Picture the scene – the children are happily playing downstairs. You slip upstairs to the “do some housework” and fire up the sewing machine. Peace reigns supreme – we are all in our happy places and doing what we enjoy most.
But hang on, here they are, buzzing around like flies, picking up pieces of fabric and cotton reels and begging to use Mummy’s sewing machine. Darn it!!
This happens frequently in my house and I usually bat them away with a snack and drink, maybe some TV, and a “Later – just let me finish this first”. However I had to finally cave in and allow my children to have some of the sewing machine fun :)
They decided they wanted to make a gift for each other, how sweet is that??
I established 3 basic ground rules to ease them into sewing toys on the machine which would be useful for any project involving young children:
1. They could choose their own material, but only from recycled fabric, not Mummy’s Best Stash – after all, there are plenty more used and outgrown t-shirts & jumpers where these came from!
2. We would start with a basic pattern or shape and one I have tried and tested before (typically my son chose a teddy shape which is a bit grander than I expected, but we managed it together!)
3. They had to sit carefully, keeping fingers, eyes and feet where I showed them and c.o.n.c.e.n.t.r.a.t.e.! They managed this amazingly well and really listened!
On previous occasions when one of them has wanted to “help” with my sewing, I’ve allowed them to press the foot pedal with their hands while I guide the fabric. This time they both took it in turns to take the helm and I just told them when to stop and start so I could help rotate the fabric. We had to pile some boxes under the table so their little legs could reach the pedal :D
My 5 year old chose to make her brother a soft keyring using some denim jeans fabric and her old stripy jumper which regular readers might recognise from a certain teddy bear I made for her! I helped her draw an oval shape and cut it out with pinking shears to avoid fraying. She then stitched round it, sewing the denim tag in the top, and leaving a small gap for the stuffing (adding the stuffing was almost as much fun as using the sewing machine!) Then we stitched it all the way round again to seal it all in.
My son’s brainwave was to make a teddy bear for his sister from an old pink t-shirt – a bit trickier as we had to stop and rotate the shape more and it took a lot of self-control on his part not to go nuts with the pedal (boy racer in the making!!) He did so well though – here he is proudly sporting the finished shape, prior to decoration with a Sharpie pen.
We found some pink ribbon for the teddy’s bow tie and my son drew in some features to finish the toy. He later added his initial and a couple of stars to his keyring gift too and it is now featured on his school bag!
They both did so well and it goes to prove that I don’t have to be a control freak with them ALL the time – they’re actually pretty good at stuff when I trust them to do themselves :)