So, it’s school holidays, what a great time to teach your children a new skill.
In this article, I will be talking about how to start teaching your child to hand sew.
Why, how and other basics
As we are ever more conscious about the environmental impact of everything we do, it is important to understand how even basic sewing and mending skills fit in to this.
Speaking of environment, I would like to mention the manner in which my children got used to wearing patched trousers. They often see me sewing and mending things and ask me about what I am doing.
My eldest is 5 years old and he already had some ‘stitching practice.’ He asks me if the dress I am wearing, or handbag I have was something I had made. Both boys have seen me utilise a lot of colorful fabrics, and the outputs of my work. So, this is a part of their environment. I will be giving more practice to my 5-year-old as time goes.
If you can sew, then you can just pass your skills on to your child slowly; and you can work on projects together. Importantly, if you have never had any sewing experience before, this is an amazing opportunity to learn sewing together. This will be fun. The best time to start is now.
So, what are the benefits of sewing?
The benefits of teaching children how to sew cannot be overestimated. I will mention a few of them.
You will benefit from improving your hand-eye coordination and intricate motor skills. Also, working with a needle and fabric will help children to be more precise and patient as they work with their hands and fingers.
Problem-solving and project management:
This is where it gets really interesting because your child will be trying to plan and achieve their first little project. You will see that sometimes the projects will not always go as planned, which is fine, as it develops critique and adaptation skills. The key is to help your child focus on their creativity and imagination, which will work to achieve great results, AND, undoubtedly, lots of joy!
Sewing will help to train patience and self-confidence. In addition, hand stitching is considered to be a slow stitching meditation, and definitely this is not a skill that everyone can do, and learning it will make your child proud and more confident.
Let's start. What do you need?
Scissors – use childrens’ safety scissors, or demonsrate all the cutting yourself. Supervision is important at the first stages.
Needles– I used a blunt big needle (large eye) when my son first tried a few stitches and a lose woven type of fabric that is easy to stitch through. You will see a list of projects to start with later with this. It is good to start stitching with some yarn first. Whatever you use, make sure it’s a short piece of thread, no longer than 30 cm/12 inches, so it doesn’t get tangled.
Make sure the thread is secured at the beginning with a small knot or a few tack stitches (tack stitch is a short stitch that you use in the same place two times to secure the thread one on top of the other).
Simple and quick projects to try
The best way to learn sewing is to plan a few small, quick projects. When I knew that I would have some children coming to my classes with their parents, I would make sure I prepare special fabrics for them, embellishments etc. I always asked beforehand, what colors or patterns they like. This usually works! There should be something that will spark their interest and curiosity.
If you use a blunt needle and some yarn, you can work together and add some bright stitches to winter hats, scarves, jumpers, and other knitwear.
Small stitching projects can be very useful when making greeting cards. A few pieces of fabric can be stitched together to form an artwork piece for a greeting card.
It is easy and quick to make a few fabric tea coasters that can be a gift for someone. You can also make a few string bags for fruit veg shopping. There are so many options! You can design and make some doll’s clothes as well. The next level will be making some soft toys, and probably more elaborated dolls’ clothes.
Most importantly, don’t be in a rush to buy a sewing machine. You cannot imagine how much you can do by hand sewing: embroidery, sewing with ribbons and yarn etc, stitching different embellishments on.
Inspiration, motivation and engagement!
These aspects are the key!
It is important to make your child feel engaged with their unique project. Let them make decisions about it, but also give advice where you feel it is needed. Overall, it should be a relaxing activity for both of you.
I remember I had a girl coming to my classes regularly with her mum; and then I ran a Christmas session that they attended. After the class, they came up to me and her mum told me that her daughter asked for a sewing machine for Christmas. This was a very emotional moment for me knowing that I inspired this little girl to move to the next level. This was truly touching.
I wish you all the best and I hope that you both will enjoy learning this particularly useful nowadays skill and create beautiful items together.