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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hand-Me-Down Skills

I love hand-me-downs, I always have.  Some hand-me-downs are better than others though and handing down knowledge is one of the most valuable and meaningful things I think we can do.  When I was about twelve, my grandmother and my mother taught me how to sew.  As far as I know, most of the women on my mother's side of the family sewed.  I was so proud to finally be let into the club.  I got to go to the store, pick out my pattern and fabric and make my very first outfit.  I wore it to church  Easter morning and I was so proud.

Well, my daughter is now eight.  She's been around me and seen me sewing all sorts of things; slipcovers and curtains for the house, a flower girl dress for Grandma's wedding, Halloween costumes.  She's dabbled with scraps before but I wanted to let her into the 'club' so last summer we went to the store, she picked out a pattern she wanted to make and she got to pick out whatever fabric she wanted.  She helped me cut the pattern out and it went into a bag to be sewn later.  Well, later was a lot longer than I'd planned.  We never got around to it last summer.  A couple of weeks ago I pulled the bag out and decided it was time to finish the project.  Now, she's a little young to use the sewing machine all on her own so she got to sit in the driver's seat and learn how to operate the foot pedal.  I guided the fabric through the machine while giving the commands to stop and go.  It was interesting to say the least but she got confidence from the experience and wasn't so frustrated that she would be turned off sewing because it was too difficult.


Here she is learning the fine art of seam ripping.  Excuse the state of the office, we made an event out of it and there were snacks required and breaks for doodling on paper and so forth.   Once the top was almost complete I had her try it on.  As you can imagine, a project that was cut out one summer and then sewn together the following spring may not exactly fit properly.  Obviously she'd grown and the top had now become a 'belly top'.  She was thrilled, I was not.  This was an opportunity however to learn another important skill.  How to deviate from a pattern and make things up as you go along.  Like I explained to her, once you know what you're doing (sort of) you can change things.  It doesn't have to be exactly like the pattern says.  That way you'll always have something completely unique and even if someone else makes the exact same thing with the exact same supplies, yours will be different.  I added a six inch ruffle to the bottom of the top and it turned out great.

When we were shopping for the fabric she insisted on purchasing large fuchsia gems to sew onto the top.  I thought it was a horrid idea, but let her buy them because she was being creative.  What do you know, her idea was a good one.  I think the jewels look great and I'm so proud to have worked together with her to pass down a family tradition that seems to be falling by the wayside nowadays.

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