I'm struggling with my 6-year-old knowing everything there is to know about sewing and not needing any help. Apparently that's the way it is and I have to just butt out and take my pesky sewing-teacher habits elsewhere.
Softly, softly... when the girl wondered why her very Japanese-designer-looking wrap-around dolls outfit didn't look quite like the High St Fashion she'd envisaged, I offered the Enid Gildchrist "Teen Dolls" book that I used at her age (it was my eldest sister's before I had it).
I bit my tongue about technique, and remembered how much free rein I was given as a kid. I remembered how this book taught me what garment patterns look like, and gave me the basics to start designing and drafting my own Barbie Doll fashions.
I was shown how to use a sewing machine when I was 5 or 6, given lots of fabric scraps and access to craft and sewing books and magazines. I consulted the odd pattern for guidance when I needed it, but mostly did my own thing, learning from my own mistakes. While Enid Gildchrist taught me about garments, soft toy books showed me what soft toy patterns looked like. And then I free-formed it and made my own up.
The turtle, above, is one of the few surviving pieces from my childhood of sewing (regular readers will have seen this before). I made it when I was 8. Members of my family can still remember the original garments from which every patch of the shell was made. My fabrics were my big sister's offcuts, and she sewed for all of us.
The peg dolls and cloth dolls I made (aged 11-13) reveal an early fascination for historical costume. Some things never change.....
By mid-high school, all my art projects were textile-based and I'd learned the value in using resources for technique (the motifs on this Australian-themed garment were an exploration of applique, machine quilting and embroidery, fabric paint, print, pastel and 3-d fabric sculpture). As the only Art student in my year at my school, I was studying the theory by correspondence and working on the practical assignments on my own. I had no teacher to show me what to do, but my mother and my school made sure I had access to books and materials to use. I free-formed it and did my own thing, and earned myself top grades.
Yesterday, I had a wonderful reminder of the other things we leave behind. One of the lovely gals in my Purse Frame class went to the same tiny country primary school as I (briefly) did. She went through with my elder siblings. I was utterly heart-warmed when she talked about her memories of my Mum bringing birthday parties to the school.
We lived "next door" (across a paddock) from the school, and rather than inviting a few kids to a party at the house, my Mum would load up the VW Combi with cake and party food and drive over to the school, to share with all 20 or 30 kids. Not only did she give her own children great memories to carry through life, but that feel-good childhood memory from our family has gone beyond us all.
Food for thought, indeed.