As someone relatively new to sewing I initially presumed it was a lonely hobby, however I have been pleasantly surprised by the community of sewers that exist - online, friends you didn’t know were a dab hand with a sewing machine and new friends I’ve made through classes, workshops and sewing groups. I love nothing more than chatting through a pattern that you’re both making and sharing ideas and tips. I think keeping things as ‘sewcial’ as possible adds to the fun and enjoyment of the overall sewing process, plus you might learn a few things from each other.
I was keen to develop a way to spend time with family members whilst also incorporating sewing. Sneeky, you say! In theory it was a little, but in reality it wasn’t all plain sailing.
I began a sew-along with Mum (via facetime as she lives in the UK.) We picked out the new Zoe dress from Sew Over It London and agreed that we both liked it (shock horror). As Mum’s so far away and is currently going through fairly intensive chemotherapy I thought it would be nice to attempt this as a sew along together. Fortunately she was well enough to ‘sew along’ and I think it served as a nice distraction from all the other stuff going on.
I sewcialised with mum over a two week period. We began by both picking out some fabric, me a jazzy pink floral number and Mum some mid-weight denim. We began by making the dress in calico. This stage was a little more challenging, but so much easier and less disheartening when there’s two heads on the problem. Mum’s pretty much fitted her out of the packet, yay for being 5’2”. I on the other hand had a few issues with my bust dart.
With a bit of discussion with my sewing teacher I decided I needed more length between the bottom of the armscye and the bust - adding 2cm here meant that the bust point ended exactly where it should - phew. I decided to put this down to height rather than droopy/post-breastfeeding boobs… go with me on this. We also found that the sewing of the french dart (something neither of us had much experience with) needed careful precision sewing. Que the ‘Reader’s Digest Complete Guide To Sewing’ book which looks old fashioned, but was one of the only places we found such good instructions on how to sew a french dart. This combined with stitching on the fold with small stitches to the dart point gave us the result we wanted.
The whole process was really enjoyable for both of us. Yes the time difference did throw a bit of a spanner in the works and it would have been great to actually sew and pin for each other in the same room, but you have to work with what you have. I think both of us would happily do this again, if we ever manage to agree on a pattern! The learning curve felt steeper and more cemented somehow when working with someone. When you can chat about things: the fit, sewing tips and tricks, it seems less daunting and it was fun to problem solve together.
Experience number 2 - Que Sewcilising with my 4 year old. And this is the one I was most nervous about… who in their right mind would let a just 4 year old loose with a motorised needle and pins, me, that‘s who. She’s been keen to sew with me for ages and we’ve made her cuddly bunny an elasticated skirt a few times (queue sigh of boredom), but I think we were both ready to take the next step. I invested in one of those massive 18” dolls from Kmart and picked up a few doll sewing patterns and decided to give it a whirl.
So we started well, she was super excited although I was a bit apprehensive that she was getting access to my sharp scissors and needles. I prepared the pattern pieces and she gave it her best at pinning them on to the fabric but naturally needed a little help from me. Now for sharp scissors, err whose idea was this?! This was bit hairier … I mean as a sewist you understand the need for precision and accuracy - well that quickly went out of the window! Seriously who thought this was a good idea?! Cutting complete, by this point Miss 4 is asking me ‘ when are we going to do the sewing mummy?’, ‘mummy I think I need a snack’, ‘can I sew now?’, ‘can I cut THIS?’, ‘I need a wee’, ‘is this sharp’… you get the idea. I realised I’d pretty much lost her and that sewing had to happen quickly. She sat on my lap, took out the pins and helped me guide the fabric through the machine. However she’d reached her concentration limit. It was time for a break and she was happily already drawing a picture.
We gave it a week and we were back again. Since last time I’d added the collar sans four year old. - that was one part that she wasn’t going to enjoy. It turned out to be a bit hotch-potch due to the dodgy cutting previously mentioned, but it went on well enough (the doll wasn’t going to complain). I’d learnt my lesson after last time and we got to sewing quickly. I realised a few techniques for keeping her interested a bit longer. It mainly involved putting pins back and pressing buttons on my machine, ok and one small chocolate ball, who said bribery isn’t a good parenting technique. Like last time her attention wavered after about half an hour and so I finished the dress off. She was super pleased with the out come and I think she enjoyed sewing with me. However for my four year old it was definitely more about the end result; a dress for Portia the doll than the process of sewing with mummy.
Did I enjoy the process of sewing with my daughter - err... honestly not as much as I thought I would. It wasn’t the beautiful mother daughter experience I wanted it to be. Will I continue sewing with my daughter/s - absolutely because you have to start somewhere and I hope that one day we might all sew together. Four is young to sew, young but not impossible and I figure it might be paving the way for future sewing adventures together. My girls haven’t got the memo yet (they are 4 and 2), but they are going to love sewing with their Mumma and they most definitely won’t be moving to the other side of the world and leaving me behind (who’d be so selfish as to do that?!).
So Sewcialising would I recommend it?! Absolutely! Share the love of sewing!
Sewing with mum was an altogether enjoyable experience, that I’d gladly re-create and recommend to anyone. Hopefully next time we’ll do it when Mum comes to stay, we can be in the same room and fitting won’t consist of dodgy bathroom selfies!! Sewing with children does take a bit more hard yards, hair pulling and general frustration (when they’re 4 at least) but I like to think of it as an investment for later on when they will be a dab hand with a sewing machine.
DISCLAIMER: I feel that kiddie safety is worth a mention here. Although My little Miss did get access to pins, scissors and motorised needles, it was in a very managed situation. I held the scissors and she helped by adding pressure from the handles, all little fingers were firmly away from the blades. When sewing she sat on my lap whilst I controlled the foot pedal and I held her hands to help her get the idea of feeding the fabric. At no time was she just left to sew merrily along. She did get access to the pins, but in a house where sewing is an everyday occurrence pins are just part and parcel of life anyway (a magnet on a string is an absolute life and foot saver!!).