Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Teaching Children to sew

A post that is a little off the topic of thrift today but something I get asked a lot is "What is the best way to teach your children to sew?"  Let me just say there is no "best" way or "right" way to do this.  If you have an enthusiasm for it this will shine through.  Think about and, talk to your child about what types of projects they would like to do.  I love teaching my girls to sew.  Gradually I am passing onto them the skills and little tools that I used when I was a child.  Our sewing time together is precious and I often share my memories of learning to sew at my Grandma's knee with my girls as we sew.

Sewing cards are a great place to begin & children of all ages and abilities can do these from about 2 years old.  All you need is some stiff card, a whole punch and a shoe lace or piece of stiff string.

image and tutorial available at moms best network
Once children have grasped the over and under technique of a basic running stitch try drawing a picture using a permanent marker onto large plastic canvas and using a darning needle and wool get them to sew around the outline you have drawn.  These activities are great "quiet time" activities even for older children and make a nice alternative to the TV.

About a year ago I introduced my eldest (then 4) to french knitting.  I know this isn't technically sewing but it's a great way to improve dexterity and and get them used to controlling and holding their work, the yarn and a needle or hooked tool to manipulate the wool (we use a crochet hook).  I still had my french knitting dolly from when I was a child but you don't have to have one to have a go.  French knitting is sometimes called spool knitting because it was traditionally done using a wooden spool with 4 small tacks in the top as shown in this handy french knitting tutorial.  If you only have a plastic spool or bobbin to hand simply attach 4 paper clips to the inside.

you don't need a knitting dolly to begin french knitting as the picture above from CraftSanity blog demonstrates.
 So far I have not suggested you lay out a great deal of money in teaching your children to sew but let me strongly recommend the following small investment to you.  The book Made By Me by Jane Bull is a delight for adults and children alike and covers many different sewing and knitting techniques as well as some wonderful projects.  Girls LOVE this book!  It is fresh, modern and accessible & I can not recommend it highly enough to you.

Another project I have written about before that is a beginners classic is lavender bags, they are such fun and can be hand or machine sewn.  The next project I plan to start with my 5 year old is some cross stitch.  A friend of mine passed on some cross stitch magazines with free kits and wealth of free designs inside.  I must confess cross stitch bores me to tears but it's a good technique to teach children as once they have mastered it it is quite easy for them to produce a piece of work they can be proud of.

felt is another classic beginners project and there are lots of kits available however, don't feel confined to these.  Craft felt is inexpensive and easy to come by.  For little girls get them to make a little felt doll and as her sewing skills improve she can make little dresses and outfits for her doll.  Boys (I know we have neglected boys projects somewhat) will love designing their own monsters and making them.

As you can see I could go on all day - sewing is something I am very passionate about and I thank you for indulging me.  I am sure as my girls grew there will be more on this topic to share with you.  happy sewing!

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