On sewing with kids and making it up as you go.

Kids are needy. There’s no easy way to put it. They constantly need things, like lunch and dinner, baths and help finding their shoes (Really? Didn’t you just wear them this morning?). So, when they start asking for more, for things beyond their biological need for survival, it gets overwhelming.

Let me explain. I’m sitting at the table, trying to catch up on some work (okay, Facebook), and my oldest comes up to me and asks, “Mami, when are you gonna teach me to sew?” Ugh. I automatically get that sinking feeling I’m failing as a mother because it’s not the first time he asks me this question. It all started a few months ago, when he first asked, but like with most initial requests from my kids, I ignored him.

No, I’m not mean, but can you imagine if I chased after every whim my kids come to me with? I have four you know – “ignoring” is sort of like a first-layer to filter out all empty requests. Plus, I needed time to get ready. I’d need to create a Pinterest board and spend a minimum of 45 minutes pinning ideas, then find several blogs and books on the topic, look for the perfect kid-friendly project for him, find the proper kid-friendly needle and thread. I mean, one does not just teach a kid how to sew.

The funny thing is that I don’t know how to sew. I mean, I can sew a button if I have to, but if I need to hem a pair of pants, I’m more likely to reach for a handful of safety pins (yes, I actually do this) than for my needle and thread. And, while I do own a sewing machine because I was convinced I’d be making cute dresses and costumes for my little girl like my bestie does, I’ve used it twice.

Now, back to that sinking feeling I get when failing as a mother. A few days later I was clearing out some boxes in the garage due to hubby’s obsession with wanting to use our garage to actually park our cars in it. As I unpacked one box, I came across an old sewing kit, that judging by the contents of the box, was approaching vintage status.

My son later saw it and automatically asked, “Mami, when are you gonna teach me how to sew?” Not now, I’m busy going through these boxes. Plus, I still needed to do that Pinterest board, and find kid-friendly projects. I wasn’t ready.

The sewing kit roamed through the house for a few days, and the asking increased. I now found myself being barraged daily with the “Mami, when are you gonna teach me how to sew” that had not just increased in frequency, but had also spread over to his brothers like a bad virus.

So I caved in one night, and went rogue. With absolutely no plan in hand, no kid-friendly projects in mind, I pulled a few scraps of fabric I’d been hoarding saving in a bin for that slight possibility that perhaps, one day we would do a sewing project, and cut a very intricate pattern that looked similar to the image below. I showed him how to thread the needle, modeled a simple stitch pattern, which I now know is called a “running” stitch, and then let him try it.


Intricate pattern.

As he sewed up the sides, it occurred to me that we could put something inside, maybe rocks or pebbles. My 7 year old, who was now sitting watching his brother and asking “When are you gonna teach me, mami?”, suggested beans. Duh, why didn’t I think of that? And so, bean bags were made.


I learned a lot that night. Sometimes my kids ask to do things that I feel require more than I can give at the time, and so I put it off until I’m ready. But it turns out you can just teach a kid how to sew, and not every thing has to be fully planned out and Pinterest-perfect. Actually, most things don’t have to. Most times, making it up as you go, works just fine and perhaps even better. My oldest even said at one point that it would be cool to one day make his own clothes. Hello, Ralph Lauren?

I have since created that Sewing with Kids Pinterest board, and have looked up a few books to help teach them how to sew. I found one book I particularly like, See and Sew: A Sewing Book for Children by Tina Davis. It’s nicely set up, very simple to use and I know my boys can follow it along with little hand-holding from me.

Most of all, though, I’m embracing my new mindset of being okay with making it up as I go. Today we’ll conquer sewing, tomorrow that flame thrower they’ve been bugging me about.


Notice someone not holding a bean bag? Yes, I still have one left to go! (Side Note: Bonus points to whomever can point out the funny in this pic. Gotta love living with boys!).


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