Sewing is a valuable life skill – a skill that you might want to pass down to your children. But sewing can also be complicated, tedious and time-consuming, depending on the project. These three little obstacles are what make teaching children to sew so difficult.
But with the right method, you can show your kids how to sew both easy and difficult projects. Now before you rush out and purchase your first kids sewing machine; here are some tips to help you along the way.
1. Start with the Basics: Hand Sewing
You may be tempted to jump right into machine sewing, but it’s typically better to teach children hand sewing first. Kids move through the process of creating each stitch slowly, so they gain a better understanding of how to create seams, secure thread and undo their mistakes.
Wait until your child understands the basics of hand sewing before moving onto machine sewing.
2. Don’t Start Too Early
Children can learn how to sew at just about any age, but between 6 and 9 is the ideal time. At this point, they’ll have the dexterity to work with a needle and thread, and they’ll have an easier time following your instructions.
3. Be Patient, and Keep the Sessions Short
If you’re teaching your own children how to sew, remember to be patient and to keep your sessions relatively short. Long, drawn-out sessions may make sewing feel daunting or boring.
Be prepared to help your child correct mistakes, and to repeat instructions multiple times. Think back to the time when you first learned how to sew, and try to put yourself in your child’s shoes. This may help you muster up the patience you need to successfully teach your little one how to sew.
Try not to get upset or frustrated if your child loses interest in a project for a few months. We’ve all been in a position where we start a project, run out of creative energy, and have to let the unfinished project sit on the shelf until we’re finally ready to tackle it again.
4. Pick a Fun Project
Part of the fun of sewing is having a tangible product at the end – to feel that you’ve created something. Kids have that same longing. They want to see the fruits of their labor just as much as we do.
But having your child sew potholders and other simple household projects may not be fun or interesting. Start with something fun and simple that your child wants to make, like doll clothes, for example.
The nice thing about making doll clothes is that they require quite a few sewing skills, so your child can progress from one concept to the next. And learning the basics of garment construction is a skill that your child can eventually use to make clothing for people.
5. Start by Practicing Hand Stitches
The simplest and easiest way to get started with hand sewing is to teach your child how to sew together to pieces of fabric.
The goal here isn’t to create something, but rather to master the art of creating consistent, straight stitches.
When first getting started, expect your child to make lots of mistakes here. The stitches may not be close to the edge, or may even go off of the edge. They may not be straight either, and some stitches may be crooked.
One tip to help correct these issues is to ask your child to sew smaller stitches that are equal in size. Next, work on creating a straight line.
After your child can successfully sew a straight line of stitches, you can them move onto a hand-sewn project.
6. Keep it Simple
Start with simple shapes, fabrics and supplies. Felt or knit fabrics are ideal for children to sew with because they’re easily worked. Go with simple thread that’s inexpensive until your child’s skills progress. And keep the shapes simple, as this will make it easier to sew by hand – or machine.
The first step is to learn how to sew in one single, continuous line around the shape. Circles, hearts, triangles, ovals and other similar shapes will help your child achieve this goal.
Don’t be afraid to suggest shapes by asking your child what he or she wants to work with. It’s perfectly acceptable to guide your little apprentice without taking over the project.