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. Jennifer Calfee says:

    I love to sew and bake with my son. He will even make his own “patterns” modeled after the ones he sees me doing. It’s fun to watch his creativity blossom as we enjoy crafts that I love – and even venture into things I’m not so good at because he is (like drawing). I’m glad I found your site because of Meg’s book tour. I will definitely be back!

  2. Lately we have been making paste. It began as a means to glue dry pasta on pictures, but making the paste was so much fun for my preschooler that now we do it as an end in itself, then she smears and smushes it all over poster board. Her favorite part is coloring it with food coloring. We usually add 2 colors so she can she what they make when mixed.

  3. Cooking & baking are big ones at our house right now! My oldest wants to learn how to sew, so I’m working on figuring out how to teach her…where to start! Fun! :)
    Brookiej’s latest post: a first

  4. Just “liked” Sew Liberated on Facebook for my second entry!
    Michelle Layton’s latest post: Emma is Three

  5. The book looks amazing! I would love a copy…thanks for the oppurtunity!

  6. I love dyeing yarn with my toddler, using Kool Aid. He gets really excited about ‘painting wool’ and loves to point to the finished skein afterwards, saying “I did that!”
    Rhian’s latest post: Heart to heart

  7. Just “liked” Simple Homeschool and Sew Liberated on facebook!

  8. My girls are 21 months and 3 1/2 years old, so we do LOTS of baking right now-bread, muffins, cupcakes, cookies….my mouth is very appreciative; my rear end is not. We also do regular art projects from Mary Ann Kohl’s book “Scribble Art,” which I HIGHLY recommend. And the oldest likes to “help” me sew; mostly simple hand-sewing tasks, like mending and basic embroidery.

  9. I love cooking with my kids

  10. This book sounds like an amazing breath of fresh air. Exactly what I need right now to help my little family find a rhythm for the summer!

  11. While both my kids love sittting with me at the sewing machine my son love to draw and I am always making new journals with him… at the sewing machine and my daughter loves the baking days… taste testing along the way!

  12. I just liked you on facebook! Thanks!
    Dawn Suzette’s latest post: Still here

  13. I liked Simple Homeschooling and Sew Liberated on facebook! I’m so excited to see a copy of this book!
    Emily Sefcik’s latest post: Summer Activities- The Beach

  14. Oliver and I love to work in the garden together. Raking, watering, mowing, harvesting, he loves to do it all!

  15. It was my pleasure to “like” you both on Facebook just now!

  16. I love to garden with my daughter. I pull weeds or plant, and she plays happily in the dirt. At 11 months, she doesn’t really help yet, but I know we’ll have even more fun together in the garden next summer.
    Emily’s latest post: Ten Things I Love About Spring

  17. Ooh! I would love a copy of this book. My Little Miss is still quite young, but I love coloring, painting and blowing bubbles with her. I am so eager to watch her skills develop and see her enjoy watching something come to life from her hands.

  18. I just liked you both on Facebook. I enjoy both of your blogs!
    Heather Thiel’s latest post: Swimming

  19. I love cooking with my children. We have also have hours of fun together in the garden, weeding, planting and watching things grow.

  20. I liked Sew Liberated on Facebook! Thanks for the giveaway.
    Emily’s latest post: Ten Things I Love About Spring

  21. This book look wonderful! Thanks for the giveaway!!

  22. I’m a terrible sewer, but I’d like to get better. So far my kids stick to crayons and paint!
    Christy’s latest post: Im going to try this!

  23. I have followed Meg’s blog for quite some time now and I am so excited to get my hands on her new book!! It looks awesome (-:
    Samantha Tara’s latest post: A walk around the farm

  24. I just took a moment to like you both on facebook! And now I am crossing my fingers and toes (: ( If you need to verify, my facebook name is Samantha Vanderwyst ) ^__^
    Samantha Tara’s latest post: A walk around the farm

  25. We love to cook together and draw and paint and “make projects” which basically means raiding our recycling bin. I am so looking forward to teaching my girls to knit when they get just a bit older.

  26. I love to cook, work on home improvement projects, and clean with my son. Even a fourteen month old can be involved in these things, even if only from in my arms or on my back. I simply engage him in “conversation” about the activity and let him help where he can!

  27. I would so appreciate this book. Thanks for the opportunity!

  28. I ‘liked’ both Simple Homeschool and Sew Liberated on Facebook!

  29. I love to explore the outdoors with my boys. I will often draw their attention to some of my macro-observations, while they introduce me to their micro-observations. They reintroduce me to nature every day!

  30. “liked” Sew Liberated and Simple Homeschool on FB!

  31. Melanie says:

    We love to paint with everything : hands, feet and all kind of different materials , we can find inside the house or outside in the garden.

  32. jodi in pa says:

    been following meg for years, love her books! would love to win this one.

  33. I love to bake in the kitchen with my boys. Thanks for a great giveaway!

  34. I just ‘liked’ Simple Homeschool and Sew Liberated. Love both websites, so it’s nice to be connected on FB as well. Thank you!

  35. I’m so glad I found your blog via Meg’s blog, I’m going to spend some time today browsing around :) My two children are completely different in the types of handwork they enjoy – my 6 year old daughter loves to draw and to create dolls and doll houses. My son loves his Lego – he will put together and pull apart the bricks for hours; some of the bricks are tricky to manouver but his little 3 year old hands persevere and he is so happy with what he creates.
    Louise’s latest post: 15 June 2011

  36. my daught and i enjoy sewing! she’d just 3 so it’s simple, like long buttons necklaces, garlands of scrap felt, and freeform design on cloth in quilting hoops.
    would love to check this book out!

  37. My daughter is only 18 months, be she is enjoying her “knitting” while I knit bigger things for the coming fall (I am slow, I need to start now!)

  38. I am so excited about Meg’s new book! I loved her first one, and will be picking up her second one, if I don’t win this giveaway. My daughter (3) and I enjoy needlework together. I set up a hoop and brightly colored embroidery floss, and let her make lines however she likes. I love the Montessori method, and all the great ideas Meg comes up with on her blog! Thanks for the opportunity

  39. I am a mama of four children, ages 2 to 8. Since my oldest was tiny we have been striving to create a Montesorri/Waldorf atmosphere in our home, including homeschooling now that the children are older. We love to do wet-on-wet watercolour painting, embroidery, finger knitting, lots of baking, gardening and so much more. I would love to read Meg’s book. Her blog is lovely!

  40. I love Meg’s blog and would love the chance to win her book!!

    My favorite handicraft with my kids….hmmm, it’s tough to choose! But I think right now it is sewing at the sewing machine, they are so interested and patient and work so hard!


  41. Ooooh! I’d love a copy. Right now at 21 months my daughter loves to help in the kitchen. Sometimes she is actually mixing up biscuit dough and sometimes she just gets to mix up a little flour and water in her highchair while I’m cooking.
    AngelaS’s latest post: Organized Lists

  42. I’d LOVE to win this book. I think I’d make every project. Crossing my fingers!
    Bekah’s latest post: labyrinth

  43. This book is on my to get list. :-) The activities that my 2 year old & 4 year old currently like to do are string pony beads on pipe cleaners, mash bananas for banana bread, and make paper airplanes.

  44. I love cooking with my children. I love how they want to get involved and are so proud when their food is cooked and they get to eat it and share it with their dad.

  45. I have three young children and we love baking banana bread together the most. Everyone has their job: peeling and mashing the bananas, mixing the butter and sugar, mixing the dry ingredients, and so on. At times there is friction because they want to do what the others are doing and forget about ‘taking turns’ but in the end we all have our share of fun and the little people in this house feel special when they ‘help’ mommy.
    Thanks for the opportunity to win this marvelous book

  46. Well I don’t have my own children, but my favourite handcraft to do with my nieces and godsons is a little handsewing applique onto something special like a kindergarten library bag or a little baking. my 9 year old godson is right into gourmet food and it is so fun to make things together!

  47. My girls and I love to build Fairy Houses! We got into Wee Folk construction after a visit to Porthsmith, NH during the Fairy House Tour. Our houses are made from only items found in nature and truly loved by the fairies in our NC backyard!

  48. Melissa S. says:

    When I make cards my 3 year old sits down with me and uses my punches on his construction paper. We can get quite creative together!

  49. I dream with this book!
    Meg’s blog is such an inspiration!
    I work with children at community centers and often find ideas in her blog!

  50. Deborah says:

    Although I don’t get to see my nephew often, I enjoy cooking with him when I visit. The other day we made brownies together for his little brother’s birthday.