It’s lovely when your child comes and asks if they can learn to sew, but it can also be a bit nerve wracking thinking of letting them loose on a sewing machine! At the Leicestershire Craft Centre some of our most popular courses are the machine sewing for children, so I thought I’d share some of the things we’ve learnt and give you some tips to get our youngsters sewing beautifully.
Use a proper sewing machine right from the start!
Kids’ machines really aren’t that great and then they get disheartened. Lots of sewing machines have speed controls these days, and they are a really useful feature for teaching beginners as there’s no scary ‘zoom’! Get your machine all set up ready, so they can sit and sew – if they like it, they’ll soon want to learn how to wind up the bobbin, but don’t start with this.
Easy, quick projects is key at first!
Start with projects that can be finished in an hour or two. Children like to see quick results and feel they’ve achieved something – cushions, bunting, and bags all work well. We always get really great results with appliqué as well – use bondaweb or felt for the best results. They also enjoy making presents for people, so what about a peg bag for Nanny or a pretty pillow for a friend?
Children find cutting fabric very difficult
You will need to cut the fabric ready. As always, nice sharp scissors are the key. Show them how to do it and let them practice on scraps. They’ll probably need help with pins too – little fingers can find them very fiddly. I’ve found that using longer quilting pins can be handled more easily than small pins.
You may need to help them steer to start off with!
When you’re starting to sew, line the fabric up in the right place for them! You could always draw on a line with tailors chalk or erasable pens to give the child something to follow. Don’t worry if it’s wobbly to start off with, we all have to start somewhere and it takes practice to get good, so be encouraging, whilst suggesting ways to help them improve.
Children love decorations!
If you have decorative stitches on your machine, let your child use them to make patterns. They absolutely love doing this and it’s giving them lots of practice in a fun way. Why not get a piece of plain fabric, draw lines on it it with tailors chalk and then decorate it with different stitches?
The main thing to remember when sewing with children, is teach them to do it safely and then have lots of FUN!