Whose smart idea was it to include making sock monsters as an option in the summer activity box, eh?
Making sock monsters, sock monkeys, sock elephants and sock bunnies is probably super-duper easy for people who are competent at sewing. My sewing qualifications are that I can take up hems with neat little hand stitches and can replace buttons neatly. All other sewing jobs I have to do I do totally cack-handedly. I can only hand sew since I don’t even know how to thread a machine and I find it endlessly frustrating and exceedingly difficult. Sewing on Scout badges makes me grit my teeth, grimace and occasionally swear. I have a box in my bedroom that the kids call the toy hospital. In it they place any cuddly toy that needs a repair. The toy hospital has been overflowing for several months. I procrastinate over any sewing job that is non-urgent because I find sewing to be so trying. I have made sock monkeys, a sock elephant and sock monsters for my kids and those really were labours of love.
Knowing how much they love their handmade sock toys, I must have thought it would be a great idea to add that as an activity for the summer. I also thought it would be to their benefit to learn a couple of basic stitches and how to sew on buttons. Life skills.
The boys were excited at the prospect of making their own toys and trying something entirely new. They ran off to gather their chosen socks and then we settled down to start sewing. Do you know how much patience I have for threading needles? Very little. Want to guess how much patience I have for threading four needles? Zero. My ten year old chose a fluffy slipper sock which provided an extra degree of challenge since the embroidery thread kept snaggling up in all the piled fluff of the sock. I think I rethreaded his needle three times just for stitching the mouth. The boys had found stitching the mouths to be frustrating but they persevered and did it. It was useful that we were making monsters since it did not matter that the lines of the mouths were asymmetrical or otherwise wonky. Monsters are perfectly imperfect, right?
They enjoyed rummaging through my collection of random buttons to pick out eyeballs for their monsters. I have my Gran’s button tin since I spent many happy hours rummaging through them and playing with them. I think it might be a universal kid thing to find boxes of buttons appealing. Sadly very few of my buttons have any personal history. A few have been snipped from old garments but most came from a car boot sale to be deployed in craft activities and educational games I used to play with my kids when they were preschoolers. Eyeballs selected, the boys then sewed them on. To begin with they found aiming for the button holes to be difficult but then they got the hang of it and I could see they were experiencing a sense of accomplishment.
Then it was time to sew the legs up, having turned the monsters’ sock skins inside out, and the boys got to practice a different type of stitching. This they found to be much more enjoyable since, being on the inside, the neatness of the stitching did not matter. We left a gap between the legs – which my boys predictably called a “bum hole” – so we then turned the monsters right way around again. Then it was time for stuffing and they decided for themselves how plump or squashy they wanted their monsters to be. Then all that was left to do was sew up the “bum holes” and the monsters were complete.
I thought the whole activity had been a bit of an ordeal. I had been constantly rethreading needles. My oldest son had complained about me licking the thread to assist it in going through the eye of the needle so I had to contend with his germ phobia. Then there were all the snaggled stitches, the breaking threads, and the pricked fingers to deal with. They also started whining about how long this particular activity was taking. Oh well, I thought, they can’t all be winners. But, wouldn’t you know it, one of my kids had covertly been enjoying the activity all along, despite his outward protestations. The next day, he asked me if he could use another sock and make another monster. I was busy at the time but told him sure he could so long as he was prepared to do all of the sewing, though I would thread the needle for him. And so my 9 year old sat and sewed himself a sock monster with barely any guidance or assistance from me. So skills had been learned after all. The sewing ordeal had all been worth it.
What a great way to introduce and teach the boys the magic of sewing and practice patience too. Monster socks rule!
Thanks. Of course, I prefer the type of sewing magic where some elves appear in the night and do all of the work for me. 😀
yes yes yes that magic is oh so welcome anytime!
Lol, fabulous art project!!
So maybe now one of your boys will be able to help out in the toy hospital. Or is that just wishful thinking?
The 9 year old is quite keen to help with the toy surgery so hopefully I do have a helper now. I really need to train him to thread needles though.
There are several types of devices that will help with this job. Cheap and foolproof. Google needle threader. Make sure it’s for hand seeing, not the machine.
Oh really! You might just have changed my life, Claudia!
My pleasure. That was easy. I sewed a great deal in the past, clothing, embroidery, mending, drapes, etc. and of course a million miles of free motion machine sewing for my fabric collage era. Even my machine had a needle threader or I would have gone insane. So I felt for you.
I have no natural gift for sewing whatsoever. Anything that helps make it easier and less stressful will be a real boon. I’m going to research when I can find time to hop on a bigger screen.
I would also suggest stopping into a sewing shop. Might be of help. I can recommend Fabrics on the Hill in chestnut Hill. I have shopped there for decades under 2 owners. and it is now owned by someone I know well, you’d do great there.
I shall pop in there for advice next time I’m in Chestnut Hill. I’m not much of a seamstress so it’s not urgent but some kind of doohickey to make threading needles less annoying and any other stress busting sewing tips would be gratefully received.
I have always believed that the magic found in sock monkeys and sock monsters rules the universe, a whole level higher than that which exists in crayons.
Thank you for your charming comment. 😀
All you require Laura for your sewing kit is a needle threader and a whole new world might open for you 🙂 The other option is eyeless needles, but they come with their own set of challenges…….. Didn’t they do well your boys! Fab sock monsters, all personally designed and characterful! And, as you say, a number of handy skills picked up along the way. Some years back I had a couple of young German travellers stay with me for a few days. One of the young men showed me his trousers with a rip in and while I steeled myself to be asked to repair it for him, he asked if he might use my sewing machine ….. Moments later my machine was a well oiled masterpiece and his trousers were repaired. He then proceeded to sew buttons on shirts belonging to both of them. I was beyond impressed!!
Thanks for sharing that story with me. The most accomplished seamstress I knew was my Grandad. He could even embroider.
Now that’s a real man!!
I kid you not, I threaded a needle more than 100 times today. If you saw how tiny the eyes were, you’d die. I sell the needles I use in my shop, and I don’t think anyone has bought them in the 16 years I’ve been in business. People think I’m crazy when I tell them it’s my go-to needle. The key to threading it with ease is to NOT look at the hole. Seriously!
I will try to remember your advice to not look next time I thread a needle, Amy. I think you are right that I would just expire from spontaneous combustion if I had to thread a needle with a tiny eye.
Hooray! I’m so happy to see someone training up a new generation of monster makers, and your boys’ monsters turned out great! Nice one 😀
Thank you! They will be so pleased to receive feedback from a master monster maker.
Awww, you’re making me blush! I actually used to call Beasties “sock monsters”, because I had no toy filling when I made my first one so I stuffed him with socks!
Awesome sock monsters!!! Your posts always make me laugh!
Thank you. I’m so glad my posts make you laugh. 😀
I’m so glad you did this project the sock monsters are awesome. I have not been able to thread a needle (without a ‘needle threader’) for years now. 🙂
Thank you. I’m definitely going to investigate a needle threader. It sounds like it’s just what I need to reduce some of the stress of sewing.
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