Roundup: Teach Your Kids to Sew
Happy back to school! Fall and learning new things go hand in hand, and I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’d like my kids to learn this year outside of the classroom. One thing I do want them to learn one day is something I’m passionate about – how to sew. I certainly don’t expect them to take it up like I did as a child, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, knowing your way around a needle and thread – and a machine if you’ve got access – can be just as handy as knowing how to hammer a nail.
I learned to sew as a child and started with sewing by hand. While it’s definitely a fine motor skill that requires a good amount of dexterity, even small children can learn to use a larger needle safely. Not only is it great for learning fine attention to detail, but it also helps to build hand-eye coordination. Think of it as the next step past lacing cards. Even if you or your child would like to use a machine, knowing the basics of hand sewing is important; most projects at some point may need some hand sewing and it’s a good way to get comfortable with threading a needle. After that, if you have access to a machine, or even a child-size one, there is so much you can learn together.
Sewing classes are gaining more and more popularity for kids – and adults! – but there is also a lot of great references out there as it continues to come back to the masses. Here’s a roundup of some great tutorials that as a lifelong sewer (and mom), I can say are a great way to teach your children – or yourself! – some of the basics of this great skill.
This is one of those things I want to start right now – a “sewing basket” for kids (1). Filled with all kinds of fun things like chunky zippers and ric-rac cord, it’s a perfect first way to introduce a little one to getting their hands on a needle and thread, and fun for a little boy or girl. If your child is really into lacing cards, this intro to hand sewing (2) and intro to stitches, fabric and tying knots (3) are another good way to start. I love this idea of using styrofoam plates to stitch, in lieu of an embroidery loop. If you need a refresher yourself, or have a keen older child, here’s a handy guide to some common hand stitches (4). Personally I’m inspired by the colors of this image to just dust off my embroidery hoop!
If you’re lucky enough to have a children’s machine (or you’re comfortable to share your own) here’s a great article on transitioning from hand to machine stitching (5). This site takes it one step further with a whole “Little Stitchers” sewing series, with tips on setting up a machine (6). I love the idea of using these printable stitch guides (7) to teach your kids how to sew a straight line, and then graduate to more complicated but fun curves – just print these off and feed them through instead of fabric until they are comfortable with controlling the speed of the pedal and how to guide the material.
And then – a first project! I love the simplicity of this tic tac toe game (8), which also could be easily hand-stitched, or these simple soft friends (9) that could be sewn by hand or machine – of course, then they need a sleeping bag! (10) Older children could make their own pillowcase skirt (11), wallet (12), or zip pouch (13) once they’ve taken to it and are open to the challenge of working with basic notions. The great thing about these projects is that they can all be easily customized so even if the first try doesn’t work out, they can try it again with slight twists of their own to keep it fun. Whatever they choose, they will learn a great skill to have for life.