Ten tips to help your kids (and you!) start sewing.

Ten tips for sewing with kids. [Clean.]

When we talked about kids sewing last week, I noticed how many of you were hungry for a little inspiration and training of the needle-and-thread sort.

Many of you loved the idea of sewing with your children, but didn't know where to begin.

Well, then. How about we begin right here?

With a few tips to start you off in the right direction.

Ten tips for sewing with kids. [Clean.]

Ten Tips to Help Your Kids (and You!) Start Sewing

1. Gather supplies

You don't need much to be ready to sew.

A small budget and a trip to the local craft store (or better yet the thrift store) will give you all you need.

Gather the following supplies:

  • Sharp needles in a variety of sizes
  • Sewing thread in a few colors (I find grey to be handy when you don't have the right thread color on hand.)
  • Woven (as in bed sheet-type, not t-shirts) cotton fabric in a variety of colors. (If your budget is tight, buy button-down shirts or skirts at the second hand store when you find them marked down.)
  • Sharp scissors or shears
  • Straight pins
  • Somewhere to park those pins, even if it's just a folded piece of fleece (Sewing a pin cushion is a great beginner's project!)
  • An embroidery hoop or two if you plan on any cross-stitch or embroidery.
  • A seam-ripper. Because, well, you know. 

2. Assemble a sewing kit (and keep it handy)

An old suitcase, sturdy picnic basket, or lidded box is a perfect sewing kit. Choose something you already have on hand or pick up a box at the thrift store. Then organize your supplies using mint tins, jars, and bags.

Keep your kit near your other craft supplies so the kids can find it when inspiration strikes.

Don't overfill your sewing box! If you have lots of fabric, just offer a small selection at a time to keep from overwhelming your kids (or yourself).

3. Find a mentor

Do you have a friend who sews? If sewing is new to you, have them show you and your child the basics.

If you don't know anyone with basic sewing skills, ask around. Craft stores, fabric stores, or even knitting shops are great places to connect with crafty folks who love to share.

Ten tips for sewing with kids. [Clean.]

Ten tips for sewing with kids. [Clean.]

4. Fill the bookshelf

Pick up some sewing books from your local bookstore or library geared towards children or for beginners.

We all enjoyed the book I shared with you last week as well as the one pictured above.

"Fabric, Paper, Thread" is also written for kids, but for those with a bit more experience. (This book was also sent our way via Sew Mama Sew and Fun Stitch Studio.) With these new books in hand I realized how lovely it is to have fresh inspiration.

This book inspired the drawstring bags shown here. Lupine and Sage
worked together to craft them for favor bags for Sage's birthday.

Look for books that will hold your interest as you and your kids gain skills.

5. Pick up a needle and thread

Nothing inspires your children like watching you take the leap. You don't need a sewing machine to sew! In fact, handwork is an ideal place to start.

But start. Just start!

Ten tips for sewing with kids. [Clean.]

6. Release the negative self-talk

Now that you started, be nice. To you. Because dang it, you're sewing! How self-reliant you are.

The need to be perfect or get everything right on the first try is the perfect way to stymie any lick of creative juice that you might have had.

Wonky seam? Eh. Who'd notice? Mis-matched bobbin? Edgy! Some puckers? Call 'em pin-tucks.

If your child sees you roll with your own imperfections they will probably give themselves the same grace.

Ten tips for sewing with kids. [Clean.]

7. Find important work for little hands.

Give your child a job as you work on a project together.

The old blue snips pictured above have been in the hands of my kids since they were each two. (I'm sure they were in my hands when I was small, as they came to me after my grandma died with the rest of her sewing supplies.)

My children would sit in my lap anytime I sewed at my machine, blue snips at the ready for the stray tails at the end of each seam.

That work was vital for them to be engaged and learning as I worked on my own projects.

What job can your child do?

Ten tips for sewing with kids. [Clean.]

Ten tips for sewing with kids. [Clean.]

8. Allow your kids to create

Let your kids to dream, plan, and create. Let them cut and sew and make 100 little pouches out of your fabric scraps or tiny pillows for their dolls.

If I may be so bold: get out of their way.

Breathe through the urge to do for them, to suggest a matching thread, to improve or otherwise usurp their process. Just let their creativity run wild and their confidence and skill blossoms.

By all means be there to guide and assist them, but know when to guide and when to step away.

Ten tips for sewing with kids. [Clean.]

9. Build your skills

What scares you a little? Button holes? Embroidery? Putting in a zipper? Work your way up the skill ladder one small project at a time.

And as you learn, help your child build skills as well.

Remember: YouTube is your friend.

Just last night YouTube was there when I needed someone to explain how to bind a quilt. Because I'm making a quilt. And I don't know how to make a quilt! I didn't know how to make a quilt, but I learned.

10. It's all about the process

Very little of what our children craft will land in your "forever" box. They make, they learn, they grow. And lucky us! We get to watch them along the way.

I try to remember with most things in life, it's the process that we're after.

Sewing is no different.

And every so often we're blessed with not only a joyful process, but a beautiful project as a bonus at the end.

Happy crafting!




8 thoughts on “Ten tips to help your kids (and you!) start sewing.

  1. Holly says:

    what inspiration! we’re going to make one of those bags today. maybe it’ll give my babes something to do while i’m getting a box together to donate (reference: yesterday’s post, here). = )

    Cheers to fun projects!

  2. vada wetzel says:

    Give me some simplicity motivation occasionally.I really need to get this stuff gone but it is so hard to do alone..Tell us part of your process so we know others really share our pain.Thanks!

  3. Lisa says:

    Thank you for this! I have had a (brand new, in the box) sewing machine sitting in various closets in various homes for the last 15 or so years. Last weekend my six year old daughter asked if we could get it out and make something. So I read the manual, figured out how to thread it and get it running, and we all took turns sewing crazy seams on old, worn out clothes in the rag pile. Such fun! Now both my daughter and my eight year old son have lists of projects to make- including a quilt (“We can make a quilt, Momma! Quilts are easy!”) I love seeing all the things my kids think they can do when they haven’t been told they can’t.

  4. knitting mole & atomic vault says:

    Ok, so here’s my sewing question: I now have TWO vintage sewing machines, but have never used either because I keep thinking I need to have them tuned up before I can put them to work. Is this true? or am I imagining it? And how much $$ should I expect to spend for a tune-up? Anyone?

  5. Rachel Wolf says:

    I say open them up (if you can) and get the dust out. Then try them. Do they work? Then sew! I have mine cleaned every… I don’t know… ten years? I know. I’m supposed to do it more often. But I don’t. Sewing with a slightly gunked but not terrible machine is better imho than not sewing at all. I think it ran me somewhere around $50 or $75 for the tune up. But I might be making that up.

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