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Entries in Friday stitching (4)


Stitching...It's Not Just for Fridays Anymore

Alert!  Alert!!

We are closing in on the end of the school year!  Excuse me as I lose consciousness over that fact.

Okay, I'm better.  I can't believe it is seriously the end of the year.  Most of the academic stuff that was going to happen in Christian's class has happened.  From now on it's smooth sailing.  They are still learning a ton of stuff, but the heavy duty material has been covered, and they have done their standardized testing.

This means something for me...stitching every morning until they're done or the year is over.  Of course, the first non-Friday that I was supposed to be there we had a terrible start to our day and I missed the whole thing.  Nice!  They don't call me The Crazy Stitching Lady for nothing!

I thought I would do a quick update, and show you the next-to-the-last square they are working on.  It's cute...

I know the outline on the material doesn't show up that well, but it's Paddington Bear.  Mrs. C. read the book to the class, and they have several class activities that are based on things that Paddington did.  One of those things was the Sandcastle Competition.  Another is an Art Contest, and yet another is a Tea Party.  Those two things will converge tomorrow, with the judging of the students' art at the Very Formal Tea Party.

The class made us fancy hats to wear!  We are using china and silver.  The real stuff!  We will be saying things like,"One lump or two?"

I wonder how many lumps will be in my throat while I'm watching this scene?  I hope I don't cry.  But I know I will.

Anyway, I have more to accomplish tonight than I can actually do, but I'm going to try!  So, I've got to get back to work...but tomorrow I'll have pictures from the party, and I will probably do another update soon on the stitching. 

Thank you for your patience as I piece this story together!  Just a little quilting humor, there.  Ha!  I crack myself up.


The Creation and Evolution of Stitchers

Christian's class has already covered several areas of study in these first few weeks of school.  They have an area outside of their room which they have made into a mural; they all worked to design a creation scene.  They have discussed God's handiwork from the very beginning of time, and they have learned about many of the key Bible stories in Genesis.  They read from Scripture every day, as well as sing songs, learn poetry, and write and illustrate journals. 

Now they are moving on to the next big unit, which is dinosaurs.  The first mural has been taken down, except for the background of earth, sea, and sky, and will stand as the background for coming projects.  The students are going to collaborate on a dinosaur scene, with the animals roaming the land amidst the trees from that time.

I'm going to try to keep the Friday stitching related to something that is going on during their current studies.  This time it happens to be easy; I found a relatively simple dinosaur outline, traced it onto a plain piece of paper, and then transferred that onto their fabric squares using dots.  What may not be easy is stitching this particular square.  I think it will be very challenging for them since it is so curvy.  Unfortunately, there were no squared-off dinos.  They were quite snaky, or spiky, or horny.  Oh, you know what I mean! 

This is our friend, the Diplodocus. 

I asked Christian to pick from a couple of different dinos, and he chose this one because it wouldn't eat him. 

Here it is on the's hard to see because the pen doesn't show up well in pictures (at least in pictures that I take at 1 a.m. in my dining room with zero natural light, because, hello! it's the middle of the night).

So far I have been very blessed with the help of a great deal of extra mom hands on Friday mornings; there is no way I could do this without them!  They patiently thread needles, undo mistakes, and praise these children's efforts.  The kids have come a long way in just a few short weeks, but there are still a lot of extra loops, knots in thread, and fabric corners sewn into the backs of their squares.  It really is a lot of work helping them get this done, but it is so worth it. 

I wouldn't want to miss this face for anything.

A couple of them finished their cross and fish today, and began the dinosaur.  They were so proud of their completed square; it brings me joy to see them look at what they have accomplished with such satisfaction.  They are turning into quite the seamstresses and seamsters. 

Some of the things they said to me today that I thought were especially sweet or funny:

"I have my stitching in my room, for practice!"  (talking about a small plastic circle I sent home with thread and plastic needle in order to get some extra experience and get more comfortable with the stitch)

"I want to make them [the stitches]'s faster."

and related to that one..."If I make them [the stitches] small, I'll never get done!"  (that was actually Christian; I told him he would, indeed, get done)

They are going to be so thrilled with what they have at the end of the year, won't they?!


Two Inches Away From Insanity

Last night I pulled out the crate of stitching stuff for Christian's class in order to cut the squares down to a smaller size.  They were so large that the kids were sewing the extra fabric that hung outside of their emroidery hoops into the backs of their pieces.  Of course, this meant taking out multiple stitches in order to free the fabric and then they would have to redo what had been done and undone.  I thought if I made the squares a little smaller that the corners wouldn't be so inclined to get caught in the needles' paths. 

First of all, why did I wait until last night to start doing this? 

Second of all, why did I wait until last night to start doing this?

I honestly thought it would be a simple thing to do.  I just needed to take two inches off each side of each square.  It sounds easy, doesn't it?  I put my measuring template down on my fabric cutting board.  (Aren't you impressed that I even have those things?  Well, you shouldn't be!  I got them about four years ago when I began making a quilt for Michaela...and the unmade quilt still sits in a basket looking pretty for all that it's worth, a sad, sweet little pile of fabric that will one day be a lovely quilt for my grown daughter's children, maybe...)  Not for any amount of money or chocolate, in those first few minutes, could I get it translated from my head to my hands what I was needing to do.  In other words, I knew what I needed to do, but I couldn't think straight to do it.  It was the weirdest if all of my Math knowledge decided to go on strike and I couldn't coax it to come back and do its duty.  Not like I have a whole ton of Math knowledge, but I know that when I have 12 1/2 inch squares and I want to cut off two inches that I would be left with 10 1/2 inch squares. 

I would put marks on the fabric in order to draw the lines which I would use to cut off the excess fabric; then I would make the line go across instead of down, or down instead of across.  I would try to put the measuring template so that I could see where the 10 1/2 inches were going to be, but then I couldn't really tell and it didn't seem right.  I was so frustrated by my own lack of skills I wanted to cry.

But I didn't!  I persevered!  And all of sudden, it clicked.  And then I was a cutting machine. 

I got into a groove and once that happened it went quickly.  I also began to look at their stitching closely, and it brought me such joy to think about them stitching on this cross.  It was such a sweet thought, that they were working on something so diligently and that it would serve as a reminder of the Lord's great love for them.  I felt humbled and happy to be helping them with this project.  

A friend that I hadn't talked to in a long time called while I was cutting, and talking to her helped the time fly.  Before I knew it, all thirteen squares were cut, back in their hoops, and sealed in the bags once again.

This morning I toted all of the stuff to class and the kids got to work right away.  They all seemed very enthusiastic.  And they were doing a great job.  The time went by quickly there as well, and soon the stitching was all put away again. 

When I first signed up for this task I was so apprehensive.  I was worried about getting the stuff ready, about teaching them how to sew, about being in the classroom with a bunch of first-graders and all of their germs.  Now I find myself thinking that it will be over much too soon.


They Had Me in Stitches

Last year Christian started school a week later than everyone else so all of the volunteer sign-up sheets had been filled out.  Mike and I ended up doing a handful of things for a couple of parties, but were never exactly in charge of anything.  I like it like that...I don't like to be in charge (you can imagine the consequences this has for parenting sometimes...), especially of collecting money or putting some big shindig together whether it's a party or a field day.

This year, however, we were around for the sign-up sheets.  Our names are on several lists, which is as it should be.  Do you know how much the first-graders love to have their mommies and daddies in the classroom?  Their little faces light up, radiant with joy that mom or dad has come to spend that time in the morning with their little boy or girl.  Christian's classroom has morning centers and his teacher this year loves for parents to come and help the kids out at the different learning areas.  It's a very hands-on, parent-involved, make-learning-fun environment.

So, on the sheets there are always blanks that get filled in quickly:  there are moms who love to organize the parties; there are parents who know they will be available to drive for field trips.  Then there are those spots that remain blank until the very end of the parent-teacher meeting, the spots no one particularly wants to take.  I noticed on one of the sheets that there was a spot such as this, an as-of-yet unclaimed responsibility.  It was called Friday Stitchery.

Mrs. C. also noticed this blank and brought it up to all of the parents at our meeting (before school started they had a little coffee for the parents to sign up and get familiar with the classroom and the curriculum).  We all looked at our feet, checked our nails, admired the maps and the White House poster.  I could feel my heart start to beat faster, and I knew, I just knew, that I was supposed to do that job. 

I can't say that I was initially overjoyed with this sudden and certain knowledge. 

I put my name on the list and decided I would stay after the meeting to make sure the teacher knew this was a tentative commitment (is there such a thing?).  I had a feeling, however, once you sign the sheet there is no going back.  Kind of like Mr. Anderson with that pill in The Matrix.  Well, I swallowed the pill.

I brought home the crate with all of the supplies from last year.  I looked through it, searching for instructions or any helpful info.  The teacher had made it very clear that while she loved for the kids to do the stitching, she had nothing to do with it.  Meaning her input was ZERO.  What I did know about stitchery was that each child worked on their own set of nine squares, stitching a basic outline on each one that would represent a different aspect of their school year.  For example, the outline of a triceratops for the dinosaur unit, or a Texas state flag for the unit on our state.  It was the responsibility of the Stitchery Mom to cut the fabric squares and get the designs onto the squares (think dot-to-dot, but with a needle) for the students to sew on.  In the crate I found embroidery hoops and leftover material, as well as thread from last year.  Needles were already in there.  But I saw no instructions about specifics.  How big were the squares supposed to be?  Was I supposed to use particular designs?

I called the mom who was in charge last year; we're friends.  I made her go out to dinner with me so I could pick her brain.  She told me about her experience, some of the things she did, but really what I was left with was that I could do whatever I wanted.  Oooh, the power went straight to my head!

I went ahead and bought new fabric; I was going to need 108 squares total.  (And somewhere along the way someone reminded me that there was a new student in the class which actually meant I would need 117 squares, but I think it will all turn out fine in the end.)  I got the first set of squares cut out, and then I went about the business of figuring out the design.  I thought it would be nice to start with one that reflected the Christian nature of their education, as well as one that hopefully pointed to the importance of their relationship with the Lord.  I looked up a couple of things online, and finally settled on a design that I thought was simple and meaningful.  I sent it to the parents to get opinions and everyone thought it was good.  I then began the process of marking the fabric with a water-washable pen...

I enjoyed this process.  It was therapeutic in a way, repeating that pattern over and over until all thirteen were done.  I began early in the day so it wasn't that late when I finished.  And getting to the end of the pile left me with a great feeling. 

Somehow I ended up with an extra one; it was providential, I suppose.  (Apparently, I'm crafty, but not so good with Math.)  I decided to experiment a little with the thread to see what might work the best. 

I tried doubling it, not doubling it, and also dividing the six strands in half.  I tried out different thicknesses in needles as well.  I was a little worried that if I took a square to the class that a grown-up had worked on the kids might think,"Oh, I can't do that!  That's so good."  I don't think I had anything to worry about!  (Maybe not so much on the crafty, either!)  It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be.  The thread and needle combination that I used at first wasn't quite right.  But I finally got a combo that I thought would work well for them.

I put each of their squares in a Ziploc baggie...

and then realized that I wanted to put the squares in the embroidery hoops so that they could get started right away.  So, I did that, and got everything back in the crate, all the bags, all the thread, all the needles, and my camera!  I set it by the front door, where Christian's bag hung on the door knob, so we would be ready to go in the morning.

I have to confess, I didn't sleep very well last night.  I think there were lots of reasons (I never sleep well, actually), but I was so nervous about trying to teach all the kids what to do.  I don't remember my phone going off at all (it's my alarm)...I just remember sitting up all of a sudden, hearing Michaela upstairs, and saying out loud,"Oh no!"  I knew that I had slept right through the first day of stitchery.  I grabbed my phone and it said 7:16.  Phew!  It was all right.

I got Christian up, we all had breakfast, I even showered!  Mike stayed home with Eliana and Michaela went to Christian's class with me.  I grabbed up the crate and we arrived a couple of minutes early to class.  Mrs. C. said to us,"Well, there's the Stitchery Mom!  Christian, where is your bag?"  Well, of course we left his bag hanging on the door!  But I had the stitching stuff, darnit.  My sweet Michaela ran home and grabbed Christian's bag for him (we live very close to his school) and brought it back so he could turn in his homework.  And we all had a chuckle about my feeble mind.  I am getting older, you know.  My birthday is at the end of this month; I'll be turning the ripe old age of 35.  And believe me, I can feel it in my joints and in my bones.  I don't even want to talk about my gray hair. 

I was so grateful for the six other moms that showed up to help.  And they all thought I was amazing for having everything ready to go, for being so organized.  If everyone only knew how funny that is. 


Between the moms, Michaela, and the two teachers in the class, all of the kids at least got a start.  There was a bit of pulling out of stitches, and redoing this and that line, and wrapping the thread all the way around the hoop, but overall I got the impression that things went well.  As they get used to the stitch (a backstitch) it will get easier.  At least, I hope that is true!  This is going to be a wonderful project for them, and something they will be able to take a lot of pride in.  I'm looking forward to working with them throughout the year and seeing them get closer and closer to their goal of a finished quilt.  Oh, I don't think I mentioned  that earlier.  The nine squares will be put together into a quilt that they will get to take home with them (probably after the summer); it will be pieced by a professional-someone who knows what they're doing.  I'm not that good! 

So, today we began the journey...and it was a great deal of fun!  I will say that I never knew sewing could make me sweat.