The Next Sewing Generation

imageMy ten-year-old granddaughter has begun expressing an interest in becoming a fashion designer. To this end, I found the “Sew Zoey” books on Amazon and started her love affair with these books.

Inspired by Zoey, DGD decided she wants to make her back-to-school wardrobe–at least the outfit she wears on the first day of fifth grade and maybe one more outfit.

imageThrilled for the opportunity to pass on my love of fiber, I began looking for an available time for a sewing playdate, and started to think about fabrics and patterns. While visiting the Gorgeous Fabrics site, I found a darling pink and red knit of acetate, poly, and lycra that I thought would appeal to this lover-of-all-things-pink. I dug into my pattern stash and pulled out a simple TNT, Textile Studio’s Basic Top. The cap sleeve version–only three pattern pieces!–was just what the budding designer needed.

DGD spent the night with me last night, and our first order of business was to talk about laying out the pattern and cutting. I pinned one piece, she pinned the other. I cut one, she cut the other. When it was all ready for sewing, we called it a night.

This morning after breakfast we headed back to the basement sewing room. I showed her how to pin and sew the right shoulder seam; she pinned and sewed the left shoulder seam. And so on.

imageIn retrospect, I could have chosen an easier fabric for her first project. The bubbly texture and 70% stretch of this fabric made it a little hard to control, but she hung in there. I took over at the topstitching of the hems. And I decided to add a binding strip to the neck opening rather than folding and topstitching, and did the sewing on that application.

To see the joy on her face when she slipped on the completed top–her joy mirrored the joy I feel each time I wear a garment I have made and garner compliments for my work. It’s thrilling for me, and I watched as she experienced that same feeling.

She decided she wanted a scarf she could use as a belt to cinch the waist, so I cut a 4″ x ~45″ strip. She did the sewing all on her own, and I taught her how to use the Fasturn tool to turn the tube right side out.

When we were done and she slipped on the top and positioned the scarf around her waist, she said, “I’m going to wear this the rest of the day.”


What’s next? A skirt, she tells me.

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About Jan

Musician and geek and Juris Doctor; lover of fine art and fine craft; mother and grandmother and significant other and friend. Passionate about sewing.

4 Responses to The Next Sewing Generation

  1. sheila rideout says:

    Hi Jan – I am also teaching my grandchildren to sew. I think your approach is really functional. I did a simple peasant style top with Alexa (9) and a water bottle carrier with Mylo (10). They both thinking using the machine is thrilling. I am surprised by their need to develop scissor skills, so I added paper dolls to the mix with Alexa. I’m sure these things are very old fashioned, but I do believe that teaching kids real skills is important in their feelings about self achievement and mastery in the world. It doesn’t hurt to have grandma viewed as a person who can do things either!! Thanks for sharing your experience. Sheila (a fellow DOLer) P.S. thanks for the tip on the zooey books.

  2. admin says:

    Thanks for your note, Sheila.

    This week is “Grandma Day Camp,” and we’ve made a couple of notebook covers for those great 5.25″x8.5″ Moleskine notebooks. I realized she needed a little color selection lesson, so we’ve been talking about the color wheel and color choices. I’m encouraging her to be mindful in her colors rather than grabbing “any crayon from the box.”

    You think about how much you’ve learned since you started sewing, and how much there is to pass along.

  3. Loretta Dian Phipps says:

    I am so inspired by these stories of sewing with young people. We need more of them. Learning to sew is a lifelong skill once learned & something that one can always fall back on. Developing the creativity & the vision is a wonderful thing to hear about. As the President of the Western Carolina Chapter of the American Sewing Guild one of the current endeavors of ASG is Teach Another Generation. Currently we have one grandmother member & two mother members, all with youngsters who want to sew. We will shortly start teaching them what they want to know. It is a thrilling concept & one that I will be very happy to be associated with.

  4. admin says:

    Thanks so much, Loretta, for this information. I’ve been saying I need to try harder to find an ASG chapter around here. I will do that in two weeks after our end-of-summer vacation.

    Thanks again!

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