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Summertime Sewing with Kids

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We Carry
by Sara Snuggerud in Sewing Tips

Summertime is an excellent time to teach a youngster to sew. 

When they see us have fun sewing they usually want to join in. The lazy days of summer are a perfect time to spend time sewing with them. Here are a few things to keep in mind for a lifetime of sewing enjoyment. 

Take in to count the age of the future sewist. The little ones love to sit on our laps and watch the fabric slide through the sewing machine or even help step on the foot control. The elementary age sewers want to do it all by themselves even though they might not have a clue about sewing, the tweenagers usually don’t want their moms teaching them and the teenagers tend to want to figure things out on their own. No matter the age group you might be working with, there are some basics to review to help make their sewing episodes successful.

First, I always cringe when mom is looking to upgrade her 30 year old sewing machine that gives her fits and tells me she is planning on giving it to her son or daughter to learn to sew with. Our current group of young sewers don’t want an old mechanical machine to sew on, they want something computerized! They instinctively know that buttons and touch screens. We see it all the time when bored children are dragged into the sewing machine store. If allowed to wander around, we will often find them sitting in front of a machine, using the touch screen on the fanciest machine and then sewing out a decorative stitch. One day we found a sewn out message by a young boy who had figured out how to program in and sew his name! The moral of this story is to teach children how to sew on the BEST sewing machine you own! (And donate that old 30 year old machine to Good Will or a local church).

One thing I remember about learning how to sew at a young age was that I wanted to SEW not press or pin. I wanted to feel the power of speed with the foot control! Mom was kind enough to team-sew with me and was the designated pinner and presser. But, I did learn to pin and press properly by watching her do it for me.

Teaching someone to sew is one thing, teaching someone to properly use a sewing machine is something totally different. Let the child learn how to completely thread the machine and wind the bobbin. Yes, you could probably do it faster, but how will they ever learn? Show them how to do it correctly, watch them practice and before you know it, they will not need to wait for you when they run out of bobbin thread or if the needle becomes unthreaded. If you own an embroidery machine and they know how to thread the machine, you can have them change the thread for you!

Making their sewing chair and machine height comfortable for their size will keep them from burning out so fast. Even adults will quit sewing when their bodies start to get tense from incorrect ergonomics. If needed, prop up the foot control on a sturdy platform that will raise it to the child’s foot yet will not slip away during sewing.

If they are old enough to do their own pinning and pressing, take special note that pins are extra sharp so they don’t have to push them with force through the fabric. If they will be pressing, lower the ironing board down to their level.

Scissors should also be extra sharp, again so they don’t struggle with cutting. Just like a dull knife can be more dangerous than a sharp knife, make sure scissors are smooth and easy to use. Gingher makes a wonderful feather weight pair of scissors that are perfect for younger sewers yet still have the quality edges of their full size scissors. If your favorite sewer is left handed, buy them true left handed scissors.

 

Let them play! If they want to just goof off and sew on scraps of fabric, let them. Any time sewing, is a good time! Letting them select their own fabric for a project will always help them want to finish the project. Even if you think it is too bright or too wild, it is what caught their eye, not yours.

If they are just starting out, encourage them to make something for themselves as opposed to making something for someone else. There is something special about a first quilt or first tote-bag. They will be proud to have made it themselves and they will want to show it off. What better way to grow self-esteem!

As sad as it might be, sometimes the right person to teach your young child to sew is not you. If you find them getting frustrated by your teachings or when they are told that they have to rip out a seam, it is best to look to another relative or friend who they can take direction from without resentment.

Online learning can also be a great place to turn for beginner sewing classes. Check out hundreds of online course offered through BluPrint. Click here for numerous class suggestions.

A Tip About Online Classes with BluPrint

Many BluPrint sewing classes INCLUDE the project patterns. Whether you are a BluPrint subscriber or purchasing online classes individually, the patterns are often worth the price of the class.

Next time you have a little one who wants to sew with you…SAY YES!

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