Sewing with kids can be an either or. It can be super fun, laughable, and enlightening for both the student and the teacher. Or, it can be a chore that is onerous. My online dictionary defines onerous as (of a task, duty, or responsibility) involving an amount of effort and difficulty that is oppressively burdensome. Well, we don’t want it to be that do we! But it can be. It depends on the child and the project.
I have discussed sewing with kids in other blog posts. It is as topic that, each time I do it, expands. Sometimes I think that I learn more from my own experience than the child does.
I recently had my grand daughter in the shop with me. She had sewn a small quilt top using a charm pack with her mother, my daughter. My daughter is not much of a sewist. By that I don’t mean that she’s not good at it, but that she doesn’t do it often. I did buy each of my girls a Bernina 330 for Christmas one year so we can’t blame it on an ill working sewing machine. She just doesn’t have the kind of time that I had at her age. Anyway, they had made this quilt top using a darling mermaid charm pack from Moda.
When you look at a charm pack, make sure that it is something that a child might want to sew with you. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a juvenile theme, but no child wants to sew with civil war prints. I know that sounds judgy, but I can remember my mother letting me pick my own fabrics and my own scraps. If the child picks civil war prints, well, then that is what they should sew with. But, let the child have some say over what they would like. I think that was one of the best gifts my mother gave me. She may have done other things incorrectly raising kids, like all mothers do, but that is one she nailed. I loved to sew because she let me be me–where sewing was concerned.
My grand daughter is only 4, and yet, she sewed these squares together with her mother. My 2 year old grand daughter sits on my lap and pulls out the pins as we come to them. That is the extent of what she can do. But, think about it. She is watching so intently to pull each pin that she is absorbing so much in the process. She is observing a seam allowance, she is observing how the seam allowance is pressed, she is observing how I steer the fabric to keep it straight. She may not realize that she is seeing all of this, but she is! She is even seeing me clip threads and raise the presser foot up and down. I tell you for certain she is learning a lot in those moments.
So don’t be afraid to let them just watch or just pull pins. Use safety but let it happen.
Okay, so I digress. Here is the quilt top she made. We came in to the shop to pick out a border so that it would be slightly larger. The new me for the last 5 years doesn’t use borders anymore. To me, I feel that they look like just that–like you’re just trying to fill space. Borders can be perfect and lovely, but it’s just my idea that I am not going to use them to fill space. If the quilt is crying for a border, and one is appropriate, then yes, I will use one. But, I love the look of extending the blocks out so that it is all pieced. Okay, I digress again.
We added the border and pressed it. Then, as we were walking past the sale rack she spied it. Her favorite! Frozen! There was a small amount of Frozen flannel on the sale rack. She loves that movie. So, I decided that since she was thrilled about the fabric, the work of the day would just have to wait.
I wanted to do it right. Even though it was just a pillow for a 4 year old, I was going to make is so that her mother could remove the outside of it and wash it. We did a zipper flap on the back.
Here is the link to that video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbwmH3Bz7rQ&t=95s
This is the inside of the pillow. I knew I needed a pillow insert, and I didn’t want to use a good Ikea one that I had at home. After all, this was probably going to be left on the floor a good deal of the time. So again, sale rack to the rescue. This fabric was on the sale rack and was perfect. We sewed the insert and she stuffed it with Poly-fil. She loved that part–pulling the pieces of Poly-fil out and stuffing the pillow form.
Then the moment of truth. We put the form into the pillow and she loved it.
That was a really fun day, and I realize how lucky I am to have my grandchildren living so close to me. Hopefully the love of sewing will stick.