The kids and I have been more homebound lately due to health and transport issues. I thought that we’d have been driven mad by cabin fever and clawed each other’s eyes out by now, but it has been surprisingly wonderful. Deliberately slowing and paring down has allowed us to pursue new interests, to rekindle old ones and to have many meaningful conversations. We’ve not been harried folks rushing in and out of home for activity after activity. We’ve been able to tackle our projects with a clearer sense of purpose and been able to complete them with greater attention to detail in a way that we have not been able to before. It has been so refreshing.
Alhamdulillah for silver linings…
One of the things I’ve wanted to instil in myself and my children is stickability… persevering and seeing things through. As I’d said in an earlier post, I wanted them to do more worthwhile craftwork. We had begun stitching a couple of years ago, but I found something lacking in our sessions… there wasn’t a sense of aspiration, if you will. There wasn’t an expectation of bigger things to come.
I think one of my many mistakes was that I did not guide them enough. When they saw a pattern they liked, however difficult, they immediately wanted to leap into it and I allowed them, thinking that their enthusiasm would carry them through. However, their lack of skill and experience often caused them a great deal of exasperation and it would not be long before efforts would peter out. When a project was completed, they would be so unhappy with the results and experience that they would be daunted to try again, even though they itched to create something pretty with their hands.
I ought to have done a little more planning and introduced projects that were challenging, but not frustrating. Dexterity and skill need time to be developed. My kids tend to want to do difficult things and achieve the same results that adults do. While I need not curb their spirit, I can help them see the value of learning things gradually and celebrating small successes along the way, rather than be overwhelmed part way and be forever discouraged.
Last Sunday, we started anew :) We embarked on a wonderful new project – sashiko. At first, the girls were a little hesitant, thinking it was an overly simplistic craft, since it uses only the running (or “tack”) stitch. When they saw how pretty the results could be and how there are varying degrees of complexity, they were all for it. Since we didn’t have white transfer paper (heck, we have NO transfer paper!) or blue fabric (traditional sashiko uses white thread on indigo cloth), we made do with blue carbon paper, calicos and assorted flosses.
I was really very heartened to see the gusto with which they stitched. Both of them finished their projects in two days and immediately asked for new patterns to work on, ma shaa Allah. Below is a pic of their completed sashiko stitchery… Forgive the horrid quality of the photo – I had only my mobile phone on hand :P
Their second patterns are a little more difficult, with smaller and more stitches required. Here is Bear, working on her second pattern (it’s a pic of cute handbags!) while waiting for her sister to be done with her Arabic class.
On another note, I did some stitching too :) Bear was enamoured by Made By Joel’s vintage fabric dolls and begged me for one. We dove into my stash of fabrics and settled on a cheery green and pink print. We made several adaptations – I sewed on a calico face (which we agreed to leave featureless), embroidered a bob hairstyle (Bear used to sport this Dora-like look!) and stitched on Bear’s choice of cute buttons. (“Put star buttons at the top to show it is night, OK?”)
It is a simple project – the doll is essentially an embroidered 18-by-9-inch pillow (but don’t call it that in front of Bear… she has a name and she is Choti) and stuffed with polyfill fibre. If you have a sewing machine, you can probably complete it in a couple of hours or less. I did this completely by hand – I am still afraid of sewing machines! – so it took me a little longer. Still, I loved the whole process and when I knotted my last stitch, I was truly excited to surprise Bear with it. She had just woken up in the morning and her look of pure delight is something I’ll treasure always.
(Notice the little peg doll? We made it a couple of years ago and it is wearing a purple kimono… Bear says it is Choti’s doll. Again, pardon the awful quality of the photo – my Nokia is just rubbish, so I tried posterizing the pic but my graphics skills are even more rubbish :P)
Bear adores Choti and won’t let her out of her sight :) I guess I did SOMETHING right, alhamdulillah!
I’m loving the craftwork mashaAllah! It’s something I really miss here, i haven’t got any supplies yet. Regarding the sashiko, do you draw a pattern onto the carbon paper then trace it onto the fabric? (Forgive me if this is so obvious, lol!) Also are there any traditional patterns, or do you just make up your own?
I’m going to have to convince my husband that crafty stuff is an absolute essential as I am raring to go!
wa `alaykum as salaam wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh Umm Salam! :)
Traditional sashiko is done on indigo cloth and uses a special sashiko thread (I believe it is a little thicker than our usual embroidery flosses). Stitchers can get kits and samplers with the patterns already drawn on or they can transfer the patterns onto the fabric themselves.
There are traditional patterns but if you are good at drawing, then you can make your own patterns. I’m terrible at drawing LOL and I found the kits pretty expensive so I found some patterns that I printed out. I will put them up in my next post so you and Umm Maimoonah can download OK?
To do traditional sashiko, you’d need light transfer paper to get a white outline onto the dark fabric but I don’t have light transfer paper to transfer the patterns onto a dark cloth. So, what I did was to just wing it :P
I used my stash of plain cream calico and also a locally produced fabric here called karandi (it looks like linen but is not as stifff). I’ve run out of transfer paper (this is best as it washes out from the fabric easily once your embroidery is done) AND I’ve run out transfer marker pens (the ink washes out nicely too). So what I did was to just get some blue carbon paper from the stationery store – embroidery purists must be cringing but hey, you make do with what you have right?
Here’s what you can do:
(1) If the fabric needs to be shrunk, soak it and then let dry. Cut out the fabric to required size, leaving a good-sized allowance for a border so that the final product can be framed or stitched onto something else. Press the fabric till it is smooth and stiff.
(2) Place the fabric onto a hard surface/table. Then, put the carbon paper onto the fabric, carbon side onto the fabric.
(3) Position the pattern onto the carbon paper. Now’s a good time to tell your kids to STAY AWAY. I go ape if they jostle my arm and the drawn pattern goes all askew! The best thing to do is to tape or pin the 3 layers of fabric, carbon paper and pattern together if it is a large and complex pattern. This way nothing gets misaligned.
(4) Keep checking to see that the pattern is being transferred properly and once it is done. You can then start stitching. Wash the cloth after the stitching is done and iron again :)
If you have a transfer marker pen, then you don’t have to use transfer paper. Tape the pattern onto your window when it is bright. Place the fabric over the pattern. If the fabric is light, you can see the pattern and you can just draw the pattern directly onto the paper.
I just love these masha Allaah!. Now you gave me an idea. I really do not know what this sashiko is all about, sorry for being dumb, : ) but I like the look of the patterns and the stitching which is tempting me to try. So how do I get these patterns?
Oh that Choti looks beautiful too, well done!
Jazzakillaah Khayr for sharing all this!
Awwww… jazakillah khayran for your nice words Umm Maimoonah :) Sashiko embroidery uses the running stitch to make a picture. There are some rules to it (I will post a link to these in my next post in shaa Allah) but it can be really easy and relaxing. There are more complex patterns – I chose the simpler ones to start out with. In shaa Allah I will post the patterns I have in my stash in my next post OK?
MashaAllah, i love the Choti!
Jazakillah khayran :) Alhamdulillah that I had JUST enough stuffing! It was touch and go for a while there!