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The best tips for teaching kids to sew

The best tips for teaching kids to sew

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The best tips for teaching kids to sew

Teaching kids to sew can be both exciting and exasperating for parents and teachers alike! I’ve had a lot of fun working with my young kids learning to sew and teaching a Sewing 101 class at our homeschool co-op and thought I’d put all the tips I’ve shared with other parents in one spot. Sewing is great for hand-eye coordination, fine motor control, and just plain old fun. Making something yourself is empowering and exciting! I have tips for machine and hand sewing as well as a long list of different sewing curriculum or project series for teaching children to sew. I geared this post towards working with 1-3 kids at a time, there are definitely more considerations if you’re teaching a larger class!

There isn’t a magic age that every kid is going to be ready to start learning, but I think there is a huge range of options and ideas for as young as 2 up to teenagers here.

When you’re thinking about teaching a child to sew, you can choose from books, videos, or photo tutorials. I decided to round up a few different sewing lessons for kids to choose from, all shared by bloggers or sites that I trust! If you have personal reviews on having used any of these, or have tips for sewing with kids that I missed, please let me know in the comments!

Check these related posts out while you’re at it:

Not ready to dive in yet? Pin this post of kids sewing tips and resources with this link or collage image:

kids sewing tips

The best tips for teaching kids to sew

Be safe!

Whether you’re hand or machine sewing, you need to be aware of potential dangers without making your students nervous about the risks. For hand sewing, I like using chenille needles that are sharp but thicker and easier to thread.

For machine sewing, consider skipping the foot pedal. My machine has a stop/start button instead of a foot pedal, which makes it easy for me to reach over and intervene in an emergency. I set the speed super slow and he just hit the button to stop and start, and didn’t have to coordinate using a foot pedal. The crazy popular Brother CS60001 has this feature as well!

Please teach kids to never hold needles in their mouth (horror story here!); use a pincushion or a pin dish instead.

Be a guide!

Letting kids choose as much of their project as they can (fabric, style, shape, size, etc.) will increase their investment and interest. Having someone else dictate all your choices can suck the joy out of making! If they’re proposing something that isn’t feasible, ask questions that lead them to realize this instead of just shutting it down or offering an alternative.

Be excited!

Remember what the goal is – to nurture a love of sewing. Not to have the straightest seams. Not to finish a project the day you started it. Even if you’re internally cringing at the fabric choices, sloppiness, etc., remember that if they’re supposed to be excited, you need to be excited. Stay positive and cheer them on as you guide them! Skills can always be refined but if they don’t fall in love with the craft in the first place, they won’t keep practicing.

Be flexible!

If your kid(s) have lost their focus, find a good stopping point and start again another day. If they sew over a corner or veer off the seam allowance, it’s a great time to brainstorm next steps with them as opposed to simply correcting them. Be flexible as they plan and sew, and keep the experience fun for both of you.

Be patient!

Double the amount of time you’re planning on it taking. Small hands and new skills will take longer than you expect, and taking deep breaths to avoid rushing them will pay off in the long run.

I can guarantee that your kid(s) will do something annoying or sloppy when they’re learning how to sew. Try to bite your tongue! As long as it’s safe, I try to let it happen even if I can see it’s not going to work. What better way to learn than to feel it yourself?

Be prepared!

If you’ve picked out an existing project together, I like having a sample sewn up so they can see the finished project before they start. It helps visualize different elements and also serves as motivation! Think about the best fabric options; I love working with felt since it won’t fray and stable knits are the same way. If it is something that will be washed often, be sure to finish the seams somehow if it is made with woven cotton (pinking shears are a simple way!).

I also suggest brainstorming potential problem areas for the specific kid(s) you’re working with. If their scissor skills need work, freezer paper makes for easing tracing/cutting. You cut out the shape and iron it shiny-side down, it will stay on until you peel it off, with no residue! If they wiggle a on, try sitting them on an exercise ball or taking lots of breaks.

Seeing kids take pleasure in something they made themselves is so joyful. Sewing with kids is an easy way to use up scraps too, they will love all the different options and you can clean out your stash!

Ready to get started? You can dive in and just pick a random easy sewing project for kids but if you’re looking for a more structured curriculum, check out some ideas below.

Options for teaching kids to sew

It’s hard to sort out teaching sewing curriculum options from spam and scams on Google, so I tried my best!

Online curriculum for kids learning to sew

Jennifer at Jennuine Designs has a fun little set of free sewing lessons for kids called Tiny Sewists, you can check out all the posts at this link.

Amber at Crazy Little Projects has a series of sewing lessons and projects on her blog, starting with this one

Ashley from Make It and Love It has a set of free lessons on her blog, starting out with hand sewing on foam plates. Check out the first step here.

You can also try learn to sew printouts that involve sewing on paper; my kids weren’t enthused about this so we skipped straight to fabric. Find some at Skip to My Lou here or So Sew Easy here.

Video classes for kids learning how to sew

There is the beginner/kid friendly online class called ‘Jump Into Sewing’ by Sara Alm; the different lessons cover threading your machine, sewing a placemat, and sewing a pillow.

Vanessa from Crafty Gemini has this fun video that shows some basic steps for her 3 year old son to get started on a machine, covering lots of basics.

Books for kids learning how to sew

My friend Trixi at Coloured Buttons has a great e-book out tailored for parents who don’t know how to sew but want to teach their kids! You can read my full review of the book here.

stack of books for teaching kids to sew

The Sewing School series by Andria Lisle & Amie Plumley is so great! It shows projects sewn by real kids and the kids in the photos are diverse. Each book takes a specific focus, with step by step instructions and several different patterns/tutorials in each one. I’ve written a full review of the first and third book – you can read about the first Sewing School book that focuses on hand sewing here, or about the Sewing School quilts book here.

Buy the books here:

A peek inside the newest apparel book, isn’t it great?

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Becca

Friday 26th of April 2019

Love this- some great ideas! My little one is not-quite-three and loves to "help" with sewing, he sits on my knee and operates the reverse button or takes out pins. We work in really short bursts so I just try to always have something fairly straightforward pinned together and we can sit down for 5 minutes- he made some great hand warmers at Christmas.

I'll come back to these ideas when he's ready to do some more for himself 😊

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Friday 26th of April 2019

That is so sweet!! My kids both started hand sewing solo at that age too - but they still prefer machines (and are now older so it is easier, haha). Start them young :D Thanks for leaving a comment!

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