If you love to sew, it’s only natural that you want to pass along that enthusiasm to your kids or grandkids. After, all there are so many fun projects you can tackle together! As soon as you have your specific creation in mind, these are the tips you’ll want to keep in mind to make sure it’s an exciting, positive experience for everyone.
1. Keep the Project Small
The younger your child is, the shorter their attention span likely is — meaning it’s best if you choose a project the two of you can start and finish in a single sitting. Doing so keeps the entire process feeling manageable and productive, and by the end of the day they’ll have something new to show off!
2. Try Hand Sewing First
Depending on their age, your kiddo may not be ready to take on the sewing machine. Try projects that focus on hand sewing instead — like this awesome wall hanging — and they can graduate to the machine after they’ve conquered a needle and thread.
3. Teach Them the Machine
Speaking of graduating, many kids enjoy learning to operate a sewing machine around age eight, and by 11 or 12 they can likely read a simple commercial pattern. Once they’re ready, look for projects that focus on straight stitching in straight lines. Sewing machines with variable speed control and needle-down functionality are best for young learners, and it’s a good idea to teach bobbin insertion and threading skills right away. Just be ready for lots of repetition before they’re able to handle these skills confidently on their own.
4. Take Charge of the Scissors
We’re all about letting your kid own their sewing project, but remember: safety first! If a project requires cutting, consider doing that part for them. (Or at the very least, monitor them closely.) You can also choose projects with minimal cutting requirements.
5. Follow Their Interests
Instead of choosing a project you think would be fun, suggest ones that they’d get the most use out of. For younger children, monsters and animals are fun to play with, colorful scarves and headbands can be worn all day every day, and little purses or wallets can hold small treasures. Older kids get a kick out of sewing their own circle skirts and pajama pants, customized pencil cases show off their personality at school, and elastic waist shorts are super comfy and cool.
6. Practice Patience
Kids won’t always be interested in the same thing you are, nor will they necessarily have the attention span to finish something all at once. Do your best to stay patient, and let their interest dictate the duration of sewing activity time. After all, this is supposed to be fun!
I would also add learning to read a pattern instruction sheet. There is a temptation to guide the kiddos, telling them what step is next. When working with my granddaughter I’ve learned to let her see what the pattern maker wants to do next. The goal is to build her confidence and encourage her to sew on her own. That will be easier if she doesn’t rely on me to be in charge, but uses the pattern directions instead. Of course we talk about how to do the steps if she doesn’t understand the printed directions!
You said a mouthful. If they don’t learn the steps independently, they will lose interest when you are not there to tell them the next step. Good for you.