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Friday, 17 April 2015

All children are capable of extraordinary things

The Middle Girl is six years old. She is full of fun, and there is rarely a dull (or quiet) moment when she is around. She is an independent and strong minded little girl, who doesn't see the point in doing things just because someone has told her to do them. But, when it comes to a thing she has set her mind on doing, you'd do well to bet money on her succeeding at whatever it is.

You would be right to conclude that being the mother of such a person can be, well, kind of infuriating at times. Finding the right balance between making her comply and do the things she has to do, and not spending significant chunks of each day nagging her and feeling frustrated at her unwillingness to listen, is a challenge.

The other day, after being asked to brush her teeth a squillion times, I sat down and tried to reason with her.

Me: "You know, life would be a lot easier if you would just listen and do as you're told. Why don't you?"

Her: "You told me to ignore people when they annoy me."

Ha! How on earth do I respond to that?! I still can't work out if she was playing me or deadly serious. Either way, I don't want to go on about her faults. All of us have them, and, hopefully, in her case, she'll grow out of some of her annoying habits.

I am not one bit sorry if elements of what I write now just boil down to me being a proud parent shouting about something her child has done. This post is intended as a celebration of how fabulous my Middle Girl can be, and a reminder to us all that children of all shapes and sizes are capable of extraordinary things.

sewing in a dressing gown
The school holidays gave me a bit of slack in the system to come good on a promise I'd made to my older two girls to help them sew a garment. I'd planned to do this on a one to one basis, for an hour at a time in the 7 pm slot once the youngest two girls were in bed.

When offered the chance to make a skirt (which is what the eldest had made), the Middle Girl pulled a face and announced she wanted to make a t shirt. That's quite a challenge, are you sure, I asked her. Yes. And I want it to have an `R' (for Rachael) on it, too. Okay, I said (because it was immediately obvious that if I wanted to achieve my aim of some mother and daughter sewing time fun, I needed to give in and help her make the thing she wanted to make).

The choice of jersey remnants I had to offer was limited, so she quickly agreed on using the navy and white stripes I had leftover from my recent cowl. I pulled out my crumpled copy of Flashback Skinny Tee, guessed at a size that would fit. My dress making scissors are too big and heavy for her to use (she tried), so I cut out, while she designed the logo she wanted for the front. She was willing to tolerate this intrusion of hands on help, on the understanding the sewing would be her territory. (Now where does she get her independent streak, I wonder...)

sewing a sleeve
In our first session, we got as far as having the logo on and one sleeve in place (she was very keen to have a sleeve on and negotiated getting this done before going up to bed). The thing she enjoyed most was using the iron to apply Bondaweb for the logo, along with getting reaquainted with my sewing machine. My Janome has a fast and slow option switch on the foot pedal, and setting it to the later means that, with the help of a plastic step underneath the pedal to boost the height, it is pretty child friendly to use.

making the machine child friendly
She complained throughout about having to follow the 10 mm guideline on the machine, even though she understood why she had to, and proved to be pretty good at sticking to the seam allowance. I guess the girl is just a free spirit!

top stitching
The second day consisted of top stitching the logo. Strangely enough, because the tiny inside of the `R' was the last bit she did, it turned out to be her best bit, as she improved a lot with practise.

I strayed from the instructions on how to apply the neck band, because I thought getting her to sew it into a loop and then attach it to the t shirt would prove too fiddly. Instead, I unpicked one shoulder seam (this did not go unnoticed, and was another thing she complained about me doing) and then got her to pin the folded neck band to the neck edge, treating them both as one long sort of straight line.

This idea came from making a version of the excellent Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick Tonic Tee pattern. As an aside, I'd definitely recomment trying this free (woohoo!) pattern if you are wanting to make t shirts for yourselves in time for warmer weather.

learning how to change a needle
I pointed to the neck band of the t shirt I was wearing to show her what I meant and what the things she was being asked to do corresponded to. At this point, she asked how to get the two lines of stitching around the edge. Inwardly groaning, I explained how I'd used a twin needle for that bit. That, of course, is what she then wanted to use.

using the twin needle to top stitch the neck band
This is pretty much how the experience went on. I won't bore you with every detail of the make.

She was gleeful when she finished, and bounced around the house, leaping off furniture, showing off her new thing. Funnily enough, she has not worn the t shirt since, and I couldn't hazard a guess why. That is the Middle Girl for you!

just about standing still long enough for a photo


  1. Oh you must be so proud! Well done her. And I did have a giggle over ignoring those who annoy...

    1. Yes, she did well. When not bouncing off the sofa or ignoring my requests, she's a good egg. 😊

  2. Clever, clever girl. My middle boy is just the same. Very demanding and contrary but well worth it!

    1. They test us, huh?! Fabulous... and annoying, too! :) My friend always says you want your children to be strong minded and individual as adults... It just makes them a bit of a pain whilst they are children and you need them to do as they are told from time to time!