After months of pleading from the four-year-old, last week I finally let her operate the sewing machine by herself —with extremely close and cautious supervision from me — to make a Christmas present for her baby cousin R. And it went great, actually! She was incredibly careful, sewed slowly and cautiously along a chalked seamline with a fairly even seam allowance, and didn't get her hands or fingers anywhere near the needle.
I think her favorite part was pressing the foot pedal, which I put up on a stool for her. (Or maybe it was using the different buttons on my computerized machine to select the stitch length and pattern—after sewing the plain seams, she went a little crazy with the built-in flowers and leaves and diamond embroidery stitches on my Viking).
The present she was making is a pattern for smiling stuffed coffee mug dolls and saucers. She picked it out of the adorable Japanese doll-making book Fun Dolls by Aranzi Aranzo (last used when Z and her older cousin T made "Eyelash Bunny" dolls together). Here's a shot right before she sewed the pieces together—we just cut the pieces out of an extra soft cotton flannel baby blanket, and I appliquéd on eyes cut from an old black T-shirt:
She has been hand-sewing, embroidering and helping cut out patterns since she was three (which I wrote about last year in the post "I want my kid to be able to make or fix anything!") and slowly working her way up to using the machine over the past year. I started by letting her press the buttons to select stitches for me, and then eventually let her use the foot pedal while I steered the fabric, or sit in my lap and help me seal the fabric.
She knows how to attach a button (by hand) or a snap (with a hammer), the basic parts of the sewing machine, the difference between knit and woven fabric (she likes to play a game of guessing which clothes she has are woven, and which are knit), and what stabilizers and appliqués are.
I think teaching her to sew and watching her have so much fun with it might be even more fun than sewing myself. It's hard to believe I'm about to have a new little baby who will have no sense of danger and responsibility and whom I will have to keep far, far away from all sewing supplies! It also brought back fun memories of when my mom taught ME to sew on her machine when I was a kid. Here's the first skirt I made (with Mom's help), at age five:
Of course all that sewing is hard work... she passed out on the couch halfway through stuffing the first doll:
Finished object pictures soon. They really turned out cute, and she's been running around pretending to drink tea or coffee out of them.
So: how old were you when you used a sewing machine for the first time? Did you learn as a kid or come to it as a teen or adult?
Meanwhile... we somehow managed to corral her and get a semi-serious Chanukah/Christmas/New Year's holiday photo out of her! (After about 40 tries with the self-timer):
Most of the pictures were more like this:
Boy is that baby belly huge! 35 weeks and counting... Happy holidays everyone!