I’ve been working on a little project with my girls. I don’t get to it everyday. And, the lesson doesn’t last too long (I am working with a 2 and 4-year-old, you know). But, we’re learning to sew.
Truthfully, sewing with children is a lot of fun…though it does require that you use plenty of patience.
I picked up sewing on my own over the years. A little from watching my mother. A stitch or two from elementary school art class. And a whole lot from experimenting. I remember dreaming of having a different story to tell…”I learned while watching my granny sew a huge quilt”…or something like that. But, I don’t have those kinds of grannies. So, you do with what you got.
And I’ve always had a natural inclination to create things with fabric, thread, yarn, and all of those yummy colors and textures just waiting to be joined. I enjoy sitting down at the sewing machine and whipping something up (especially since I’m so bad at following any sort of pattern!).
When I do sew, I hit plenty of bumps along the way. But figuring it all out challenges my mind in good ways. Math. Geometry. Problem Solving. Visual design. Patterns.
So, teaching my girls the basics of sewing is a good thing all around. And, I thought I’d share a little “How To” for those of you who, like me, never had sewing mentors and need a little help getting started.
Children age 2 and up. This activity hones fine motor skills.
(Depends on 2-year-old’s development…but don’t underestimate your child’s abilities. We often assume that a child can’t wield a needle and fabric out of fear (e.g. sharp needle). But most 2-year-olds are empowered to use these tools if supervised and shown proper use.)
- Supplies" class="alignleft size-thumbnail wp-image-3660" height=...you’ll need
floss, thread, or yarn
a small embroidery hoop (optional, but very helpful for holding material easily)
a small piece of fabric or burlap (I used an 8×8 inch square of an old pillowcase that fit a small hoop–easy for small hands to work with)
a pair of scissors
a large needle (preferably a blunt sewing needle with large eye for young kids)
Visit your local thrift or fabric/craft store for supplies not on hand. You can usually buy an embroidery hoop and thread for a quarter at a thrift store. I purchased all of these materials (except for the scissors and needles, which I already had) at a thrift store for $2. Super frugal. And local.
Thread Needle" title="2010-05-24 - Monday Muse - How to Teach Chil...
1. Lay your fabric over the smaller hoop. Place the larger hoop over, and tighten. (Embroidery hoops will help the sewer hold the material in a way that allows for easy stitching and less tangles.) Now, thread your needle. This takes lots of practice and hand-eye coordination…and a little lick of the end will make it a million times easier to pass through the eye of the needle. (Young kids favorite part = licking and re-licking the ends!)
- Knot" class="alignleft size-thumbnail wp-image-3668" height="150...
2. Knot the end of the thread so it’s doubled. (Knots are a huge skill and will take lots of time to learn for the youngest learners. It’s exactly why most kid’s shoes have velcro these days!)
Teach Children to Sew - 3 - Getting Started, First Stitch" class="...
3. Pass your needle up from the underneath of your fabric to begin your first stitch. This basic stitch is called the running or straight stitch.
Sew - 4 - First Stitch" class="alignleft size-thumbnail wp-image-3...
4. Pass your needle back down through the fabric to complete your first stitch. This simple method will then be repeated as many times as one’s thread lasts.
to Sew - 5 - Second Stitch" class="alignleft size-thumbnail <br...
5. Allow for lots of experimentation. Kids will quickly learn that when they forget to pass up and then down, their thread will wrap around the fabric. But there’s always a way to fix things in sewing. You can pass the needle back through backwards (especially easy if using a larger needle, as it will make a larger hole in the fabric), or cut and knot the thread to start again.
Sew - 6 - Keep on Sewing" class="alignleft size-thumbnail wp-image...
6. Try to work on your own piece a little as your child works out their own learning process. Be there to help and watch, but also model the technique next to them. (Yes, I got about three stitches done while helping my two girls on their pieces. But after my 2-year-old lost interest, my eager 4-year-old and I sewed for another 20 minutes together.)
Sew - 7 - Sewing Ideas" class="alignleft size-thumbnail wp-image-3...
7. Play. Have fun together. Talk about the pictures and words one can sew later. And envision success. Model confidence and problem solving. And most importantly, be sure to dream together.