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.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Extreme Sewing Room Makeover

The Medieval Wedding is behind me. We took a short vacation. I cleaned my house, paid the bills, and then tackled It- the Extreme Sewing Room Makeover. It has been a long time coming. As my business grew, my never very big sewing room shrank dramatically. My makeshift sewing furniture had aged. Plastic bins and drawers sagged so they were nearly impossible to open. The 8 ft folding table that held my two machines featured peeling veneer held in place with scotch tape, and vibrated so badly sometimes that feet fell off my machines while they were running. It was time.

My husband suggested moving the massive old step back cupboard that housed fabric into another room to free up some space. Since we had just delivered a couple pieces of furniture to our daughter, we had the space for it in her old room.

I had been looking at sewing furniture for months. The commercially made pieces were all either too big, too small, and/or too expensive. We had even looked into having something custom made. Then one day I walked into Staples for office supplies and saw just what I needed. Why hadn’t I thought to look at office furniture before? I brought it home.

It required assembly- lots of it. 

In addition to the usual tools, such as a screwdriver and hammer, it required a second person. I knew I married the right man when he looked at it and said, “This is great! Whoever designed this thinks just like me.”  I became the second person as he took over (no complaints!) and I acted as the Vanna White of kit furniture, supplying screws and other miscellaneous parts as needed for the next three hours, occasionally even lending a hand.

I also purchased a six hole wooden storage unit with canvas drawers and a wicker like pseudo file cabinet. 24 hours later, I had sorted through every piece of fabric, lace, stabilizer, netting, thread, etc that was in the room. I threw away a garbage bag full of hopelessly small scraps. I have an L shaped, heavy duty table with a smooth, snag free top that comfortably holds both machines.  My sewing and embroidery supplies are in order- all for about $300 and some elbow grease. I am brimming with plans for new Etsy items and my next show. Bring it on, I am ready! 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Medieval Wedding in the Woods

I spent the better part of May, June, and July making clothing for a Rennaissance themed wedding. I made about 75 garments to clothe 20 of the 24 participants, including bride, groom, men and ladies in waiting, children, and parents. It was hard work and I learned some things along the way, but overall I was happy with the results.

The wedding took place in a woodland chapel created by the bride's father.

The bride and groom enjoy attending renaissance faires, and the wedding resembled one, from the proclamation style invitations to the castle wedding cake. Many of the guests dressed up.

A castle wedding cake- of course!

I am looking forward to a little time off, but I enjoyed the time I spent sewing for this bunch.