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I absolutely love my sewing hobby. It gives me the greatest of pleasure making a garment, especially one for my own little girl. I have always loved sewing crafts in some form, and think that it is a great pastime for all ages to take up. Here are some of my tips for encouraging children to start sewing.
Encouraging Children to Start Sewing
When I was very small, I adored the old dresser that my Grandfather had in his living room. It seemed huge to me as a child, and had lots of drawers all filled with fascinating things. One particular drawer had an old tin button box filled with buttons of all sizes and types. I loved to sort through the buttons, picking my favourites.
And I loved to thread them onto a big chunky darning needle. This was the 70s and there wasn’t much in the way of health and safety, plus it wasn’t too sharp. And I guess that was the start of my sewing love. Some of the buttons didn’t fit as their holes were too small. But as I got older (and able to handle thinner and sharper needles) I got to thread more and more of them into bracelets that I could wear until it was time to go home.
You could still do this at home if you have some buttons with big hole and using plastic needles like these. But I love these buttons from Galt toys that sort into colours and have different numbers of holes!
Seeing that my love of sewing had started, Mum bought me some sewing cards. These are cards with holes in, that come with thick wool thread and plastic needles and are a great way to get small children into sewing. Whilst improving their fine motor skills and coordination. Amazingly, now I’m a mum I am delighted to see that cards very much like these are still available!
Basic Needlework (from age 6)
Once I had mastered some very basic sewing it was time to progress onto something a little more complex. Both at school and at my church girls’ brigade, we often did craft activities. One of these was hand stitching a pencil case. We started with some Aida cross-stitch fabric in a very large weave. The higher the number Aida fabric, the smaller the stitches need to be. Aida fabric is like a mesh, and I practiced basic needlework such as cross-stitch, backstitch and stem stitch in lots of different colours. You can buy Aida 8 count which is perfect for children’s needlework here.
And I still have the pencil case I made 40 years on…
Embroidery (from age 8)
And when I got to the age when I could handle smaller and sharper needles, my Mum introduced me to embroidery. (Having tried first to teach me to knit. I couldn’t get the hang of it because I was left handed)
I loved learning new stitches, chain stitch, satin stitch and french knots. And loved being able to make something really pretty such as a table cloth as an end result.
There are still plenty of kits out there – such as this traditional printed tablecloth to be embroidered in any colour you choose.
Also perfect for children are felt kits for making little stuffed animals. These are often sold as a kit ready cut and just needing to be sewn, such as this kit here.
Finally, at 8 it was decided that I could use my mum’s sewing machine. I have seen younger children than this sewing online, but I guess it is down to how sensible your child is, and whether they have enough coordination to control a fast moving piece of equipment.
My mum had always sewn clothes for me. But the impetus for me to try and sew on mum’s machine was the fact that a new doll had entered my life – Sindy.
I was desperate to try and make clothes for my new doll collection. And had plenty of scraps from my mum’s scrap bag. But the fiddly nature of making tiny clothes at 8 was a little bit too much for me. I was put off. And consequently I didn’t use a sewing machine again until I was in my 40s.
If I were encouraging children to start sewing at 8 using a sewing machine now, I would probably start with a very basic pattern. And see here my post on choosing a basic machine.
- Maybe sewing a simple garment such as a skirt.
- A simple tote bag
- or even some of these reusable pads – in a smaller size for make up removal.
So I think there are lots of ways to be encouraging children to start sewing early. And hopefully they will discover a great hobby that is practical and fun?
And my grandfathers dresser? Is now in my dining room, full of fascinating things for my little one to explore…
How did you start sewing? I would love to hear your stories. Comment below, or do find me on social media.
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