“Can you teach me how to sew?” inquired my six-year-old as he studied the mechanics of my sewing machine.
This was one of the many unexpected things to come out of 2020. My little guy was in first grade, doing school virtually from home. We had his desk space set up in our bedroom, and during the school day, I would hang around in there in case of any technical issues or if my son got off track. It was actually a wonderful year of overseeing school work, and simultaneously working on long-awaited projects I’d put aside for “someday.” (Read: wedding scrapbook 10 years late!)
I remember dabbling in a couple of sewing projects as a kid, after years of watching my mom make dresses and Halloween costumes for my siblings and me (plus many more projects). My mom has always been supportive in my creative ideas; she’s taught me so much, at my pace, over the years.
Since getting my own sewing machine at my bridal shower, I’ve (amateurly) fixed clothes, and made a few blankets and curtains, to name a few things. My creativity with sewing really took off, however, in 2015 as we were brainstorming how to make extra money to fund our first adoption process.
I took a deep dive into making pillows and explored other types of items, to fundraise for the following year. It became an absolute thrill to conjure up ideas for unique creations out of simple fabric and thread. I picked up clearance pieces of fabric at the craft stores and made it a challenge of sorts to figure out what I could make with it all. I found myself drooling over mixing different materials together into one item; these projects gave me butterflies. Not to mention, that season had me in an obsessive, sleepless drive to make sure we had all we needed financially to get our first baby boy home to us.
Once I finally became a mom, though, I eventually realized my desire to continue creating consistently wasn’t in the cards for this new season. I know lots of women who do it, but for our family, it just wasn’t working. I’d create during nap times, but felt a real tug between needing naps myself and getting other housework done. So I felt at peace with setting the sewing machine aside for a time — only dusting it off for Halloween costumes, sewing handprints to our Christmas tree skirt, and creating Christmas stockings for our family. But largely, the season of adjusting to motherhood with a toddler, and eventually, another toddler, was filled with other wonderful (and hard) things.
But a few years later, there we were: studying the intricacies of my sewing machine together. My little budding engineer was sparked with excitement.
It was almost Christmas time, so I picked up some felt (an easy material to start with), hand embroidery thread, fun buttons, and stuffing. One Saturday afternoon we went to work on his first sewing project: a stuffed Christmas tree!
To make it extra fun, my first grader learned some machine sewing and hand stitching to add decorative stitches to each side of the tree, and learned how to sew buttons and beads on — wherever he wanted to put them! He got to use my special, highly-protected fabric scissors (iykyk) to cut his own tree trunk shape. Then came the stuffing and sewing the edges up. I intended for him to learn how to hand sew the edges, but after a few stitches he declared, “Sewing is more your thing,” and asked if I would finish up the boring part.
I thought that was it — which would have been fine! I was still proud that we had that learning experience and activity together to remember. But the following Fall season brought another request from my little guy; he wanted to make a big pumpkin pillow! So we went all in on that and he did even better this time around! And then a couple of months later, my son asked to make a star pillow! And now we have a stuffed Kirby on our list to make in the coming months. The ideas are really flowing now!
I am happy to oblige and support my son’s creative ideas, just as my mom has always done with me. I love that he saw me doing something I enjoy, and wanted to learn it too. I love that we have these experiences to imagine together and come up with a plan. It’s become a totally child-led activity, in a really fun arena for me. They’re no professional masterpieces in the end, by any means. For one, I sew more by a trial-and-error approach and learn as I go. But the time creating and learning together is absolutely priceless. It’s been a treasure to pull this hobby up from the back burner from time to time, again!
September is National Sewing Month!
To commemorate, here are some little sewing shops local to the Charleston area that offer classes, camps, and sewing events! For anyone looking to improve their craft or introduce kids to the art of sewing, these are great places to start.
- Five Eighth Seams, West Ashley
- Sew Suite Studio, Summerville
- Sew Fabulous, Summerville
- Fashion Fabrics of Mt. Pleasant
- Sew Much Better, Mt. Pleasant
And here are some simple introductory projects to get kids creating at home!