Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pillowcase Pitfalls and Perseverance

Today’s blog will share the experience of making a pillowcase with my oldest child. At the risk of shattering the image you may have of our Hallmark-commercial-like dream world over here, the sewing “got real” yesterday.

Now is a good time to talk about personality differences. Despite the fact that all three of my girls were 100% on board at the start of this project, the detail-oriented phase of sewing has really drawn out the differences in each child-and in myself, I might add. Whereas the six year-old was very attentive and careful, my fifth-grader became distracted and hurried. (I would assert here that she and I are wayyyyyy too much alike for this to have gone swimmingly!)

Initially, she was excited. She sat down, lined up the fabric, asked many of the same questions that her sister asked the day before, but was saved from having to ask more because she had watched some of our session and knew the answers.

She did want to know, “If that shows you all the different stitches that you have to use, why don’t you ever use those stitches when you sew?”

Good question. Why do we care that machines can stitch 25 different flower, crosshatch and heart designs if we don’t use those in our work?

“I don’t know…I guess I never think about it,” was my lame answer. 

She was not impressed. 

“I usually just use the straight stitch or the zigzag,” I said, and pointed those out.

“Well, if those show you what the stitch is supposed to look like,” she asked next, “why doesn’t that come out looking like a weird-looking, little, upside-down goal post?"

Well-spotted, but I had to explain that it was showing that you could stitch a straight stitch with one needle or run a side-by-side line of straight stitches with two needles.

“Oh…” she said, still not impressed.

I am not trying to color your perception of my kids with these descriptions, but it is well-known that this child would rather be out throwing touchdown passes or catching a softball than sitting indoors doing minutely detailed handwork, so we were on a time-crunch here.

So, she began to stitch. Knowing she craved trust and independence I took a step back and let her run with it for a little while alone. Periodically, I would have to guide her back or she would have to rip out some stitches and start again.

This was a much less-complicated pillowcase due to the fact that this is the most “less-is-more” kid we have. After finishing the flange and turning it right side out, she started giggling about the word “bodkin” which I gave her to point the corners of the flange (she giggled about the word “flange” too, come to think of it). 

After she composed herself, she handed the hilarious flange over to be ironed. I guess she shares the same opinion as her sister about kids ironing.

It is at this point that the experience went all pear-shaped. I was standing close behind her as she sewed the flange to the body of the pillowcase. When she had a little trouble with a particular part of the seam, I asked her to take her foot off the pedal as I tried to guide the fabric back into place.

“Stop for a sec.”
“Stop the pedal.”
“Stop, stop, stop!”

I was a bit distressed at nearly having my finger integrated into the pillowcase, but we re-adjusted and kept on. After another rough patch of stitches, she shoved her rolling chair backwards in frustration. Right. Over. My. Toes. It hurt. Badly. I really wished I had been wearing shoes, but I wasn’t. I should have held it in, but I yelled in pain. She got upset and said, “I can’t do this!”

Pause for ensuing discussion about perseverance, commitment, work ethic, *pithy softball-analogy*, promises, quality time and dedication…

And we’re back!

She decided to finish the pillowcase and see the project through. The biggest selling point was that we were doing this for someone else.

Even with the hiccups, she was very proud that she finished and loves her pillowcase. She pointed in out to her sisters and dad, and she is looking forward to going to drop the pillowcases off at the quilt shop.

My take-away? That not every project is for every kid, and that’s okay. This was my grand scheme and they may not always buy-in. What I loved is that we did spend the time together and that we were both learning some lessons about life and each other along the way.


Anonymous said...

She may be the "less is more" and "keep it simple" child....this is why we "simply" love her to death! (Sorry about your foot.)

Emily said...

I agree completely! :)

Dana Smith said...

Emily I absolutely adore your blog. The way you write tells me that you are pretty much the same person you were in high school. Why I am sure you have changed as we all have, your ability to write and your humor are definitely coming through. I know, also having three girls, that we have to use humor to get through life! You are inspiring me to do these crafts someday. We are a couple years behind you in age at 4, 5.5 and 8 so maybe in a couple of years. Keep up the good work. You are entertaining.

Emily said...

Thanks so much Dana, I am flattered! Being the Mom of three girls close in age, I am sure you really understand! I think these ages are so great for this-even if it is frustrating sometimes, I'm really enjoying it!

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