A couple of weeks ago, I used a bit of my early morning “kids still sleeping” time to carve a few rubber stamps to use in fabric printing. Near the end of my stamp-carving, Abigail, my 5 year old, found me. After I explained what I was doing, “Can I try?” was the next thing out of her mouth.
Now, carving rubber stamps is not a project I would typically set out for my small children to do, but I hate to pass up an opportunity to include my kids in art-making. So, Abigail carved a stamp…with lots of supervision. I know, I know…rubber stamp carving tools can be sharp!
My kids are very interested in what goes on my sewing room and my fabric dyeing space. True….sewing machines, pins, needles, and rotary cutters are not not very kid friendly. And neither are many fabric paints and dyes — particularly for the the 5 and under set. But, I make a point to include them in my sewing space and let them come in and try or watch some printing and dyeing when it is safe for them.
Children should not be excluded from hobbies and interests. Sew and create with kids! Let them watch, let them try it out.
Here is why:
Model great behavior – You are showing them that mom (and dad) have interests. That you make extra time to be creative, to try new things! I know too many people who spend their free time watching TV or playing around on Facebook. Now, I watch TV and spend time on my computer, but my kids also see me cooking, sewing, creating things. I love that they seem me actively involved in my interests. And I hope it encourages them to find interests too!
Foster creativity – Sewing and art-making use a different part of your brain – increasing creativity and helping to energize and focus you in a different way. (check out this older article from the New York Times for more about the positive effects of hobbies.) That is great for kids too! Let them try new things. Even if it is just messing around is a box of scrap fabric.
Spend time together – Now I will admit, I do not approach sewing and dyeing as a “family activity.” Most of the time it is my break from kids and family stuff. I like that it is my thing. But, sometimes my kids just want to hang out in my sewing space. They like to work next to me on their own projects. There is something nice…peaceful,even…about one or two of them on the floor working on their project while I am sewing and working on mine.
Teach new skills – Sewing is a great way to hone fine motor skills! Lacing, beading, threading, stitching, and cutting are all great ways for kids to practice them. Not to mention the creative and problem-solving side of sewing – working a whole other part of their brain. When you take flat, 2D fabric and sew, glue or pin it into 3D shapes, that is a great mental exercise for kids to see how to build things – starting with an idea and working up to 3D object that they can hold. For that reason alone, a lot of the time my kids spending in my sewing space isn’t working on specific projects — it is playing and experimenting with scraps.
Try new supplies and materials – Clearly there is a difference between the art supplies my kids use on a daily basis and what I create with. They spend a lot of time with paper, paint, colored pencils, and glitter glue. When they are building, designing, creating with or just holding felt or fabric and yarn, it is a total different experience . And when they can occasionally be stamp carving, marbling, or softie making, they get to experiment with a whole other set of techniques and materials. I think that exposing them to different materials helps them be more creative and inventive in their play and experimenting.
So there is my case for inviting kids to hang out and spend time with you in your sewing and creating space. I am going to include a series of posts showing you how I make that work for me with a 2, 4 and almost 6 year old.
Does it take a bit more planning? yes – but not too much. I am always amazed with what my kids do with a ball of thread and some felt…or piece of rubber and a stamp carving tool. 🙂