It's nearly time to move to Studio North in Michigan. I'm looking forward to sharing that space with those who "like to make stuff" ... most especially my grandchildren. Last summer the three then-6-year old boys finally got to operate Granellie's sewing machine. Each of them have been totally fascinated for years. Every time I sat down to sew, at least one of them would be at my elbow. They got to hand me things, fetch, and take care of the pins.
I always knew that I'd be letting these boys sew, but I hadn't a clue how we'd go about it. Last summer I met a woman in Colorado who's been teaching children to sew for years. She advised positioning the standing child between me and the machine. This worked great! The child felt like he had total control from turning the machine on, to lifting and lowering the presser foot, to pushing the button for reverse stitching,and of course stepping on the foot petal. All the while my hands were at the ready to make any corrections as well as to help guide the fabric. Also, I could talk/instruct quietly right into their ear. As you can see in the above photo, Jackson is doing very well sewing a super cape for his stuffed dolphin. Winston is patiently awaiting his turn. Jennings is still selecting his fabric.
I had drawn the seam lines for the boys to follow. Pins were placed along it about two inches apart. I instructed them to stop the machine when they had sewn to a pin and remove it before continuing. The frequent starts and stops kept them from racing the motor. I was amazed at how quickly they had control of the machine. PLUS, they know NOT to sew over the pins and WHY after a few broken needles. The first project of super capes for two dolphins, one cat, and a doll was a BIG success. All three boys helped make the one for Tessa's doll. She declined learning how to sew saying, "I'm too young (she was 4). Maybe next year."
The next project for the twins were quilts (the above photos) for those same dolphins. Again, they selected fabrics from a drawer full of novelty prints. I rotary cut them into squares. They arranged the fabrics on a design board. Part of the project was for them to figure out WHAT got sewn together WHEN. After the piecing was finished they used the acrylic ruler to draw the diagonal quilting lines across the squares (I had to hide the chalk wheel marker after that). They chose backing fabric and helped pin baste the quilt together. And of course, they did the machine quilting. The last design decision was which fabric to bind the edge. By that point, they each had reached their limit and I stitched the binding on. All this took place over two days. One boy built and painted a sail boat with his father while the other was making his quilt.
Jennings presented this picture to me at Christmas time when I was in Chicago for the holidays. All the important parts of the sewing machine are there ... especially the light.
The last weekend Jackson and Jennings were at the cottage their mother and I took them to the fabric store to choose fleece for new robes. The boys and I stitched those together during Christmas vacation. I can't wait to see what they'd like to sew this summer. Winston gets to go first, since he ran out of sewing time last year. I think Tessa may feel ready. I'm looking forward to a fun, busy time in the studio.