Monday, August 27, 2012

Sewing With Kids

I have two nieces who enjoy sewing projects. I don’t get to see them as often as I would like, but when I do see them, we sew. It is a great opportunity to pass on skills, knowledge, and passion. Accomplishment also builds a child’s self esteem in a way nothing else can.  

This time I showed up with a couple simple patterns, a large bag full of scraps, some small pieces of yardage, thread, sewing supplies and my trusty Bernina. 

These two girls like accessories, so we made bags and key chains.They made their own decisions about what to make, as well as style and colors. For the record, they are 9 and 11 years old.

If you are fortunate enough to have young sewing enthusiasts in your care, here are a few things to keep in mind:

-Mistakes are normal. Use them as an opportunity to teach. Most sewing mistakes can be fixed. The sooner they learn that, the better.
-Foster creativity. If the child picks a fabric or a combination of colors you would never use, don’t sweat it. You might be surprised at how well the project turns out.
-Don’t tell them something is too hard. If you think something is beyond their abilities, explain the steps involved without condescension. If the child doesn’t balk, move forward. You might be surprised. Adults often underestimate children.
-Don’t exclude interested boys. Some of the world’s greatest tailors and designers are men. Both of my sons can sew, and one of them won a blue ribbon at the fair.
-Don't do it for them. Teach them how to cut out a project, but let them use the scissors. Teach them how to use a sewing machine, then let them "drive." The same holds true for pins and seam rippers. You might occasionally need to lend a hand, but that should be all.
-Be patient.
-Be flexible.
-Stay positive.
-Praise their efforts.
-Keep it fun- for ALL of you. Don’t stress over imperfections or criticize their choices. Find the balance between teaching correct technique and letting the little things go. Someday they may look back on these moments as some of the best times of their childhood, even if sewing never becomes a major part of their lives. 

So how does the story end? Kayla chose a fabric sample that both surprised me(not what I expected of an 11 year old!) and was too small for the pattern. We cut down the size of the bag to fit the fabric. The material she picked made up into a really nice bag.

Emily decided she wanted the quilt block look. She chose four fabrics, so I made her a cardboard square to trace around. Her bag took longer to complete, but I pointed out to her that she had to make fabric before she made the bag.

They both wanted initials on their bags.

After that we made animal and fabric rose key chains to dangle from their bags. All in all, it was a very satisfactory day.

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