I don’t remember when I learned how to sew. I know it must have been pretty young; my mother probably had me on her lap when she was working on projects, much as I’ve done with Toby. As you might guess, my love of sewing has been passed on to our son. He was thrilled to receive dinosaur sewing boards and colored sewing beads for gifts. He often pretends to sew or knit when I am doing so, and he absolutely loves to help use the sewing machine. I think Toby’s favorite part is putting in and removing pins. It’s a tie between that and using his scissors to cut things.
Sew Together, Grow Together (Book Review)
At any rate, I recently had the pleasure to review a lovely parent-child sewing activity book by Trixi Symonds of Coloured Buttons: Sew Together, Grow Together. Trixi’s book has an assortment of 20 whimsical creations that will capture any child’s fancy. The projects are designed for children as young as five, with the help of an adult (even one who doesn’t know a thing about sewing!).
Okay, so I know you’re thinking, “wait, you don’t have a 5 year old!” And you’re right. My son is just a toddler. But, he is interested in sewing and I figured this could be a work-together sewing activity for him. The projects are definitely age appropriate for the aforementioned age range, but if you’re comfortable sewing and helping a younger (interested) child through the creation process, I’d say, go for it!
A Child-Directed Sewing Activity
Toby and I perused the book, and while the white koala bear on the cover initially caught his eye, ultimately he settled on Floyd, the center green monster. A second project was selected for baby brother (still in utero) — but that’s a story for another day.
While I did guide him towards specific selections, ultimately all the decisions were Toby’s (yes, I gave options to make life easier for him). He chose the project, he decided what size to enlarge the pattern by (250% rather than 150%), he selected the fabric and embellishments too. A purple denim was chosen for the main body (probably because his cousin’s show riding outfit was made from the same color), and white muslin for the eyes and our first attempt at a mouth. Ultimately, we switched to embroidered features as it worked better that way.
Toby picked the colors:
- black and white eyes
- red for the mouth and outlining the eyes
- yellow eyebrows
- green hair
While this project is simple enough to be completed completely by hand, I have a sewing machine — and know that toddler attention spans can be limited. So, after cutting out the pattern pieces (I adapted it for placement on the fold), we sewed it together with our serger. Toby helped to turn it right side out, then helped me hand stitch some of the embellishments before bedtime. I completed the stitching for Floyd’s face that night, and got our supplies out for completion of the project the following morning.
In the morning, Toby was thrilled with the progress on Floyd. He was a big help adding rice for the arms and legs as well as stuffing for the main body. I let him decide how “huggable” Floyd should be (i.e. how much stuffing to add), then we sewed the final opening shut.
It was very gratifying to see how excited my son was to complete this sewing activity with me. While his age necessitated a little more “participation” on my part, Toby was so proud to show off Floyd — that HE made — to daddy that night. I have not heard such excited squeals of delight coming from him in a while.
Sewing Teaches Life Skills
The process of sewing is really vital, I think. It teaches skills that are useful for everyone, regardless of age or gender. And you end up with a tangible representation of your efforts. However imperfect — a hand-sewn creation is a labor of love. Sewing is a learning process, an activity that will be useful later on in life.
And, sewing is a creative outlet. You have a pattern, yes. But it’s there as a starting point. Once you get comfortable, you can depart from any pattern, making adaptations that please you. It’s part of the joy of sewing — making alterations as you see fit. I always joke that I work best when I’m not working from a pattern ;). But the truth is, when you get to more advanced sewing projects, alterations are often necessary on the fly. So, learning to depart from the pattern at a young age isn’t a bad thing at all.
Let your child think outside the box. Let creativity blossom. Allow for an alternate interpretation, and see where it takes you!
My Thoughts on Our Sewing Activity
Overall, I really enjoyed this sewing activity. I know my toddler did too. While we only completed this one project for the purposes of the book review, I did skim through the others and found them to be of a similar skill level. These creations truly are feasible for someone with minimal or no sewing experience to tackle.
The book layout is designed cleanly, with a visual table of contents and large photos for each sewing activity. Perfect for helping young children decide what creation to tackle! I found the directions to be very easy to follow, and appreciated the simplicity of the numbered list step-by-step breakdown of the project.
Overall, the sewing activity was a big success, and I think we’ll be creating more from this book in coming months (as time allows, of course!).
Sew Together, Grow Together can be purchased through Trixi’s Etsy shop, either in physical book form or PDF format. While I typically am a fan of physical books, I enjoyed how easy it was to print out the pattern and instructions from the PDF, a departure from the norm of having to photocopy a pattern from the book.
Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. The opinions expressed in this post are my own.
Sewing Activity – Gallery of Snapshots
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