Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Teaching Kids to Sew

I think teaching kids to sew is such a valuable skill to learn. My daughter loves to sew and I often get asked, how did you teach Kylee to sew? I began to teach her to sew when she was about five years old with basic hand sewing using scraps of fabric. By the time she was 5 1/2 or 6 I started to teach her how to use my sewing machine. The sewing machine can be scary so we took it slow. The nice thing about my machine is that it has a speed dial so that I can slow it way down to make it not so scary and uncontrollable. If you are going to teach a child to sew, this is a very nice feature to have but not necessary. In our house the rule is, if Kylee is sewing, the speed must be set to turtle (slow)

First Kylee started out simply sitting on my lap and pressing the sewing pedal while I controlled the fabric. She played around and quickly figured out that the harder you push, the faster the machine goes and vise versa. We then graduated to her lifting and lowering the presser and then pushing the buttons to make the needle go up and down and go in reverse, I explained all the parts of the machine to her and always asked her to tell me what to do before she did it. We talked about safety and that the needle is sharp and that she must keep her fingers away from the needle. Another nice feature of my machine is that it has a button that tells the machine to always keep the needle down when you are not pushing the pedal, this helps prevent any accidental needle poking, Another rule when Kylee is sewing is that the needle must be set to the down position.

When Kylee was able to tell me the steps needed to safely sew something I started to let her guide the fabric while she sat on my lap. Eventually she graduated to me just sitting next to her while she sewed on her own. For what seemed like hours, she practiced sewing straight lines, that I had drawn onto fabric. When she could sew a straight line very well, I started to draw out curved and wavy lines onto scraps of fabric which she practiced over and over again. We then made small things like pillows and blankets for her dolls and stuffed animals and Kylee became very comfortable using my sewing machine. Today Kylee who is almost 8 uses the machine all by herself, I am in the room of course usually making dinner or doing dishes but she sets it up and sews all on her own with very little assistance.

Today, Kylee drew out a little bunny rabbit onto some scraps of felt and created this little softy. Isn't it cute.

I still sometimes draw a dashed line to help guide her as to where to sew because she has a hard time understanding how to keep a consistent seam allowance and this little guys had a lot of curves so the drawing of a dashed line was helpful for her so she could see and anticipate what she needed to do next.

You can see she did fairly good following the line. Often what happens if she doesn't have a line and is sewing around a curve is that she ends up very close to the edge and when she turns the fabric, there is a hole. With the dotted line, this rarely happens and sew sews much neater and straighter.

The bunny was then turned right side out and you no longer can see her drawing lines or the dashed sewing guides.

Kylee stuffed the little bunny and used her hand sewing skills to close up the bunny. She had me sew on the button eye and the whiskers while she made a little pom-pom that was sewed on for the tail.

I love the fact that Kylee has the ability to create something in her head and then produce it into a tangible item. We haven't started talking about patterns yet and how to use/read them but she has made this one of her summer goals so we will probably start learning about patterns by making a few simple skirts. Even my youngest son is interested in sewing and will begin learning how to sew using a sewing machine this summer. His first project, if you ask him is to make a sword. We will see how it goes. 


  1. Oh, how very lucky you are to have kids that want to learn to sew! I've been sewing all my life and taught my 2 girls (neither of whom enjoy it!). When my first granddaughter was born I thought she would like to learn. WRONG! But now she is a mom (making me a great g-ma) and NOW she wants to learn! And lives 2000 miles away! Good for Kylee wanting to learn and doing such a fantastic job of it! And good for you having such patience and skill to teach her so well! Looking forward to seeing many more of her creations!

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