How to Gently Inspire a Child’s Love for Sewing
Article contributed by Natalie at The Crafty Needle
Do you remember when you first learned to sew? For many of us, our first stitches were created under the watchful tutelage of an expert mother or grandmother, guiding us in the art of threading the needle and tying the knot. Sewing is a lovely hobby for children; it’s easy for them to pick up without much fuss, and it’s a skill they can benefit from in numerous ways.
Of course, it helps that you likely have all the necessary teaching tools, including experience, on hand!
3 Less Talked About Benefits of Sewing
Physically, intellectually, and emotionally, kids can benefit from learning to sew. Along with offering a valuable life skill, practicing sewing can impact childhood development in some noteworthy ways.
1. Sewing encourages mindfulness
Staying focused on the moment and processing feelings as they occur is called mindfulness, and experts have linked it with a reduction in stress, anxiety, and depression. Sewing occupies the hands and eyes but frees the mind to process other things. For this reason, sewing can function as a mindful coping tool for calming down or processing tough emotions.
2. Sewing refines hand-eye coordination
When younger children put needles to cloth, they’re not just getting creative, they’re boosting important motor skills. Skilled crafts like sewing exercise both their hand-eye coordination and their fine motor abilities.
3. Sewing prompts kids to use math and critical thinking
Following a pattern while sewing means they’ll need to measure and cut their fabric, encouraging the use of math skills. Furthermore, if they plan out a project themselves, they’ll be using critical thinking and planning abilities, which are an important part of their cognitive development.
Easy Teaching Tips for Parents
- Use patience: Though sewing may be second nature to you, they’re learning for the first time. Don’t be surprised if they need a lot of extra help at first, especially if they’re young.
- Choose the right supplies: As expert mom and seamstress Natalie Grant of The Crafty Needle advises, “Pick needles and thread that will be easy for kids to use when starting out, such as split embroidery floss and embroidery needles. They’re easier to thread, and a bit larger, so handling them isn’t as difficult — make sure they still have a sharp point, though!”
- Video tutorials: Don’t be afraid to turn to video tutorials for extra examples. Sometimes seeing or hearing something a different way is what’s needed for a concept or skill to “click”.
The Fun Felt Bag: A “First-Timer’s” Sewing Project
This simple felt purse is easy and inexpensive to put together and can be customized for boys or girls through color and style choices. It’s a perfect first project for a new sewer, as it comes together quickly while handily teaching the basics.
Supplies you’ll need:
- Felt (two colors if desired)
- Embroidery thread
- Standard thread
- Shears or scissors
- Pen or fabric marker
- Dessert plate
- 4 straight pins
- Embroidery needle
- Standard needle
First, choose your fabric
Craft felt is recommended for this project, as it’s easy to cut, sew, and work with. While it is often sold in squares, which may eliminate the need for cutting, this is not the most economical choice if multiple children will be sewing the project.
If one or a small group are sewing, stick to squares. If it’s a group project you’re after, consider buying a yard(or more). Each project requires 9” x 12” of felt, so a yard will make one dozen.
Prepare your fabric for sewing
If you’re using a yard of felt, begin by measuring and cutting the yard into 9” x 12” squares.
Take one of the narrow edges of the square and bring it up toward its opposite edge, leaving an inch of felt for a flap. Secure the sides of the felt with straight pins, about ¾” beyond the edge of the fabric.
Place a dessert plate over the project as shown, leaving the flap’s corners exposed. Using scissors or a rotary cutter, trim the edges to round them.
Sew the project
When preparing kids to sew, the right supplies are crucial — see our Teaching Tips for advice on choosing a needle and thread.
To begin, thread the needle by guiding the thread through the needle’s eye, leaving a tail of two or three inches. Knot the bottom of the longer strand of thread.
Pass the needle through the felt inside a bottom corner, which will hide the knot that secures it.
Create ⅛ inch running stitch up to the flap. Pass the needle under a stitch to create a loop, and pass the needle through the loop to tie off. Repeat once and trim.
Repeat this process for the other side of the bag.
Adding the button
In the middle of the flap, choose a spot for a buttonhole. Mark it lightly and use small scissors to make a slit.
Use a fabric marker or pen to make a small mark through the buttonhole indicating where the button should be sewn. Move the flap upward and sew the button to the bag’s inner panel where indicated.
Use additional felt colors to create fun accents, like the pictured flower, or other shapes. These can easily be attached with a standard needle and thread.
To top off this fun little satchel, consider adding ribbon or braided embroidery floss to create a shoulder strap. For a boy, a loop of felt can be added with another small button so that it can be attached to a belt or backpack.