Sometimes a single image can have a transformative effect on your life. At least it can on mine.
My older daughters are now 7 and 9-years-old. They are aware of what I do, that I sew and write books and write a blog. They come into the studio while I'm working and ask, "Can I make something?"
And you know what? I almost always say, "No. Mommy's working. Don't touch that pile of fabric. Stop taking pins out of the pincushion. Be careful near the iron. Can you please leave my room!"
I don't want to push the out, but it's true that they shouldn't mix up my fabric and that they need to be careful in my studio. It's true, but it doesn't feel good.
I got a new book as a birthday gift a few weeks ago. My sister bought it for me after perusing my lengthy Amazon wishlist. She made a good choice. The book is Sewing School 2: Lessons in Machine Sewing by Andria Lisle and Amie Petronis Plumle.
We have the first book, Sewing School: Hand Sewing Projects Kids Will Love. I reviewed it here and we've sewn several projects from it together. I was excited to see that the authors had come out with a follow-up book to teach kids to sew on the machine.
When I opened it I turned to page 7, "An Introduction for Adults," and was struck by this picture.
I sat and looked at it for a very long time. I began to realize that I'd been pushing the kids out of my studio because there was no place for them. Even though I knew they could handle sewing, I wouldn't allow them access to it because it was my work and I was afraid they'd mess it up.
I had a sewing machine in my room when I was a child (well, I got it at age 13, but I was still a child) and I remember experimenting with it, making scrunchies and hair bows and oddly misshapen things. I was totally engrossed with this machine that could make real stuff, stuff you could wear or use or play with. And looking at this picture made me remember that feeling of making things. It suddenly became clear to me that I needed to change things.
A few nights later I cleared out a corner of my sewing space. I ordered a Janome Mini, the machine recommended in the book. We found an old typewriter table at the dump and brought it home for the machine to sit on. I got the old school chair that had been in the basement and dragged it upstairs. We went to Joann's and I bought the kids each a pair of the scissors recommended in the book, Fiskar's Juniors. I went through my fabric and set aside some pieces to build their stash.
See our new dual sewing space! I love it!
This weekend I taught them to wind a bobbin and thread the machine. They practiced. They got frustratrated. They practiced some more.
And now they can sew.
Not only that, they can design stuff. Stella is 7-years-old. She started with a stitch sampler and then added some details in marker to turn it into this wonderful piece on the left.
Roxanne is 9-years-old. She's a writer. She went upstairs on her own and designed and sewed this pouch to keep her writing supplies.
Now that my daughters have their own space, and their own tools and supplies, they can experiment. Not everything works, but firmly believe that is how you learn to sew. And that's how you learn that sewing is amazing. Sewing isn't just following someone else's instructions or feeling insecure that you don't know the "right" way to construct something. Sewing is a creative tool you use to make your ideas real.
Disclaimer: The Amazon links in this post are affiliate links.