Teaching your child a new skill can be challenging. That is why many of us pay other people to teach our children new skills, like swimming, piano, etc. When it comes to sewing, I love the idea of children being taught at home by their parents and grandparents, the way it used to be done. Below are some tips that I have developed after teaching many children to sew, including my own.
- Start with an actual project. Children do need to learn the basics of how the machine works, but I believe you need to make the process into an actual project. Children like to have something to show off. My daughter’s first project was an unbacked “crazy” quilt for her doll. While making this little quilt, she learned how to control the machine, how to line up the fabric, and general basic operations like sew lines, and backstitching. She did not even realize that she was learning, because she was focused on her project.
- Let them choose the project that they are going to do. This will help to keep them interested and engaged. You don’t have to give them many choices. You can simply ask them what they would like to sew and then offer them 2 or 3 choices. You can do a quick internet search to find a few options. You can start with free patterns and then progress to paid patterns. Show them what you find and ask them to choose one to try.
- Choose projects with forgiving seam allowances. For example, it is o.k. if your child does not maintain a perfect seam allowance when sewing a stuffed animal, a quilt, or a small bag. Seam allowance control can be hard for even adult learners. That is why I encourage first time sewers to start with projects that do not have to fit something. You may want to stay away from sewing clothing or doll clothing in the beginning .
- Briefly explain the why’s for all the steps in sewing. Remember briefly! Kids are amazing sponges for knowledge. They will remember what you tell them and it will help them feel secure about the process.
- Make sure they are comfortable. They may not feel at ease the same way you do. Try different tables heights, or place a box under the foot pedal for the machine.
- Take frequent breaks. In the beginning, my daughter would sew for about 10-20 minutes at a time. Then she would need to do something else. Do not push them past their limit or they will see it as a chore and not a fun skill.
- Let them make mistakes! Don’t stop them immediately or try to jump in and fix it. Teach them how to correct mistakes and explain how and why clearly. Mistakes are how you learn!!! Remind them it is O.K. and tell them you make mistakes, too. You may even have an example to show them.
- Cultivate their creativity!!!!!!! Just because you do not like their fabric choices, it doesn’t mean their project will not be beautiful to them. They see things that we do not!! My daughter amazes me all the time.
- Lastly, HAVE FUN! This is a bonding experience that they will always remember. Make it a positive, loving memory, that they can treasure and you can, too.
Go out and sew with your kids today!!!
We would love to see what you and your boys are making!!! #SWB #boyssew