By Rachel Thomas
I have been thinking back when my mother used to watch my children for me when I was a working mom. She had a wonderful knack for keeping them busy and entertained. She was always cleaning house, cooking, working in the yard, and at the same time kept the kids perfectly happy and content.
One of the things I recall that my kids absolutely loved was when mom would get out her sewing box. They absolutely loved looking through her sewing kit to see what magical things they could find. Mom had all the usual things in the sewing box like thread, needles, pins, scraps of old material, but she also had tons of different sizes and shapes of buttons, patches, thimbles, scissors, glue, and even marbles. She told me she just picked them up over time from when we were kids and threw them in her box. The box contained a tape measurer too, just like most sewing kits, but this one was special because it measured the children’s heights perfectly.
There were many things in that box but it was not just the box, it was my mom, their grandma. She could make an adventure out of anything. The box even had some string and yarn which the kids would use to make necklaces from all those colorful buttons. The buttons had many wonderful uses and would keep the kids happy for quite some time. They would string them, stack them, divide them by size and color, and they could also use them to make collages on her scraps of material.
It was so much fun for them and for me to see what they had made when I got home from work. Mom tells me they would sit for hours working on their projects. Grandma gave them each a scrap of material and a blunt needle which she helped them to thread. She showed them how to sew the buttons on the material and who would have known they were absolutely thrilled! The kids sewed on buttons for the eyes and the nose. Then she would take some old pillow stuffing and wrap the material around it with the eyes and nose on straight and show them how to gather it up and sew it together. After that they would either use the yarn and glue on mouths or use a fabric pen. When they got a little older they even used the smaller buttons and sewed on a mouth. It was great fun and it also taught them some sewing skill!
Other times they used their scraps and practiced their sewing in and out, in and out, in and out. As they got better at sewing they could sew their names on the material or sew the frame of a house and some primitive flowers. It was great because they could use different colored thread and sometimes they used yarn if they had material like felt or the like.
My son liked playing with the thimbles, putting one on each finger and sometimes using them as finger puppets. He also liked the old thread bobbins and would color them and string them up or would set them up in a row and use the marbles he found in grandma’s kit to knock them down. Sometimes he used the bobbins as wheels using a couple of pencils with a bobbin on each end and then he would use small binder clips or even sometimes clay at each end to keep them in place so that they would be able to roll across the floor. Grandma would always help of course. She even had craft sticks in her sewing kit so they used those to make the car itself by gluing them from one pencil to the other and coloring it with markers. Voila! Homemade car.
Other times they used the craft sticks to make houses and mom let them use her hot glue gun which was also part of the kit! They would build their houses and then glue yarn for doors and windows and buttons on the roofs. Other times they would run outside and pick up small sticks and leaves and make thatched roofs. As I think back that led them to a whole other crafting experience!
The buttons were also used sometimes to trace around and in the little holes. With a piece of Styrofoam you could lay a piece of paper on top and stick a straight pin in one of the button holes and use a pen in another hole and make designs like the old Spiro graphs. This was a lot of fun for the kids, using different colored inks they would come up with some interesting art.
As I look back at how many craft projects and how much fun they had with grandma’s old sewing kit it amazes me. It just goes to show you that the simplest things can give children pleasure. But then it was not just the sewing kit, it was the grandma that went with it. She has an adventurous soul and has the ability to make just about anything fun. I am so thankful my kids have had many years with their grandma.
Rachel is an ex-babysitting pro as well as a professional writer and blogger. She is a graduate from IowaStateUniversity and currently writes for www.babysitting.net. She welcomes questions/comments which can be sent to rachelthomas.author @ gmail.com.