How many kids do you know who can sew? Very few probably. Another sign that manual life skills are just not being taught any more. We're increasingly becoming a nation that's dependent on others for doing simple jobs - putting up a shelf, wiring a plug, laying a carpet, sewing on a button, fixing a tear in our jeans - lots of people can't do any of these things for themselves. And if there's no-one to help, then we flounder, throwing out the thing that could so easily have been mended. What a waste. So imagine my delight when my cousin's two young children expressed an interest in learning how to use a sewing machine. The Mobile Makery was happy to help! First we started with the vintage handcrank Singer machine - a good choice as you're totally in control of the speed.
After a basic lesson in threading up the machine and stitching backwards and forwards, I challenged the children to sew their names on a piece of paper after writing them in pencil first so there's a line to follow. I've done this same stitching challenge with a few kids now, both boys and girls, and they love it, quickly managing to control the handcrank machine.
The children then progressed to the electric machine. After a bit of random sewing on fabric getting the feel for it, they made a mini cushion which involves turning corners and keeping straight lines.
The challenge was completed when they stuffed the cushion with cotton-wool and stitched up the gap by hand. Just look at the concentration....!
Both Zoe and Finn were really proud of what they achieved, and I've heard that Finn has even fixed something that his Mum hasn't had time to get round to. Result! Next time, we're going to have a go at sewing on buttons and we'll make some Christmas decorations. Tartan trousers for Teddy are next, and then I think we'll go human-sized. A skill is not just for Christmas folks, it's for life.