Got a kid who’s eager to learn to sew, but you don’t have the skills to teach them?
Tell me about it! I machine sew all the freakin’ time, so of course it’s HAND sewing that my kids are interested in. I don’t know all the good hand-sewing stitches. Apparently, I don’t even thread my needle right.
Fortunately, if you give your kids the appropriate supplies, you can just let them go to experiment and play and, yes, sew!
The most important material for a kid’s first sewing project is felt. Felt is easy to cut, easy to sew, and does not fray at the edges–it’s perfect for a beginning sewer. Depending on your priorities, choose your type of felt from these eco-friendly options:
2. wool felt: Wool felt is pricey, but it has a great texture that appeals to many kids. Want to be surrounded with natural materials? This is the felt for you.
3. felted wool sweaters: Every nice old person who knitted a beautiful wool sweater would be horrified to find that you bought that wool sweater from a thrift shop and felted it. Never done that before? Here’s how to felt wool sweaters. Interested in crafting with recycled materials? This is the felt for you.
To sew the felt, I recommend embroidery floss. It’s thick, so you can see it and hold it more easily, and it comes in loads of beautiful colors that are fun to use. Threading embroidery floss is tricky, yes, but with some tenacity, both my nine- and seven-year-olds can now do it. If you have younger kids, try threading a length of each color onto its own needle, and setting them all into a pincushion, so that the kids can choose and get started right away without having to wait for you to thread their needles.
4. markers: Kids find it easier to cut and sew when they can follow a visible line. Chalk and disappearing ink pens are possibilities, but to keep the process as easy as possible, I just let my kids use Sharpies.
5. fun stuff: Beads, buttons, and charms are all VERY fun for kids to sew to their fabric projects.
6. stuffing: When my kids aren’t making doll clothes, they’re making stuffies. Buy them a bag of eco-friendly stuffing or carded wool, or use shredded paper or fabric scraps.
7. scissors: Cutting fabric requires sharp scissors, but kids simply can’t wield gigantic fabric shears. You’ll need to provide a small pair of sharp fabric scissors, and explain that they are NOT to be used to cut anything other than fabric.
After your kids have played around with two pieces of fabric, a needle, and thread for a while, you may want to demonstrate the running stitch and the blanket stitch, simply as other stitches to use to get fabric attached, but the fun part, for the kids, is that they don’t *need* any instruction to sew using these easy materials. Felt won’t rip or ravel, embroidery floss won’t break, and even the craziest of stitching can result in a vaguely heart-shaped stuffie whose completion will thrill a kid enormously.