Growing Up Sew Liberated: An Interview (& Giveaway) with Meg McElwee

This giveaway has ended. Thanks for entering!

Meg McElwee is a designer, author, former Montessori teacher, and Mama to two sweet boys.

Her blog, Sew Liberated, and first book by the same name, have become popular go-to spots for crafters looking to blend the traditional with the modern–in both their lifestyles and their handwork.

I’m thrilled that Simple Homeschool is one of the stops on Meg’s tour to celebrate her new book, Growing Up Sew Liberated. This title is full of inspiration, practical sewing instruction for family projects, lovely photos, and comforting advice about creating family rhythm.

I recently had the chance to ask Meg some questions about her new release as well as her educational background. Check out the end of the post to see how you can win a copy of her book!

An Interview with Meg McElwee

1. You are a certified Montessori teacher. Can you give us an overview of what this philosophy of education looks like in the early years?

“The Montessori early childhood classroom (2.5-6 year olds) was designed to be as much like a family home as possible, with multiple ages of children, a working kitchen, and the responsibility that comes with living in a “family” – learning to respect space and boundaries, eating together, and caring for the home environment.

“For the young child at home, the Montessori philosophy boils down to the phrase “follow the child.” Follow the child, not the child’s every whim.

“Pay attention to what your child’s moods and actions are telling you, and make adjustments taking into account what your child’s true needs are, rather than his/her “wants.” Adjustments might be applied to the physical home environment, your daily routines, or your way of responding to your child.”

2. In your lovely book you refer to the importance of creating a rhythm for a young child’s day. Any tips on how to go about doing so?

“Oh goodness, that’s something that I’m struggling with right now! Sometimes it can be so hard to keep a child’s day harmonious when there is so much going on in the background of our adult lives. The biggest thing I try to remember is that a child’s rhythm is a SLOW one. I need to constantly remind myself to slow down and enjoy simple moments with my boys.

“Ideally, our weeks are loosely planned around time in the kitchen, time for quiet indoor play, outdoor play, and the steadfast routines like bedtime. This will look different for every family, but I believe that having a combination of these three things in every day (kitchen, indoor play and outdoor play) is so beneficial for the child.”

“Indoor play might include an art experience one day, bread making the next. I’ve also found it beneficial to have one parent-initiated/led activity a day, which provides you a built-in time to connect to your child and allows you to informally guide their explorations of the world. For example, we made bird cookies last week. Another day we might paint with different bird feathers instead of brushes. It’s a fun way to inject a bit of creativity into your daily planning!

“To create a workable rhythm for your family, you need to take time to sit down with pen and paper and write down all of the ideas of routines, daily/weekly activities, and traditions that appeal to you. I love to check the online magazine Rhythm of the Home for ideas. This will be your “wish list.”

“There’s no way you’ll be able to work everything into your family’s life, and that’s ok! Go over your list and weed out anything that appeals to you but not your child(ren). Then cross off ideas that are lovely, but just don’t fit into your schedule right now.

“Come up with a workable list, the smaller the better, for your family, then start implementing ideas little by little.”

3. What is the most important thing mothers of young children can do to prepare their children to excel academically later?

“Instill a sense of wonder in your child. Marvel at the curled tongue of a butterfly together. Touch the squishy wool of a sheep and imagine what kind of sweater it could make. Gaze into the flame of a candle in silence.

“We all know to read to our children, but so often the focus on academic success is slanted toward giving our children the tools required for learning rather than instilling a sense of wonder in the world which will provide him with a lifelong motivation to learn. Especially in the younger years, a child needs to be given every chance to allow his or her curiosity to blossom.”

4. How important is handwork in a child’s life? How can a non-sewing mom or dad find a way to still integrate some of your book’s principles into their days?

“Creativity is in the process, not the product! I often don’t have the time to sit down and sew in front of my boys, but I might have the opportunity to fill my cupped hands with water and throw said water up into the air on a hot summer day, excited about how the gravity pulls the beads of water right back down to the earth.

“If you don’t sew, you might bake. If you don’t bake, you might draw. If you don’t draw, you might build. Every person has something that he or she enjoys doing that involves the hands.

“As Maria Montessori said, “The human hand allows the mind to reveal itself.” Handwork is the way that we humans leave our marks on the world, and handwork isn’t limited to fiber arts.

“Do what you love with your child. It’s that simple.”


Meg’s publisher, Interweave Press, would like to give two Simple Homeschool readers a copy of Growing Up Sew Liberated!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post, answering this question: What type of handwork do you enjoy doing with your children?

If you’re reading this in an email, you must come over to the blog to comment.

If you’d like two additional ways to enter the giveaway, here’s how:

Additional Entries

1. Mention this giveaway on Twitter, including @simpleschool, @sewliberated, and the URL of this post — . Then come back and leave an additional comment here, telling me about your tweet.

2. ‘Like’ Simple Homeschool on Facebook and Sew Liberated on Facebook. Then come back here again and leave a comment, telling me you did so.

This giveaway has ended–thanks for entering!

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She serves as editor of Simple Homeschool, and blogs about mindful parenting at Steady Mom. Jamie is also the author of two books: Steady Days and Mindset for Moms.


  1. I love to bake and sew with my kids. The oldest has even made her own bean bags on the sewing machine for birthday gifts! Can’t wait to check out the blog and the book!
    Paula’s latest post: An Uncomplicated Life- Cleaning

  2. Margaret` says:

    I love to cook and sew with my daughter. I need to re-learn embroidery and crocheting so we can do those, too!
    mcglen8 [at] gmail [dot] com

  3. We love to draw around here! My oldest daughter goes through stacks of paper each day, and I sit down and draw with her quite often. My other daughter loves to bake with her daddy or I.

  4. I already “like” Simple Homeschool on facebook, and now I “like” Sew Liberated too!

  5. Rebecca Peters says:

    My children and I love to bake and craft together. Even if I don’t win, I’m definitely checking this one out!

  6. I love making handmade cards with my daughter. She also likes to sit on my lap sometimes while I’m sewing, but that’s not nearly as enjoyable because it makes the whole process much more difficult.

  7. My littles enjoy playing with pins and buttons while I sew. Just recently, my 4 year old sat on my lap and we sewed a doll pillow out of muslin and stuffed it with wool scraps.
    The book sounds great!!
    Marni’s latest post: Wool Cloth Diaper Cover in Navy Blue and Emerald Green

  8. amy johnson says:

    Gardening is our creative outlet most of the time in this house. We LOVE it, rain or shine.

  9. Now that my son is nine, I find just about any handiwork I do is something we can do together; sewing, painting watercolors, dyeing yarn, or just everyday cooking. Teaching him to do these activities for the first time gives me a fresh perspective on what I’ve been doing “my” way for years.

  10. My four-year-old enjoys pulling up bits of yarn with a crochet hook. He also loves sitting on my lap and/or working the peddle when I’m at the sewing machine. It’s definitely a joint effort! :)

  11. I don’t sew, but I do bake. My 5 year old son enjoys helping me. I like paper crafts, but he’s not too much into using crayons, etc yet. Sometimes we just get out the paper crimper and fun punches and work with that.
    Kelly’s latest post: A Day of Rest

  12. The kids and I love to sew, knit and paint together. Right now, origami is a huge hit!

  13. drawing and story-telling mostly, although I’ve started (slowly) to teach my daughter to sew. fun!
    wendy’s latest post: refinishing

  14. I love to do with my child anything – cooking, sewing, knitting! Thank you for this giveaway

  15. Fascinating reading – my daughter is just starting to use her hands to grab and play and taste. To encourage this, we try to ensure a range of textures and shapes are within her reach, making or finding toys that catch and hold her attention. We will be using the ideas here as sh grows and develops. Thanks for this post… And the website more generally!

  16. we love cooking together!

  17. we love to sew, bake, and paint!

  18. Thanks for such an interesting article – many things to think about for the future. Our daughter is just starting to use her hands to touch, grab and taste her world – we encourage this through play and through including her in our activities: cooking, sewing, gardening and enjoying our surroundings!

  19. My boys love to help cook, bake, and wipe down the counters. We also enjoy making play dough. Painting is huge for my younger guys. My youngest likes to help me knit. They all love to help in the garden… if I could just find a way for all of us to enjoying folding clothes and scrubbing toilets 😉

  20. jennylark says:

    beautiful thoughts…beautiful book! would enjoy a copy of my own to fuel my wonder.

  21. My boy is just over one so we’re both still learning what he’s willing and capable of doing at this age but he loves water so we do a lot of water activities when it bath time, swimming lessons, filling up his watering can so he can water plants, running through the sprinkler and he has a sand/water table that he spends a lot of time at exploring! Thanks for the giveaway, would love to win this book.

  22. little sewing projects are best with my kiddos — last week we made cupcake pencil toppers out of felt. fun!

  23. We love to sew and bake and draw! Wish I could ignore my chores and do it all day! Would love some fun new projects with this book :)

  24. I also just ‘liked’ sew liberated on fb! thanks for the drawing!

  25. I enjoy drawing with my daughter. It seems she came out of the womb wanting to scribble on paper (and everything else!)

  26. The kids and I like to cook together and have just recently started learning to se together and love it!
    And yes, I did add Sew Libertated to my Facebook. Either way, if I don’t win I have to buy the book, sounds amazing!

  27. My kids like to finger knit while I knit and we often bake together. My son is becoming quite a cook, especially anything that involves eggs. Love your first book and this one looks great too.

  28. cooking! anything that they will help cook, they usually will eat. I’d love to win this book

  29. We love to cook, paint with water colours, and sew!

  30. MzTallulah says:

    I admire Meg greatly for her thoughtful mothering style and skillful sewing and pattern drafting, so I already ordered the book, but I’d love to be able to give a copy to a friend who’s just about to have a baby. I enjoy all kinds of making with my child, from cooking and baking, to drawing, and we’ve recently tried finger knitting. I’d love to have a garden so we could do some digging and planting too!

  31. We cook a bit, baking mostly, and are exploring knitting and crochet.

  32. Kristin says:

    We bake! Oh, how we bake. We bake almost every single day. It makes everyone happy.

  33. BreannaS says:

    I cook and bake with both of my children and over this past winter my son started sewing and knitting; we also enjoy painting with water colors.

  34. BreannaS says:

    liked sew liberated and simple homeschool in FB

  35. With my own two children I love to do painting and working with clay. As a Montessori Elementary teacher, I love teaching crochet and knitting to the children in my class. It never ceases to amaze me how well even 6 year olds can knit or crochet.

  36. I liked Simple Homeschool a long time ago and just liked Sew Liberated today :o)

  37. I love to bake and do art together!
    Jess’s latest post: Gods experiments

  38. I liked you both on facebook!
    Jess’s latest post: Gods experiments

  39. baking and cooking are our favorite handwork activities. arts and crafts come a close second.

  40. working together in our garden: picking out the seeds and plants, digging, planting, weeding, watering, and of course harvesting the goodness.

  41. Maryvonne says:

    I love to knit, crochet, sew and bake with my 2 daughters and we occasionally through in a bit of drawing or painting……
    Have I mentioned gardening???

  42. My two and a half year old daughter loves to touch and pull on my yarn while I knit! We also spend time scribbling with crayons and squishing homemade play dough through our fingers.

  43. We knit together.

  44. Michelle says:

    I LOVE sew liberated and I’m soo glad you guys homeschool, too! I was schooled at home! :)

  45. We have a baking day once a week and then try to do a craft at least as often.

  46. I do different types of handwork with each child according to their interests. With my 10 yo daughter, it’s knitting. We often have a joint project going and take turns knitting rows while the other reads aloud. With my 13 yo son, we cook together. He’s interested in learning the mysteries of gourmet cuisine right now. My 7yo son likes mushroom hunting so we hike and search and identify what we find. Handwork has always had a place in our home and through the years it has looked differently — in the early years, there was more painting and clay modeling, now we’re doing more “life skills” kind of things together. There’s still much drawing going on (I hope it never ends) but it’s a thrill to see my kids grow in proficiency in the skills they learn together with me.

  47. We love “recycle”, which for my boy means anything that has to do with punching holes on cardboard.

    Thanks for the chance.
    Nahuatl Vargas’s latest post: this moment

  48. Love the pics of her book! Looks sooo good!
    Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy’s latest post: Fight Fair With This Exercise Gadget

  49. Sarah Terrell says:

    I am a freelance harpist, and I love to play in front of my children. I play a large concert harp, but I acquired a smaller lap harp for them to play along with me or solo. We have lots of other instruments in the house as well, and many times we play together to songs that the children create.

    This book looks amazing–I would love to try these creations with my kids!

  50. Sarah Terrell says:

    I liked Simple Homeschool and Sew Liberated on FB. :)