The box of 2-1/2 inch squares of fabric was to the right of our sewing machine in the Creative Arts building at Expo New Mexico. It was the 2010 New Mexico State Fair, and we were located in the middle of the competitive quilts display, demonstrating a variety of quilting techniques. The box contained hundreds, perhaps thousands, of squares of fabrics from projects on which we had worked over more than 20 years. There were so many different fabrics that it was an ideal source of squares for the scrappy split nine-patch blocks we were making.
The little girl was about 9 years old, or perhaps a bit younger. As she reached for a square of fabric that caught her eye, her mother gently reproached her: “Don’t touch.” In a flash, I recognized that this was yet another opportunity to grant a person an experience, the memory of which might last a lifetime.
“Pick two squares that you really like,” I said, as I pushed the box to the edge of the table. “Now, let’s sew them together.” As the little girl stood at my left, as close to the table as she could get, I pinned the two squares right sides together, raised the presser foot, dropped it along the right hand edge of the squares, and took two stitches. Then I pushed the foot feed to the left so that the little girl could operate it with her foot.
“OK. Now it is your turn to sew. Push the foot feed down gently until the sewing machine begins to sew.” As I guided the squares under the presser foot, worst case scenarios briefly flashed through my mind: What if she stomps on the foot feed and my finger gets stitched into my perfect quarter inch seam allowance?
The little girl gently pressed the foot feed, and the squares moved under the needle just as they should. At the end of the seam, I removed the little girl’s first project, pressed it, and presented it to her.
The smile. What a magnificent reward!