May 14, 2014

Kindersewing: Tapping Into Childlike Confidence for Better Sewing

Teaching tweens how to sew is awesome for one fact: they don't sweat it if they make a mistake. While most of the women in my adult classes (at Bread & Yoga in Upper Manhattan) stress about aligning seams just so and edgestitching evenly, the kids just forge ahead without any worry. And when they do make a mistake, they pick it out and do it again. They aren't hard on themselves in the way that grown women are. They may not be the strongest sewers, but they are better than we are at making mistakes.

Cutting skirts in sewing class

As adults, we have a couple things that we do well. For most of us, there's one thing we're trained or schooled in, and we do that daily for work. We may also have a hobby or sport that we play, and we've probably been doing it for some time — maybe even since we were tweens. So the opportunity to make mistakes doesn't come up all that often for many adults. We are out of practice at flubbing things up. We take it personally. We use the word "fail" as a noun.

And that's the biggest challenge I find in teaching adults — reminding them it's OK to make a mistake. Nobody will die if you sew the right side of your bodice to the wrong side of your skirt. There's more fabric. There's always more fabric. You need to break a few eggs to make an omelette.

But the kids. They are awesome at failing. They do it with such grace. They don't berate themselves or question whether they could ever be good at this. (And I don't need to tell them that I also make mistakes — though they do like to hear that).

Peter of Male Pattern Boldness recently ruminated on what it means to be a fashion designer — and whether those of us who sew for fun would ever use that term to describe ourselves (many home sewers are actually much more involved in the process of creating something original than many modern-day designers). Reading the comments on his post, it's clear that even those among us who have the skills and creativity to create whole outfits from scratch are wary of labeling ourselves "fashion designer." We reserve the term for those who have professional accreditation, their own section at Macy's and are know by a single surname.

A kid, meanwhile, has no qualms with staking their claim to a title. Paint a picture at preschool and you're an artist. Help dad with dinner, and you're a chef. Learn "uno, dos, tres" and you're telling your building's Super that you speak fluent Spanish. Ask my daughter whether she's a fashion designer and she would say yes:


She'll be six in the summer and already she's sewing on a machine. And, because she has kid-confidence, she's also designing. But she's not a prodigy or anything — and I'm not bragging. Rather, I'm showing you this to make it clear: designing is not all that hard. Even a kid can do it.

You draw a picture. You choose some fabric. You commission a patternmaker to draft a pattern for you (What? You don't have access to a patternmaker? So you use a commercial pattern that matches the design you had in mind. If you think about it, it's the same thing!). You sew it. You wear it — and you tell everyone you see that you made it. (Seriously, every person in our corner of the Bronx will know by Friday that my kid can sew. Talk about self-promotion. I could learn a thing or two from this kid.)

When we teach our kids (or someone else's children) how to do something new, we praise effort and tenacity just as much as achievement. In the face of frustration, we remind them gently that they are learning — and that every mistake is just part of the process.

So too should we be kind to ourselves: how would you talk to a child about the mistake he or she just made? Be at least as nice to yourself and you will enjoy sewing so much more. And give yourself the same credit you would extend to a child — if sewing were easy, everybody would do it and H&M wouldn't exist. It's not brain surgery, but it does take practice. So please, be proud of your sewing accomplishments — and call yourself whatever you want to!

24 comments:

  1. I love this post so much! Thank you. I wish I could convince all of my friends to be easier on themselves and prouder of what they can do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know what you mean! I'm like, "YOU SEWED A SHIRT! HOW MANY PEOPLE CAN SAY THAT!?" (All caps indicates my enthusiasm level)

      Delete
  2. Awesome post, Suzanne. I love seeing how proud your daughter is about her dress -- there is definitely a (significant) part of me that feels the same way when I wear a garment I've made. I'm inspired by her to EMBRACE THAT FEELING! And so, so true about making mistakes with grace... in sewing and in the rest of life, an excellent reminder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a tendency to fixate on my errors rather than my fine points. Kids think everything they do is awesome (and it is!). We all gotta be more like that.

      Delete
  3. This is a great post! I have made a lot of imperfect items, and my fitting needs a lot of work, but by being blissfully ignorant of what I didn't know, I successfully designed and fit and made my wedding dress. And it was lovely! It's good to remember that we can just try things and that we can be proud of what we accomplish. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is amazing. What an accomplishment!

      Delete
  4. this is such a perfect and beautiful post! my daughters all have a varying degree of interest in sewing and i just need to schedule time for them to learn. on a related note, my girls have been taking an art class and talking to their teacher she described much the same thing. the kids are great because they don't know their limits, whereas the adults she teaches are hyper-critical of themselves and have a hard time sticking with it. we could all learn a lot from the little people!

    ReplyDelete
  5. You're so good at expressing yourself! I love reading your posts. Even as a small child I loathed making mistakes - I was and remain a bitter OCD perfectionist, but I try my hardest to remind myself how the things I make look to other people and that usually helps me let go of my errors a little faster.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Found this post on twitter! EXCELLENT!!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. amazing post! I can completely relate to all of it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is just so true. I was making a teeshirt the other night and I got the band on the v-neck offcenter and was so mad at myself about it and my roommate looked at me and said, "You know, I PAID for a way shittier teeshirt than this from Forever21 with the neck like that last summer. And I still wear it." We all need a little more kid confidence.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. TOTALLY! I say that to my students: if you paid for this, would you even notice this minor thing? Probably not so give yourself some credit!

      Delete
  9. I needed to read this - thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  10. So glad you're back to blogging. Love this. When I was a teen I remember sewing together two of my mom's dresses to make a tube dress with straps for New Years Eve. It was so ugly in hindsight... but shit, I designed it, I made it, and I was better than everyone at that damn party.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Woot woot! Love this post. Your description of teaching tweens to sew reminds me a lot of why I love being an art teacher. Kids are fearless. And so much fun.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Love the thoughts expressed here. As adults, we don't always have someone around to say "it's okay, don't beat yourself up over it". I often forget those past successes and focus on a crooked seam like it's the end of the world. thankfully it's blogs like yours and countless others that remind me everyone makes mistakes, and I am not alone cuz everyone feels the same things at one time or another. Thanks for reminding me I am a human being doing the life dance ......xoxoxooxxox

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a good point. Maybe they have more confidence because many have more support than we do. We're going it alone so it's easy to lose perspective.

      Delete
  13. Great post - we should all aspire to be so fearless. Great to read, thankyou

    ReplyDelete
  14. The Best Lol n Troll Network with the Name of Lols Gag... Troll Images, Prank Peoples, Funny Peoples, funny planet, funny facts, funny cartoons, funny movies pics, iphone funny, funny jokes, Prank Images, Fail Pictures, Epic Pictures, Lols and Gags, Lol Pictures, Funny Pictures, Lol is the Laugh out of Laugh where you can Fun Unlimited and Laughing Unlimited.
    LolsGag.Blogspot.Com

    ReplyDelete
  15. Classified Sites, Pakistani Classified Sites, USA Classifieds, Indian Classifieds, Entertainment Articles, Entertainment News, Entertainment Pictures, Bollywood, Hollywood and Lollywood Pictures and Videos, Entertainment Latest updates, Hot Entertainment News and Pictures Funny Entertainment Pictures, lol Pictures, Funny Pictures and Much More Fun Only on 1 Current Affairs Network
    hotcurrentaffairs.com

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...