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Posts Tagged ‘Sewing’

She is busily sewing away. Two days ago, she finished the top for her first table runner using 5″ fabric charms given to her by my father’s wife. She then insisted that I take her to the quilt shop so that she could spend the rest of her Christmas money on more fabric charms, and today she has completed a second one from beginning to end. She needs no supervision on my professional sewing machine. I trust her completely…well, almost. She really loves to sew. All she wants for her birthday, or for Christmas, is fabric. It is a joy to watch her. To date she has completed two lap quilts (pieced and quilted on the machine, complete with binding), a full length, fully lined cloak for herself, a dress and a lined jacket for her 18″ doll, and multiple little bags, pillows, and other things of her own creation. What amazes me is that she has done all this and has just turned 10 years old. My mother wouldn’t let me near the sewing machine until after I took my first sewing class in Jr. High School…9th grade. One of her older sisters likes to sew, but she was probably about 14 before she really began to sew. How did my youngest daughter get so proficient so young?

It’s not like I’ve spent hours and hours teaching her to sew, just a little here and there. “This is what you do next” in between whatever I was doing at the time. Nothing formal. Really, how did she become so proficient so young? I remember the first time that she sat at a sewing machine. I had been asked to help her group of little friends at church to make a little pencil pouch. I think she was almost, but not quite, 9 years old then. Each pencil pouch required four short straight seams and then they would sew on a button. I figured that was about all that 8-11 year old girls could handle. There were three of us moms there on hand to help each girl sew. The girls that I helped performed just as I expected. Very timid, and needing much help as I guided their small hands beside each short, straight seam. Much like the experience I observed with my first two daughters their first times at a sewing machine. Well, at this activity, my daughter ended up with another mom who commented to me that my daughter, unlike her peers, was not timid at all with the machine. She had no problem navigating the machine, keeping her seams straight, and keeping her fingers out of harms way. She went right to work and sewed each seam like a pro…like a fish to water. I watched her myself. She completed two pencil pouches that evening. She needed almost no help. She knew just what was needed and was as confident as though she had been sewing on a machine for years…yet this was also her first time at the machine.

I pondered over this. What was the difference? Surely people aren’t born with a “sewing gene”? As I thought it over, I think I have come upon the difference. With my first two girls, sewing was more of a rarity for me. My sewing machine had to be brought out and set up each time it was used. And then, because it was on the kitchen table, it had to be cleaned up and put away before the next meal. It was almost as much work getting everything ready to begin as it was doing the project itself. And so I didn’t do a lot of sewing. (This was also the case with my own mother. She never did have a space for a sewing machine to be set up at all times…nor did she really enjoy the process of sewing, but only did what was necessary for costumes, etc. Thus my first sewing experience was in a school sewing class at the age of 14.)

But the time came when I was able to find a space to have my machine set up and ready for use at all times. Sewing became a much more convenient…and much more frequent…occurrence in our home. And it is something that I too enjoy. In fact, just a couple of months before the activity that I described, I had sewn a quilt for my oldest daughter who was going away to college. …and this youngest daughter had sat with me and watched the whole process. Really, I don’t think she left my side at all as I made that quilt. Is that where she learned to sew so confidently? I think so…I think that she learned a lot more than I imagined just watching me. I wasn’t even trying to teach her. She just watched…and learned! And when she got the opportunity to sit down to a sewing machine, she knew just what to do!

How many other things do our children learn just by watching? I suspect that they learn far more from watching us than we ever dream.  And yet I hear some parents (upon hearing that I homeschool my children) say “I could never teach my own child.” Perhaps it is infinitely more easy than any of us can comprehend…when we just do what comes naturally.

Think about it. Children are said to learn more in the first 5 years of life than in all the years of the remaining years of their life combined, and yet we do virtually NO formal teaching during these early years (heaven forbid). Among many other things, they learn a whole language within a few short years…with NO formal education. They learn primarily…almost exclusively…by watching and listening, by mimicking their parents and the important people in their lives. I wonder if this may be one of the most effective ways that we as humans learn?

What other things have my children learned by watching me?

Be careful…someone is watching you!

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