Small Wins Wednesday: Sewing with Kids and Not Taking Over

Published by Lori Pickert on March 19, 2014 at 07:16 AM

This is a pic of my daughter on the “tiny sewist program”. She wanted to do a princess dress for her friend’s birthday. Of course, I freaked initially. Then, we discussed the steps (choosing fabric, making patterns, cutting, etc.) and I wrote them on a board… — M, in the forum

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Every Wednesday we share a small win from the forumTwitter, the Facebook page, or (with the writer’s permission) from the mail bag.


My son (7) announced this morning he wanted to sew.

We saw a book at the library Sewing for Children (and I just saw a recommendation for it on the sewing thread — I think it is a nice intro to sewing, lots of felt, easy projects) and the kids have been looking through it for a while.

We have done some sewing in the past, and I have not been able to not take over. So I was a bit nervous. Luckily I have spend a great deal of time catching up on the threads here last night. ;-)

The kids each picked a project and started, both projects had lots of buttons and they started sewing it on haphazardly and I just couldn’t help myself given them a button sewing lesson and getting them to do a practice run on a scrap piece of felt. After that my son lost interest and I thought I blew it. And I felt so bad, I could kick myself for falling in this trap again.

We went to visit friends, while driving I reflected why I react in this way. Part of the ‘problem’ is that all the materials, tools, etc., are my sewing stuff. They do not have any sewing materials in their project cupboard.

On our way back we stopped at our little local sewing shop. They chose a few colorful felt pieces, needles and embroidery thread, and a plastic box to keep the thread and scissors in. They were so excited; they ran to our workspace and started working.

My son used his practice scrap and turned it into a little bag, sewing the seams all by himself. He then proceeded in hand sewing little bags for his sister and me. I was so impressed. He glowed and made each of us a pincushion as well, stuffing and hand sewing it with the utmost patience. He asked if he could make each of us a little felt needle case tomorrow (ever the practical one ;-).

My daughter, who just turned five, has her heart set on a mobile phone felt soft toy. I have helped her holding materials, threading the needle, tying knots, etc., if asked. I haven’t taken over — I have managed to be there to move her project along without her getting too frustrated or feeling it is too hard. And she is so happy and proud. She is still working on her project and tomorrow I am going to hang back more, now that she has practice with some of the skills.

We worked like this for over 2 hours and when I went downstairs to start dinner they both brought their work with them and sat at the table working. I hope I have turned a corner. I find it hard to let go if there is a definite skill or sequence involved; I want to teach them the basics. All with best intent of course: helping them to succeed. Yet the joy and pride they had this afternoon was so wonderful for me to witness. — L.


Why do we share small wins? Because we put on our attention on what we want to grow. We support each other, celebrate each other’s successes, and we make more of the good stuff!

Have you had a small win this week? Whether it’s related to PBH or not, please share in the comments!

F sewing a stuffed solar system. — Dawn

F making cat ears. — Dawn


Comment by dawn on March 19, 2014 at 10:17 AM

so, ds6 has recently been delving back into his interest in disney pixar cars at a new, deeper, more detailed level. his knowledge is overwhelming to me at times. i cannot keep up, but he is generally patient with me, knowing that i am trying.

when he was last into this topic, several months ago, i purchased some books about the cars, thinking he would like to have them to read or use as reference. i was wrong. he was content to look at the pictures but adamantly refused to look at the words or have anyone read them to him. i was surprised and disappointed, but let it go.

i recently reorganized some of our bookshelves, switching locations of some favorites from one communal area to another, making them more accessible and inviting. i moved these books to the bookcase in this room, at eye level with his usual play area.

he found one of those books the other night, pulled it out, perused the table of contents with me, and asked if i would look at the pictures with him. i obliged. i tentatively offered to read to him. he hesitated, then reluctantly agreed, requesting that i use my regular voice (no character impersonations) and speak slowly and quietly. so i did. without discussion, we immediately fell into our habit of his reading the conversations (words in quotes) and me reading everything else.

we read one story, then another. he has been asking to read them when he wakes, before going to bed, and throughout the day. each time, he reads and acts out more of each story aloud. he's willing to sound out unfamiliar words. and, we have the opportunity to explain and discuss some humor he has so far missed out on because of his unfamiliarity with certain homophones. he's starting to get it now and understand why it is so funny and why people have laughed aloud at it.

now that i'm writing about this, i consider this a big win.

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 19, 2014 at 03:18 PM

fantastic! :)

Comment by mamacrow, on March 19, 2014 at 10:58 AM

Reading longer books for the littler ones at story time last night! We'd used up all the library books and at a whim I pulled a few longer ones - one was a Little Grey Rabbit, and they really are quite long for read out louds. In all, I read out loud for 50mins, and then they really had had enough and wanted to go to bed rather than have another one...

They were quiet and engaged even when there were pages without pictures so I guess it was just time and they were ready - very exciting!

Also, I stepped back and let them get on with (messy) potion making when I had a load of Time and National Geographic magazines out for a planned activity and I was on a major tidy up. They were very organised in what they wanted to do so I let the get on with it, even with water, etc.

This is by far my preferred method of doing things, but we're spring cleaning at the moment and I've caught myself slipping into 'not now it will make mess' type ways!

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 19, 2014 at 03:22 PM

love those wins. :)

i remember reading chapter books to my older son and wondering whether it was really getting through to his younger brother — and being so thrilled when i found out it was!

and yay for making potions! :D

Comment by Alison on March 19, 2014 at 02:13 PM

The sewing theme of the main story above brought me to thinking about my son and knitting. He spotted a knitting kit in a second hand shop and really wanted to get it. He has found the coordination for the french knitting part hard.

In the meantime he has been doing what we call freestyle knitting where he uses the wool and needles and does something of his own. These look a bit like cocoons, but he is enjoying making them. He hasn't as yet shown interest in learning the conventional knitting, but he is enjoying using the materials.

I tried out a brief element of a provocation, where I found some map pins and a pinboard. He had fun winding the wool around the pins, and introducing a second colour. Now he is thinking about doing this more, perhaps with embroidery thread on a hessian type background.

My son loves craft, but can find fine motor skills difficult at times. So I love it when he tries something new, and develops it in his own way. I am learning to sit back, and appreciate what he is exploring, rather than going straight in for a conventional use of the materials.

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 19, 2014 at 03:26 PM


hey alison, i wonder if he would like to try spool knitting!

when he’s ready, i have found that using short fat needles with grippy yarn works best for teaching kids to knit. (no acrylic yarn! ;o)

i love the idea of freestyle knitting. :) his winding the wool around the pins sounds a bit like nail art! i love what you said about exploring and not necessarily forcing the conventional use of materials. :)

freestyle embroidery is also really fun — my son loved freehand embroidering onto felt, and we used to do embroidery with plastic needles and burlap with our preschoolers.

Comment by Kerry on March 19, 2014 at 06:58 PM

I have learned to love Minecraft, and know that it is a great project on it's own, but I'm feeling it's a small win to see it move from project to tool as my son starts a new project. Dinosaurs! It's been percolating for a while, but I hadn't noticed until I walked into the kitchen, saw the poster we'd hung on the bulletin board and realized this was it. He's been building his own Jurassic Park in Minecraft for weeks, has pulled out all of his old dinosaur books, bought the movie with his own money and researched the making of videos on youtube. his plan now, is to build a large robot/puppet/dinosaur suit. Not sure how we'll go about that, but I'm going to avoid throwing big logs on the fire this time.

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 19, 2014 at 07:47 PM


He's been building his own Jurassic Park in Minecraft

wow, that sounds amazing! :D

I'm going to avoid throwing big logs on the fire this time.


Comment by marlojen on March 19, 2014 at 11:16 PM

I feel like March is a whirlwind of things I'm supposed to be doing, places I'm supposed to be. I have it all written down, to-do lists sorted by day of the week. It's fuller than I would prefer. And, those things are there -- at the moment -- mostly because they provide something meaningful. My small wins around this lately are: keeping the to-do list very short AND staying present and in the moment. We end up where we need to be AND we feel happy and balanced!

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 20, 2014 at 07:27 AM

mm, those are huge wins! :)

Comment by sarah pj on March 19, 2014 at 11:29 PM

Wins... wins... Focusing on the middle child because those seem to be the toughest wins lately. She has started therapy and a very tough win is listening to her describe how she feels inside so that I can help her through it. Also, the doctor's observation that clearly we are very close and she trusts me. That felt really good. She has started teaching herself to write Korean. And she has agreed to do a Couch to 5K program with me to get more exercise and feel better. Baby steps.

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 20, 2014 at 07:28 AM

lots of really good baby steps. <3

Comment by amy21 on March 20, 2014 at 10:09 AM

my small win is that I finally put in writing my feelings about the school's so-called project-based curriculum. The school is searching for a new director, and parents were invited to the interviews. My husband and I split them up; he ended up going to 3 because 2 were on the same evening, and I've already had a one-on-one talk with the interim director, who is one of the candidates. (12 parents were at that double session; 6 each of the other two. About 160 kids in the school. I can't even with the apathy.) Beyond filling out the evaluations, we each sent an email to the search committee; I also forwarded mine to the head of the Council. I do fear that this was all just going-through-the-motions and they're going to do what they want anyway despite parent input, but I at least put it in writing that I agreed to enroll the kids there to begin with because of the project-based curriculum, but that my experience is that it is not authentically carried out in practice in most of the classrooms. One of the candidates, who I very much want to get the job, has a definition of project-based learning that sounds like the real thing, not the watered down version the kids are getting at the school. He is also an artist. And passionate. And energetic. My guess is they'll go with someone else and I will weep.

Anyway, that's my small win. I have also begun explaining to other parents in person how school projects are not actually real project-based learning, and if that's what the school wants to do, fine, but they should be honest about it and stop calling it something it's not. My schooled son and I have talked about this, about how true pbl is like setting off without a map to learn about something you're interested in; the route is wide open and depends upon what you learn along the way. School projects are, in my son's words, "like driving to the supermarket." You know exactly where you're supposed to end up, and you don't even pick the starting point. And once you get there, the "representations" are like the cereal aisle: there may be some variation in size and color, but they all look more or less the same. He has a "project share" tomorrow for a "project" they were given two weeks to do, on a Civil War topic, and they all have to give a first-person speech from the point of view of someone who lived then, and they had to copy their talk onto note cards, and there is a rubric for how often they make eye contact, and I find myself not really pushing him to put more into it (he's supposed to have a costume, for example, and he'll be wearing blue--that's the extent of his effort--because he's a Union soldier) because for crying out loud maybe he'd put more into it naturally if something meaningful had been left up to him.

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 20, 2014 at 10:36 AM


this applying PBL jargon to something that is exactly like what they were already doing before is RAMPANT and so frustrating.

i hope you get the candidate you are hoping for! and it IS a small win that you shared your opinion *and* spread a little info among the other parents as well!

Comment by DeepBluC on March 20, 2014 at 01:09 PM

My son and I both had wins this week. We've always been eclectic and collaborative homeschoolers, so I was talking to DS about what he wanted to do for 8th grade. He asked if he could try unschooling for a year. I've known about it, but have been reluctant to actually do it. My win is that I realized that I trust him. To follow his interests. To make good decisions. To experiment and fail and try again. I'm very excited about the realization that I trust the product of my last 12 years work.

DS's win came as the result of our brainstorming together. After we wrote down two pages of things he is interested in, he realized that he does enjoy way more than just video games. That, in mom's book, is a win-win!

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 20, 2014 at 04:01 PM

that sounds awesome! i hope he has a great year! :)

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