Sunday, March 25, 2007

A birthday gift

We don't do traditional Kid Birthday Parties in our family. When we host birthday parties, we do them differently -- as family parties, without gifts, just as fun get-together, hosted by the birthday child, to his or her specifications and with his or her help -- that's the fun part! Mostly though the kids, being introverts, prefer just to do something special with their family as a birthday celebration, like visit the Halcyon Hotsprings, or go out for a special dinner, or even stay home for dinner. We don't believe in the whole gift-giving / loot bag racket, and make an effort to sidestep it by choosing different styles of celebration.

When they're invited to a Kid Birthday Party by another child, of course we cheerfully play by the other family's rules. But we always try to come up with a gift with some thought towards simplicity. We're lucky that most of the kids we hang out with don't hanker for wii games or Bratz dolls or sneer down their noses at simpler, more organic gifts. So we're almost always able to come up with something that doesn't involve going to a toy store and plunking down twenty bucks. Usually the gifts the kids give are hand-made, at least in part, by them... or are recycled or pre-loved.

Sophie was invited to the 9th birthday celebration of her close friend A.. She and I brainstormed a few different gift possibilities, and came up with the idea of sewing a special music bag. While going through my immense piles of scraps and cuts of fabric looking for something suitable, we came up with a 2-metre length of luscious heavy-weight navy cotton knit. Sophie's eyes got big. For the past six months she'd been saying she wanted to sew a skirt, and we'd just never got around to get to a fabric store together to pick something out. But here, right here, was what she wanted her skirt made out of! How could I not have mentioned I had this length of fabric just waiting to be used?

Well, there was enough for two skirts, one for Sophie and a matching copy for her friend. All thoughts of a music bag vanished. Sophie smiled a big smile and I knew that she was thrilled -- not only to get a skirt, but to sew it herself, and to make one for her friend A., and to have both of them end up with a matched pair! So she set to work.

She'd never sewed a knit before, so I got out my little serger and introduced her to it. She serged the raw edges. She did the endless pinning. She switched back to the sewing machine and sewed the hem and waistband casing with a zigzag stitch. For a nifty touch she sewed a buttonhole with the snap-in buttonholer and fed an adjustable elastic through for the waist. Sophie sewed the button on the waistband. She did the ironing. She tried on each skirt. She was thrilled. So was A., I'm told.

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