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….. Making pretty things
….. Simple living
….. Growing a family

Three children (17, 15, 13)*** Two parents *** one dog *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That’s us!

We’ve been blogging since January 2010, about everyday happenings that bring us joy.

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children machine sewing

Sky Quilt – a teen project

It’s finished. Middle Teen has finished her first quilt. I’m so pleased with how it has turned out, but far more importantly, she loves it. It’s her quilt. Apart from the odd pointer from me, she’s just got on and made it all by herself. Transferring the skills she learnt while making her patchwork tote and cushion.

I love her choice of fabric. This is a girl who dreams of flying. I don’t just mean that she wants to fly, but she also wakes up, on a regular basis, from dreams where she is flying. A quilt made of images of hot air balloons and space seems even more of a perfect choice to snuggle under, while dreaming her dreams.

(photo from 2012)

The project

Selection of the fabric and cutting out happened back in 2012. She was eight. I took her to a local fabric shop and gave her full rein. She chose hot air balloons, cosmic images and flags fluttering in the sky, along with a blue to break it up.

After cutting out the squares, she spent ages playing with the arrangement.

Then the project was put aside to gather dust.

Move on to 2017 and she dug out my old hand-cranked Singer sewing machine, to sew the patches together. She was pleased with the arrangement and enjoyed stitching them. The slow rhythm of the manual sewing machine is something every person, who sews or not, should experience at least once. Good sewing therapy.

Anyway, then the project was put aside again to gather dust. (Not literally. She did store it in a box)

Time shift to early 2019. She’s 15. I gave her a piece of wadding and an old duvet cover for a backing fabric, which she duly sandwiched together.

Slight pause. Dust bunnies formed and multiplied….

This holiday, I encouraged her to finish it. Partly because I needed my curved safety pins back which she’d used to pin it all together. Out came the old Singer sewing machine, once more. It really is a good machine for quilting. She sewed in the ditch, which basically means where two squares meet.

She was on a roll now. Using the backing fabric, folded over to the front, she made the binding. She even figured out how to do mitred edges for the corners, which I was hugely impressed by.

Quick, light press of the fabric and it was done. My funny, gorgeous girl had finished her quilt. Several years may have elapsed, but I really do believe she tackled each stage, when she was ready for it.

She’s starting her Textiles GCSE course this September. I hope finishing this quilt will give her just that little bit more confidence to take on any project. I want her to fly. I want her to believe that she is capable of anything, because she is. Oh, yes. My girl can do it. There is no doubt.

An independent owl

making an owl softie 5“I’d like to do some sewing.”

I cannot lie. I do love that sentence. Especially when it is said by one of my children. For a split moment, I’m tempted to suggest all sorts of fun sewing projects, but I don’t.

“What would you like to sew?”

making an owl softie 2“I don’t know.”

She wanders away.

Darn. Have I missed my opportunity to encourage her? I should have said something else.

A few minutes later, she returns with a book. Phew. She was just checking out which book to use from our rather large library of beginner’s sewing. I’m impressed that she selected one so quicky. It usually takes me longer. I’ve been known to take all evening and still not decide. Continue reading

He made a cushion

the boy made a cushionThis may look like a cushion, but to me it represents a lot more.

As the children get older they ask less and less for craft activities. They don’t seem to rush for a place at the table so often when I suggest making something.  I miss some of the fun projects we’ve created together. I miss the enthusiasm and the way the projects never turned out as I imagined. Usually morphing into something more wonderful. More them.

Other interests take priority. When they are creative, they opt for their own ideas. Other influences. That’s fine. Occasionally someone will ask me to teach them how to knit or sew, but these requests are getting fewer and fewer. I don’t push. It is up to them.

pinning cushion together

So when one turns to me and says that he’d like to make a cushion and can he use the sewing machine for the first time….it harks back to the former days of making traffic cones or dragonflies. Be still my beating heart. I suggest embellishments. Not this time. I suggest fabric. Not this time. And no, he doesn’t want to add anything to it, to make it into a monster.

This time, it is all his idea. All I’m needed for is guidance with the sewing machine. Still. I’m involved and that’s good. Right?

I love that even when I show him how to pin the two layers together with the pins going towards the edge, he adds his own flair. The pins must make a pattern, even if they are temporary.

sewing his cushionI showed him how to tack the layers together, so he wouldn’t have to dodge pins while machine sewing his cushion, or risk losing an eye as the pins or needles, or both, shatter on contact. It may be melodramatic, but at this point, he agreed to learn how to tack.

I smiled quietly when I realised that his grass stained knee, with mandatory hole, had made it into the picture. It shouts that he may be sewing but he is still the boy that likes to climb trees and skid along the grass. He can do it all.

stuffing the cushionThere was also time to play with the stuffing. I now have numerous photos of the children using it to sport fuzzy moustaches and beards that touched their chests. Not forgetting eyebrows and cushion-cover hats, that finished off the look. By the end, they looked like they were auditioning for a bit part in the Hobbit.

The sewing machine stage went without a hitch despite my reservations. A different experience to teaching the two older children. This time, I did keep one hand hovering over the off switch. Not that I needed it, but I know that he doesn’t always stop when I tell him to. Better to be on the safe side.the boy's finished homemade cushionThe project was very simple. It was the perfect vehicle to learn a few new skills, and now he has the cushion he wanted for his reading nook. He wants to make more. We’ll pick up a few cushion pads next time we’re in town. Maybe I can show him how to make an envelope cushion cover. If he’d like to.

And what have I learnt? I might be putting them off by pushing my own creative ideas on to them. I have a tendency to leap ahead to complicated projects and I expect others to be the same. As a teen, I learnt to knit by knitting an aran jumper with cable twists (still wear it). At the age of 9, I learnt to dressmake by making smocking dresses for my dolls. Anything else would have been boring. To me. Why walk when you can run, seems to be my creative motto when learning new skills.the boy made a cushion 2

I need to realise that my children are not me. As they grow more independent, they might quite like simpler or different projects where they can master the skill and also produce something to be proud of. They don’t need to add bells and whistles. They may want to focus on a different aspect to me. Their own creativity.

I need to remember to take a step back.

Do you know what? That is fine with me.


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