Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Sewing with Rascal

I used to work in a craft store that hosted preschool and children crafting sessions.

On many occasions I observed parents "helping" their children and quickly came to the conclusion that there is nothing quite like crafting with their children to bring out the inner control freak in Mums.

There was the Mum who wouldn't let her son make the rainbow button tree canvas that he wanted- he had to make a blue one to go with his newly decorated bedroom.

There was the Mum who became extremely frustrated with her three year old son because he decided that the portholes on his boat should become wheels.

There were countless other examples of Mums controlling their children's crafting. Observing this, I came to the conclusion that in the majority of cases , the more perfect the result of small childrens crafting- the more of a control freak the Mum.

Now in general I think (hope) that I manage to let my kids express their creativity without interfering too much, but teaching 5 year old Rascal to use my sewing machine may well have taken me right to the edge of my comfort zone.

A few times I really had to stop myself from unpinning her wonky pins. I had to remind myself that especially at this age its not about creating perfection. Its about working together, having fun, making something Rascal can be proud of and hopefully learning a few good habits in the process. In fact it could be argued that striving for perfection could be counter-productive for my girl in the long run!

The whole project started one day when I looked at my overflowing scrap basket. I gave it to Rascal and told her to choose some fabric that she liked. I didn't really have a plan but I thought it would be a fun exercise.

I took the fabrics that she had chosen and cut 4.5" squares. A few days later I gave her the squares and encouraged her to lay them out. At first she was a bit unsure what I meant but I showed her a few ideas and then left her to it. I really enjoyed seeing how her mind worked. 

I knew that using my sewing machine at my sewing desk was going to be tricky for Rascal, so I moved it onto a low coffee table and sat her down on a small stool. I also decided to help Rascal by putting my new 1/4 inch foot on the sewing machine- this was definitely a stroke of genius, as she was able to run the fabric along the edge of the guide easily. Unfortunately my sewing machine does not have speed settings and this would definitely have helped.

I wisely decided that Rascal should try sewing on some unimportant scraps first and quickly discovered that with a bit of practise guiding the fabric with her fingers went well. Using the foot pedal was erratic but not too bad, but doing the two at the same time was a recipe for disaster. We compromised. I pressed the foot pedal and Rascal guided the fabric. Then after a wee bit of nagging she did the foot pedal and I guided the fabric Finally she did the whole thing on her own (with close supervision).

Amazingly, no tears were shed by either of us.
We discussed what our sewing was going to be used for and Rascal decided that it would become a cushion cover.
Fabrics have been chosen for a pieced back to the cushion and that will be next weekends job.

I'm not yet sure how we'll go about quilting it. Would it be wrong for me to use it as FMQ practise? I know that no matter how dodgy the sewing, Rascal will love it!

Hmmm... the results of our first sewing collaboration are pretty good- does that mean I'm a control freak or a good teacher? 

On second thoughts, please don't answer!


  1. It's lovely :D My five year old has been showing interest, but I'm terrified for his fingers! I'm thinking October half term holiday might be the time to start.

  2. wow! teaching a 5ear old to sew, impressive,

  3. I'm glad that you are passing on your love of quilting without much mothering.

  4. Love it!! Good on you!! I saw these same parents in my time in EC and it used to break my heart. Tell Rascal well done :-)

  5. You are so inspiring! I manage to let them do just about everything but touch the machine! They wont learn unless they try it themselves - well done Rascall and well done you! what a great team x

  6. Oh how awesome I wish I had a five year old again - just briefly for a moment! I wasn't sewing when my 26 yo was 5. I think we could have had hair tearing fun!! I admire your efforts and I'm sure they will pay off! :-)

  7. I think you have a good mix! My patents would let us freely use our creativity with colors and ideas while showing us the exact techniques. It's valuable to do both and also just to go for it :)

  8. Well done to you both! My Princess is bored by the process of sewing but likes the products. The wee man, on the other hand is absolutely mesmerised by the machine. I can see it will be him I teach to sew!!

  9. Go you
    I just can't help myself - I am _that_ mother you describe the controlling one where there has to be order !

  10. What a wonderful sight! All my four kids had their turns at my old Bernina, yes they do seem to be lead foots! Lets hope they are not like that now, they all drive cars! I have worked with a few kids making small raggy quilts. they quite like this as they make the whole quilt, quilting included. the clipping of the seams is not to some of their liking! Once you have given them the general idea, I love to step back to see what they come up with!

  11. This is fantastic! I wonder whether my little one will be interested in sewing in a couple of years and whether I'd be able to let her just go for it. I think you're doing a wonderful job.


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