Sunday, along with cookie preparations and camping preparations (we're going this weekend! In the snow! Whee!), my junior troop started their sewing badge. Since we're going camping in a lodge in the snow, most of the hand work will happen while we're there, as well as looking at patterns and fabric and making decisions and so forth. It's our main activity Saturday morning. But since I didn't want to drag a sewing machine to Tuckaho, we handled that part on Sunday.
For part of our bronze award, the girls will be putting together "cat quilts" for the APA--small soft blankets that fit at the bottom of cages. So it makes sense to do the sewing badge to get that project started. My girls are 4th and 5th graders. I remember being a 5th grader and already knowing how to use my mother's sewing machine and could make doll quilts (ugly doll quilts) for the dollhouse. I was allowed free use of the sewing room (well, area) in my house. And so I am self-taught.
I set up the sewing machines and asked the girls if anyone had any experience with machine sewing. Of the 16 who were there, 5 raised their hands. Only a few more than that even had a sewing machine at home.
This wasn't a skill they were going to pick up at home.
And with the state of education how it is, this wasn't a skill they were going to pick up at school either.
Once again, THIS IS WHAT GIRL SCOUTING IS FOR.
It was the most basic introduction. I showed them plain cut scissors (left and right handed) and pinking shears. I showed them bobbins, cutting mats, and pins. Each girl cut out two squares of the sort of fabrics we would be using--polar fleece, flannel, minky, jersey. Then they pinned them faces together--which didn't make sense to many of them. They brought them over to the machines and I talked them through a running stitch. How to put the needle into the fabric, how to put the presser foot down. How much pressure to put on the pedal. How to cut the thread. Each girl sewed her two blocks together and I called it a day. Seriously.
As we start the bronze award project, they'll learn more, I'm sure. My machine is easy to thread and things will come undone. Bobbins run out and need to be replaced. I just, I guess I was shocked at how little they knew about this basic skill. So I just kept it simple, did this mini lesson so I can build on it next time. And maybe there will be room for the sewing machine in my packing for the weekend. Because I think practice will be essential.