Naomi has been priming her four-year-old daughter, Immy, for sewing since she began to speak. Recently they made this adorable pair of Sunny Day Shorts together. In this installment of our Sewn By Kids series, Naomi shares their mother-daughter sewing journey.
When I was little my mum taught me how to sew. I had a little sewing machine and I made duvet covers for my teddies, however it was knitting that really took off for me in adulthood.
Until I had my own child!
I bought a sewing machine when I was pregnant but, as so often happens, it stayed in a box until she was nearly one when I plucked up the courage and made her a Reversible Bucket Hat. This seemed to be the perfect time for me to get the sewing bug. She was just old enough to really start expressing an interest in the colors and fabrics I was using and I started running most of the fabric choices by her before I made anything. I’m fairly sure anyone with a toddler will know the feeling of despair when they decide that they don’t actually want to wear the item of clothing that you’ve spent hours making.
I attempted to make a duvet cover for her teddy with her when she was 2 1/2. I learnt the hard way that starting a project that actually needs some thought (she wanted a border round the edge, etc.) with a 2-year-old was not good idea, as neither of us were patient enough. It was a very frustrating afternoon, but we did manage to finish it at least.
When Immy was about 3, we made the Oliver + S Lazy Days Skirt together. She did some pinning and chose the fabric and ribbon. It’s a brilliant little pattern as the fabric is cut as a rectangle from selvage to salvage so the seam of the skirt doesn’t need to be finished. This project was promptly followed up by a skirt for her little sister and teddy!
We bought her a little second hand sewing machine for her 4th birthday: a second-hand mini Janome that the previous owner had thought was broken. My husband fixed the timing issue and I put the correct size bobbins in it and it’s brilliant, and pink!
Fast forward to April this year: Immy is now 4 1/2, and we talk about fabric types a lot. She always wants to know, “Is this jersey? Is this cotton?” She seemed ready to try another project from start to finish. This time we picked the Oliver + S Sunny Day Shorts. Once the bike material was picked, we then spent an hour going through the scrap bag working out the details. Did it need pockets (of course it did, stupid question!), did she want a contrast waistband, any decorations? She helped stick together the PDF pattern and trace the pieces (I did the majority and the cutting). She ironed the fabric with heavy supervision and then did a little of the rotary cutting. (I’ve since replaced all my rotary cutter blades and suspect she’d find it much easier to cut now.)
Immy then sewed all of the straight edges on her little sewing machine. I finished off the waistband and added the pockets and rick-rack. This was partly because we had run out of time in the afternoon that we had to sew them, and I think she just wanted them finished.
Because we have been discussing the sewing process since she could talk, she has really great little ideas for flair. She thought of the yellow piping on the pockets, which was a detail I’d added to a previous dress I’d made her. We also added secret contrast fabric in the pockets, and she wanted a square pocket on one side and a back pocket with a triangular bottom to it.
Between the two of us, we were then able to take her ideas and vision and make them a reality. I’m really looking forward to helping her develop as a sewer. She’s also taught me that there are many aspects to sewing that don’t actually involve running the fabric through a machine. These are perfect for children of all ages to get involved with.