I'm currently working on a writing project looking at the changes, over the last century, in how kids are taught hands-on skills. It has made me more aware of my responsibility to teach my own children to be makers, and thus I am starting a new series of posts on projects that I am working on with my kids.
As I've been trying to get my 3.5 year old more comfortable creating things, we've been slowly adding sewing to our repertoire.
After making clothes (without a pattern) for a few of her dolls and stuffed animals, I figured it was time to try our hands at sewing clothes that she can wear to school. Thus, we made two trips this weekend to one of my favorite fabric stores, Treadle Yarn Goods. Kiddo was absolutely delighted by the wide array of fabrics. Alas, I wasn't fast enough to get her to go straight to the sale rack, so we will be making her a dress later this month with a beautiful, but expensive, print that she picked out. For our first project, though, I convinced her to pick from the abundant sale racks. We ended up with the bright cotton print below. As it's been over five years since I've sewn clothes for someone over two feet tall, I limited her to the "It's So Easy" line from Simplicity. She picked pattern 2083, which is a bouncy toddler/girl sized skirt.
For the sake of saving fabric, I replaced the binding (that the pattern has you make by cutting up another yard of fabric in a contrasting color) with two packs of double sided bias tape. Kiddo picked out bright pink tape. One of the highlights of the weekend for me was, upon realizing the single pack of tape we bought was not enough to edge the entire skirt, back to the fabric store. I was so proud to see her go off to the bias tape display in search of a color match for the little sample of the tape we had already used on the skirt.
The skirt took us about 1.5 hours to make. It should have been about an hour, but I didn't always manage to get the bias tape firmly attached to the skirt's edge, and had to tear some stitches out.
What I did:
- pattern cutting
- "steering" of the sewing machine
What kiddo (age 3.5) did:
- selected pattern
- selected fabric
- selected bias tape (for edging)
- handed me pins as needed, and returned pins to the pin cushion
- worked the sewing machine's pedal
What I learned for next time:
- Have another project at the table that kiddo can work on while I do some of the more tedious things like pattern cutting. Next time she will work on beading a necklace while I do this part of the project.
- We're getting better at the "mom steers, kiddo pushes the pedal" sewing technique. That said, if you try it you definitely want to plan ahead and pay close attention to your child's rhythms. When working on fidgety parts of a project, not having control of your sewing machine is tough. Occasionally, kiddo would space out and when I'd tell her to "Stop" she would keep her foot on the pedal.