Romeo’s First Sewing Project
As I understand, throughout much of history, for most families, women have held charge of household duties while men went off to work. Within a society so structured, why on earth would a parent send their daughter to learn carpentry when her valuable time would be better spent learning household duties that could mean life or death later for her family? (there were no McDonald’s along the Oregon Trail). Conversely, why would a parent teach their son to sew when what he really would need is to learn a trade that would likely supply the only income for him and his family (unless he got apprenticed to a tailor, which would be an entirely different thing)? Even though the societal need for traditional gender-based training no longer seems to exist, there remains a certain stigma against one or the other gender learning about or doing certain tasks. Fortunately, my husband is open-minded, so he cleans house, does laundry, and knows how to sew on a button if the need arises.
Apparently, our son, Romeo (who is 7) is also open-minded. When I asked my kids if they thought they would someday be interested in learning to sew, he was prompt in replying that he thought it would be “cool” and asking when he could start/what could he make.
Romeo hasn’t needed a lot of new clothes lately. He does, however, really have a need for some new jammie pants. I guess I could have started him off with some goofy hand-sewing or stitchery project instead, but in my mind (so I have to assume it could cross his) that wouldn’t be “real sewing.” To me growing up, as my mom taught me to sew, the “real sewing” involved sewing real, wearable, clothes like my mom would make, using a sewing machine for some parts just like she would. So we decided to fill one of his actual needs and let him do some “real” sewing.
We went to the store, and I let him pick out the fabric he wanted to use. He chose this flannel (gender appropriate, not boring, not “for a baby” were his criteria):
I did not think-through the part where he had to cut it out. I let him use some of my fabric scissors and they were just way too big for him. His poor little hands were wore out by the time he got through with the cutting. As you can see, it was a two-handed job. He did keep with it though, and did the cutting-out himself.
Obviously, this isn’t a project for just any kid to undertake, but he took it pretty seriously. When he quit taking it seriously during a sewing session, we would stop for the day.
I explained some of the hazards of being careless with sewing and sewing equipment. I think he got the point.
Then it was on to using the sewing machine.
He makes it look easy, but in reality, when his foot was on the pedal, my hands were right there with his. Partly to help him guide the fabric (though his skills were improving throughout the project) and partly so I could hit the off-switch if he got out of control. The foot pedal was set up on a small wire shelf thing under the desk so he could reach it.
He started this project in July, and just finished it up today after school. Yes, we probably could have pushed through it faster, but for the sake of enjoyment, we kept the sessions short and only worked on the project if we were both interested.
I asked him if he also wanted to be the one to write this posting, but being more into math than writing, he said I could do it. I said I’d interview him and he rolled his eyes. So what does he think about making his own jammie pants? I think the last pic says it all:
In the interest of encouraging a young (male) beginner, please leave him some nice comments to read later (right now it’s past his bedtime).