For as long as I can remember, I’ve been surrounded by craft and creating. My mum is a sewer. Her mum is a sewer. My other nan is a knitter. My great aunt spins wool, and makes booties and coat hangers, traditional fair of the country weekend markets. My linen press is full of items from my glory box, lovingly crocheted or embroidered by my great grandmother. Really, it’s no wonder that creating runs thick in my blood. Mum always had craft supplies available, and very rarely a school holiday went past without at least one craft workshop. My own children, in turn, adore crafting. From colouring in, to cutting and gluing any scrap of paper they can find, to their latest wish. Learning to sew. I’ve posted on my blog previously about my eldest son’s quilting adventures, but of course, what big brother does, so must little brother (and tiny sister, it seems). Boy2 is 3.5, and I thought we had no hope of it going anywhere nearly smoothly, but I was surprised! So if you’ve been thinking of maybe sewing with your little ones, I thought I might share our process. It’s lots of fun, not totally accurate, and what I think is a wonderful way to introduce some basic sewing principles!
We started with an A5 piece of paper, as it was pretty well the right proportions (our finished piece would be somewhere around the size if an A3 piece of paper, give or take). Sitting down at the table, I passed Boy2 a pencil. “What would you like your quilt to look like?” “not MY quilt, mummy, Cookie Monster’s quilt!” “ok. How do you want COOKIE MONSTERS quilt to be? Can you draw it for me please, just with straight lines, k, baby?”. And completely unaided, this is what her came up with:
From there I fudged, er, translated a rough pattern, and using fabrics that he selected, started cutting. I would claim he chose the fabrics himself, except he was somewhat biased and used the exact same fabrics as his brother’s quilt. He did, however, choose the placement of which fabric was where.
With the pieces cut out, I laid them out on the desk for approval. Approval was forthcoming, around the same time his enthusiasm waned, so there they stayed for another week or so. Then he was keen to get stuck in, so we trundled off to the studio, and started sewing. Being three and a half, I didn’t expect great things, but I had him beside me and explained about lining up and pinning, and then he sat on my lap, and hands under mine, we started sewing. The last couple of long seams I let him guide the fabric himself, with my hands hovering nearby, and my foot only *just* on the pedal so we were nice and slow. It was tricky trying to convince him to keep him the fabric butted against the piecing foot, but wonky as it was, the seam was done, and the pride on his little face was just adorable. This step, obviously, varies by child. Our five-and-a-half year old can now under close supervision, use the machine completely independently, even if I do have to keep reminding him to slow down on the pedal!!
The finished quilt top, pinned and ready for quilting:
We went to Lincraft on a recent holiday, and he happened to spot some Sesame Street fabric, a fat quarter of which made for a perfect backing:
Of course, now the 19 month old has decided she should have a go to!! I do love sewing with my little people, even if a certain someone has a half-quilted dolls quilt on the needle and I can’t finish my own current projects! What’s the favourite family creating projects at your house?”
Rachel blogs as Little White Dove about creating on her own and with her three small children over at http://thedovenest.wordpress.com. A photographer and obsessive crafter, and unable to limit her creating to just one artform, she paints, knits, sews, crochets, scraps, draws, and has a go at almost anything, including launching her very own fabric line (http://etsy.com/littlewhitedove). She also has a personal photo blog at http://rachelmeszaros.com.au/explore, and can be found on Facebook at http://facebook.com/thedovenest and http://facebook.com/rachelmeszarosphotography