When I first started sewing late last year, Evan wanted to learn with me. Every time I pulled out my fabric or started to hook up my sewing machine, he was there waiting to help. Often he sat next to me while I sewed and I talked him through what I was doing, answering his questions and explaining the things I too was just learning. When we got a bit braver, I let him handle my pin cushion. He carefully handed me pins when I needed them and returned them to the cushion when I finished. He was happy to watch, but when his little hands started to stray a bit too close to my work, wanting so much to be involved, I knew I had either to sew only at night after he went to bed or I had to find him his own work.
Without any idea whether a three-year-old could even sew at all, I started to search around for answers. I found my first one in The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule. She wrote about teaching her young son to sew using burlap and an embroidery hoop. So we thought we would give it a try.
This was Evan's very first moment with his own sewing project. He picked out a few shades of pink embroidery thread (his favorite color) and we bought him a large, blunt plastic needle. I sat with him and taught him how to direct the needle through the fabric, first from the bottom and then from the top. He made giant stitches and smaller ones. He wrapped the thread around the side of the hoop countless times and then worked to figure out how to correct it. He switched to yellow thread and then back to pink again.
It took a few times for him to be able to sew on his own without my assistance. But now he can work at a piece of burlap or lightweight muslin for quite a while by himself, as long as I have enough needles threaded and waiting for him. Because of the size of his stitches, he goes through a piece of thread rather quickly, but I do not want to cut the thread any longer (we make it about the length of his one arm) because it will become too cumbersome for him.
We kept a couple of his old early projects to make into something, though they are quite fragile and probably will not hold up to too much love. I think we might just hang them as is or store them away in Evan's project box. Either way, they make us both proud.