Teaching children to sew

Teaching children to sew

Sewing with kids…..and a sewing machine

“I’m a little worried!”
“A little worried about what petal?” you ask.
“I’m a little worried that we’re embarking on creating a generation who don’t know how to make clothes, house accessories and….erm….fabric doorstops!”

Ok as world problems go it’s not right up there in say the top 5, but even still it’s a very real possibility. In the days of our parents and our grandparents there was the need to be a little more self-sufficient, and again we find ourselves in times where cuts have to be made and perhaps a new dress or jacket isn’t first on the list for this month pay packet.

It’s more than that though, it’s about being a bit more individual too, wouldn’t you love to give your kids the ability to choose how they look, to let their imagination be creative and run free, I’m not saying let them wear only hemp clothing, but you get my gist.

So what better way than helping them out by teaching them to sew. As Evie is now 6 years old, that’s the junction we find our lives at. Encourage or dissuade, it’s an easy choice really.

I’ve written up some of the tips to help teach children to sew…So here goes nothing:

Sew What's New Blog icon Tip 1: Pick the project carefully

– Start with something simple and something that they will be interested in, you could make a personalised pillow case or make a simple blanket

– Squares or rectangles are easier to sew than curves

– Draw a picture of what you plan to make, so you are both clear on what you are doing

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Sew What's New Blog icon Tip 2: Get them used to the equipment

Safety first!! But don’t bore them, I know Evie ignores me after the 3rd time of saying. Oh and there’s no need for high-vis jackets and pointing out fire exits!

– Make the important rules clear and easy to understand (e.g. only sew with an adult, ask for sharp things as they need them)

– Keeping hands and fingers clear of the needle

– If your machine has a variable speed set it low to begin with

– Ensure feet are clear from the pedal when handling the fabric or presser foot levers

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Sew What's New Blog icon Tip 3. Use equipment that fits them well

– Scissors only not rotary cutters (they’re super sharp)

– Bright pins so they can easily be spotted and consider a magnetic pin holder to prevent missing pins

– Cutting mats to protect surfaces (so you can focus on them and not the table)

– Sit them comfortably on your lap if they’re tidgy or at a table & chair that’s height appropriate.

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Sew What's New Blog icon Tip 4. Kids love to copy:

– Show them “how to” first – it’s a great way to learn. Just be sure not to hog the machine

– Don’t put pins in your mouth; you’re their role model so try not to teach them bad habits.

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Sew What's New Blog icon Tip 5. Start to explain the sewing basics:

Share a couple of the keys terms, for example:

– right and wrong side of the fabric
– straight and zig-zag stitches
– Seam allowances etc.

Then over a few sessions your trainee sewer will start to learn the lingo

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Sew What's New Blog icon Tip 6. Let them experiment and take control!

– Be strong and let them take some control, mistakes will happen but that is how everyone learns. You can always step in to help your little stitcher get back on track and then let them continue stitching.

– Try driving the pedal yourself to begin with and getting them to give you voice commands, slow, fast, forward, back, stop.

– Hand stitching is great too, plus it helps concentration and fine motor skills.

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Even the best and calmest of stitchers can get frustrated from time to time. Don’t forget it’s only sewing and not time critical, if it’s all getting a bit much, why not stop for a glass of milk and a biscuit (for them not you!)

Until next time

Matt Chapple & EvieMatt & Evie x

The stitcher. A magnet for foolery & prankster at heart. Loves being creative, whether with some wood and a saw or with a needle and thread. Attempts to disguise his past time activities as manly pursuits, but is actually pretty handy at sewing!

13 Comments

  1. Helen Chandler 2 years ago

    I’m so pleased that i have found your site! I have six young ladies that I teach on a Tuesday after school and a don’t know who has more fun, me or them. Yes, it’s loud and yes, it’s mayhem, but they are keen to learn and I love seeing their bold fabric choices and how they progress from week to week. One thing I have learnt is that you have to be flexible! Things you may think are easy take a lot longer than expected and machines have a horrible tendency to go wrong at critical times! Keep up the good work Matt!

    • Author
      Matt 2 years ago

      Thank you Helen, it certainly sounds like you have your hands full there. Hats off to you.
      I’m so glad you’re enjoying the site, we’re really loving updating and sharing. Some of the new Singer team up blogs that we’re doing may help with a little inspiration for you and the ladies….I’ll let you know when they’re posted. Happy stitching. Matt

  2. Author
    Matt 2 years ago

    Several people have asked my on twitter what age I would recommend to start teaching your children to sew? So I thought I would share the answers here too. Evie was 5 when I started to teach her to sew and she had enough control and concentration to begin to pick up the basics. But, no matter what your child’s age if they show interest then give it ago…

  3. Jacqueline Twamley 2 years ago

    Good morning,

    Have been reading simply sewing and I found your website, so pleased you are making a career out of your passion. My daughter is eight years old and I have been collecting information and books to start teaching her to sew. Even at her tender age she has a great sense of style and is not afraid to put things together in a funky out there way. I work full time and I thought this would be a great way of doing stuff together, we are going to make a project a month. Loving the way your whole family is doing this with you.

    • Author
      Matt 2 years ago

      Hi Jacqueline, what a lovely story! Great idea to make a project a month as your daughter can get involved in the design too. Making projects together really does bring the family together, I know that sounds a little cheesy but it really does work! Thanks Matt

  4. Val Hart 3 years ago

    Hi Matt
    Glad to hear you’re showing Evie. I bought my granddaughter a John Lewis pink sewing machine 4 years ago for her 9th birthday as she wanted to learn how to make things and my sewing machine was far too expensive for her to learn on (a Husqvarna Designer 1). She loves making clothes for herself and we’re now showing her mum (my daughter-in-law) how to sew.

    Keep up the good work so that we don’t forget to pass on the traditional skills of sewing and knitting (I’ve taught them both how to knit).

    Kind regards Val

    • Author
      Matt 3 years ago

      Hi Val, its wonderful to hear peoples stories of teaching people to sew, especially when a daughter teachers her mother! Fantastic!

  5. Pat 3 years ago

    Hello Matt, I am so thrilled to see that you are teaching Evie to enjoy sewing. I taught my daughter and two sons, more years ago than I care to remember! I taught my Grandaughter, took her to quilting classes, from age four. Twenty years later she told me she would like a sewing machine as clothes are too expensive, and she needs to make and mend, I am ecstatic ! I now have a three year old grandson Isaac, as soon as he can reach the machine I will be teaching him. He already likes to watch Grandma.
    It’s so good to know that there are young people now looking to bring sewing back into homes.
    I am sure the GBSB can claim a lot of the praise. They brought sewers like you to the public eye.
    Regards
    Pat

    • Author
      Matt 3 years ago

      Hi Pat, it’s great that you also taught your sons! Like you are with Issac, I am looking forward to Max being old enough so I can start to teach him too.

  6. Di 3 years ago

    Hi Matt. Like the other Di, I am fully behind you getting kids sewing. Your tips are spot on. When I was teaching I started kids machine sewing a dot to dot picture on paper(you do need to change the needle afterwards!). They had to follow the numbers, then stop, and restart somewhere else and follow the alphabet. It was a great task to teach how to pivot at corners with the needle down.
    Keep up the good work
    Di

    • Author
      Matt 3 years ago

      Hi Di,

      Thats such a great idea, I have an air erasable marker so i may do something similar to that for Evie, I bet she’d love that.

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying the site and posts.
      Matt (The one and only :) )

  7. Di Garrety 3 years ago

    Great blog Matt ( or should I say Brodie?)
    I am right with you on bringing sewing skills back to children, boys & girls.
    After half term i am starting a sewing club at my school.
    They do want to learn new skills and this gives them fine motor skills, confidence, creativity and design skills to name a few.
    Love reading your posts
    Keep up the good work.
    Kind Regards Di

    • Author
      Matt 3 years ago

      Hi Di,

      Thats made me really smile (not the Brodie comment, although that is very flattering) but the idea of us all inspiring the next generation of stitchers. It’s so enjoyable and I love seeing how much Evie enjoys it.

      It sounds as if you’ve really taken it to the next level. You should be very proud of yourself.
      Best wishes for the future classes.
      Matt

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