I absolutely love the enthusiasm that children express when discovering all the possibilities in the world. They inspire me to consider different perspectives, options and possibilities. Children are so good at this because they haven’t been conditioned to limit themselves yet. So when a child comes to me and says “How do you do that?” I find a way to satiate their curiosity in that moment. Something I heard when my boys were very young was that when a child asks you how or why, they aren’t seeking mastery of the subject. They just want a synopsis that will show them whether or not they want to explore this subject further later after they mull it over.
Earlier this last spring I had the perfect opportunity to spend a few days with my nieces, Kelsey, Eliza and Sylvia. I gave them each what is called a charm pack, about 40 5″ squares from a fabric line. Fabric designers come out with a line fabrics that are all coordinated making it easy to choose what you need for your next project. These pre-cut packages allow you to get a wide variety of choices without having to buy too much of any one print. This works great with some quilts and not so great with others. It’s just another option.
All three of my brother’s girls really enjoyed sewing their squares together. It was a very basic introduction to sewing. It was a pleasant experience with a successful outcome, so the chance of them doing more with this in the future is pretty good! Eliza and Sylvia being only 4 years old needed more assistance that Kelsey who is 8. I sat Eliza and Sylvia on my lap and I worked most of the machine while they guided the fabric into the needle. They learned a lot. They were introduced to how a sewing machine looks and feels and sounds. They also learned about a little about how the machine works and how to use it safely. They became more familiar with design, what fabrics look good together and when you sew two squares together properly at the points it makes it easier to sew all the rows and columns together later. They did not really get to understand the feel of the foot pedal and how fast or slow to regulate it. They also didn’t really get to see the consequences of not sewing a straight line and the importance of staying consistent, but that’s ok! There’s plenty of time for that later. Meanwhile they have a real example of completed project that they did (with a little help).
Kelsey being 8 is really at a prime age to start managing a sewing machine on her own. She did get to experience how much pressure is necessary to apply to the foot pedal and how easy it is to sew a crooked line. She wanted to make a purse and a quilt out of her charm pack. She was very meticulous and purposeful with her design. It was lots of fun to discuss this with her. We laid out the squares and talked about symmetry and balance. When I said goodbye to her I told her that I had really enjoyed this visit with her because I could see how much she had matured. If I had had more time there or if I lived closer to them then Kelsey would have been able to sew it all herself.
I took all their projects home with me so that I could finish them on my machine and send it back to them completed. I took time to talk to each of them about how they wanted it to look, what colors, how big, etc. I did make a change with the purse. I added a zipper to the purse because I thought it was a better application considering the design. Unfortunately it took me longer than I expected, but I got the projects finished and sent the box off to them. It’s all done and looking good! I wish I could be there when they open the box to see what they started all finished!
I do love working with kids, so I’m open to working with the local community and having classes regularly here at my shop. Let me know if you have a child who is interested! They can choose a simple easy project designed to be completed within a short amount of time, and I’m more than happy to assist. Keep in mind this is not a gender biased hobby. There are lots of fabulous male quilters out there. For more info on what I offer here go to my Quilt Class page.