Time and time again, I get comments from readers telling me how lucky I am that I have daughters that sew. They are so right. I am TOTALLY lucky that I can share my hobby with my girls.
We have three girls….Kelli is 24 and sews more than I do. Kayla is 23 and sews a lot. She also knits, crochets and other crafty endeavors. Kalissa is 16 and she hasn’t caught the crafting/sewing bug yet…but she can sew and she loves to scrap book if she ever has spare time. This weekend, Kelli talked Kalissa into sewing one strip together for our Perkiomen Daydreams quilt. Here Kalissa is SO proud of the strip set she sewed…
Much to Kelli’s disappointment, Kalissa only hung around to sew one strip set….it didn’t surprise me though…Kalissa is 16 and doesn’t love sewing. Will she become a quilter one day…time will tell.
Because of all the comments I get about my daughters sewing with me, I thought I would put together some tips for you to use to encourage your kids to sew with you.
Let them do the sewing. You do the seam ripping. My mom did this all the time. She would be helping me sew, I would make a mistake and she would rip it out. I miss my mom for that….I still make mistakes and she’s not there to rip them out anymore.
Do not continually tell you daughter how you would do it. Explain directions, yes….Lord over them, no. If they ask, you can give your opinion but never in a negative way.
Even if you think the pattern or the colors are hideous together, don’t push your choices (or thoughts) onto them.
Don’t act like your sewing machine is fragile, delicate, expensive, or breakable. If you begin to tell you daughter that they need to be so careful because the machine can break, they will be too afraid to try. When Kayla was little…6 or 7 years old, I gave her my old sewing machine. It was a $200 machine but worked well. If she got the threads tangled up, I didn’t say a thing. She was willing to try to fix it and I let her. There are sewing machines at Goodwill for $30. (I have one!)
Pick projects for success. Start out with a simple pillowcase, apron, curtain valance or doll quilt with squares. Children are likely to be able to complete these projects because they are not long projects and require only straight sewing seams.
If there is a project they really want to sew….don’t say things like…oh that’s to hard for a beginner. Instead say, WOW…you are ambitious. That’s a project we might have to work on together.
Don’t harp on the child telling them how much the fabric cost…Yes it cost a lot but…if they hear you harping, sewing it is going to become a chore not a pleasure. If cost is a factor, go through you husband’s closet and pick out 100% cotton button down shirts. They make wonderful fabric.
Don’t tell them all the things they did wrong in the project. Tell them EVERYTHING they did right….even if the only thing they did well was to clip the thread.
If you are not patient enough to teach your daughter to sew, don’t fret. If you don’t have an Aunt Judy (my sister) available, quilt shops in the area typically have kids sewing classes. Kayla and I continually clashed when she wanted to sew. I would send her to my sister’s house. My sister has patience beyond anyone’s imagination….Judy taught her lots! I didn’t teach Kalissa a lot about sewing either…she went to several quilt classes at the local quilt shop.
Model sewing and quilting. If they see you quilting, they will think it’s normal. Make it seem fun!
Be available. Typically my girls would sew at the kitchen table and I would be making a batch of cookies or making supper. I was close and available but not stalking their progress.
Let them sew scraps at the their leisure. One time Kayla, at age 7, sewed a dress from scraps for her visiting cousin. She didn’t hem it. It was a mis-mash of silly looking, poorly fitting, to tight, yet sagging fabric mess….but she did it! No pattern…just a vision in her head. She did it while we were visiting with the rest of family.
When your daughter is ready to use a rotary cutter, mat and ruler on their own, gift them to your daughter. Tell her that she is ready for her very own set. Kelli was completely happy to get my used but not used up set…I convinced her that mine were a little ratty looking and I was just going to throw them out anyway, so would she be interested. Having the right equipment is critical to sewing success….help provide it.
Do not under any circumstances EVER become competitive with your daughter. This has never happened at our house but I have talked to people that this is an issue.
If your daughter makes you something, and it is completely hideous….something like a table runner
that is made of colors that are not in your house…. Has a variety of thread colors…
and has “binding” that was turned over from the back to front very poorly…
…so poorly that the batting is sticking out and the raw edges show, tell her you love it. Tell her you can’t believe how hard she worked to make something SO VERY SPECIAL just for you. Tell her you so appreciate all the time thought she put into the project. Show her how beautifully one of the corners meet together. Tell her that you didn’t know she could machine quilt and for her first time ever……it is COMPLETELY and TOTALLY amazing. When your friends come to visit, show them the AMAZINGLY WONDERFUL table runner that your daughter made just for you. Tell them that she surprised you and how impressed you are with her work. Tell them that the table runner is SO VERY SPECIAL that you do not keep it in the kitchen for everyone to see. Tell them that you keep it on your dresser in your bedroom where you know nothing will get spilled on it…and each and every night, before you go to bed, you can see it and remember how VERY SPECIAL and COMPLETELY BLESSED you are that you have a daughter who would work SO hard to make you such an INCREDIBLE GIFT.
Kalissa made that table runner for me when she was 10. It will always be SO VERY SPECIAL to me….each night before I go to bed, I see it and remember how VERY SPECIAL and COMPLETELY BLESSED I am that I have not one but three daughters (and two sons) who would work SO hard to make me so VERY proud of them!