Monday, December 22, 2014

How old were you when you first used a sewing machine? (with poll)

First time operating the sewing machine all by herself (with very close supervision from Mommy) to make a gift for her one-year-old cousin. Age 4 1/2. She was extremely careful.#sewing #sewingwithkids (tagging @fireapplefarm )

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:

While Daddy was off protesting, Z decided stuffed coffee mug dolls would make ideal holiday presents. She scanned the pattern into the computer, printed it (with my help) & cut out the pieces & I let her press the foot pedal too. (from the book Fun Dolls

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:

My first skirt!

Of course all that sewing is hard work... she passed out on the couch halfway through stuffing the first doll:

Sewing is hard work! Napping on the couch with her coffee cup doll in progress. #sewing #sewingwithkids

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):

Holiday Family Photo 2014

Most of the pictures were more like this:

Holiday Family Photo 2014--goofy

Boy is that baby belly huge! 35 weeks and counting... Happy holidays everyone!


  1. I love both photos! Happy Holidays!!

  2. What a lovely photo!

    I'm probably in the minority, having learned to sew in my 30s. But I cannot wait to teach my son. I really hope he has an interest in it.

    Happy holidays!

    1. I hope he's interested too! It's such a great skill, even if he just learns how to repair his own clothes.

  3. beautiful family!!! i like that playful photo, i must say...

    and i'm in the minority with mela :) i'm surprised by the results, cool poll!

    1. I'm surprised too! Of course it's not scientific, but I didn't realize how many people still learned to sew as kids, and it's interesting that such a small percentage started sewing after 18... I had the impression that a lot of people had never learned to sew as kids and only came to it later because sewing is having such a comeback.

  4. I was 11 years old, I begged for so long and was finally granted permission!. I was sewing with a needle and thread since around 3 years old. Your family is lovely, I hope you all have a great holiday.

  5. I learned how to handsew for Francie (Barbie was too curvy for me to deal with, still struggle with the FBA/FRA) pretty early on, but didn't get to use the Special Machine until about 11 or 12. I have a feeling there was bobbin jamming involved. Sorry, Mom.

  6. My mom taught me to sew about that age (4/5) via quilting then dolly clothes.

  7. Aww! Great pics! I think I was about nine when I started sewing with the machine, but it was with very little instruction---my mom showed me how to thread it and that was about it. I have a hard time with being patient with my kids when they do want to sew---I think I expect too much independence and confidence. :( good luck with the bed rest!

  8. My kid is about the same age as yours, but he hasn't shown any interest yet plus he's not that good with sitting down, taking things slowly. I hope he shows some interest one day. My daughter is only 1½ so she'll have to wait a bit.
    I don't remember how old I was when my mum taught me sewing, around 6 or 7 or so I think. Teaching me knitting failed (Still no interest in that) and my grandmother taught my sister and I a bit about looming, all long forgotten.

    1. I didn't learn how to knit until I was in my teens... I really struggled with it at first! I did crochet instead for a while but finally learned to knit when I was maybe 16 or 17, I think.

  9. You have the cutest family EVER! I kinda can't even deal with the adorable pics of Z at the sewing machine. I also can't wait to read her sewing blog in a decade or so. :)

    I think I was 9 when I first used a sewing machine? My mom sewed a lot when I was a kid, and my parents were pretty relaxed about letting us use appliances/machines/tools. But I didn't like sewing and didn't come back to it until my late 20's!

  10. Z is going to be sewing couture by the time she's in junior high it would seem! I sewed by hand until junior high at which point I got a machine, never bothered to read the manual and continued to sew by hand.

    I hope everything with the baby goes well! Happy New Year!

  11. Ah!!! On a stool! Good idea!

    Yes, once your kids reach a certain age, you forget all about the hazards of little tiny ones. Luckily they take a while to reach that dangerous stage, so you have time to prepare. Maggie picks up pins or needles I drop and helps me put them in the pincushion. Very carefully, because they are "pokey and ouchy."


  12. Some of us were not so great at mastering sewing machine skills. Our skirts didn't look like something we would even wear for a Halloween costume, and we never touched a sewing machine again. my homepage


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