07 March, 2011

Little Feet, Pins, and Needles (Part 1)


Welcome to Week 1 of the series on quilting with little ones around. Every Monday in March I will be highlighting tips and tricks to making the most of your quilting time when you've got little ones underfoot. Whether you are a new mom trying to find time for your hobby or a new quilter trying to figure out just how to make it work, there will be loads of info here to get you sewing in mad fits. Along the way please share your own tips and tricks.

Today we're tackling space planning and coordination.

Whether you are lucky enough to have a room where you can start, leave a mess, and close the door or you are stuck in the corner of your bedroom, you can make it work well for you. Here are 5 ways to make your time sew successful.

1. Acceptance
No matter what space you are in, shared or not, kids will want to be where you are. It seems fantastic to be able to shut the door and shut out the rest of the house. I certainly dream of it. Even if you have that the kids will be coming in, guaranteed.

My sister-in-law has a great space in their fantastic basement. It's right off the family room and her oldest son's bedroom. But the last time I was there I saw the sewing machine sitting on the family room table, about 10 feet from that valued door. Moms and kids want to be together.

Accept the interest and interruptions. That seam can wait until the next game of Candyland is over. Yes, it can get frustrating, I know that. See it from your kid's point of view - they always want your attention and frequently need your help. You are a mom first and a quilter second (or third or fourth), so let the kids be there and everyone will be happier.


2. Safety
Regardless of where your sewing space is located, if there are kids in the house you need to keep it safe. I don't just mean keeping them safe from wrecking your quilts or tools. They need to be kept safe too.

Keep your iron, scissors, rotary cutter, and pins in a high or child proof location. You may also want to examine where you store your machine, ironing board, and any bins. Minimize any risk of those objects falling on you or the kids. Finally, watch your power cords and outlets.

I sew in my dining room. No matter where I put the machine there is a cable running from the table to the wall. My kids are high energy and think nothing of racing around the house after each other or the dogs. If the machine is out they have strict rules to stay out of the dining room because they've been caught on the cord before. To be perfectly honest, I have too. Remember to keep it safe for you.

3. Creative Space
Making a space to create often requires another brand of creativity. Whether it is storage, a space to spread out, a way to keep projects in order, or simply somewhere quiet to foster your creative energy, you need to think creatively.

We've got a small house, have I mentioned that before? In addition to sewing on the dining room table I store my fabric in my daughters' bedroom (at one point under the bed, and now in an underused closet), frequently use my kitchen counter as a cutting table, store current projects in plastic bins tucked in the dining room or in our small bedroom, and use the bed or a floor for a design wall.

In the dining room itself I've got my ironing board, cutting mats, and some projects tucked between the sideboard, toys, and our paper shredder (have I mentioned this is also the home office space?) On top of the filing cabinet I keep my thread in a vase, a pin cushion the girls are allowed to touch, and various bits of fabric and supplies. Some of my scraps fill some glorious canisters on top of the hutch that store both my cookbooks and art supplies for the girls.

When I really want to sketch or be creative I usually end up colouring right alongside my girls. If I really need the quiet though, my favourite time to do this is in the car. Not while I'm driving! When Hubby is driving and the girls are asleep I love to pull out my sketchbook and draw.

The only thing I find I really miss is a dedicated design wall. I'm working on that. Check out these creative options from Katie and Elizabeth.


4. The Right Timing
As you can tell by the name of this blog, I do my quilting when my girls are asleep. My ideal time would actually be first thing in the morning. Hell, it would be all day if I could! That just isn't realistic for me with a 2 and 4 year old that are both performers and love an audience for every single thing they do. After they go to bed I could and do sew, but that doesn't make my Hubby happy as he is either working or relaxing about 10 feet away in the living room. Needless to say, it makes me very happy that my girls still nap. Very happy.

You need to consider the time you get to sew when setting up your space. Your other family members' schedules should be considered. Sewing can be noisy and messy. Homework schedules, work, homeschooling, meals, music practice, and even chill out time should be factored in to your schedule and space planning.


5. Less than Perfection
The quilt police don't really exist, and unless your mother-in-law lives with you, the cleaning police don't exist wither. You know that quilting is messy. You know that your kids are going to get in your face, er... space. Who cares if the entire family has threads on the bottom of their feet? Better that than pins.

Accept that there won't be a perfect solution to your space plans, but with careful planning, creativity, and consideration you can make a happy space that works for you and the family.

Next week in the Little Feet, Pins and Needles series we'll talk about the game playing you can do with your kids to inspire their creativity and hopefully an interest in quilting.

26 comments:

Esch House Quilts said...

A great article, Cheryl! I love that you started with acceptance. That was probably the hardest part for me when my girls were younger.

Danielle said...

This is wonderful! I'm not a quilter (yet) but I'm just learning to sew and knit, so I've found myself all of a sudden with stuff everywhere, and an interested three year old looking to help.

Cynthia said...

Most excellent! I have 4 under foot and quilting has taken a backseat until I can get my space and sewing stuff worked out and under control. I love the fabric scraps in the glass jars! I have too many for that but love the idea! Now back to work (laundry, lunch etc.) Hope you have a great day.

Jessica said...

good post. i'm looking forward to the rest of the series. I quilt a lot with my 2 1/2 year old under foot. I have a separate sewing room but you're right, he's always in there (or standing at the bottom of the stairs shouting, "mommy! come down here!"). In addition to keeping the space safe, I also try to make it inviting and fun for him, so he can play with stuff while I try to sew or cut a bit. The place is a mess (lately we've been doing craft time with stickers and fabric scraps) but i've accepted that it's the best way to be together and still get some quilting done.

Barb said...

Thank you for your thoughtful article...I wish my 2 and 4 year olds still napped. I'm fortunate to sew in the formal living room of our house. It is also home to the lego and trians so the kids can play while I sew. Here's a photo of quilting with kids at my house: http://quiltingbarbie.blogspot.com/2011/03/percy-tank-engineaka-quilt-basting.html

Oh - have you thought about starting a Naptime Quilter flickr group. It might be fun to have a forum for naptime quilters.

badlandsquilts said...

Good thoughts! (have you seen those extension cords that are flat/ramped so you don't trip on them?)

jbr said...

I'm excited for this series. In my sewing room I brought in a little desk, crayons, dry earse poster board and made a corner for the kids. They know they have a space they can play with and still be righ tnext to me.

erin daniels said...

Great series idea! This very moment I'm sitting with eager anticipation that my little one will take his nap (although its not looking very promising), so that i can press my seams and do a lot of pinning!

Annie Crow said...

Good note about having things like rotary cutters up HIGH - just this past weekend my husband caught my little one wandering about with the RC - that I'd thought I'd put in a secured drawer - "is this something he should have?" NOOOOOOOOO!!!!! I have to remember that nothing is "secure" from my budding engineer unless it is insanely out of reach (and then also out of sight).

Another tip to add - forget about any deadlines you might set for yourself. Something will come up.

Kimberly White said...

Great post! I'm off to go sandwich my quilt while my girl sleeps and my son watches Cars. (After I vacuum and was the floor).

Birdblocks said...

Hi, a short message from the Netherlands. I have a power outlet made right above my table, so during workshops I can walk around the table free of cords going across a walkingarea to the wall. You can also make a hook or screw above the table where the cord goes to and then over the ceiling to the power outlet (with extra lenght of cable). Maybe with a hook right above the outlet to get the cable to go straight over the ceiling and down where you want it to go... (removable so only the hook is there all the time)
Succes with your series. Looking forward to the next episodes. Thank you, Merel

Becky said...

Great stuff! I have a love hate relationship with my dining room sewing for just that reason. I like being close to my daughter, but I hate it! I really should set up a kid corner in there for her!

amandajean said...

great post, cheryl. i look forward to reading the next ones!

It's good to remember that our kids (and their interruptions) are good for us...built in breaks for mamas so our arms don't fall off from quilting too much. :)

sewkatiedid said...

I like my little "livudio' because it allows me to sew AND be with my family, but the tools are no touchy.

Thanks for the linkie love. I use the hell out of that system.

mjb said...

My baby is only 3.5 months so I don't have too much experience yet (and he's not mobile plus we're moving and I'm back at work), but one thing that's helped so far is to do only one thing at a time. So one night I cut out a bunch of projects, the next time I had time I sewed the next stage on a set of blocks, and then when it was safe to iron I pressed my seams on the projects. It's definitely a lot slower than having a block of hours to do all of the steps in sequence, but I'm making progress anyway.

Erin @ two more seconds said...

Love this article, and the idea for the series! So smart. My boys are usually pretty accepting of knowing what stuff in my sewing room is off-limits, I think it helps that I let them play with certain things if they keep their hands off the iron cord, rotarty cutter, etc. :] Can't wait to read more!

Katie B. said...

Thanks for this! I always need a reminder about safety. I get very sloppy about that.

My son is three and a half. I think I need to start finding some crafty activities for him too.

Victoria said...

What a great post! Even though my girls aren't little anymore, I still relate so much to what you have said... I too, make do with limited space and spread out storage, and really long for a true and designated design wall. Also, I have a very small pooch underfoot, (who begs to be held while I sew) and I still need to pay attention to low dangling iron cords, pins on the floor and sharp scissors that could get knocked off the table and on to her.

And, even with one teenager and one young adult, I am still called upon regularly, expected to drop everything and simply be a mom. That never changes, and family still comes first.

Suzanne said...

Acceptance. That's just what I need to be reminded of. Thanks, Cheryl.

Kerstin said...

Thanks so much for this post, this is great! My older one just turned 3 and gave up his nap a few weeks ago, so sewing is only possible in the evenings now. I did try to quilt with him in the room once, and he came over and started to pull on the quilt... not fun!

Rhonda said...

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who has to be creative concerning small house space and lack of storage. :) I don't even want to describe our dining room! But let's just say I have a happy, organized corner that works, and yes, my sons like to wander by and either check out what I'm doing, or show me something they're doing. That's what counts!

brown robin said...

THIS POST MUST BE PUBLISHED IN AN ARTICLE!!! Absolutely. Cheryl, your writing surmises everything I've been doing for years, but never bothered to explain to people. If you want to create with kids.... there is a flow to it that melds seemlessly kids and creating and safety. I find since we've moved into a bigger house that I'm constantly hauling the machine, fabric, cutting mat to the table so that I can be "in the thick of it." What mommy artist creates without kids on top of you? I get much less done now that they are school age. I'm running them back and forth too much. I miss the days of naps. I have so much to catch you up on... guess that will have to be an email. Glad you're in your groove. Hugs!!!

RED PEPPER QUILTS said...

Great post! My kids are older now, but I still sew right in the middle of our open living kitchen/dining/living area. There's been some discussion as to setting up a studio "out the back" which appeals, but seriously I wouldn't want to be set up anywhere else.

Kate said...

I'm a few years away from little feet in my sewing room, but I will be saving this for future reference and looking forward to the rest of the series. For now, I'll just be grateful that I only have my fiance underfoot!

The Tulip Patch said...

Just want to add that you have to be careful about your iron if you add water. My then 3 year old got the idea that you could pour water into other electrical things and I almost lost my pfaff this way. I'm sure it wasn't the safest for him either which is even scarier. Don't pour water into your iron in front of your kids without explaining that it can't go into other electrical things and that is a MOMMY JOB.

Robin said...

Such a wonderful post. I also quilt with little ones around, and the smartest move I ever made was to combine my quilting room with their play room. They need to be where Mom is and why shouldn't they. We are their mothers, not just caregivers. It is great advice to invite your children to be a part of what you love. You can always be making memories and teaching skills, even when you don't relaize it.