Tips & Tricks for Sewing with Small Children Around

It is said that having children is the greatest joy of all! It is also said that it teaches many lessons, one of them being abnegation, and you know what? I sure learned that with mine!

I’m an always busy person! I just have to do something with my hands or brains! That’s why fabric shopping is dramatic for my budget when I breastfeed and that I got frustrated when my perfectly normally needy babies kept me from accomplishing tasks.

But who wants to struggle with parenthood when they don’t have too? I was responsible for those bad days with my little ones! I was setting too high goals for the situation. So what now? I give it all up? My sanity wouldn’t hold for long! So I developed some tricks to get my projects going, starting from this thought: what CAN I do?

I realized there are many things I could do with the kids awake and playing around:

1. Reading instructions, analyzing the steps, choosing the correct size, choosing the fabrics.
 

It sures depends on the level of concentration that you need, but see it as reading a good novel. Read a section here and there and you’ll get to the happy ending some time soon!

2. Printing the pattern, taping it together, cutting the paper pieces.
 

How about some collage with the kids? If they are old enough, they can actually help with that part. Mine aren’t there yet, but they like to stick some tape in my windows with me! I even give them little stripes to put on parts of my patterns that I will throw away afterwards.

No-mess trick to take off tape: Before giving it to your child, fold one end on itself for half an inch. It’ll give you a sort of handle to pull for quick cleaning.

Cutting is out of the question for my little ones, so I keep that part to myself, but older kids could totally help with that.

3.  Cutting the fabric pieces.

That part is tricky. I usually wait for hubby to be there too, because I refuse to work with something else than my rotary cutter, but it could as easily be done with scissors.

4. Clipping/pinning the pieces together.

Take those pattern instructions out and clip/pin every step you can! Let’s say you’re making a hoodie. You can clip the shoulders right away, as well as the neckband (or hood and hood lining), waistband and cuffs! So when you sit to sew, you really do that, you sew and nothing else! My kids like my coloured pins and I let them play with the clear plastic container I store them in. When they get tired of shaking it around, I resume my clipping!

5. Assembling the pieces

That is the one step I can only do with kids asleep. My big girl was sewing ribbons on my lap at 18 months-old, but her attention would be quickly lost and I couldn’t check on her AND sew at the same time. Then her little brother came along and never got interest in anything else than my machines pedals!

When babies are up, machine are off. I need all my concentration to use my machines and get the results I want, and I also need great concentration to look after my babies! In an emergency, I could resort to putting them in front of a movie, but that really is my last resort. Naptime is my solution here and all the other steps make this one possible. 

So that’s how I found a way to keep mind and hands busy with the kids running around! Every step I begin can easily be interrupted by any need or essential family task at any point. I don’t get frustrated, babies neither, and we are all happy at the end of the day, especially if the little ones get a new garment on top of that (but this time was MY turn!)!

With all this said, here are some considerations to ponder:

  • The success of all this depends on the level of chaos you accept! There is a good chance for toys all over the place! So either be prepared for that or set you and your bunch some rules and limits.
  • We are a family that values self-driven playtime. Sure we play with our little ones, but we also like them to find occupations by themselves. We like them to get bored and to find new (safe) ways to have fun. This also helps me mind my own business!
  • My workspace is close to my kids toys. They are always in sight. 
  • Note that I prefer clipping to pinning, especially around young ones. I have a fear of losing one of those little pins and that tiny fingers should find them before me. Safety should come first.

I hope these ideas will help you as much as they did for me! At times, I find out that I have more projects ready to be sewn than time to sew them! And this is the result after sewing: 

If you have other tricks to share, please do! I’m always curious to improve my game!

(Written by: Isabella Couture)

1 comment

I don’t have kids. I do have pets, and some of the same suggestions apply.

What I’d like to add, though, is that, when you sew and have pets or little kids around, it’s important to keep your machine covered (to keep curious fingers or paws out of it) and, as a fail-safe, to keep your needle sunk into a bit of scrap fabric to keep fingers or paws from potential puncture wounds.

Safety first!

Deb Storch September 01, 2020

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