French seams as a seam finish
  • Explore the properties and care techniques for different types of fabric
  • Install a zipper, add a pocket, or use other embellishments
  • Dye your own fabric
  • Learn to sew specialty fabrics like heavy denim or upholstery fabric
  • Select yarn and create a knit or crocheted article of clothing

Expanding Horizons Advanced / Level 3

  • Design your own pattern, using design elements and art principles
  • Measure windows and make curtains
  • Compare cost of ready-made vs. homemade items
  • Explore careers in the textile industry
  • Use a computer program to design a quilt, wall hanging, or embroidery pattern
  • Design and make a furnishing accessory you can sell, and market your product

Take It Further

Sewing/Needle Arts Hot Sheet (color pdf)
Exhibits Tip Sheet (color pdf)
Design Elements & Art Principles Tip Sheet (color)
Poster Exhibits Tip Sheet (color pdf)
Exhibitor Fair Information Form (Word or editable PDF)
Exhibit Evaluation Form (pdf)
Here are other opportunities to explore Sewing & Needle Arts:

  • Contact your County Extension Office to participate in local sewing camps, workshops or county or regional fairs
  • Visit an upholstery shop to learn how they manufacture furniture coverings from various fabrics
  • Take a trip to visit a fabric mill and learn how different fabrics are woven
  • View the quilts at a quilt show, making note of the use of the design elements and principles as well as the use of fabric and embellishment
  • Attend Iowa 4-H Youth Conference and participate in workshops, motivational speakers and a community service project, bringing ideas back to your community
  • Is it fair time? Consider taking an exhibit, a piece of your project learning to the fair for judging and to show off what you have learned throughout the year. It might get selected to go to the Iowa State Fair.
  • Meet others interested in sewing and needle arts. Check out camps at the Iowa 4-H Center.
  • Interested in a college education in the area of apparel, merchandising, design or production? Schedule a visit with Iowa State University College of Human Sciences or College of Design to explore their majors.
Awardrobe Clothing Event

Step It Up

Pass it on! Now that you know how, share it with others. Here are ideas to get you started.


  • Make a poster explaining how to read care labels
  • Interview a local business owner
  • Do a presentation on evaluating construction quality of purchased sewn items


  • Complete a Service-Learning project
  • Make pillowcases to send overseas
  • Organize your group to knit mittens for a local shelter
  • Organize your group to sew something for a community facility (ex: curtains, pillowcases, etc.)


  • Organize a club field trip to a fabric store to learn about appropriate fabrics for various sewing projects.
  • Lead a working exhibit for your club on embellishing techniques
  • Organize a prom dress exchange service at your school.

Exhibit Ideas

  • Sewing Exhibit Projects
  • Take a fabric and explain what it is made of, care for, and what it is used for
  • Explain how woven fabrics differ from knit or felted fabrics.
  • What are some new fabrics and why were they made? (bulletproof vests, antibacterial, wicking, etc)
  • Describe process of laundry and special considerations.
  • Why do we use detergent and how do stain removers work?
  • Different ways to remove different stains.
  • How to make simple repairs using only needle and thread.
  • Construct a soft furnishing (pillow, quilt, comforter, curtains, etc.).
  • Develop a porfolio, poster, power point or notebook of your sewing leadership project.
  • Show how yarn is created, and different properties of various fibers used in making yarn or thread.
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