Sewing with Children – 5 Tips to Inspire & Delight
December 14, 2020
Sewing with children can be a great activity to do especially if it’s something that you love to do too. It helps teach them crucial and varied skills from hand/eye coordination to patience.
The child I sew with most often is my nearly 11 year old step-son Jack.
We make garments for him to wear. Together we decide on the pattern and fabric. Then he helps me stick the PDF pattern together and pin and cut out the fabric. We also sew the seams, Jack will sew all the straight seams and I will sew the trickier ones. But other times, I’ll encourage Jack to give it a go! There really isn’t much that you can do wrong with a sewing machine that can’t be fixed with an unpicker and another attempt.
All the children I sew with will do what I ask them to do, they will stop when I tell them to stop. There are some sharp and moving parts in a sewing machine which could cause potential injury. I am certain that once I have told them not to do something, then they won’t try it!
If your child cannot be trusted to do as they are told or likes to push their boundaries, then give them low risk activities such as helping you to stick together a PDF pattern or clipping fabric together with fabric clips.
Some children are naturally more dexterous than others. Choose tasks that work to their strengths otherwise they will just end up frustrated.
Stop if they are getting tired or bored. You want this to be an enjoyable project for both of you. Short chunks of time is much more successful than having a whole afternoon at it.
2. Get them involved with whatever you’re doing
When my middle niece, India, was three, she would sit on my lap at the sewing machine with her hands over mine, helping to feed the fabric through the machine.
When I was cutting the fabric, I gave her an offcut of fabric and a small pair of scissors and let her cut it up.
3. Pick a project that is well within your own skill set
When sewing with children, your attention needs to be 100% on the child. If you are pushing yourself outside your sewing comfort zone then this is not a project to tackle with a child.
Pick something simple like an envelope cushion cover, a tote bag or an elastic waisted skirt.
Free motion embroidery is a good thing to try with kids. It’s like drawing with the sewing machine. I’ve you’ve never done it before, play about with it first until you are comfortable.
4. Let them make decisions
What stitch do you want to use? Which colour fabric would they like? And what colour thread? Would you like to make this pattern or that pattern? Do you want to make a t-shirt or a skirt?
Give closed either/or choices where you are comfortable whatever they choose. Kids are always much more interested if they feel they have been involved in the decision making and planning part of the process.
Jack really enjoys choosing different decorative top stitching to finish the hems on his t-shirts.
5. Encourage them whenever they show an interest
Whenever I sew with the kids in my family, it is only when they show an interest that I encourage it. I do not force them to join me, even though it is something that I enjoy doing and sharing with them.
When my eldest niece, Rhianna was 12 I was just starting out teaching sewing workshops. She and her Mum came along to a couple and had fun. However, Rhianna wasn’t interested in sewing again and I didn’t push it! Funnily enough, the next time she sewed with me was when I was making her prom dress.
Sewing with children can be challenging but also extremely rewarding! Give it a go following my tips above to keep it safe and enjoyable for all.
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