14 October 2012

Teaching children to sew and upcycle - and a surprise

This morning it became clear that my planned sewing day was out the window: I had a big fat migraine that an early-morning pill had failed to cure. When I climbed out of bed at 10 am to get rid of the hunger pains, a not-so-nice surprise greeted me in the dining room.

Anna had decided to make a start on the owl cushion we'd decided to sew, which is to be based on the one above that we bought from a local market.

Having watched what her Mama did the day before while making a hot water bottle cover, she traced around her existing owl cushion on some greaseproof paper from the kitchen. She cut out the shape, then put it on the nicest bits of fabric she could find.

The problem? They were from my precious stash of fabrics that I'd been sorting through the night before with plans of sewing a cushion cover today!

This was her first try. The next one she cut around.

I was horrified and made a few loud noises, but part of me had wondered if she'd do that if I forgot to put away my stash when I went to bed. And at least the ones she chose weren't my favourite.

In retrospect, I mainly think how cute and smart she is to copy me so. It reminds me that I should be spending even more time teaching her than I do: yesterday I could have been explaining how to cut out a few centimetres outside the tracing line in order to leave a seam allowance, and that my sharp sewing scissors were the only ones to use for cutting fabric properly (I had explained that they must never use them to cut paper). I also could have told her that cutting out patterns is the same as cutting biscuit shapes from dough - you put the cutter/pattern right over to the edge, so you have the maximum amount of uncut fabric/dough available for future patterns, or biscuits.

This was part of yesterday's creating process, in which I made a new hot water bottle cover for Jack. His old one was made of wool - always my preference! - and lovingly knitted by Grandma when he was a baby. Now it's falling apart, and his ENT surgeon told us that to combat his dustmite allergy, all his bedding needs to be synthetic. I chose an old polarfleece jacket to make a new one from, which I can throw in the washing machine on a hot wash once a week or so. (I hate buying things new if there's a way around it.)

A perfectly good, outgrown Kathmandu polarfleece jacket
(I put Kathmandu in the category of made-in-China, kill the little
guy retailers, as I discussed yesterday - so I didn't care about
cutting it up!)

I made a pattern by drawing around the hot water bottle onto greaseproof paper.

The sewing was done on this reliable old lady of a sewing machine, more fully discussed here.

The finished product. I got the idea for the design from here - I love the cushions this lady makes. We have three of them, and I would have bought a hot water bottle cover from her, too, except she only uses wool blankets (all recycled). 

When I sew - which is not very often - the children love it, and invariably flock around to begin their own projects. If there's a friend present, he or she joins in. Yes it slows me down a lot, but it is so worth it to see those young brains growing by the minute. There's also a pleasant, engaged calm that descends over the house. They can both thread needles and sew simple seams now, and Anna ties her own knots.

We finished the sewing day by making Anna her own little needle case with the sewing machine. She did the sewing herself. My choice of hessian for the inside was pretty poor - you can see it falling out already! We'll replace it with felt one day. 

Doing this project and cleaning the day's mess off the dining table and floor meant that dinner wasn't ready until 7pm, but I think it's worth it, don't you?

1 comment :

  1. I can identify with all the learning experiences you have commented on! The sense of pride and achievement shown at the end of the sewing session makes it all worthwhile. I hope the migraine didn't last all day.


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