Abby and I have been watching project runway together. She is a very artistic kid and has been begging me to do a project with her. She says, “I’m DYING to make a dress, Mommy,” as if she’s 16 and not 5. So finally it is Sunday and I thought maybe we would try something. I want to encourage her creativity with projects that are realistic for her age, that move her towards more find arts, that develop her sense of worth and fine motor skills. I want to make it simple but real. I started her out by saying, “You see how they start their dresses on the show? They start out by sketching what the want to make.” This was Friday. She made a bunch of sketches and described in detail how she wanted her dress to look. It was fascinating to see how much she had picked up from watching and wanting to simulate the process. She wanted a dress with no sleeves, just a neck piece that held it up. She wanted another one with one sleeve that was ruffled and that came to the knee with no belt. It was so fun to hear what she had in her little head.
Today I decided that we would make her first dress. It’s not as fun to make doll clothes or paper doll clothes. She needed to feel the rush that accomplishing a REAL grown-up project gives you. I remember being that age and feeling that rush and that sense that I could do anything if I had the materials.
Then we talked about where your arms, legs and head have to come out from the dress. I asked questions that led her to the conclusion that she would have to cut out the bottom seams to make room for her legs to come out the bottom. I showed her how to use a seam ripper. She’s 5 so this was all done with heavy supervision. The three year old wanted to cut so I got out some felt and an old baby doll model I used for anther project and let her cut away. There is felt everywhere and all her fingers are still on so that went well.
We tried on the dress several times during the making of it to talk about where cuts needed to be made and where the ribbon needed to go. She was downright focused. Just saying… that’s kinda unusual.
It turned out like it was supposed to, not perfect, not fashion forward but wearable for her. It’s not totally about the end product although that should be a bit of it. It’s about the process – the learning. It was a great go at a first dress and she loves it. She is prancing around the house in it and thinking about what she will make next. I’m totally proud.
I NEVER do things like this with her because I’m so busy at work. I come home exhausted and rarely have the time to encourage all the creativity I know is dying to get out of my little girl. Here’s to hoping I can have more of these experiences in the future.