Teaching a child to sew – A Grandmother’s Tale – Part 1

Several years ago, I promised grand-daughter Luci that I would buy her a sewing machine and teach her to sew … when I retired.

It’s hard to imagine what was going through my head at the time.  Luci was not quite 4 years old, had a fascination with all things Martha Stewart and labored under the belief that I could sew.  I figured I was years away from retirement and that Luci would probably forget this easily made promise.

Here’s the rub.  I really don’t sew anymore.   Not what you would call sewing.  I haven’t really sewn since thread came on wooden spools.

My sisters, both of them, are amazing seamstresses.  Cathy makes (for example) stunning bias cut skirts for herself and creative costumes and outfits for her grandchildren.  Karen makes (for example) intricate and beautiful costumes for the theatre and puts in french seams for her grandchildren’s doll clothes.

I don’t do that.

In fact, this is what I was sewing for Luci, Kevin and Carson when Luci extracted the sewing machine (and lessons) promise from me.   (I guarantee, there were no french seams).

Being loving grandchildren, they all thought it was amazing that I could make these shirts.  (They also laugh at my jokes, think I can sing and would like me to publish my bed-time stories.  That is the beauty of grandchildren).

Luci turned 7 this week and guess what I am doing at the end of the month?  Yes, you guessed it.  After 20 years, I am retiring from my current job.   Guess who remembered the promise about the sewing machine and lessons?  Yes, you guessed it.  Darling Luci.

I’ve had several months to think about this, so naturally I waited until the last minute to organize Luci’s gift and put together the sewing lessons.  Fortunately, her birthday is close enough to my retirement date that I can get this for her as a birthday present and not feel like I also have to get eight more for the other grand-kids.   Nine sewing machines would be a bit excessive.  Even for me.

Soon we will be heading down to deliver Luci’s gift (and give her the first sewing lesson).  I’ll be sure to fill you in on the lessons and the progress, but thought I’d share a bit of the pre-planning first.   (Suggestions are more than welcome).

First, the sewing machine.  After extensive research, I was convinced that I needed to get Luci an actual sewing machine.  According to the pros (other Moms and Grandmas) toy machines serve only to frustrate and break easily.

I decided to get a basic Singer (Overstock has some great deals).  It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles (which can frustrate both teacher and student), seems to have an easy threading path, has a variable speed foot peddle and drop in bobbin.  (Notice how professional I sound when talking about the attributes of the sewing machine?  I really only understood the word easy).

If I’m being honest, the real reason I bought the machine was due to the Martha Stewart endorsement.   If all else fails, I can always blame Martha….

Evidently, I also needed to get thread for the machine.  I sort of thought I could use the old spools I had been keeping in an antique thread cabinet.  Evidently not.

Take a look at the new-fangled thread!!!  Long cylindrical looking things.  And such colors!!!  Every color of the rainbow.  Who needs white and black thread when you can get so many other colors!!

I’m feeling pretty comfortable with what we have so far.  Tomorrow, I’ll put together a sewing kit for Luci.  I was going to just give her the one I use when I travel…..

….but I don’t think this is what she had in mind.


Category: Teaching a Child to Sew, What will we do today?
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