Friday, 2 August 2013

Olivia Sewed a Skirt

A few months ago Olivia asked me if she could sew something.  She's only 7, so I wasn't sure if she was ready to sew yet.  I had visions of her (at best) ruining an outfit or (at worst) sewing her fingers.  I can't even remember what age I was when I first sewed.  I know I made my own Brownies bag (a rectangle with the ends hemmed, folded in half, sewn up each side, then added a strap made from plaited wool, so I must have been about 6-7.  I even embroidered a pink Brownie on the front in a wool daisy chain.  After thinking about it I decided to let her have a go.

Once again I headed to Google and searched for a suitable first sewing project.  There are lots of great ideas out there - pillow cases, tote bags, doll blankets, mini quilts and simple clothes.   We found an absolutely wonderful tutorial on Ikatbag for a basic skirt.

Our first step was to visit the fabric shop and let her choose her own fabric.  I had ideas of what would look nice, but I let her take the lead.  She chose a pretty blue flowered Liberty fabric.  We had no luck finding suitable eyelet fabric, but we did find some very nice cotton eyelet lace edging, so we also bought some plain white cotton fabric too.

The first step was familiarising Olivia with a sewing machine.  I sat her down in the driving seat and we went over all the basic functions - lifting and lowering the presser foot, using the foot pedal, the backwards lever, where to keep fingers so they don't get sewed, etc.

The second step was to get her sewing a straight line.  I grabbed a random scrap of fabric and drew some rows of parallel lines with a pencil.  I then stood with Olivia while she practiced sewing along each line.  Once she had this skill mastered we moved onto sewing her skirt.

Following LiEr's terrific tutorial, I cut two rectangles of fabric (one patterned and one white).  I then pinned the lace edging to the white fabric and used a pencil to draw a line where Olivia should sew.  She then sewed the lace to the white cotton lining.  I hovered at her elbow the whole time.  She also asked me to operate the backwards lever, as she found it too difficult to hold the fabric steady at the same time.  To make things easy (and because I didn't have my overlocker at the time) I just trimmed each seam with pinking shears.

With each step I pinned, drew a stitching line in pencil, and then pinked and pressed seams.  Olivia did all the sewing herself.  The only step she had some trouble with was threading the elastic through the casing.  She managed to get the elastic about a third of the way through, then asked me to take over.  The very last steps were sewing the elastic together, and stitching the casing closed.

Here is the finished skirt:

This was an incredibly straightforward first sewing project.  The only sewing skill it really required was the ability to sew a straight line.  Olivia loves her skirt and is incredibly proud - she tell's everyone she made it herself.  It's probably her favourite skirt.  When she first sewed it, she wanted to wear it every day.  Quite often I had to wash it at night, so she could wear it again the next day.  I can definitely recommend this as a first sewing project.

I have fabric left over from the summer shorts extravaganza, so I thought it would be fun to let her make another skirt.  The only thing I needed was extra lining fabric and cotton lace edging.  I'll post more pictures when we finish the next skirt.

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