Sewing for beginners (children) : LUSENET : Country Families : One Thread

My mom had me started on sewing at age 4. Basically the beginning sewing starts (at maybe 2 1/2 to 3 years of age) with those cute cards that have a string attached and holes to push the string through. You can make your own with poster board, a hole punch and a shoestring. If you use yarn in place of the shoestring, be sure to wrap tape around the free end to keep it from fraying. Also at this stage, children can string large beads together. I use empty thread spools for this.

Other slightly more advanced eye-hand coordination activities include threading yarn through scraps of plastic canvas or stitching around an outline drawn on a piece of loosely woven fabric (like burlap). Both of these use a blunt needle so the child is not getting poked. Next, you can have the child learn to sew buttons. Use a large button, loosely woven fabric, heavy thread (like for quilting), and a smaller blunt needle (like for cross stitch). Have the child progress to smaller and smaller buttons, tighter weave fabric, and sharper needles.

For sewing seams, start by drawing straight lines on a piece of fabric, and have the child use a regular needle and thread to sew on the lines, learning to keep the stitches small, even and close together. The traditional "first project" for little girls is the nine-patch quilt. Cut nine calico squares of two contrasting prints, and set them up checkerboard fashion. Have the child stitch the squares together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. If your child is not patient enough to make a quilt (even doll-size), help her make the patch into a pillow. Gradually teach her to stick with it to make bigger and more complicated projects.

Years ago, little girls had their own sewing baskets by the time they were 5 or 6. My older daughter got hers at age 7. Include needles of varous sizes in a needle book (a simple one can be made by sewing 2 small rectangles of flannel together down the middle, making 4 "pages"; more elaborate ones have covers and even a way to fasten it shut), a thimble, thread in various colours, small "thread" scissors, larger fabric scissors, etc. Wal-mart sometimes sells packages of buttons of assorted shapes, colours and sizes, cheap. I think the ones we got had about 50 buttons in the package, and you could get coloured or assorted white. I got the coloured ones and put them in a small tupperware container.

My daughter (will be 10 in Feb.) is now doing what I once did, designing clothes for her dolls. She has a real Singer sewing machine, which my son found alongside the road, with which she sewed the top for her first quilt. One of the gears was plastic, though, and broke, so we will need to get that replaced before we go on to beginning machine sewing.

Hope this helps some of you:o)

-- Cathy N. (, December 17, 2001


Thanks for the info! My daughter (10) really likes to hand sew and crochet. Since I don't do either she has to learn from her Nana.

-- Jo (, December 17, 2001.

Thanks Cathy, my girls all have their own sewing boxes. Kadia is in Home-Ec this year and loves to sew. Lindsey has hand-sewn a small quilt top herself. She loves to help me lay out quilt designs. Lindsey and Megan are working on a wall quilt to hang in the doorway between their rooms. An idea for pins and needlw. I used two SOS pads, and put them inside a fabric bag. tie the ends shut with a piece of yarn. Keeps them sharp, and rust-free.

Or use some stuffing and make a ball out of it. Wrap strips of scrap fabric around, and around, makes a nice pin-cushion.

Another fun thing for kids to make, is puppets out of felt. they can hand sew them, then decorate with scraps of yarn. We have also made tree ornaments in the shape of starts and hearts. Either stuff them, or use batting, and sew around the edges. Very rustic looking...

-- Melissa (, December 17, 2001.

I like your idea for teaching seam sewing. Another thing I do with the girls and their friends is I write their name in large cursive on a square of muslin. They do a running stitch in embroidery thread of their choice. Next we sew a back to it, stuff it, and voila! Instant pin cushion!

When one of my daughters was a baby and I was sewing (for money)she would sit on my lap for hours and carefully pull pins from one pin cushion and carefully place in another pin cushion.

Her hand eye coordination and small motor skills have always been advanced--largely I think, because of this activity as a baby.

-- Ann Markson (, December 17, 2001.

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