What I Learned from Sewing with My Son

We love hearing about parents sewing with their children! It's a great way to get bonding time and build children's confidence while trying something new! Read on to hear about our Education Manager, Regena Carlevaro, and her experience sewing with her son. (If you're ready to get sewing with your favorite kiddos, our Summer Sewing Series is a great way to get going!)

"A few months ago, my 10 year old son Bruce and I went shopping for a new comforter for his bedroom. After going to several stores and not finding anything that fit into his new theme, he asked, “Mom, why don’t we make a quilt together?” After I picked up my gooey heart off the ground and put it back into my chest, I replied, “I would love to make a quilt with you. What a great idea!”, and off to the fabric store we went.

During this journey, I was amazed by what I learned about my son’s abilities, as well as the opportunities it gave me to share my love of sewing with others. I’ll start out with what I learned.

1. When selecting a quilt pattern, make sure that the quilt is designed to be sewn by kids, not just designed to look kid-friendly. When sewing 1 ½” strips together, there is not a lot of room for error. Even with the guide on my ¼” Seam foot, a Clothguide and painters tape on the machine, my son wasn’t able to sew the straightest seams. Fortunately, I survived this since I let me machine’s feed dogs ease in the strips that were slightly longer in length.  Then, there was the fussy cutting. Don’t even get me started on that! 

 

But, through it all, I made sure to make it fun. I didn’t want my son to think this was a chore or that he was messing it up. When he made a mistake or created a hurdle, we fixed it together and found something funny to laugh about.

2. Trust your child’s color sense and don’t impose your taste on them. After picking out the main fabric, I showed Bruce the color chips shown on the selvedge and told him that we needed to pick out coordinating fabrics. I thought I would have to guide him through this process. It amazed me how he would look at a certain fabric and had the ability to see how the print would accent his main fabric.

 

3. “Where’s the Scissors Key?” During the course of sewing the quilt together, I upgraded from my 6500P to the 6700P.  I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have any concerns about him sewing on my new machine. Because of this, I put him in front of a basic sewing machine. His reaction was hilarious - “Where’s the scissors key? I can’t sew on this machine, Mom, it’s too basic!”

If you’re going to let your child sew on your top of the line sewing machine, don’t expect them to be happy if you downgrade them. Kids these days are wired differently. They can handle and expect all of the latest gadgets in whatever they do. Push buttons, automatic stitch selection and sewing shortcuts like a scissors key are as normal to them as breathing. If having these features makes them want to sew, then let them sew on your machine! It’s a Janome, it can take it.

4. Make sure you purchase extra fabric. There will be cutting and sewing mistakes, so be prepared to cut out extra strips, blocks etc. But, the main reason to buy extra fabric is because sewing is contagious. After we finished binding the quilt and laying it on his bed, my son realized that he needed coordinating curtains and a pillowcase. After sewing a quilt together, this was a piece of cake and he was able to do most of this on his own with a little cutting and sewing supervision from me. 

The opportunities to talk about the love of sewing came from his class at school.

During the week that we had sewn the first row of blocks together, he came home and told me that his class had made “math quilts”. These are basic printed quilt blocks on paper that have math problems in each section of the design. When they figure out the sum, a legend on the side told them what color to select to fill in the section. My son very proudly told his teacher that he was making a real quilt at home. Ms. Cruz was immediately interested and asked him if he could bring it in for show and tell. He very proudly took it to school that Friday.

Later on that month, I met with both of his teachers for Parent/Teacher conferences and had to prevent my buttons popping off my blouse because of how proud I was of him. His teachers told me how Bruce very calmly stood in front of his class and explained how math was used to measure and cut out the fabric so that it all matched up. I almost cried when they said that Bruce was bragging about how awesome I am and that I “can sew just about anything”. Before I left, I made arrangements with them to bring in the finished quilt for the big reveal.

5. If possible, use the opportunity to encourage other future sewists. I arrived at his school at 9:30am, quilt in hand. His fellow classmates were quite impressed with the finished quilt and I heard a wave of little voices saying, “That’s so cool”! We discussed the math of creating a quilt, how we designed it and what our favorite parts of making the quilt together. When Bruce said his favorite part of doing something with his Mom, “Awwww” was the overall response.  These smart little kids even noticed the quilting and likened it to Van Gogh’s, The Starry Night.

 

But, I think the absolutely best comment came from a little girl who said, “This is like making something in Minecraft, only you have something to show for your work when you’re done.”  

Together, my son and I planted a seed that day. I hope it takes root."

Thanks Regena for sharing this inspirational story with us and good luck to you and Bruce on the next sewing adventure!

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