Tag Archives: sewing with kids

Hiking, Tea Parties, Crafts and Sewing with My Girls

We had the pleasure of spending last weekend with our grand daughters. They haven’t had a sleepover at Grammy and PePaw’s house since early fall so this was really a treat. My son dropped them off on Friday and came back Sunday to pick them up. As usual, we managed to do all sorts of things over the weekend.

On Friday, we spent a lot of time outside as Saturday promised to be very rainy. These girls love being outdoors and like all kids, they need that time to run around and burn some energy. They played frisbee and basketball for quite a bit before heading to the woods in front of our house. Both girls decided to dig for treasure without any preconceived notion of what that treasure might be. After digging for a long while, PePaw asked if they wanted to dig for worms.

They were excited about this and ran right to the compost bins. Previously the girls have held the worms in their hands, especially Big Sister. This time, they wanted them on their shovels to look at and then off the worms went, into a bucket. These girls are adventurous and try most any activity they are offered. While they were playing with worms, I snuck into the house and grabbed a handful of ‘treasure’ (marbles and little glass gems).

Acting quickly, I tossed them into the dirt nearby. It took forever for the kids to discover them but once they did, they were very excited. The interesting bit about this was how each girl thought the gems got there. H, being a very worldly six year old, immediately said “Grammy, the kids who lived here before you must have been playing here and forgot about these.” (Note – she has no idea whether any kids lived here before me). A wasn’t close by when her big sister explained this to me. A few minutes later, Little Sister asked me, “Do you think some pirates left these gems here?” Two very different theories. Of course at three years old, A doesn’t feel the need to explain where the pirates came from or why they left this treasure for her. She found five pieces of treasure and was so excited.

Back to the weekend, as expected it rained most of the day on Saturday. But this made for perfect crafting weather. We were looking at images on the computer trying to learn if rainbows could have pink in them even though poor, poor pink sadly is not ever mentioned in the ROYGBIV order of things. We decided yes, pink can be seen in rainbows. While doing this important research, we saw a craft making rainbows with colored stickers. Miraculously, Grammy had stickers in the craft drawer. They added cotton balls for clouds too. It was interesting to me to watch each girl make her rainbow. Big Sister wanted her stickers aligned on the guidelines but not touching. Little Sister insisted on overlapping her stickers so no guideline could be seen.

After lunch on Saturday we were invited to my parents, Great Papa and Great Grammy, for hot cocoa and cookies. The girls loved it and were super about letting us visit while they colored pictures and ate cookies.

Big Sister always asks to sew something while she is here. She knows I won’t refuse her this request. Usually we don’t sew when Little Sister is around because she really isn’t old enough. But it all worked out.

First project was to make this whole cloth project with A. She loves fire trucks and ambulances so I thought she would like this. My vision was to show her the matchbox cars and she could drive them along the roads, keeping busy so I could sew with H. She didn’t get into this at all. Blankets are for babies and stuffies. I don’t think a matchbox car even touched the fabric. It was immediately put to use to wrap up a stuffed animal. Soon Pepaw came to the rescue and took her downstairs to play.

This gave Big Sister and I plenty of time to get started on her first quilt. She was thrilled. Being a very tactile person, she favors the bin with flannels and minky scraps. Her choices centered around dog and cat fabrics and a bright pink scrap to brighten things up. I cut a stack of squares for her to arrange on the design wall.

I loved how seriously she took this part of the process. She wanted symmetry and was able to work it out with the squares she had. I wish I had taken more pictures but it is more fun to stay in the moment with her. This time, she was a very able participant. She sat on my lap and guided the fabric along. I showed her the 1/4″ markings and we talked about the need for a straight line. Fortunately, my machine has speed controls and I could set it to go very slowly. She also learned to pin the pieces together. This made her Grammy a little bit crazy. She looked at the pins like she was judging the quality of fine diamonds, choosing which pins she wanted to use. At times, I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying, ‘c’mon, just pick a pin’. If you think about it, when sewing many things happen at the same time. Pressing the pedal, guiding the fabric, taking the pins out, pressing the seams etc. She was wanted to do each part. I did help quite a bit with keeping the fabric straight but she will get there.

To simplify the project, we didn’t use any batting. The quilt is very soft with a flannel backing. We sewed the layers right sides together and then flipped it right side out. H did a great job turning the corners out. That was as far as we got the first day. Sunday morning we finished it up with a topstitched edging and two lines of quilting, corner to corner. She chose to use ‘special stitches’ for those seams. I love the joy on her face in this picture. She was very proud of this project.

Sunday was better weather wise. We took the girls to the nearby park which also has some great hiking trails around it. After playing on wet slides and swings, we wandered into the woods. The girls spotted this rotten tree stump and started playing. They decided to make a person. Using moss for hair and the smile and leaves for eyes and nose, they soon had a person. Big Sister immediately named her Treetopolis.

Now you have a snapshot of the weekend. Not pictured are the pizzas we made, the paintings the girls did and the amazing shows they performed form us. One involved dance and the other featured their amazing air guitar skills. They are becoming such good friends. So much fun to be with – even if we did go to bed at 8:30 Sunday night after they went home. 🙂

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Grammy Time

Last October Ray and I had the opportunity to bring our youngest grand daughter home and spend a few days with her, one on one. It was delightful. We promised big sister she would have a turn to have a sleep over by herself too. Then everything got crazy with all of us being sick for weeks on end. Finally the week after Christmas we made it happen.

When I took Julia to the airport to go back to school, my son met me (this is about the 1/2 way point between our homes) and I picked H up. We were worried little sister wouldn’t understand why she wasn’t coming along. However her father had the good idea to meet in the Ikea parking lot and the promise of Swedish meatballs for lunch with dad was a good distraction; everyone was happy!

Spending time one on one with a grand child (or a child) is so special. The dynamic changes and it seems like the relationship deepens. I grew up in a big family and then had a big family (four children) which is wonderful. But having the chance to single out a child and focus on them entirely is such a blessing. (On the flip side, little sister was getting lots of extra attention from her parents while H was at our house.)

Quiet time at Grammy’s

Planning to have this time with H, I had a mental list of fun things we could do. It was supposed to be very rainy so outdoor time would be minimal. Letting her take the lead, we did the things she suggested as much as possible. Board games, jig saw puzzles and coloring are activities she favors so there was lots of that happening.

This little girl loves to make things. She also loves to cook. Her parents give her a lot of room in the kitchen and she is developing a really good understanding of how to bake. For Christmas, Santa bought her a Disney Princess cookbook and she brought it over. I asked her what she wanted to make and she chose Monkey Bread. The recipe was simple, biscuit dough rolled into balls and rolled in butter and cinnamon with sugar.

H is careful and able to measure most of the ingredients on her own. ( In the photo you can see the apron I made for her for Christmas. She also got a new nightgown and was looking quite the princess when making her Monkey Bread).

What really impressed me with this part of the process was she controlled that incredible impulse to lick her fingers between rolling the dough balls in the cinnamon sugar mixture. I watched quite closely and at the end of the process we celebrated by licking all ten of our fingers. The Monkey Bread turned out so pretty and H was satisfied. However I made a mistake and forgot to have her put the salt in so it tasted rather flat. Oh Grammy. She didn’t seem to notice but Ray and I sure did. Sigh.

Next this girl went straight for my heart and asked if we could ‘make something in the sewing room’. As if I would say no to that request. Upstairs we went. I have a huge bin filled with flannel and minky scraps. There really isn’t anything in there that I would miss if she cut it up so I let her have at it. Wanting her to take the lead, I worked hard to bite my tongue and not suggest anything. (This wasn’t easy!!!) She was immediately drawn to a scrap of black minky with a bubbled texture on one side. When she asked what we could make with it, I suggested a stuffed animal or a pillow. She chose pillow. I told her she could put a different fabric on each side or the black minky on both sides. She just lit up and went digging through that bin, turning into the Tasmanian Devil with fabric flying everywhere. But this sort of mess is creativity in my book. She chose a crazy tie dyed flannel and then found a pale mottled fabric that she liked. Wanting to incorporate all three, she kept thinking. Finally she decided to cut the mottled cotton fabric into squares for each corner of the minky side of the pillow plus a bigger square for the center.

It was interesting to see how much concentration it took for her to pin her squares where she wanted them. (I couldn’t worry about turning under the edges of the squares. Pinning them was hard enough!) This part took a bit of time. When we went to the machine to sew, she chose to work the foot pedal and I guided the fabric under the needle. My machine has a speed control which was set to slow.

We stuffed the pillow with polyester stuffing and this is the finished result. The project took well over an hour and she started to lose interest during the stuffing. Off she went to shop in the fat quarter baskets for something else to play with. She also found a bag of pipe cleaners and decided she needed to twist them all together.

Honestly I could watch her play in here all day (well actually we did spend the larger portion of the day in there)!

Hmmm, what can I make with this???

Finding a cheetah print minky scrap, her wheels started turning again. The thinking process for this project was super interesting. H decided she wanted to make a snake. She told me she wanted to “use insulation for the middle, not stuffing.” This was momentarily confusing… Insulation? Then she pointed to the bin of batting. OK – there’s the ‘insulation’. (Why did she even know that word?) Looking at the picture you’ll get an idea of her plan. She wanted to layer the batting and the fabric and roll them up into a snake. She was very firm that she did not want to make a tube and stuff it. I left her to play with it for a bit and she finally figured out she needed to get the fabric under the batting to roll it up or the fabric would be on the inside of the snake. The issue for me was I didn’t want to roll up all that minky to the inside of the snake. I stepped in and suggested she could roll just the batting and then cover the roll with the cheetah print. She understood and that’s what we did. As we rolled, she thought and said ‘you know, a snake’s head isn’t just round’. OK – after we tapered one end to a sort of triangular shape this girl asks for a ‘forked tongue’ and eyes. Out came the tubs of ribbon (tongue) and buttons (eyes).


H was so proud of this project. Making Elizabeth (this is what she quickly named her snake) took much thought but what a great finish for her! The minky was wrapped around the batting (aka insulation) that she rolled up. We pinned it tightly and hand stitched a seam the length of the snake. H did about three inches of hand sewing and grew bored of that so I finished it up.

After making her snake, big sister told me that her little sister would be sad if she didn’t have a snake. Back to the tub of flannels! She picked out a piece of solid pink and another of solid purple plus two green buttons for the eye. This time I made a tube with the mandated triangular head and ribbon made to look like a forked tongue. Big sister had no interest in helping to make this – she chose the fabrics and moved on. While I sewed H found scraps of orange fleece from the pumpkin costume I made for her several years ago. She didn’t sew anything with it but played with it for a long while – arranging and rearranging the bits and telling me what it looked like. Also, if you look in the background of the photo, you will see a big fluff of poly stuffing with ribbon around it. She spent a long time tying ribbons around this fluff. She wanted to contain it somehow. Finally she wrapped it in a piece of fabric and then tied it with ribbons.

When a younger child is making something, it often is more about the process than the final product. Playing with the orange scraps, playing with the wad of stuffing – H spent a long stretch of time doing this without any desired outcome. As adults, we often want to ask ‘what are you making’. I think this is a mistake. Much of the time, the child doesn’t know what they are making. When I asked H is she wanted help with that fluff and her ribbons, she said she couldn’t get it to stay together. I suggested she look for fabric to wrap around it and off she went. There doesn’t have to be an outcome or a finished item. She is thinking, playing, and imagining and that is what is important.

Whether it is fabric and ribbons, flour and sugar, or paper and crayons, I love watching this girl make her projects. She gets so absorbed by her ideas. As a grammy, it is my job to step back and just enjoy her. Making the craft supplies available and then keeping my mouth shut unless help is asked for; that is my job!

Linking up with my favorites. Check them out at the top of the page, under Link Ups.