My daughter is a maker by nature. She makes at least one piece of art daily and if her artwork is a gift, she fashions an envelope to put it in. When she is outside, she weaves twigs and leaves into boats or she makes homes and yards for her rolly polly friends. She is happy for hours creating with paper, tape, glue, and yarn.
She started asking me to teach her to sew when she was three and I would reply that I thought a girl had to be six before she knew how to sew and then I would tell her about the dangers of sharp needles.
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Mostly, I hoped that she wouldn't want to learn to sew when she turned six, because I really didn't know how to sew myself. My inability to sew can be attributed to a lack of Home Ec requirements in school and a mom who didn't really like to sew herself. My husband was the button sewer and stuffed animal doctor in our house because he had Home Ec and a mom who was very talented at sewing. Two months ago, I could thread a needle and sew a clumsy running stitch. Those were the only skills that I brought to the table when I decided to teach my girl to sew.
When I began asking around about teaching my daughter to sew, someone recommended Sewing School: 21 Sewing Projects Kids Will Love to Make, I checked it out on Amazon and bought it.
Sewing School was one of the best investments I have made in a long time. My daughter fell in love with the book the minute she saw it and immediately asked to write her name in it ...with a permanent marker. That girl knows how to make sure a book is not taken back to the store.
She was so sad that she couldn't start with a project right that very minute because I didn't have the right sized needle and thread that were recommended for the small hands of kids. But that turned out to be a blessing because it did give us time to read the preliminary sections together we could go over the very important rules of sewing, like always know where your needle is and be careful of people around you!
When we did gather our materials, we started with a project or two a day. Since, I don't know much about sewing, I have been doing every project alongside of her. I've been impressed that every project in the book has been useful for work or for play. The first two projects we did, a needle book and pincushion, that we use for future sewing projects. After the first two projects, we made a quiet mouse and pillow, which she uses for play.
We have also made a doll's skirt, a small drawstring pouch, a couple of pillows where she designed the pattern, and many, many more quiet mice.
So far we have only done hand sewing projects, because we don't own a sewing machine. Luckily for us, most of the projects in this book are hand sewing projects. The sequel to Sewing School is mainly projects that require a sewing machine. Someday, when she's ready for a sewing machine, I'll get her Sewing School 2 to go along with it.
Sewing School has taught us everything we need to know. We have learned how to do a running stitch and whip stitch, how to use a needle threader, how to make a bobbin, how to sew two kinds of buttons on, how to add embellishments, how to sew a casing, and how to stuff a toy or pillow.
(One thing that Sewing School doesn't teach as well as my husband taught me is how to tie off a knot at the end of a project. This video will help you tie a knot right where you want it to be.)
What You Absolutely Need to Get Started with Sewing School
What you have in you sewing box may not be appropriate for little hands. These are the materials mentioned in the book that I had to gather together or purchase to get started teaching my daughter and myself to sew:
Chenille Size 22 Sharp Point Needles
Lo Ran Needle Threaders
A Selection of Felt Pieces
Some Fabric (I like buyingpre-coordinated quarter samples)
A Small Pair of Scissors for your child and a Large Pair for you
Of course, don't forget to buy the book: Sewing School: 21 Sewing Projects Kids Will Love to Make
One thing that was not mentioned in the what to buy section of the book that we have used a lot is a bag of stuffing! My daughter loves stuffing pillows and small toys! Another thing you may want to purchase is a bag of cute buttons.
I'm So Glad I Taught My Daughter to Sew
We both have a lot to learn when it comes to sewing and I hope that someday the student surpasses the teacher. I had a little conversation with my daughter that made me very, very happy that I took the time to teach my daughter to sew:
"Mom, do you know why I like to sew so much?"
"No, Sweetie, why?"
"Because when I sew, I feel proud."
Thank you for reading!
You May Also Enjoy
I'm working on reading a book a week for this year and last month, I only read three, so I came up a bit short. Thankfully, summer is around the corner and summer is for catching up on book goals.
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The Great Divorce by CS Lewis
I started The Great Divorce because I didn't have anything on hand to read one evening and it was a part of a CS Lewis collection that I owned. Since I hadn't heard much about The Great Divorce, I didn't really know what to expect. Boy was I floored, because it was a fascinating book about heaven and hell and the choices that we make that lead us to one final destination or the other. If you've ever heard the reference to CS Lewis stating that souls that go to hell, choose to go there...this is the book it was probably from.
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
I first read The Hobbit over 20 years ago because a friend recommended it and I had been meaning to pick it up again for quite a while because the plot of the movies seemed a bit disjointed in certain parts. Oh, eagles just happened to come along and save our heroes from the trolls. Since, I didn't remember events happening quite so randomly in the book, so I went back to read it and everything in the movies made much more sense. Not to mention that the Hobbit is a delightful read and I have a greater appreciation for the symbolism, wisdom, and humor more now than I remember having 20 years ago. I will be reading the Lord of the Rings series next. Even though I didn't appreciate LOTR as well as many people do on my first read through, I think it's the kind of book that gets better with a reread .
I think I may encourage my oldest son to read The Hobbit this summer in exchange for letting him watch the movie version on his own some lazy week this summer..
Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry
I have only been recently introduced to Wendell Berry's work. So far I've read some of his essays and poetry. I've also read Nathan Coulter, Remembering, and Hannah Coulter. This month I read Jayber Crow, and so far Jayber Crow has been my favorite of Berry's novels. Wendell Berry writes poignantly about the transition from traditional lifestyles to modern lifestyles. His heroes and heroines learn the hard way that progress really isn't all that it's cracked up to be and they have to fight back against modernity to find that balance of life where they can be truly human.
I appreciated the medieval references in Jayber Crow: his life's journey was compared to Dante's Divine Comedy and he had a love for a married woman that was pure and chaste, much like the courtly love of knights for the queens, princesses, and ladies they served.
What books have you read recently? Do you have any book recommendations for me for next month?
A few weeks ago, I wrote about why knowledge matters. Today, I am following up that post with a few thoughts on how we can build our understanding in any subject. You won't believe how incredibly simple it is to build expertise!
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How to Build Knowledge in ANY Subject, Drum Roll Please...
You can build knowledge on any topic by reading more than one book about it.
What that's it! You say. You don't need to write a blog post on that!
Yes, I know, but how often do we set out to actually learn something new in our fast paced society? If we get in a fix, we can always just Google it, right? If you read to the end, you will see how having knowledge on any topic is actually really helpful in navigating our quickly changing society. But for now, think about how reading a few books can grow your knowledge base:
If you read three Jane Austen novels, you will be able to have a smart conversation with any Jane Austen aficionado.
If you read a book on both sides of a scientific debate debate, you will be able to see the weakness and strengths of both sides of the argument. Then when an expert makes an expert comment, you will actually be able to judge the validity of what he says instead of going with the theory that you've heard the most or uncomfortably accepting whatever the experts tells you.
Read three books on any history topic and you'll probably be the only expert on that topic in the room at the next social gathering you go to.
Case Study: How My Knowledge About WWII Exploded
Lately, I've become much more knowledgeable about World War II without intending to study the topic at all. In fact most of my life, I've avoided any books or movies about World War II because I knew enough about the war and myself to know that I wasn't ready to look that kind of evil in the eye.
But then I read The Book Thief and even though it was fiction, I was touched by the heroism of the Germans who quietly defied the Nazi party despite the incredible hardship of living in Germany during WWII. I learned about the day to day life of the typical German family, the the cloud of fear they lived under, and the little acts of defiance they did that kept them from being swept away with the dehumanizing evil of the Nazi regime.
After that I picked up Monuments Men from the library because I saw the movie and from the book I learned about a side of the war that I knew nothing about. I had no idea that Hitler was systematically looting the art treasures of the nations for his own super museum, nor did I know he planned to destroy them all if he lost.
Another novel that I read on vacation gave insight into the role of journalists during the war a life in the army camps and yet another book taught me about a heroic band of rustic shepherds and peasants from Crete who held off a highly trained and heavily armed Nazi invasion. I also read part of a biography where I learned about the years before World War II in my home state of California and a bit of the war with Japan. I unfortunately didn't finish the book because it was giving me nightmares, but I was intrigued to learn that some of the toxic philosophies about race that fueled the Nazis worst crimes, were also influential in the United States. When I read a Pulitzer Prize winning novel about World War II, I was standing on familiar ground.
And all of a sudden I realized that my understanding of World War II stretched far beyond Anne Frank and whatever cold, hard facts my high school history teacher taught us. I was more well rounded an an area of knowledge where previously there had only been a few threads of understanding holding together a loose collection of facts. And surprisingly, I didn't have to read a bunch of dry, academic works. All of these books were living books. Books with soul.
Why Does Knowing About World War II Even Matter?
How does this thread of knowledge and understanding help me now, 70 years after the close of World War II?
First of all, some things should never be forgotten.
Secondly, walking through another time period and seeing it through a variety of other people's eyes keeps me from being nearsighted about my own life and time.
Finally, knowing about the past helps me see the present with discerning eyes. Here are a few instances of how knowing about World War II helps me evaluate our present culture:
Learning about Nazi propaganda teaches me that well crafted images and words can sway a public that is taught to be literate, but not taught how to think and discern. Slick advertising images, social media, and hashtags are huge influences. Unfortunately, anyone can make an infographic that looks legit or a meme that misquotes Einstein. We all know how to check sources and do our own research, but how many of us do?
Reading about how the pre-World War II Germans trained a generation of schoolchildren and then turned them into willing soldiers and executioners makes me wary of our public school system. The teachers weren't evil, they were just training kids in the philosophy of the day and doing what they thought was best based on what they knew. Since the curriculum was determined by state departments and not communities, kids were coming of age with values very different from the values of their parents. The values and behavior of the nation changed and it led to a moral break with devastating consequences.
Reading about the philosophical influences and social movements that lead up to the rise of the Third Reich makes me wary about the influences on my society. Whether a philosophy is far left or far right politically, it isn't safe taken to its fullest extreme. This worries me because America doesn't seem to practice moderation lately.
Finally, it is scary how the German people slowly were backed into a corner that they couldn't get out of without devastating effects. They wanted to live their lives and not cause trouble, so as their government slowly pushed pushed boundaries and took power. In short, they acted how I would act. I would have minded my own business and tried to manage my own home well. I would have sighed and hoped the evil I saw before me would pass or that someone would fight my battles for me. But when many people backed in a corner start defying the system in small ways, the system weakens.
That is an important lesson to know.
For Further Reading