Monday, June 26, 2006

The First Project

The Cutting Marathon was a the time I put everything away on Saturday, 10 garments' worth of fabric...15.5 yards...had crossed the table. In addition to the projects listed Saturday morning, I also cut out La Fred's Athena Blouse from some nice olive green handkercheif linen, and one of Sandra Betzina's early Vogue Today's Fit tops (the assymetric one w/the cut on sleeves; the number escapes me at the moment) from a green poly/rayon jacquard. But the big project of the day was DD2's (age 9) First Project.

Her brother had been off at camp all week; she'd watched TV and played her Gameboy until she was tired of it, and as I was cutting Friday she found my scrap pile and began collecting the pieces, laying them out on the floor in odd patterns and trying to figure out what she could make for Molly (her American Girl doll) from them. I suggested that we find a pattern and some fabric on Saturday and she could make herself a skirt. She was really surprised that I suggested that, but she is the same age I was when I made that 4-H apron so I felt like she could probably manage a simple skirt, if I did the tricky parts.

The next day, before I was even properly wakened by my coffee, she was at my elbow. "Mom? Remember? Me? Sewing?" (Big grin).

So, we went through the pattern stash and picked out two patterns that were possibilities, had breakfast, then went up to the fabric stash in the attic. I pulled out three pieces of drapey fabric, and she picked the black-floral-on-pink rayon challis. Back downstairs, she decided a longer skirt would be easier to live in and picked Simplicity 5484's pointy-hem a-line skirt over a New Look knee-length yoked circle skirt.

First, she had to trace the pattern. She's a size 10 Slim in RTW, but when we measured the pattern and checked her measurements, it was pretty apparent that the size 7 would work for her. So I showed her how to trace it (there was only one pattern piece). After she traced it, I checked her work then she cut it out. I laid out the fabric for her...challis can be really tricky to get square, and this needed the selvedges folded into the center, so she had two folds. Then, I showed her how to pin on the pattern, and she cut it once. Then, she pinned the other side; I checked her pinning and ok'd her to cut out that side.

Suddenly, though, it hit me that this child had never operated a sewing machine. Ooops, Mom, better give her some practice. So I had her stitch w/an unthreaded needle on paper for a while, practicing going back and forth on the blue lines on a common sheet of notebook paper. Then I had her practice stitching 5/8" from the edge of a stack of strips of used computer paper (I stuck a small stack of post-it notes on the 5/8" seam line to help her see where she needed to stitch). Finally, I cut some more used computer paper into curves and had her practice stitching 5/8" from the edge on the curves (both concave and convex). Then we threaded the machine and I let her sew some practice seams on scraps. I didn't have her use the serger; just like I didn't have her use the rotary cutter to cut it out...I think she needs to get the eye-hand coordination thing working better first. So, after she sewed the seams and pressed them, I had her go back and zig-zag the edges to prevent raveling. When she'd done that reasonably well, I gave her the skirt.

She did get a little frustrated and tired, and at one point while zig-zagging she caught the skirt under the seam (good thing she wasn't on the serger...). I did her ripping for her, thinking it was more important that she have a wearable garment fairly quickly than to learn the details on ripping...which I'm sure she'll have plenty of opportunity to practice anyway...and I did do the tricky parts (pointy hem and elastic casing) for her. But she did have a skirt by the middle of the afternoon, and she's already talking about wanting to sew some I guess the experiment was a success. ;)

Here's the reveiw, if you want to see the finished product!


  1. Enjoyed reading about the sewing session with your daughter. My grandmother taught me to sew at approximately your daughter's age and we sewed together until her death. My love of sewing was born from hers. I hope you two have many more wonderful times together.

  2. The best part of the whole experience will be when you realize you are creating a sewing buddy:)

  3. Oh Lisa ~ how proud you must have felt when you saw the look on her face when the skirt was finished! Before you know it she will be a teenager with her own sewing machine and fabric & pattern stash!

  4. Aw, it's so cute too!! Dd is 9 too...on Friday anyway. She's dying to sew something "real". Perfect project this summer while I'm home with her.


  5. Must be the quilter in me, but I could cut up all my fabric (well, it would take a few months. . .). My problem is later making the time to sew it up, before all the pieces get mixed up. Nice story about teaching your daughter to sew. I've been doing the same here, in fits and starts.