I mentioned in a post this past summer that I’d been helping my daughter get started on working on her own patchwork quilt. This has been a long work-in-progress. We picked out the fabric about 5 years ago (most of it was from Denyse Schmidt’s Sugar Creek collection at JoAnn’s). In fact, I even found the blog post where I shared it here . (Whoa. That was a while ago. But three cheers for actually using it, right?!)
We finally started cutting it into squares a couple summers later. Last summer we got as far as laying out the squares into rows.
This summer, I’m proud to say, we got ‘er done! Woo! And I’m even more proud to say, my daughter did most of the work herself. This was possibly her last summer at home and she was feeling motivated to do it. It helped that she could binge watch the Gilmore Girls and the Summer Olympics while she worked.
It also helped that she was focusing on finishing up a goal for a program at church. Here she is binding the quilt (I totally made her do it herself 😉 ) right before the Sunday evening program where the teenage girls were sharing their goals they’d accomplished. (Nothing like a hard deadline for motivation.)
Since sharing my daughter working on this quilt during the summer, I’ve had people ask me about when to teach kids to sew. I have to admit, I have not been super pro-active about teaching my kids to sew, so I don’t consider myself an expert by any means. My first response would be: whenever they show an interest. Run with that. Don’t force it on them. There are so many things that as a parent you have to get your kids to do (homework, housework, and basic hygeine come to mind) that I don’t think it’s a great idea to create a power struggle over something that should be fun.
Second, use age-appropriate projects. I personally wouldn’t start a kid sewing by themselves at a sewing machine younger than 8. (Even then, I’d heavily supervise, depending on the ability of the particular kid to focus and be careful.) Pre-8, they could sew with you, or it’s a great time to do handwork projects. Start with sewing cards or other big-stitch projects.
Keep it acheiveable for them and calibrate your (and their) expectations. Find projects that are age/skill-level appropriate. (For example Barbie clothes are NOT an easy learn-to-sew project. Right?!)
Use this as an opportunity to build their self-esteem. I think we all know what it’s like to attempt a project that feels overwhelming and frustrating. As adults, it’s easier to tell ourselves “This was a hard project.” and not have it be a reflection of who we are. For kids, I think it’s so much easier to get frustrated and discouraged by an external project and suddenly hate the whole concept of sewing, or worse, make them feel bad about who they are as an individual.
With all of that caveat, here are some great posts on teaching kids to sew with good skill-building projects that are actually helpful:
This project was a good one for my daughter. She’s had some sewing experience so she felt comfortable with the sewing machine and I could just turn her loose. Patchwork squares are such a good beginning quilting project. Don’t worry about perfectly matched points, just enjoy the process – especially on that first project.
We did have my friend Monica do the quilting for us (because even I don’t quilt my own big quilts) but I made her do the binding herself (even though it wasn’t her favorite part.) 😉
I am SOOoooo proud of this girl and all of the hard work and choices she’s making right now. Being a teenager is tough stuff. I think they all deserve a cheer. Or at least a hug.
This weekend we finally got around to taking pictures. We have had the most crazy, mild November. I think that’ll change this week, but I sure have enjoyed it while it’s lasted.