Getting My Craft On

Written by NPN Guest on July 10th, 2012

Arts and Crafts, Natural Learning
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Welcome to the July 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Creations

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared crafts, recipes, and philosophies of creativity. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


When I was little, I was lucky to get to spend time with my great-grandmother, who was a seamstress. I have only snippets of memories from visits to my great-grandparents’ house, but I remember her sewing room, and my favorite childhood dress (a velvety green jumper that I loved so much we had to let the hem out so I could keep wearing it) was one of her creations.

My mother also used to sew — making quilts for friends, my Halloween costumes as a child, and, much later, curtains for the twins’ nursery. (She also used to do macramé and weave. On a loom. And her hair was down to her butt. Why, yes, I am the child of hippies, thankyouverymuch. Mwah — love you, mom!)

Singer sewing machine
My father used to sew, too — on the industrial Singer sewing machine he got from HIS father, who repaired them, oiling and tuning the machinery. When my dad was ready to part with it, I claimed it as my own, and he drove it down to me — three hours — and showed me how to tighten the leather belt, how to oil it. That machine sat in my workroom, unused once I upgraded to a shiny multi-function machine. I couldn’t part with it for years, though we finally sold it in preparation for this move. Instead of the machine, I am holding onto the memory of my father and my son, heads together, giving the machine its final tune-up before passing it along to a new home.

I don’t remember learning how to sew, though I think my first project was a skirt I made in high school. I’m not great with commercial patterns, preferring to make things I can puzzle out myself or working from instructions and pictures of other projects. After a cape purchase a few years ago — made by a mom with a website before Etsy took off — I thought I might give it a go. I drafted a cape pattern inspired by the existing capes and made one as a birthday gift, then another, perfecting my pattern as I went. I created a car cozy for another gift (slots for little Matchbox cars, with a road stitched on for portable playing). I made a stack of simpler capes for the preschool playground. But time and again I realized I was mostly making projects for other peoples’ kids.

crafty-samples
Last summer changed that. I appliqued shirts for the 4th of July, and whipped up a matching headband one morning before school (a fact my daughter proudly shared with everyone who admired her new headband). I made drawstring backpacks to tote the kids’ swimsuits and towels. I tackled wallets to satisfy a birthday request. (Alas, the wallets were a failed experiment. They probably needed the old workhorse machine to make it through the layers of fabric and binding!)

I don’t know if creating for my kids will inspire them to sew (or to take apart sewing machines) but I know that I love to do it. Making their drawstring bags did not cost less than buying them from the store (probably more, actually), but the creations mean more this way, and that counts for something.

finger knitting
We are still here in our temporary apartment, and every few days I wonder why I didn’t put my sewing machine in the early delivery shipment. Instead, I taught the kids to finger knit and to weave — their choice of brightly colored rainbow yarn transformed into cheerful necklaces and oversized bracelets and little medallions of woven cheer. I may use them to decorate my new sewing room once we get into our new house.

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Jona is mama to almost-6-year-old twins and an IBCLC in private practice in the Seattle area. She blogs about her family’s recent interstate move, parenting, creativity, and other intersections of life at Life, Intertwined and is the editor of BreastfeedingTwins.org, where she offers tips and advice for parents of multiples.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Garden Soup — Bailey finds a way to help momma Katy (from Muse of a Daffodil) in the garden.
  • This One Time, I Tried To Make a Car — Ashley at Domestic Chaos tries once again to make something crafty from stuff around the house.
  • Pin-tastic creative ideas — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares how Pinterest is inspiring creativity in her family this summer.
  • Baby Hiccups In The Womb — Alinka at Baby Web shares one of the ways she bonds with her unborn baby.
  • Turtle Mosaics — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school and her little family spend a quiet hour making a turtle mosaic inspired by the work of Melanie Mikecz.
  • Edible Art Plus 8 Art Supply Recipes — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares some natural, chemical-free art supply alternatives, which are gauranteed to be tons of fun for children of all ages. They taste great too!
  • A surprise art lesson — Tat at Mum in search has been taking art lessons from her 5-year-old son.
  • Memory Creation — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen talks about how her family aims to create as many memories as they can as a family.
  • A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words — Melissa at Momma Beer tries to replace cars with crafts.
  • My Creative Family: Sometimes Messy, Always Fun — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM embraces the messes that sometimes accompany creative play but admits you don’t always have to get dirty to have fun.
  • Fun Family Learning: Constellation Cave Tutorial — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter gives step-by-step instructions for building a fun new twist on a cardboard box playhouse.
  • Cooking… Kind Of — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings makes pizza with her daughter, hoping to inspire a love of cooking and encourage a bigger interest in food. As well as making mess and having lots of fun, of course!
  • Crockpot Refried BeansThat Mama Gretchen‘s family loves to experiment with new recipes, and today she’s sharing a kitchen success!
  • Creating Memories — Andrea at Tales of Goodness reflects on how the best creations can emerge from just letting kids be kids.
  • Making Beautiful Things … And Sometimes Just Average-Looking Ones — Tamara at Tea for Three looks for ways to add more craft and creativity into every day family life.
  • Making Fruit Leather Together — When Amy Willa at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work took some time to involve her children in the process of finally trying a fruit leather recipe stored on her Pinterest food board, she got more than just a scrumptious homemade snack as a result!

10 Responses to Getting My Craft On

  1. Andrea  

    Now I am so wanting to go off and sew somthing. I must admit I am an average sewer (at best). And, the thing is, average (at best) sewing is not always so wearable, so I tend back off these kinds of projects. I think you’re reignited my appetite though. Time for another try – thanks.

  2. Dionna  

    Yes! I, too, hope that my kids will be inspired to at least try new projects by watching/helping me create things. Another reason I need to curb my perfectionist tendencies – to take the pressure off my little ones. (see the post at Tea for Three about perfectionist crafters!)

    • Jona  

      Agreed – I do tend toward perfectionism, and sometimes it leaves me with unfinished projects (because I can’t do them RIGHT). Trying hard to get past that myself so I pass along the love of creating not the fear of creating WRONG.

  3. Lauren  

    What a touching post — I love that sewing has had such a place in your family’s life. I tend to sew by experimentation as well, and I take it that’s how my mother learned, too. Funny (and beautiful) the things we pass on.

  4. Christine @ African Babies Don't Cry  

    My grandmother and mother instilled a great love of sewing in me too, alas I don’t seem to find the time to ever sew myself… but I guess we need to make time, right? Loved how you made the totes even though they may have cost more, makes them so much more special! :)

  5. Shannon @ GrowingSlower  

    What a lovely family tradition! I too remember my great-grandmother and her sewing machine. My mom doesn’t sew, but she did the next best thing and sent me to sewing lessons when I was little. What a life long love that instilled in me!

  6. Jaelline  

    Hippie mom here learned to sew in 8th grade in Home Ec, and made several pieces of clothing for herself :). She also made some early things for you. Hate to think of all the unfinished projects, tho, often for that same perfectionistic reason … sorry about that!

  7. Alinka @ Baby Web  

    I love hand-made things! My mom used to sew and even taught me a little when I was a child but I am completely hopeless now… I do think it’s a great skill and even if your kids won’t end up being pros, those early experiences certainly develop their dexterity, patience and a host of other qualities! :)

  8. Laura  

    I’d love for an old machine like that. :) I haven’t got to sew much in the last six months. It makes me sad, but I can’t do it all.

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