Learning to sew used to be an absolute necessity for many households throughout history. While it may not be as common nowadays as it was back then, it’s still a useful and enjoyable skill for children to learn.
When you teach sewing for kids, you’re equipping them with tools to succeed that go far beyond a needle and thread. Patience, creative problem-solving and critical thinking skills all come into play when they’re working on a sewing project.
Follow these tips to help them learn to sew and develop these essential skills.
5 Simples Steps to Help Kids to Sew
1. Match Goals to Their Abilities
Even from an early age, children can learn to sew with just a few simple supplies. It’s important to design projects that they can achieve with a certain amount of ease, however, to avoid frustration for them and yourself.
You can use the following list of ideas as general guidance for what to teach which age group.
- Preschoolers (Ages 2-4): Kids in this age group can use thick yarn or shoelaces to lace through beads or thread through hole-punched cards in familiar shapes like animals or favorite objects.
- Grade-schoolers (Ages 5-9): Hand-sewing basics like standard stitch practice with felt, cross-stitch loops or embroidering a piece of clothing work best for children at this age.
- Tweens (Ages 10-13): Beginner-level projects with a sewing machine and patterns, such as pillows, curtains or tote bags, are perfect for this developmental stage.
- Teens (Ages 13+): Simple tailoring techniques like taking measurements for fit and making alterations with existing clothes give teens real-world skills they can use independently.
If an older child has no previous experience with basic sewing principles, it may be best to start with those skills first and help them work their way up through these stages.
2. Organize Projects Step-by-Step
When creating lessons to teach sewing for kids, look for ways to help them single master skills in small steps. If you try to cover too many ideas all at once, their ability to retain key details can suffer, and they wind up disinterested or unfocused while trying to put those ideas into practice.
Younger children should handle projects that they can complete in a single 1-2 hour learning session. Older children may be able to follow the course of a project over several sessions more easily, but these should still be designed with final phases between each lesson.
Here are some ideas that will help children at all stages of skill development:
- Beginner: Hand-draw or photograph pictures of each step.
- Intermediate: Provide boxes with only the supplies necessary for that lesson’s tasks.
- Advanced: Outline with check-boxes they mark as they complete each step.
3. Make Mistakes Part of the Lesson
Kids can lose energy and interest in a project when they’re frustrated by failed attempts or flaws in the finished project. Prepare them ahead of time by practicing how to undo or correct common sewing mistakes. Consider other factors that lead to mistakes, like working too fast or misunderstanding instructions.
- Pick apart a series of knots in a shoelace or section of the thread.
- Sew together scrap pieces of fabric for seam-ripping practice.
- Build in extra time for detail-oriented work, so they don’t rush.
- Make instructions easy to read or see while they work.
It also helps to remind them that even those with years of experience in any skill can still make mistakes. Teaching children to embrace an imperfect process with a sense of patience will ensure they associate fun while learning a challenging new skill.
4. Use Their Interests for Inspiration
Capturing and holding the attention of kids may prove challenging, but sewing projects are a great way to blend their preferences into the lessons so that they maintain their energy and excitement for the work.
Depending on your access to supplies or the group size or age ranges of the children you’re teaching, you can even allow them to select their specialty items:
- Printed fabrics with characters from pop culture trends.
- Textiles that have texture, like velvet or faux fur.
- Seasonal themes as an incentive to finish in time for a holiday or event.
5. Encourage Them to Take the Lead
- As children build their confidence while learning to sew, give them opportunities to show off their new skills.
- Have them take a turn leading the class in practicing a stitch they know well.
- Give each kid a chance to show and tell what they love most about their finished project.
- Pair children together to help and learn from each other on a shared task.
If you want to read more about teaching kids to sew, click here.
A sense of ownership over their learning process empowers children to explore their skills and energizes them to improve independently. By encouraging this potential, you can help them unlock a lifetime of creativity.Do you have questions on how to teach sewing for kids? Contact us for more sewing inspiration, and we will be happy to answer.