When it is time for you to pass on your sewing wisdom, here are some steps to follow:
Find child of appropriate age and enthusiasm
Exhibit A- Sam, age 9.
Claire: Sam, on a scale of 1 to 10, how enthusiastic are you about learning to sew?
Sam: Oh I’m a 9. sometimes a 15!
Come up with appropriate project idea
Tell her she has a choice to make a pillow, or a pillow. Next we can make something harder… maybe pj pants. This will motivate her to get to work on the pillow.
Design the pillow
Give her a pen and paper and let her draw pillow ideas while you take her on an hour long drive to retrieve your sewing machine from the shop where it was getting fixed. You will have to listen and sing along to AT 40 on the way. Cue Iggy Azalea.
Make a pattern
This is the easy part- she is pretty sharp with rulers and pens. Explain how to figure out the size of a square that will fit an old throw pillow you procured. When you start talking about seam allowances, her eyes will glaze over. Instead, explain it in simpler terms. Show her the inside of another pillowcase and explain that extra fabric is needed around the edge.
Decide on fabric
Raid your stash for all the crazy patterns and separate from the “good” fabric. Anything pink is a bonus. Especially if it is fuzzy. Also animal prints. Then let her choose from this selected pile.
Let go of all control. Give lots of encouragement. Resist the urge to say “yes” every time she asks you to do it for her. End up doing half of the pinning yourself.
Have her do some practice stitches on scrap fabric until she can sew a decently straight line. When she gets really enthusiastic about sewing straight stitches on scrap fabric, redirect her to the pillow project.
Remind her to slow down, backstitch, take out the pins before she sews over them. Expect that she will tell you you are being pushy. Take a deep breath and remind yourself you are having fun.
When she gets disheartened, remind her how awesome she is at straight stitches. Maybe let her practice them on some plaid scraps. Tell her that the PJ pants will be much, much easier than this mixed-fabric pillow (and rue the day you pulled the lime green lycra from your stash)
Expect to take lots of breaks.
Finish the pillow
Have her trim the corners and turn the pillow case right side out. You will be the one to stuff the pillow inside the case and slipstitch it most of the way closed. At this point, she will be tired of the project and will only want to do a couple slipstitches.
But all will be well again because you are finished! Give her the pillow to hug and pet and enjoy. Laugh when she does a happy dance. Sit back and smile and relax and know that you have created, as her mother will later say, “a sewing monster.” Look forward to more collaborative projects.