Monday, March 15, 2010
Passing It On
Like most girls of my generation I was taught to sew by my mother, who had learned from her mother. Sewing in their day was a necessity. My grandmother grew up on a farm and they made almost all of their family's clothing, along with quilts they needed to keep warm. She knew how to do just about anything and handed down many of those skills to my mother. I learned a lot from both of them, both by actual one-on -one teaching and by watching how they created what they needed and wanted. It was inspiring.
Nowadays families are so busy that it's hard for most moms to find the time to teach their children how to sew. Many of my friends never learned themselves, and so don't have a lot to pass on except what they picked up in Home Economics class.
The reason I bring this up is that over the weekend I was given an opportunity to pass on some of my knowledge. My son plays Little League Baseball and one of the boy's sisters noticed the handmade jacket I'd made for my little dog Indy. She then began to tell me about how much she wanted to learn how to sew. She'd learned some in Girl Scouts, and had been using some of the supplies her mom had on hand for mending.
At 9 years old she's a little young to tackle a sewing class using a machine, but I could see that she had a real hunger to learn. I know her family well so I volunteered to bring along a few sewing supplies and get her started on making a quilt for her American Girl doll. Those of you who've been involved in Little League know that there's a lot of time spent at practices and games, I figured I could get her started on something, and then be there if she had any questions.
She loves horses and I had a few horse fabrics in my stash. I combined them with a few others and put together a simple kit of twenty 5" squares, (I marked 1/2" seam allowance on all sides with a marking pencil). I used a snap top plastic box with a lid that I had on hand and added a needle threader, some larger eyed needles, flower head pins, a spool of coordinating thread, a wrist pincushion that I'd never used, and a small pair of scissors.
We tackled a sample 4 patch on Sunday so I could see what she knew and what I'd need to work on. In the beginning her stitches were really big and crooked, but by the end of the second game she knew how to make her stitches smaller and more even, and she even knew how to tie off her thread correctly.
I worked with her throughout the double-header, showing her how to finger press her seams flat and then open, and also how to follow the pattern I'd created for her. I'd arranged the squares and took a digital photo that I put in the kit for her to follow.
We plan to keep working throughout the season so I'll keep you up-to-date on her progress. She was still so excited even after a couple of hours that I'm hoping we have a new convert. We'll see!