Teach Hand Sewing


About a year ago Lucy asked me to teach her how to sew.  I wasn’t ready to tackle the machine with her (but this summer we’re jumping in) so I said we’d start with hand sewing—because I think it’s important for every sewer to understand the basics.  And because truly, there are few things more relaxing than sitting on the couch creating a little something with your hands.  I hope she feels that too.

Her very first project was this simple pink heart.  She drew the heart on paper to create the pattern,  then I traced and cut out the pieces from felt, then she stitched and stuffed it together with crochet thread.


And she was hooked.  And wanted to make more!  So she tried a star with a face.  She designed the face and I sewed a bit of twine to the back piece so she could hang it on a doorknob (similar to the monogrammed ornaments)

And you know what?  Sewing with kids is really fun! if they—and you—are ready for it.
So if you want to jump in, here are some tips:
[and if you’ve taught your child to sew before, please share your tips and advice in the comments!]

1. Teach concepts, not rules.
I’ve always loved the parable about teaching a man to fish, rather than handing him a fish.  And the same is true for sewing.  If a sewer understands the concepts and recommendations, rather than memorizing a list of do’s, and dont’s, she’s more likely think outside of the box and have wonderful make-it-work moments.

So take time to talk teach the basics while also presenting options, since there are multiple ways to sew any project and it’s always an adventure.

Here are some basic items to discuss:
• Sewing Basics: There are two layers of fabric that you’re trying to hold together.  And just like gluing or stapling two pieces of paper together, the thread is going to hold the two fabrics together by going in and out between the fabrics.  Each time you go in and out from the front of the fabric to the back of the fabric, you’ve created a stitch.
• Stitches: You decide how tightly the fabrics are sewn together by the length of your stitches.  Small stitches make a very tight seam (a seam is the line the thread makes as you stitch in and out).  Wider or longer stitches make a looser seam and your fabric is more like to pull apart….or if your project is filled with stuffing, some of the stuffing might come loose between the wide stitches.  You’ll learn over time what stitch length (and stitch style) you prefer.  I mostly stick with a basic running stitch but you can learn about a whipstitch, blanket stitch, slip stitch.  Check out this list.
• Layers: When you sew, you work in layers.  And sometimes you have to work backwards.  If you’re going to make a little Peace Sign pillow like Lucy’s working on here, you need to sew the peace symbol to the outside layer first and then sew the two pillow pieces together.  So when you start a project, cut out all your pieces first, then arrange them on the fabric how you’d like them to look, and then decide which pieces need to be sewn first and work your way backwards.
• Style: Think about the overall look of your project, beyond just the fabrics.  If you want the thread to be camouflaged and hidden on the project, use a thread color that matches your fabric.  If you want the stitches to show up and add a bit of style to your project, use a thread color that “pops” on your fabric and contrasts with the fabric.  You can even use embroidery thread or crochet thread to make the stitches look chunky.  You can also make the stitches show up more by using wider stitches on the outer fabric layer—or the “right” side of the fabric—and then use smaller stitches on the back, or “wrong” side, of the fabric.

2. Work Together.
When your child is just getting started, it helps to give them some ideas as a jumping point.  This doesn’t mean you’re taking over the project, you’re just helping to pull the creative spirit out of them.  And your initial ideas will then evolve into their own ideas as they understand how sewing works.  Lucy’s first project went something like this:
“Well, why don’t we start by sewing a little pillow, like a fun shape?”
“Ooo. That sounds cute.”
“We could do a circle, or a heart, or a star, or we could make an ornament…”
“Let’s make a heart!”
“Okay, why don’t you pick out the fabric and thread colors you want to use.”

After sewing some simple shapes, I mentioned that we could try some more detailed shapes and she thought of the peace sign.  She picked the colors and fabrics and then we found a peace sign image online which we printed and cut out and used as our pattern.  Your child can also draw their own image and use that as the pattern.   Both methods are great.  Lucy actually prefers printing images and letters because she really wants it to look precise; she loves a good clean line.

3. Use simple fabrics, supplies, and shapes.
Stick with fabrics that don’t fray at the edges so kids don’t have to worry about sewing the wrong sides together or tucking edges under.
• Fabrics – Felt, Flannel, and Knit fabrics are all fantastic but felt is probably my favorite—very user friendly for all ages. Read more about felt here.
• Thread – standard sewing thread, embroidery floss, crochet thread, and lightweight twine are wonderful as well.  Just use a proper needle size to accommodate your thread choice.
• Stuffing – you can buy a bag of batting from the store, or cut open an old pillow and pull out the insides, or use fabric scraps, or cotton balls.  Be creative and use whatever you have on-hand.
• Shapes – of course your child doesn’t need to start with little pillow projects like I’m sharing here, but simple shapes are helpful as they learn to sew in one continuous line around something.  Start with a circle, square, triangle, heart, star, octagon, oval, etc.  Then bump the project up a notch and turn the triangle into a slice of pizza by sewing red pepperoni circles to the top.


4.  Don’t underestimate your child’s abilities.
Something I love about school is that my kid’s teachers push them to learn things that I might not think they’re ready for or they might not understand because they’re too young.  And then they come home telling me about metaphors and minerals and the life cycle of this and that.  Our kids are capable of cool things.  So don’t hold back!  Teach them more than you think they can handle.  Use the correct terminology for sewing items, explaining them as you go. They might surprise you by teaching you something in return.  I often ask for Lucy’s input on my projects because she really has good insight, even in her 8 year-old body.


5. Be Patient.
This bullet point is for everyone in our family.  I need to be patient with Lucy, she needs to be patient with me, and we all need to be patient and remember that there’s a baby (or ghost?) in the house, which makes it difficult to find good one-on-one time for teaching and working on projects.

I often feel bad for Lucy and Owen that Clara gets a big chunk of my divided time because she’s younger and more needy (and the least patient of all of us, right?)  But such is the life of a mom and her kids.  If you guys have good tips for balancing one-on-one time with your kids I’d love your thoughts.

And lastly, be patient with your child’s attention span.  Don’t become frustrated if he or she starts a project and leaves it unfinished for months.  This peace sign was 3/4 of the way completed and then sat in a bin for 9 months….until just last week when Lucy picked it up and decided to finish the thing off.  I guess she’s no different that you and I, when we get fed up with a project and set it aside till we feel creatively ready to tackle it again.   And how exciting it is when we get our mojo back!…and we want to sew the stars and stripes out of everything.

My favorite projects are when I’m creatively inspired, rather than pushed.
So have fun with it!
And let the sewing begin!

  1. 1) Bailee

    Oh great idea! I think I will try this with my two older girls. I am teaching my 10 year old to sew on my machine by sewing the ‘make your own books’ tutorial you shared a while back. She loves it!

  2. love this Dana. I think i say that every time. Lucy is so sweet, I know she and Natalie would totally hit it off. I think hand sewing is a super great project to start with, my kids loved making their felt toys. They were so proud.

  3. I learned how to sew on felt with embroidery floss, too! I distinctly remember a snowstorm when we were without electricity for a few days… I spent most of one day sitting in the lazy boy, covered in blankets and stiching away (imagining I was Laura Ingalls!). I’m excited to teach my little girl someday… and I’m glad to hear Lucy is enjoying this step of the learning-to-sew process 🙂 Thanks for this post!

  4. 4) Nicole

    CUTE post! Jacqueline & Jillian LOVE to do this too! I loved how you said to not be frustrated when projects sit for a while. This happens often in our home. It does for me, how could I be frustrated when it does for my girls. We are so excited when it comes together in the end, even if it is 2-24 months later. 😉

  5. 5) Dagny

    My 4 year-old son has been asking to learn to sew for a while. Recently I’ve been letting him sit on my lap and put him in charge of the presser foot when I’m sewing something simple. We talk about how the sewing machine works, safety tips, and the names of the parts he asks about. I have also let him “sew” with some of that plastic grid stuff you can use for cross stitching and a long length of knotted yarn. He makes some interesting shapes and it’s adorable to watch him sit in his tiny armchair and sew next to me. I bet he’d love to make his favorite puppy lovey a little pillow. Btw, your little ghost photo bomber is too funny and adorable.

    • 6) Eva Waylett

      Thanks for sharing how you are teaching your 4 year old son. My 5 year old great-niece called today and asked me if I would teach her how to sew and I’ve been trying to figure out how to do that. I love the idea of using the plastic grid to help her learn how to make stitches. She can take it home and continue making designs and practicing stitches.

  6. Great tips Dana! The patient tip is a big one here too and not just concerning projects or time with me. My boys sometimes talk about life before Nat with a longing in their voice (mostly because of the allergy situation), but then I remind them of the fun parts of having her here. I can’t wait until all of them are old enough to dig into fun crafts and sewing projects. Hopefully by then, Owen will still be willing. 😉

  7. 8) Shannon

    My sweet girl pressured me to get my sewing machine out this weekend and sew her a dress. She loves to sit in my lap and watch me. I’m sure we’ll be doing this before too long.

    It takes planning to get that one on one time. We have three kids too (8, 5 and 3). If you have family or friends who are willing to help ask them. Sometimes we’ll let 2 of them go for a special evening at the grandparent’s house while we keep the third and let them pick something special to do with just us. The choices have varied, we’ve gone out to eat, a trip to the library and even Super Target with a stop at Starbucks for a kid’s hot chocolate. It gets harder when they are in school. The boys (8 & 5) have had a day off before so we arranged for our youngest to be taken care of and the boys have had a day with us.

  8. I spend all day sewing since I make baby carriers for my shop. I also hoard sewing machines from vintage to “modern” garage sale finds. So when my 4.5 year old son asked to learn to sew, I thought back to how Grandma and Mom taught me and endeavored to do the same.
    I started with printouts of simple “mazes” made for the purpose. Sam had to be able to stitch (without thread) through the square spiral on a straight stitch, making the straight-ish lines and learning how to turn a 90 degree corner with needle down and presser foot action. Then he graduated to doing a narrow zigzag stitch. Several mazes later, we did a dot to dot where the perforation of stitching revealed the picture. All the while, I was encouraging him to “earn his thread”. He eventually did and we moved on to a small bit of fabric and he made 3 bean bags (I did the final seam closing stitching). Then I printed a picture of a dragon (his choice) on a piece of fabric and he sewed curved lines around it to make a little lovey.
    He’s asking to move on to something like a bag. I’ve got him working on lining up larger scraps of fabric without them sliding around while he also focuses on being able to stitch a straight line that I draw with a marker for him. A few more hours of practice, and I think we’ll be ready to do it!
    I guess the fact I skipped right over hand sewing with him reflects my own propensity for the machine and avoiding hand stitching 🙂
    He also loves to sit with his Grandma while she knits and help her hold the needles and push the button on the row counter. I think he’s going to turn out to be one crafty kid!

  9. 10) Karin

    What a great post! I think my son would enjoy sewing a little pillow like this. He loves doing the push-pin pictures at school and this is along the same vein.

    I also feel bad for my oldest sometimes, I know I give far more attention to the youngest because he needs it more. And my middle gets more because he only goes to school two days a week so he’s at home more often. But then I remind myself that he had my undivided attention for the first 22 months of his life so hopefully it all evens out in the end.

  10. What great timing! I’ve had this on my mind too, as my little girl’s been asking to sew pretty often lately. Problem is she’s not even 4! I tried to stall her with a kids sewing machine that didn’t have a needle. She wasn’t impressed that nothing happened when she put fabric in it though 😉 Love the idea of stuffing something to teach them about stitch length though!

    • With close supervision children this young can learn hand sewing- just don’t expect masterpieces! Look for the largest needle available, use embroidery floss or thick thread, and give them felt pieces. In my Montessori preschool classroom, I’ve put dots where the children should stitch in permanent marker around the edge of the fabric. Some of the children got very frustrated, but some kept trying and got very good at it!

      • The dot idea is great! We had tried once with a yarn needle and embroidery floss but she had a really hard time with stitch length so that would be perfect! I’m excited to try again, thanks 🙂

  11. 14) Heather

    My independent kids really like the book Sewing School by Andria Lisle and Amie Plumley. I really like it, too; it’s helped me get over my dislike of hand sewing. 🙂
    I have four kids with a ten-year spread and I hear you, it’s tough getting one-on-one time. Enlist all the help you can! Babysitters, play dates, dad, other siblings, grandparents, whomever. My kids’ grandparents are out of town, too, though we do ask for their help when they visit or we visit them. I do think having to share mom helps the kids to know they are not the center of the universe, though it is the older ones who get the short end of the stick at first.

  12. What a great, timely post! My (almost) 6-year-old son just expressed interest in sewing last week. I showed him the basics of my machine and he sewed several crooked lines. He loved it! 🙂 I shared the video here:

    http://www.mommade.org/2014/03/mom-made-assistant-in-training.html

    I would love to get into some of these topics with him if he shows interest. But for now, he thinks the sewing machine is the coolest thing ever!

  13. 16) darci

    good tips. its often hard to break teaching down into the most basic steps when you have been sewing for so long yourself. I forget that what is second nature to me- how could you do it any other way- can be brand new to my kids.

  14. I so agree with your tips…I have done sewing projects in school and have learnt so to present a rigid project to make as often the kids come up with much better ideas themselves… and they are always so competent!

    As for quality time time with the older children (mine are 14, 10 and 14 months!), I try to involve them in playing with the little one so they can share a complicity… and once in a while I leave little one with daddy at the weekend so I can take the big ones out to the cinema or other activity and they love that!

  15. This is almost exactly how I learned to sew at the beginning 🙂 My mom bought me an animal pillow kit–lots of animals you could trace onto felt. I can’t remember if it started with sewing a whip stitch over the edge or straight stitch like you did, and it also taught how to sew wrong sides together first and then flip it right side out. I can’t say I made too many of the animals (I was old enough to move to the machine pretty fast), but I still have the pincushion and tiny scissors, and I still use the thimble and some of the pins!

    I love the idea suggested by another commenter to let kids sew on the plastic grids for crosstitching. Wonder if my two year old would get the hang of it yet…. 😉

  16. 19) Jenny

    Oh my gosh, this was such a good post, but the photo of Clara makes it a great post.

  17. What great tips! My daughter has been wanting to sew and I did start her off, but then we got a little distracted with other things and haven’t gotten back into it. I also loved reading other people’s comments and ideas here, too. Thanks everyone! 🙂 Lisa

  18. 21) Lindsay

    Perfect timing. I am putting together a “sewing basket” for my daughter’s 5th birthday coming up. The idea came from a few different Pinterest pins. Basically, lacing cards, big buttons, an embroidery hoop with various “fabrics” (plastic mesh from produce, rug anti-slip mat), yarn, showlaces, big plastic needle. She keeps telling me she wants to be a “sewer” when she grows up and wants her own sewing machine. I am not ready for that jump, but I’ll have her start with some simple things, and your post gives some great tips on where I can go from there.

  19. 22) Katrina

    I have never hand sewed with my kids as I dislike it myself. They have been helping me at the machine since about 4 or 5 yrs old, starting by controlling the foot pedal. I am always a bit scared that they will sew over their fingers, or completely stuff up what we are sewing, but love that they want to be involved. They have helped sew many things with me, including their own Jedi Robes. My 8 yr old son is about to tackle a sewn school project with me. We will be making the messenger bag from cargo pants from Anna’s tutorial on noodlehead (the topic is Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). I will be re-reading these tips! I look forward to hearing more about Lucy’s creations.

  20. I started my oldest at around 5 with an embroidery hoop and shelf lining (you know the rubbery kind with the holes?) and a plastic needle and thread. We then moved on to felt or fabric in a hoop and a real needle and thread- she finds it much easier to sew when the fabric is made more stable from the hoop- it is a great way for them to get used to the stitches and have something to hold on to. Now that she is 7 and can sew without a hoop we have several similar heart pillows around here- imperfectly perfect in their shape/stuffing/seams.

  21. 24) Kate

    Loved your post. You haven’t shown your children any preliminary sewing at a younger age, have you? My two and a half year old is quite coordinated and interested. He plays with my pincushion (with constant supervision!), rearranging the colours of the pins and I was thinking about trying him on some hand sewing, maybe with some open weave fabric in an embroidery hoop? Any suggestions?
    Thank you,
    Kate

  22. 25) Jo

    My kids had no interest in sewing when they were little. They did alter clothes, though. By drawing on them with markers, and by hacking off sleeves and legs and neck lines with scissors! Now I have a son-in-law that has shown an interest! (He’s also learning to knit!)

  23. You have such fantastic ideas…. and I’m sure that your kids will remember doing these type of things with you with good memories.
    One way that we spent more one on one time (or even 2 on 1 time…. mom and dad with one child) was when we started what we called Special Weeks with our kids. Whoever’s week it was (we have 4 kids so it rotated) they got to be the kid that picked who would say the meal prayer at dinner (the meal where we were all together) they didn’t have to do a chores at all for one day on that week. They also got to stay up a bit later then the other kids did to have special time with mom and dad. When they stayed up later, usually 1/2 hour is all, they got to pick the story that we read or a short game etc… that we played together. We also had a plate that said Special Week on it… so everyone knew that it was their Special time. My kids are grown and some have kids already. They still talk about it as a fun time. I told my granddaughter the other day that we would maybe learn some sewing this summer if she wanted. She is pretty excited.
    I can remember learning how to embroider from a couple of my 3 grandma’s on pillow cases. Good times!

  24. Such a cute post! Makes me want to try hand-sewing with my girls. We’ve been working on the machine and I’m amazed what Audrey can do now. I would like an excuse to pick up embroidery myself. It’s so Jane Austen! 😉

  25. 28) Sarah

    What size needle is Lucy using to sew with? I have smaller sewing needles and larger yarn darning needles (size 14-18). I was wondering if the yarn darners would leave larger holes in the felt or if the holes are unnoticeable because of the embroidery floss? My 7yr old daughter would love to do a project like this over spring break.

    It’s definitely a challenge to find some one-on-one time to teach a new skill to my little ones (7,5,3 & 19mos). My best bet is if papa is around and he helps corral the other ones so as not to disturb the child receiving a lesson. I don’t want to discourage the other children, but I also don’t want the one I’m working with to be distracted. A prepared workspace is the best plan when teaching something new–have everything ready to go so we don’t have to get up in the middle to get a tool/material.

  26. Yay, this is such a fun post! I love all the reminders of what a child is learning through each step. Great guidance for letting your child explore their creative side. p.s. I love all the bright colors in your house, I could totally have a summer vacation there everyday!

  27. Love this post. My youngest (9)started learning to hand sew a couple of months ago when her grandma came for a visit. It was a successful bonding session and since then she has been bugging me to teach her to sew ‘properly’. This upcoming school holiday should be a good time to start!

  28. My son started a quilt and a chicken sewing project. It’s been sitting for a while! I’m hoping it will be finished in the next 10 years or so! 🙂

  29. 32) Anna

    Your kids’ teachers are right. Young kids are capable of great things:) One way I’ve managed to get some one-on-one time with my seven kids (11, 10, 8, 5, 3, 20 months, and 3 months) is to include them in whatever I happen to be doing when they come looking for some mama time. I don’t feel like I need to schedule time get on the floor and push cars around or play My Little Ponies to have quality time with them. We can bond over our daily work and I can teach useful skills at the same time. They just don’t know that they’re learning how to manage their own future home, they think they are having fun! We’ll fold towels (3yo) or cook breakfast (8yo) or have a knot tying contest (11yo) or pick out clothes for the babies (5yo)or talk about the latest video game (10yo)… I also try to let the siblings have quality time with each other too. The 10 and 8 yo will do dishes together, the 11 and 3 yo will take a walk together, the 8yo will watch the babies while I get a shower, etc. I want my kids know that not only are they important to me and their dad, but they are important to each other.

  30. 33) Amanda

    Giving each child enough one on one time is tough. I just had baby #3 a couple of months ago, #2 is about the same age as Clara and #1 just turned four. We’re a very busy household (understatement of the year!). Thankfully none of my kids are very jealous about attention but it’s occasionally really obvious they need some individual time. I sometimes take just one child out on a ‘date’. It’s never anything too grand (maybe a treat at Starbucks, a walk around the neighborhood, or a trip to the library) but the time together is priceless. I also sometimes let one of the older two stay up maybe an hour late but I’m guessing that wouldn’t work as well with kids attending school. Or do you homeschool? Seems like I remember you mentioning that kind of recently but I’m not sure.

  31. 34) Denise

    This is perfect, Dana. I teach sewing lessons/camps and 8 is a perfect age to get Lucy going on a machine! Our first project is a journal cover then we move on to an easy lined zipper bag, a magic pillowcase and then pajama pants. Within a week they’re off to a great start and eager to try more. She is blessed with a great mama!!

  32. 35) Annemiek

    This is fun. I started sewing with my daughter when she asked for it – she is 2,5!
    First thing she wanted to make was ‘a sweater for her elephant’. Oops, well, we did it! I just cut a strip of fabric that could go around the belly of the elephant and we made one seam, and now he has a ‘sweater’ without sleaves. She was soo proud. And me too, as it worked out well. She sat on my lap and held the needle, I helped her to hold the fabric, and sometimes to put the needle in from the back of the fabric, so we would have a somewhat straightish seam. It was wonderful time spent togehter!

  33. 36) Julie

    Please post what projects you do with Lucy this summer. My 8 year old will be doing a sewing project for 4-H this year and your post and tutorials will help (both of us)!!

  34. My son has also done a bit of hand sewing and he loves it. I used a big needle that was very blunt on the end. Did you use a big needle?

  35. What great tips! I just gave my son an ‘intro to sewing’ class on the spur of the moment yesterday. We did a ninja pinterest search and saw a cute design that I thought would make an easy softie out of felt. Although I did most of the work, he helped me sew on button eyes, stitch the face to the body, and blanket stitch around the edges, then stuff it. He’s played with it non-stop!

    I love that picture with your youngest wandering through. I am amazed at how you manage your time! (And how clean your house is!)

  36. 39) Rachel

    I started teaching my then 4 year old how to sew a few months ago. We started with a tapestry needle on burlap, in an embroidery hoop. It holds it tight, and she won’t hurt herself. We have also done some projects on the sewing machine where she “helped,” mostly pushing the presser foot, or helping me plan out projects or stuff things. The last thing we made was a coat (plus accessories) for one of her dolls.

    My mom had lots of kids, and I was in the middle, so I didn’t get lots of one-on-one time with her, but I don’t remember missing it when I was little. She would take one or two of us to help push the shopping cart on Saturdays, while my dad stayed home with the other kids. They would read to us and she told stories to us at bedtime. Kids adapt to the situation they are in, and if you do your best and let them know you love them, they will be happy.

  37. 40) Kristen

    I think I started with cross stitching and quilting, my grandma had a quilt on the frames every few months and it would take up her whole living room. We would go visit and she would let us do stitches, it was fun to do, and watch- my mom, grandma, siblings, and aunts depending on who was in the house. I’m so glad my mom was able to teach me and still does. Funny story when I wanted to learn crotchet I went to this grandma because she was also left handed, turned out she crotchets righty because that is how she was taught so I pretty much had to learn looking from the back of other people crotcheting or turn it around in my head.

  38. 41) J

    My girls (6 & 7) wanted to try their first sewing project during Spring Break, so we watched your Simple Skirt video several times and dove right in! They were so excited to pick their own fabric and dig through the elastic bin at JoAnn’s looking for KNIT elastic. The skirts turned out really cute.
    You may be teaching your own daughter how to sew, but you are also teaching other kids to sew through your tutorials and videos! We love your videos and can’t wait to try some additional projects this summer. Thanks for your inspiration!

  39. We start with Skin Sewing up here. My daughter made a pair of mouton mittens for hunting and fishing (on the ice) when she was 6. The stitches were uneven, and there may have been some holes, but she LOVED them, and so did I! (I did go behind her and close the holes so her hands wouldn’t get cold though)
    Once the kids skin sew, we move to the machine. Literally our only “one on one” time up here is when I take the kids with the snowmachine or we go skiing, or my husband takes them hunting. When the kids were really young, we just packed them in our back and went.

  40. 43) Meghan

    So, true that your kids are capable of so much more. I need to remember that… how exciting that she asked yout o sew (shows the pwower of example

  41. 44) Ruth

    The timing of this post is perfect! My 6 year-old has been begging me to teach her to sew, so with this post in mind we got her started on hand-sewing a felt pillow and she LOVED it. She’s itching for more sewing projects. And my 4 year-old son has joined in on the action. Now I desperately need to amp up my selection of felt. And figure out where to store it. Ugh!

  42. You know I love this! It sounds like Lucy is finally ready for her copy of Sewing School that I signed for her years ago! xoxo-amie

  43. I love these! Children love sewing. Anywhere we can help them start is excellent! They all pick it up differently too :). I teach sewing to young children (as young as four) and they all look forward to making things :). My friend and I wrote a book, Forest Fairy Crafts, that has a lot of hand-sewing projects along with the fairies. We also share our hints for helping kids start with sewing (always double the thread and knot together so the needle doesn’t fall off…). It’s great to see a community growing around handcrafting. I can’t wait so see what she sews next!

  44. 47) Lindsay

    I know this post is a year old, but I’m so glad I found it! I plan to start teaching my 3.5-yr-old sewing this weekend, and I was going to just have her assist me on the machine and make her something to wear. But I love your idea better, it makes sense to teach her the very basics of a pattern and stitching, especially with her being so young. I love the idea of her drawing her own simple pattern, I think it will give her so much pride and really drive home the fundamental concept of what a pattern is without getting into the complications of pattern paper with words and symbols and numbers all over it. And it seems like it would give a very creative start on her sewing career, to empower her to make whatever she imagines.

    I also loved the comment on here about using the plastic gridding canvas for cross-stitching. Just handing a child a big plastic needle, yarn and a plastic grid, and giving a little direction, would let them work at their own pace and have the freedom to make a complete mess of it if there is no specific goal besides just practicing stitching.

    I plan to take my 3 yr old to the fabric store this weekend and pick out some big plastic needles for her to use and some of that plastic mesh canvas, she can pick out color materials that she wants, and if she sees a little notion she loves, we’ll pick that up too! I’m so excited! ^_^

    I’m sure you’ve gotten enough advice on this already, but I actually schedule one hour per weekend of one-on-one time for each child, like an appointment. Sometimes I don’t stick to this, but I try to leave the house with one of them on Saturday and leave the house with the other one on Sunday. That way we are guaranteed some one-on-one time for that hour, usually at the park, the library or the ice cream shop. I end up doing more of these weekend appointments with the oldest, because she is just older and can do more stuff, but at home I so often have to give special attention to a clingy baby that I think it evens out.

  45. 48) emma

    very good tips. I recall my mother teaching me to sew as a child and it paid off. Now as adult I can sew buttons on and make small repairs to my clothes if needed.

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  47. 49) Barbara Harris

    I consider myself fortunate for the reason that grandma and my great-grandmother had me sewing at an earlier age. I recall building doll quilts when she’d arrive at visit from cool NY and my GG had me crocheting.

    I skipped on training my stepchildren, but aspire to move sewing onto the action grandchildren.

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