Sew together, grow together

The following post is by contributor Robin Zipporah of The Not-Ever-Still Life.

Feeling a need to challenge myself in a new way, I began sewing a few months ago. I’ve had a dream for years to make a quilt for our bed so I signed up for a sewing class, began reading quilting blogs, and finally turned on the sewing machine I received four years ago and figured out how to make it run.

Our learning curve

It’s been so much fun, so humbling, and utterly fascinating to my kids. They’re my biggest cheerleaders, and with their witness to my attempts at this new-to-me medium, three really interesting things have happened:

They believe in me so I believe in me.  They’re too little to care that my straight stitch isn’t really all that straight or that I lopped the points off my pieced triangles. They ooh and ahh over every little project I complete with genuine admiration.

Sewing has become an opportunity to model the lessons I patiently encourage them with every day: Take your time. Read the instructions. Work carefully. Do your best.

My eldest is in kindergarten, and recently her school had a spirit week. Friday was Tie Day, and at first she didn’t want to participate because “ties are for boys.” But then she got a glimmer in her eye and asked me to make her a tie out of girly fabric. She didn’t ask me if I could make a tie; she just asked me to make it.

It would be so easy to say, “Honey, I don’t know how to make a tie.” But really, how hard can it be? It took me far too many hours, but with some glittery unicorn fabric and a few internet tutorials, I sewed up a tie.

The best feeling in the world was when I showed it to her and she said, “wow, you’re good.” She didn’t notice that the tip wasn’t quite symmetrical. She participated in Tie Day with pride.

They want to learn how to sew, too. It wasn’t long before my girls began clamoring for their own projects. We ordered some doll pattern fabric from Spoonflower and they’re learning the basics of needle and thread. Their stitches aren’t perfect, but neither are mine, I keep telling them. We’re learning together.

Ready to try?

Whether you like the idea of sewing or just the look of it, I have three project ideas for you to try with your kids:

Embroider a photograph

If you don’t already know about Spoonflower, you might not realize that you can print your own fabric through them as well as order pre-made designs. So why not have your favorite photos printed on fabric? I think that a simple fabric photo stretched around a frame like canvas and embellished at the edges with a few embroidered designs would make a lovely Father’s Day gift for your kids to give their daddy, don’t you?

Wrap it up

Not ready for needles? Check out this fun project using yarn and pipe cleaners to make wrapped letters. For older kids, I think this would be elegant on a smaller scale with perle cotton and heavy-gauge wire.

Nice and sweet

Maybe you’re not into sewing at all (and until the start of this year, that would have been me). I still have something for you: cross-stitch cookies. Thread a needle…lick a mixing spoon…they’re both stepping stones to your child’s growth, right? The important thing is that you’re trying something new together.

Do you and your kids have anything you are sewing? Or are you planning to dive in and learn how? We would love to hear what projects you’ve got in your sewing basket.

About Robin

Robin has two daughters, a son, a lovely husband who works many more than full-time hours and a full-time career of her own in government in the suburbs of Washington, DC. You can always read more about Robin’s parenting philosophies and her family’s antics and adventures at her personal blog The Not-Ever-Still Life, or find her on Facebook or Twitter.

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  1. My mom taught me to sew from a very young age and I’m so grateful. It is a skill that has helped me in so many ways. I didn’t really think my boys would actually be interested in sewing, but my three year old always wants to do everything I’m doing, so I have already had him practice with homemade sewing cards.
    Anna@The DIY Mom´s latest post: Mandarin Mondays: 感冒 (Common Cold)

  2. I learned to sew as a girl. My first sewing class was when I was eight and I sewed my finger…! Unfortunately, my sewing machine has been sitting in my closet for a couple of years. 🙁

    I absolutely love these projects. My mom LOVES cross stitch and we have them all over our home. I think I might make the cookie version for her b’day. I am going to try the pipe cleaner/yarn letters with my. Great inspiration! Thank you!
    Johanna @ My Home Tableau´s latest post: How to Habit-train Children

  3. I learned to sew in middle school but haven’t done much of it since except for sew on a button here and there. But I have recently finished a large cross stitching project I started over 16 years ago!
    Steph´s latest post: No One Thinks That Way

  4. My daughter, now 12.5 ys, has taken over the “guest”/sewing room. We have never sewn together, exactly. At 10 ys old she asked permission to get going on my machines and away she went 🙂 She constantly has projects on the go – often for other people but also enjoys finding clothes at the thrift shop and repurposing or resizing them. She never follows patterns exactly, preferring to create on her own and learn as she goes. I am regularly amazed at her abilities in this department … and at the messes she generates. I figure that if we have the tools (ex. my good quality machines passed down from my grandma) they ought to get plenty of use.

  5. Robin! You never cease to amaze me. (I’m a non-commenting reader of your blog.) How you ever have time to have 3 kids, a full-time job, an excellent blog, and NOW you’re learning how to sew?! I’m really impressed! I have 3 kids, 4 and under, and I feel like I barely have time to brush my teeth. I have actually been thinking about learning to sew for awhile now. Maybe this is just what I needed to get started.
    Rheagan´s latest post: Food in Ireland

    • First of all- you made my day 🙂 but also, stop lurking- say hi!! I have two comments to you: 1) check out my facebook page: because I link my sewing projects there as well as my regular blog stuff; and 2) DUDE. When my oldest was four, that meant the other two were 2 and just measured in weeks. Three kids four and under? I remember that; well, sort of. It’s kinda blurry. Brushing your teeth IS an accomplishment! I’ve been dreaming about sewing since that time. I’m only taking it up now, when they’re 6, 4 and 2 instead of 4, 2, and Tiny. Live your life at your life’s pace. It’ll all come together 🙂
      Robin´s latest post: On structure and strength

  6. Just when I am ready to give up and get rid of all the sewing stuff, my kids remind me in small ways how much it means to them that I do it. I don’t do anything fancy or elaborate, and I can’t even do zippers yet, but they think I could sew an entire house if I wanted to.
    Visty´s latest post: 392 slow down

  7. My 7 year old has been sewing up a storm this past year! If my mom hadn’t gotten her started, I never would have believed how much a 6/7 year old was capable of.

    I’m going to show my little seamstress that tie you made–my daughter’s been casting about for sewing ideas for the men and boys and I think she’s love that one!
    Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy´s latest post: How to Quit Diet Coke

  8. I LOVE this post. Love the part of finally using the sewing maching you got FOUR years ago!! So like me!! 🙂 My husband got me a wonderful one three years ago. I just decided in the last few months that instead of buying the kids’ friends birthday presents, I was going to make them hooded towels. Less than $10 for a personalized gift for kids that have too many toys anyway!! Well, I have FIFTEEN friends pregnant and just sewed them all taggie blankets as gifts. Then my daughter asked if we could sew her a blanket. Off to the fabric store we went and threw together an uneven blanket that she is absolutely THRILLED with!! I am not exact but it sure is rewarding!! LOVE it!! 🙂