Sewing with Kids – Jillian Jiggs Pigs

A long time ago, when I was a child

I sat alone reading while my sister went wild

Paper bag princesses, a jolly postman, and Jillian Jiggs

Oh how I desperately wanted my own little pigs

The cover of the Wonderful Pigs of Jillian Jiggs

 

For years a kept a little pig my mum made me. It had never turned out quite how I wanted it, but it was made for me. And then a couple of years ago Rugrat #3 got her hands on it and the poor little thing was never the same.

Around this time I stumbled on Jillian Jiggs. I came across her in a local consignment store and was thrilled. I brought the book home and read it to my Rugrats, only to discover for all the talk of pigs, the darn instructions weren’t there. I started to think my memory of the whole thing was wrong, but after some hunting I discovered Jillian had more than one book. And why wouldn’t she? If you haven’t heard of these books, or haven’t looked closely at the art, I recommend you do. The attention to detail is great and so much fun. The rhyming scheme of the book also makes it a pleasure to read out-loud.

After some hunting, I found the instructions in the back of The Wonderful Pigs of Jillian Jiggs, which I also picked up secondhand.

I had been meaning to make these pigs with my own kids, but excuses.

Last week, just before Spring Break, I walked into Rugrat#2’s room and my jaw dropped. The state of of it was something else.

It was like a bomb had gone off.

A bomb filled with Lego, bits of paper and who only knows what else. 

Without even thinking I started to recite the words of Jillian Jiggs’ mother. And he stared at me blankly.

I dropped everything, found the books on his shelf and read the first one right then and there. He laughed and smiled and loved it.

And so I read all about her wonderful pigs. We looked at the collection of pigs in the pages. We talked about what they were wearing. And we made a deal to make our own.

Transmogrification Class

We are trying really hard to make learning fun around my house in light of everything.

Today’s lesson: turning pantyhose into a pig!

It turns out this is more difficult than I thought and I see now why my mum only made one little pig for me, and not a whole pig family as I so desperately wanted.

I highly recommend starting with an easier sewing project (like this dice bag) if your kids (or husband) have very little sewing experience. 

I also suggest if you are making this for three kids, you come a little more prepared. If your family is anything like mine, there will be a lot of impatient eyes watching you.

Stuffed Sausages or Toast

My boys (Rugrat#1 and Rugrat#2) laughed and laughed that the stockings looked more like food than pigs. Rugrat#1 insists his looks like a stuffed sausage (prompting a conversation on what sausages are made of!). Rugrat#2 says his looks like over cooked toast.

Rugrat#1 adding the stuffing to his pig

There was lots of laughter.

I loved that. But it didn’t last. 

a button nose on the first pig

This ended up being a two day project. By the end of Day One we closed off one end of our pantyhose, picked out buttons for our pig noses and I managed to get the noses on and the eyes made.

In the end, the eyes were a bit of a piece of embroidery thread pulled through and just tied than a french knot. 

Partially made pigs

 

Then they sat there. 

When I say “2 day project” I don’t mean one day, and then the next. Life got busy.

Teachers sent learning packages.

The house got messy.

I started rage cleaning.

The kids got distracted with screens.

My day job needed attention.

I had writing assignments due.

March turned to April, and that turned to June. But eventually…

“Day Two” came

We sorted through the pile of square felt I picked up on Amazon, and each of the rugrats chose their own ear colour. Once it was selected, I cut the ears into square shapes and sewed them on. I tried to encourage the kids to help with this part, but honestly, the project was a bit more than they wanted. They alternated between watching me and wandering off to play/find a snack/make a mess/frustrate a sibling. 

After stitching on the ears we realized we’d sadly missed adding the mouth the “previous day.” So we took care of that, and tied the ends of the stocking up into a little tail.

Make sure you squeeze and moving the stuffing where you want it first, and ensure it is as full as you want it to be. On the first try we had a sad underfed little pig and one that was a bit overstuffed due to which part of the stocking was used.  

The feet were probably my least favorite part. By now I was also done with the so called “wonderful” pigs. We sat down for a family movie night and I stitched away, making 20 sets of little pig feet. 

Eventually, the little pigs were done. 

Here they are, looking pretty cute.

Rugrat #3 picked out a broken hair clip to adorn her pig with. We cut the flower off the broken clip and stitched it onto the side of her head.

Rugrat #1 and Rugrat #2 wanted their little pigs just plain.

And Ken and I were so relieved to be done with this, plain was find with us.

I learned why I only ever had one wonderful pig

And I vaguely recall being as impatient as the rugrats were.  So a big thank you to my mum. 

I hope, in time, the rugrats look back on this somewhat successful sewing project fondly. I know they loved the end result. Rugrat #2 loved his so much he pulled the stocking. (I managed to stitch it back together, but the poor thing looks like he suffered a serious battle wound, or had his spleen removed in the 90’s.)

If, after this defeating tale, you are eager to try to make your own wonderful pigs, I present the instructions.

Make Your Own Pigs

We Won’t Homeschool

COVID. ‘Nuff said – right?

Our rec centre closed.

Our libraries closed.

The trampoline place I promised my kids over and over I’d take them for spring break closed.

Everything Closed

Including the schools.

“Are you going to homeschool us?” Rugrat #2 asked.

My sweetest of darlings… if I had to set a curriculum and try to keep you all focused on classes we’d all lose our minds.

Nope. Not happening.

Homeschooling Begins

Serious props to all the parents out there eager to get set with homeschooling, or who do it on a regular basis.

In my house, for me, it isn’t happening.

At least not exactly. Rugrat #1 loves to escape from reality. If he gets overwhelmed he hides away in video games, and honestly – who doesn’t like to do that sometimes?

Ken and I have both been known to hide away in role-playing games.

And that’s how it came to me: COVID.

No, no. Not that one.

I’m seeing so many posts about keeping our kids calm, about making this memorable in a good way for them, about making the most of this time.

Yes, we are talking to them about reality. Yes, we are sharing some of the news with them.

That doesn’t mean we can’t put a positive swing on things to make it all easier, right?

The College of Very Interesting Disciplines Opens

The kids are going to fantasy school.

“I want to find treasure. And fight things. With a frying pan!” exclaimed Rugrat #3

We made up characters today, and then they helped create the list of subjects.

Field Trips

Over and over Rugrat #2 and Rugrat #3 suggested field trips.

Social distancing makes that difficult… or does it? Hello modules! How happy am I to see you!

Home Economics Transmogrification Classes

I’ve got a few sewing projects I’ve been meaning to work on with the kids, so now is the time to do that. One is the much promised Wonderful Pigs of Jillian Jiggs, but we also need somewhere to keep those dice!

Science Potions Classes

We have this fun Science in a Bag book with some great experiments we are going to call potions. 

Mathematics

We’ll cover this with Lego math, and also with using dice in the field trips. When the kids made up their characters today, they had to add up the values of the different dice to come up with their stats. 

 

I’m going to post updates of the classes, of the stuff we cover, and of how it all goes.

None of us are alone in this, even if we are physically alone. We are fortunate enough to have so many resources at our finger tips, and loads of service providers are stepping up to the plate.

Hang in There

This is going to take time.

Find what works for you.

And feel free to send your kids to your own college. We’ll be here sharing ideas!