On Giants' Shoulders

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


When you insist that at the age of 6 your daughter begins to learn to sew you only begin to glimpse at a far distance the day when she will be able to do what mine has done in the last 24 hours. After spending at least 2 fruitless days shopping for a dress to wear to a wedding this week she decided to make her own. Yesterday we went to the fabric store and she picked out fabric, purchased a pattern, a zipper, thread, and interfacing. She also bought yarn for a coordinating shrug and knitting needles to knit it on. She came home and began the project. As of late this morning she had only the hem left to do on a very pretty floral print dress. The dress is far prettier than anything she saw in the store and the whole project is going to cost her less than to have purchased anything even close to comparable.

What amazes me is that she is a far better seamstress than I am (thanks to the better seamstresses who helped teach her like our friend Chris, my late sister, and even the 4-H leader of a group to which my daughter never even belonged. What I mostly contributed was a sewing machine, the knowledge of how to cut out a pattern, and do very basic stuff. Oh, and I also contributed the push to actually be engaged in this particular activity. It was my responsibility to make sure she had fabric for a lead line outfit each year, to help her select a pattern, and to get her the additional adult instruction she needed. Now she needs no instruction other than the pattern directions and she is free to turn her back on the ugly dresses in the store, or the expensive skirts made with slave labor. She gets a lot of satisfaction from being able to sew her own stuff, and I get a lot of satisfaction out of seeing that she can do it.

The shrug she'll be knitting is a more direct result of my instruction since I was the one who taught her to knit, who encouraged the knitting, even pushed her along when a project was getting sidetracked for too long. Now she's a very competent knitter, she's even better at parts of that than I am (although there are still areas there where I'm better!). I'm willing to bet the shrug will be finished by Saturday, even though it's in a lace pattern and she's never tried lace before. After all: it's on big needles, it's a small garment, and anyone who's knitted an entire Aran sweater in a celtic knot pattern should find this particularly simple lace to be a breeze.

We talked about how factories make garments and agreed that there wouldn't be a whole lot of satisfaction in being the person who just sewed leg seams. The satisfaction comes in completing the whole item. Or that's where the satisfaction comes for the sewer. The satisfaction for the mother is seeing the child they've taught become such a competent adult. Ah, the rewards of homeschooling.


At 6:52 PM, Blogger Mel said...

How lovely!


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