It was a normal holiday morning. New Year’s Day, 2024 started with some Valentine's Day sewing, and then…my 3-year-old dropped a That Purple Thang into the hole on my sewing machine beside my bobbin winder. Before you hyperventilate, it all turned out ok…but it was a hairy 15 minutes! My brain looked like a thread nest as we walked the tightrope to fix this problem without causing any new ones! My husband helped me remove all the screws on top and keep them straight so we could replace them correctly. We took the entire top off and had to turn the machine upside down to shake out That Purple Thang.
I wish I could tell you I reacted with complete calm and grace, but I will be honest. I panicked, made my daughter back up from the machine, and woke my sick husband from a nap to help me all while dollar signs were flashing in my brain! After it was all over, we put the machine back together, and I tested it to see if everything still stitched well. It did, and I took a breath. Then, I realized I could have handled that better.
Pippa didn't realize what she was doing was bad. She was just exploring. After all, we had just had a 20 minute discussion about making some doll clothes and a doll quilt. She had been choosing some fabrics, and she was watching me sew. Then, her little 3-year-old brain just said “purple stick…mysterious hole…PUT STICK IN HOLE!”
So, after things calmed down, and I had a clear mind to consider what to do next, I told Pippa we needed to talk more about the machine. I said, “I love that you love fabric. I love that you love sewing. And I cannot wait to teach you how to use the sewing machine. Right now, you get to help me push buttons when I tell you and you get to push the pedal to wind a bobbin. But we also have to do two more things to keep our machine working and make sure no one gets hurt. We need to RESPECT it, and PROTECT it.”
Respect the Sewing Machine
I explained to Pippa that while the sewing machine is pretty much my favorite thing, and while it can do some really cool stuff, it can also hurt you. Badly. So we have to respect that it is powerful and that it can’t tell when our fingers are in the way.
I am also realizing that I need more safeguards as Pippa is getting older and more curious. She sometimes plays in this room alone for a few minutes. It’s a bonus room with our guest bed, my sewing space, my husband’s office space, AND Pippa’s play space. My machine sits out, turned off, but plugged in. I’m going to start trying to leave it unplugged and look into a cover to discourage Pippa from trying to use it without me.
Protect the Sewing Machine
I also explained to Pippa that the sewing machine is very expensive and we cannot just go out an buy a new one if this one broke. She seemed really confused about that. I told her if it breaks, we will have to take it to a repair shop which will cost money and we would not be able to sew in the meantime. She was flabergasted—“you mean, Imogene (her stuffed bear I made her for Christmas with her own outfits) wouldn’t get any more clothes????” That one hit home!
So we talked about how to protect it. No putting things in holes. No pushing buttons when not told. Basically no touching without expressly being told what to do or how to help.
I can also do a better job to protect my machine. Closing the cover on top. Placing a dust cover over it. Cleaning out the bobbin case more often. Applying oil regularly. I can do better to protect this investment and workhorse in our home.
An Accident or a Lesson
So, Pippa scared me to death, but in the end, actually caused me to do some thinking. I will do more to respect and protect my machine myself. And now we have some language to speak to each other about the machine together. I absolutely love how interested she is in sewing, and I want to nurture that interest without pushing her away. I hope we can respect and protect my machine together for many years and many many projects.
What discussions have you had with your littles about sewing safety?
See another post about sewing with little kids: 7 Safe Ways to Include Your Kids in Your Sewing.