Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Lily and Lex' (and Josiah) at the machine

the girls felt sufficiently ready for real projects.

They wanted to make gifts for the baby shower
for their new cousin.

Wednesday night
(having no clue I was going to let her use the machine the next day!)
Lily couldn't sleep
so she made a pattern.

She cut an elephant from a scrap of backing fabric
and enlarged it a little with the printer.
Then she traced it, using her lightbox
so that we were only using printer ink for the outline,
 and not the entire body of the elephant.

We attempted enlarging it again,
but had troubles,
so she had Brandon help her in the morning.

After school work
and the sewing lessons,
Lily chose her fabric.

She wondered what she should use for ears.
I suggested she could just draw them on,
and she looked at me as if I'd lost my mind.
So I suggested  that she could use wool felt
for ears that would stick out.
She was much happier with that idea.

I cut 2 rectangles of fabric for her 
that would easily fit her pattern.

Then she determined where the ears would go,
and I told her how to iron on interfacing
and why she'd want to use it there.

When her interfacing was fused,
she traced her pattern onto the fabric using a friXion pen.

Then I pinned one of the ears on, after she determined exactly where it should go
and she sewed it on using a zig zag stitch set to 4 for width and .5 for length.

Matching up the right sides of fabric, she positioned the other ear
directly opposite the first.
I pinned it,
and Lily sewed it on.

After sewing the second ear,
we lined up the rectangles, matching the ears,
and she placed pins in several places to keep her fabrics from shifting.
She sewed along her pattern line,
leaving an opening for turning.
This was when she learned
about locking stitches.

I drew a second line about 3/8 inch away from her stitching line
to give her a guide for cutting out the elephant.
And after she got it cut out,
we talked about peaks and valleys and snipping in to your seam allowance.
She wasn't comfortable with that part, so I did it for her.

Then she pressed it, 
first folding over her opening to create a line for sewing it shut.
This also removed all traces of the pen.
She turned her elephant right side out
and used a chopstick to help poke out the fiddly parts,
then she stuffed it
and by the time daddy got home,
she had an elephant with a camel hump.

Friday morning, she learned how to sew secret small stitches
to close up her opening.

Her gift was finished!
Then she wanted to make something for Hadley...

Lexi was content to practice Thursday
(when Lily wasn't using the machine),
but first thing Friday morning,
she was ready to get going on her gift.

She wanted to make a bib,
- of course -
she wasn't going to just use 2 fabrics,
she had to piece the front.
So she took leftover quilt squares and chose 20 of them
and laid them out in a 4x5 arrangement.

I did the pinning for her
(just one pin in the center of the square to keep the 2 layers together)
 but she did every bit of the sewing.

At one point, her stitching line was a bit wobbly;
she stopped and asked what she should do.
I told her her options:
Leave it, and have a little bit of crooked seam
pick the stitches out and redo it
and have a straight seam.

She chose the seam ripper route.

Once she had her rows pieced
she pressed the seams to the side.

I glue basted the rows, so she wouldn't have to sew over pins,
and she sewed them together, too.
She decided the machine 
was going too slow 
- I'd taped the speed selector into the slowest position -
so I sped it up a bit for her.

When all 5 rows had been sewn together,
 she pressed those seams
and we set a couple of boards on the whole thing
to flatten the seam allowances.

While her fabric was cooling under the boards,
I laid out all 3 types of batting scraps that I have -
warm and white, bamboo, and wool.

I thought the bamboo would be the best choice,
but once she ran her hands over them all,
nothing but the soft silky wool would do.
I cut a piece off
and glue basted it to her pieced fabric.
Then I roughly drew the shape of a bib with the friXion pen,
so she would know where to keep her quilting stitches.

Again, she wanted to do swirls,
but Mom said, "No."
We'd talked about doing straight lines
randomly across the fabric,
Apparently that wasn't what she wanted to do, though,
and when I came back in the dining room several minutes later,
she was near tears.
She'd just been stitching willy nilly
and had a "I don't know what I'm doing - I'm ruining this" moment.

Even though I had the machine set to a decent stitch length,
the stitches were tiny
(I'm not really sure what that was about...)
and there was no way they were going to be able to be picked out,
so I just encouraged her to carry on,
but to take time to think about where she wanted to go next.
She quilted for another 20 minutes or so
and decided it was done.

Even though it didn't look quite like she'd envisioned,
she thought it looked like a drawing done by a baby,
and was therefore
totally appropriate and she was pleased with it..
(I thought her work was so fantastic; 
if it weren't for the quilting, no one would believe it been made by a child.)

Now that her front-of-the-bib fabric was finished
(5 hours after she'd started)
she went through my pile of still not put away fabrics : /  
and chose, 
then pressed,
fabric for the back,
and then I cut out a bib, 
and glue basted the edges, right sides together.

She preferred sewing on a line, 
rather than running the edge of the fabrics along the edge of presser foot,
since there were so many curves,
so I drew a stitching line for her,
again, using a friXion pen.

She sewed it up, leaving an opening for turning.
Then we had a lesson on clipping seam allowances.
She thought that sounded really risky,
and wanted me to do that part for her.

(Ya'll. I was getting really worn out teaching sewing by this point,
and felt like making people's days two days in a row
was just about all I could bear!
Meanwhile, Lexi was in heaven.
She asked how long she'd been working on her gift,
and I said (sweetly, of course) "All. Day." {forced smile}
to which she replied, "Huh. 
Feels like it's only been a few minutes.")

After I snipped mountains and valleys,
she turned the bib right side out
and I showed her how to roll the edges with her fingers before pressing
so that each side remained where it was supposed to be,
and was fully turned right side out.

I folded the opening in
and she pressed the bib.

Then she got her lesson on how to sew an opening shut.
She found it quite tricky and wanted me to do it for her,
but I told her it wasn't my gift.
(It turns out, I had a brain fart, 
and was having her sew it without the thread doubled.
Every time she'd take a stitch,
her needle would fall off.
About the 6th time, Lily said, "My thread was doubled when I sewed the elephant shut."
and I said, "Oh."
So I knotted the single strand, then knotted a double strand,
apologized profusely
- sneakily took a couple of stitches for her -
and handed it back.)
When the hole was sewn shut,
we did a quick lesson in knotting the end, and popping the knot to hide it.

Then she hounded me about adding the snaps,
so that it could be finished.

During all of that,
Lily made her gift for Hadley,
and Josiah decided he wanted in on the action, too,
and went online looking for a simple bear pattern.

Then he had a turn at the machine,
practicing both straight and curvy stitching,
using the edge of the presser foot,
and stitching right on a line....

(somehow, I didn't take any pictures of Josiah sewing. Pooh!)

We went through the same process with the bear
as I'd done with the elephant with Lily,
except that Josiah had to stitch the face,
instead of sewing on ears...


They were all so pleased with their finished projects
and were soo excited to give them to Aunt Marin!
(who, of course, loved them!!)
They got excellent feedback from the ladies at the shower, too,
and one sweet woman told me I needed an etsy shop 
so they could sell their work.

I'm not sure I'm up to that ;-)
But I'm awful proud of them all!

Linking up with micro-maker Amanda Jean :-)


  1. You are an amazing teacher AND writer! Enjoyed your blog and your pictures! What precious gifts! :)

  2. Wow, that was super fun to read! That little girl is very talented!!!
    And you are a fab teacher!!!
    esthersipatchandquilt at yahoo com
    ipatchandquilt dot wordpress dot com

  3. You have great patience and fantastic teaching skills! All three can be very proud of the things they made!

  4. Hahaha! She looked at you as if you'd lost your mind - I can picture it perfectly! I've been on the receiving end of such a look, myself - which makes your story TWICE as funny, for some reason. (hee hee)
    Wowza, what a DAY. What fun stories, and it's wonderful that the children's gifts were fully appreciated. Thanks for sharing. :-)


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