10 Ways to Teach Kids How to Sew
Nearly everyone will have to mend a shirt or fix a button at some point in their lives. Teaching your children to sew is a skill that they will have for the rest of their lives and it may even turn into a way to save money, open a business or to make handmade gifts. From small to big projects here are 10 ways to teach older children how to sew.
- Thread a card: This may seem silly, but those shaped cards with the holes in them that a lot of kids play with when they are little are actually pretty useful. Show them how you can take the string and go around and around the edge. This is actually called the “whip” stitch. Next show them how they can go up and down through the holes. This stitch is similar to what a sewing machine does.
- Teach them how to thread a needle: Using a needle threader may be a good idea when kids are young, but if you have a child that is older they should be able to master sticking the thread through the eye of the needle and tying a knot in the end of one end of the thread.
- Sew on a button: One of the most useful things you can teach your child is how to sew on a button. This can be done on any fabric to start with, but it’s helpful to sew a button on a shirt also in order to understand how to line it up with the corresponding hole. Start by showing him how to bring the knotted thread up from the wrong side of the fabric first and through a hole in the button. Depending on the type of button you use, you can show him how to sew a 2 hole or 4 hole buttons. Come up through a hole and go down through the opposite hole. Continue until the button is tight, maybe 5 to 6 times. Look at how other buttons look when they are sewn on and mimic that pattern. When finished tie a knot on the wrong side of the fabric. A trick when sewing on a button is to not make it too tight. Leave it with a little room so that you can actually button a shirt. When sewing on an actual shirt have the child look to see where the button was before and to put it back there so that the button will line up with the button hole.
- Show how to fix a hem: Another common fix that everyone may run into is fixing a hem on a shirt or pants. A blind hem stitch is the best for this purpose. Have your child turn the garment inside out and fold the hem up to where it was. Next, take a knotted thread and needle and draw the needle end in through the inside of the hem, this will hide the knot. Catch the edge of the folded material with the needed and then take a tiny bite of fabric on the side that will be seen. Continue by catching the edge of the fold on the needle and taking little bites of fabric to bind the two together. Work around the edge until the whole hem is completed or until he has fixed the part that has come loose. Finish by tying a knot close to the fabric on the wrong side of the fabric and cut the thread.
- Explain how to thread a machine: Each machine is different and you can show your child how to thread your machine or refer to the manual. The machine will not work properly unless it is threaded correctly and the stitch length and tension are set correctly.
- Explain how to thread the bobbin: Using your machine, load the bobbin with thread before this lesson. Show your child how to insert the bobbin into the machine following the directions for your machine. Once the bobbin is in the machine, turn the wheel on the right side of the machine slowly away from you with your right hand. With your left hand hold onto the top thread. As you turn the wheel it will go down into the bobbin and pull up the bobbin thread. Now you should have two threads on the sewing surface of the machine.
- Show how to sew a seam: One of the most useful things to know how to do on a sewing machine is to sew a straight seam. To practice sewing a straight seam take two pieces of fabric of any size and put the pretty sides of the fabrics facing each other. Line up one edge of the fabrics and pin them together with straight pins. This will help hold the sandwich together while sewing. Lift the presser foot of the machine and place the edge of the fabric under the foot and show her how to line it up using the lines on the face plate of the machine. Drop the presser foot down. Now you are ready to sew. Hold the top thread and the bobbin thread with one hand while gently pressing on the foot pedal. Guide the fabric with your other hand. Once a few stitches are taken, she can let go of the threads as they will no longer get tangled up in the seam. Follow along the edge of the fabric removing pins as she comes to them until she reaches the end. Show her how to press the button on the machine to backstitch for a few stitches to anchor the end of the seam. To finish, sew a few more straight stiches going forward again until she reaches the end of the fabric. Cut the thread to remove the fabric from the machine. Trim the extra thread from the start of the seam and she is done.
- Explain about patterns: Show your child different patterns and explain how they are used. Jumping into making clothes may be too advanced for a child, but learning about patterns and making a simple project from one can be useful.
- Cut from a simple pattern: Make your own simple pattern for a pillow using newspaper or tissue paper. Cut one piece of tissue paper into a 12 inch square. Fold the length of fabric in half so that you have two layers of fabric. Pin the paper square on top of both layers of the fabric to secure it. Cut around the pattern. Now you have two squares that are the same size.
- Sew a pillow: Pin two piece of equal sized fabric together, pretty sides facing each other, and sew a straight seam. When she comes to a corner use the wheel at the right side of the sewing machine to manually put the needle into the fabric. Lift the presser foot and turn the fabric 90 degrees to continue sewing the next side. Keep sewing around all four sides, leaving a few inches open at the end. Using the backstitch technique she will need to backstitch before cutting the thread. Next she needs to turn the pillow case right sides out. Do this gently so that you don’t tear the seams. Use a knitting needle or other blunt pointed object to push out the corners and then stuff the pillow with batting. Batting is a fluffy cotton-like substance that can be found at most craft stores. There are several ways to close the hole after filling the pillow. The easiest way is to tuck the raw edges of the fabric inside the pillow. Have an adult iron the unsewn part so that you have a nice crisp edge to sew. Taking a needle and knotted thread draw the needle up from the inside of the pillow into the fold closest to the machine stitched side. This will hide the knot. Now, pinch the hole closed. Stitch the opening closed by sticking the needle through both fabrics from top to bottom and repeat for the length of the opening. This is called a “whip” stitch. Knot the thread once the hole is closed and the project is complete.
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