Four Tips: Teaching Children to Sew

Happy Monday everyone!

Did you spend your weekend sewing? I did! Though I spent some of my sewing time teaching a few young ladies the basics of hand sewing. It was a learning experience for all of us. They learned the whipstitch and I learned the limits of my patience. Oh I’m just kidding, though I did learn quite a bit about how the wee mind works when it comes to sewing. Here are a few tips I picked up.

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This kid is WAY to young to be sewing.
(photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

1) Age Requirements: At what age should you teach your child to sew? It definitely depends upon the child. One of our favorite contributors, Vanessa “The Crafty Gemini” Wilson, has started teaching her little son to sew and he’s three. If your child has the patience and attention span to learn the safety rules before embarking on a sewing adventure, then their actual age might not matter as much. That said, I waited until my wee lady friends were 5 before trying to teach them any sewing techniques.

2) Safety First: Always keep safety in mind when combining motorized sewing equipment, sharp scissors and children. Sit with your child at the machine and watch carefully as they stitch. Never leave children unattended when scissors and sewing machines are present. In my experience, children are about 40% clumsier than adults. That’s why I restrict sewing activities to the safest options available. For instance, I try to avoid ironing with little kids. I can still remember burning my hand when I was 8 (I was ironing fabric for a sewing project). So I pick projects with felt and fleece to avoid ironing.

3) Plan Ahead: Children have limited attention spans. Plus any little thing will distract them. Plan ahead by prepping all materials and plotting 5 to 10 minute sessions. As they grow more accustomed to sewing and engaged in the practice, the sessions can grow longer. I try to have all the fabric cut out and ready to go before I introduce any project to the children in my life.

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The handles had to be on the inside to show off my little friend’s new sewing skills.

4) Think of the Big Picture: I know when I sew, I plot out the steps or carefully follow the pattern instructions meticulously. I double check that I’ve completed each step correctly in order to sew things that look as polished as possible. Children on the other hand, especially ones new to sewing, don’t have these same goals in mind. They might just be excited about sewing. Perhaps they really just want the finished object and don’t care if the seams are pressed open properly. Plus they need to make the project their own. I recently made a tote bag with one of my little lady friends and I was surprised to discover that as we were attaching the handles she insisted on sewing the handle on the inside. Why? “So everyone can see the stitches, then I will tell them I made it,” she told me. This never occurred to me. I had already stitched one handle on the outside, demonstrating the step for her and she was anxious the whole time. Her goal was to show off the pretty ribbon we had chosen and to show off her new sewing skills. I had to learn that a perfect finished project had a totally different meaning to her than  it did to me.

Lastly, be enthusiastic! If you are excited about sewing and teaching a kiddo to sew, they will be excited too. If at any point either of you become frustrated, it’s time to take a break. Helping a child learn to love sewing can be incredibly rewarding. So dive in and follow your instincts.

Here are a few great resources to consider when planning a sewing session with a child in your life:

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One Response to Four Tips: Teaching Children to Sew

  1. Sandra Raz says:

    Worked with y Granddaughter Kylee at the age of 5. She made a pillow for her room. I had a Designer SE and was able to slow it down for her. I only had to help her in keeping her seams straight LOL. Even Grandmom has trouble with that on occasion!

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