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Making Things

My grandaughter Sydney loves to make things.  I definitely recognize that need and try very hard to get her alone so we can play together creatively.  She is now 7 1/2 and for the last several years has slowly been learning how to use my sewing machine.  Long term readers of my blog may remember previous blog entries as we inched our way toward full competence. 

She finished 1st grade last Friday.  We came home from the beach on Monday.  And we had a "creative day" immediately scheduled for this week.  One day turned into two days, two overnights, and two sewing projects.  As soon as she walked in the door, she asked if she could sew.  I was anticipating this and decided I would have a project in mind.

I bought quilted placemats for my young children in 1981 in Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco, and then designed and made more using the same concept.  Our family used and washed those placemats almost daily for years.  I brought them with us to NYC in 1993, as patterns/prototypes to make more, but my grandchildren saw the originals and loved using them for all of their meals here with us.

Sydney selected patterns that I drew, but never made, and over the course of 2 days made two placemats!  I worked with her, teaching her how to use an iron, adhere fusibles, and applique using a satin stitch.  Here she is using the sewing machine!!  I now only have to stand behind her.  When I told her the eyes were going to be hard to stitch on, she said "I'm ready for it!" She even wanted to thread the machine and change bobbins by herself!  And did.


Sydney with her two completed animal placemats:


Here is the Rhino - each animal has a head, feet, and tail.  Wish I knew who made the handmade originals I bought 30+ years ago.  I expanded the concept into a full set of animals and designed more.


And here is the bull:


When one of her brothers came to pick her up this morning, she told him the rhino would be his to use, whenever they eat here, from now on.  Up until now Cal and his cousin Robbie (one of my sons' boys) share the dragon!


Addendum: I finally found the blog entry I wanted to include in this blog post on why children need to taught to make things. 



What wonderful photos -- they really made me SMILE!! You truly do enjoy every minute with your grandchildren, and it's completely clear they enjoy every minute with you!

What a very smart little girl, and at such a young age to be using a sewing machine. In no time, she will probably be making her own clothes and other fancy sewing or stitchery projects--thanks to a great teacher!

I'm so impressed! She did an absolutely amazing job on these and they are just as cute as they can be! Kudos to you both!! nancy

Give my congratulations to Sydney for a job well done! One cute gal with a heart of gold, if you ask me!
She's doing a great job.

She did such a good job! The place mats are so cute. Another precious time with your granddaughter. You are a super grandmother.

I envy your grandchildren Shirley! They are learning wonderful lessons and will remember the special times you spent together for the rest of their lives!! And what a terrific little sewer Sydney has turned out to be! Even replacing bobbins and threading the machine! Way to go Sydney. PS...your brother is a little cutie!!!

What a star! I am so impressed with what your grandaughter has done - and by the fact that she can machine standing up! Her brother looks absolutely delighted with his new placemat.

Way to go both of you! I agree it's important to help kids be creative. I'll have to blog about what my grandkids and I are up to. They lead a super busy life so we keep it simple but we are doing! Your granddaughter did a super job and it looks like her brother is very happy to have his own to use at your home.

Shirley- I love your documentation of your time with your grands! Your Sydney reminds me of my Maya, who just turned 8 and loves creative times. What great placemats Sydney made! I so admire your decision to paint something every time your family gets together! I can't imagine how you manage to actually do it, but it's an inspiration to me.

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