Tips and Projects for Teaching Your Child to Sew
Because I’m a crafter in a long line of crafters, I have been teaching my daughter how to make things with her hands from a young age. She’s seven and has her own sewing machine, can sew by hand and knows how to knit.
Being able to mend things and make things yourself are important life skills, but if you aren’t that crafty or just aren’t sure where to start, here are some tips for teaching a child to sew and projects you can try to get them interested.
Start with Plastic Canvas
My daughter has been sewing on what she calls a “sewing grid” for several years now. It’s just a piece of plastic canvas, which you can buy at any craft store. They often sell different shapes, or you can buy rectangular sheets and cut them to the size and shape you want.
These pieces of plastic canvas are just a step up from lacing cards. The plastic is sturdy so it doesn’t flop around as they make stitches. The holes are big enough for a blunt plastic needle to go through threaded with yarn. Stitches are easy to make, but they’re still getting the basics of how to form a stitch.
Getting comfortable with stitching on plastic canvas will make it easier to learn to sew on fabric.
Sewing on Fabric
Once you feel like they’re comfortable with the basic motions of sewing, you can introduce fabric. You may want to start with a single layer of a somewhat stiff fabric before actually sewing two pieces together.
One of my favorite beginner sewing projects is a burlap bookmark. Buy a spool of burlap ribbon, cut it into bookmark-sized lengths and cover the edges with tape (washi or masking) to prevent fraying. Using the same blunt needles and yarn that you used for plastic canvas sewing, you can stitch lines, form the shapes of letters, even try out some basic embroidery stitches. Cover the back with more tape when you’re done.
When you’re reading to sew fabric together, show them how to place the fabric so the right sides are together (so the seam will be on the back when they are done). Show them how to make small stitches, and make a few for them to anchor the thread in the fabric, but don’t make a fuss if their first stitches are huge. At this point, praise and enthusiasm on your part go a long way toward their continued interest.
Making a Project
There are many great hand-sewing projects for kids available online. One of my favorites is this felt zipper pouch from Coloured Buttons. Felt is easy to sew on, it doesn’t shift while you stitch it, and the seams in this project are all straight.
Kids can embellish the pouch however they want (my daughter added buttons, which is another great skill to learn, and once I showed her how to do one she was able to do it herself) and you can sew in the zipper if they still aren’t making their stitches that small (it does need to be sewn in rather firmly).
I made these felt popsicle holders myself, but they’re a great early project for kids, too.
More Great Projects for Teaching Your Child to Sew
Nature Pouch – Red Ted Art – Uses a piece of old sweater and teaches blanket stitch.
Lavender Softies – Childhood 101/An Everyday Story – Kids can draw on the fabric for another layer of making fun.
Zenkidu – Kids Activities Blog – A fun little creature for your kids to make.
Valentine Hearts – Mama Smiles – For Valentine’s Day or any time.
Tic Tac Toe Pouch – Coloured Buttons – Made with felt, an easy project for boys or girls.
Sew a Pillowcase – Crystal & Co. – Instructions use a sewing machine but it could also be done by hand.
By Sarah E. White