Friday, July 30, 2010

Sewing with Kids

Sewing is a passion of mine. I love perusing stores, ogling beautiful fabric and imagining fantastic creations coming to life under the foot of my machine. I love making things for pennies what costs dollars in the stores. My kids watch me sew. Much of what I make is for them so they have a vested interest in my creations.

But they don't like to sit idly by while I get to play with all the cool fabrics and gadgets. They want to create, too. We've done one sewing lesson a few months back which was a huge success. The pillows are still in use. They ask me continuously when we're going to have another lesson but time just hasn't allowed for it.

When we went to the fair earlier in the year, the kids each won a fairly large stuffed toy. I hate these things. They're made of scratchy, cheap fabric filled with those little styrafoam balls. They take up about 6 square feet of my tiny house and make a terrible crunching sound when they're hugged. It makes my skin crawl like nails on a chalkboard.

So, when they ripped I left them on my sewing desk. I gave the kids excuses about how busy I am and how it prevents me from fixing these holes in their beloved toys. I had hopes that I could secretly toss them out when they weren't paying attention and they'd never realize it. Yes, sometimes I employ subterfuge. Unfortunately, I was thwarted. They incessantly asked me when I'd get to fixing their toys so they could resume loving them to tiny pieces. I finally got sick of it today.

I made up a little sewing kit for the kids that I had intended to introduce them to when they were "old enough". But with our new ideas of unschooling, their requests for repair turned into teaching.

I've found that telling a child they cannot touch something because it is dangerous only fuels curiosity. Not to say that certain dangers shouldn't be avoided but sometimes education when they are interested helps build respect. I've found this true with sewing. Telling my three and five year olds "NO!" that pins will hurt and poke them has tiny fingers itching to grasp those shiny little pearls that stick out of my stuffed pumpkin. Showing them what they are used for, giving them the opportunity to use them curbs desires and forms respect. Pins are tools, not toys.

We discussed the parts of a needle, how fabric was woven and the importance of working to fix things we own instead of wastefully discarding them.

They learned how thread and needle come together to mend and create.

They worked for what they wanted instead of pushing it off on me.

They grew in confidence while they concentrated.

And were delighted that their hands made results that impacted their own lives.

Cordelia's fair toy didn't have a seam to mend so I introduced her to a stitch ripper. She was so proud when she finished as she was aiding me with my projects. And I was proud of each of them.

Sometimes, I forget how talented and "old enough" my kids are. Sometimes, the easier way of doing it myself or not doing it at all takes away the opportunity to involve the kids in our whole lives.

1 comment:

Sarah Faith said...

Just found your blog today via charity's blog and I love it. I am also a sewing, unschooling mom, and I just had #6 last week. Your methods and parenting really resonate with me! I'll be reading your blog faithfully. :)