Teaching kids to sew can be educational and fun

by Mary Ann on January 7, 2012

picture of little girl learning to sew from grandma

Ashley learning to sew

The week after Christmas we went to Colorado to visit our grandkids. Yes, we wanted to see our daughter and son-in-law but we went to see the grandkids!

Ashley is nine and she needed a bag to carry her scriptures to church. She and her mom searched and searched but couldn’t find one they liked. So they bought a kit.

sewing kit picture

I hadn’t been in the house 30 minutes when I was shown the kit and asked, “Grandma can you help me make this?” I can tell you I was all over that. I have done lots of sewing with kids and it is FUN! It was interesting that my daughter came in during the project and said, “I am so glad you are helping her with this.”

Here is an aside that doesn’t have anything to do with sewing but has everything to do with enjoying doing it with children. Moms don’t enjoy this type of activity because they have not learned to structure time for it and then be present. If you can make time, honor that time, and then free your mind of everything but the child and the project then you will always enjoy it because children are really fun to work with. They are easy to please. They just need you to focus for whatever amount of time you have determined to give them.

This project could have been done in three 30 min. blocks of time. That might work better for a busy mom. I was on vacation and so we could take all day if we wanted to. Lucky us!

little girl sewing yoyo pic

Ashley sewing the embellishment - a yoyo

We began by looking at the box. We talked about the picture of the bag. We got everything out of the box and then compared the contents with the contents on the direction sheet. I helped Ashley read the directions and we took it one step at a time.

At one point I was so into it that we just moved ahead without reading the directions. Opps, mistake. We didn’t hem the top when the pieces were separate and so I had the opportunity to show Ashley how to sew a circular piece of material. Reading directions is a very good thing. We got to talk about that!

little girl learning to iron pic

Using an iron is another fun thing to learn

As we were reading the directions and sewing we talked about many new words. I would ask her what a word meant, she would take a guess and then I would give a more complete definition. We had words like fray, embellishment, yoyo (not the toy), wrong side, right side, flair, feed dog (I love that term! So cool), pressure foot, bobbin, straight pin vs. safety pin, etc. About half way through Ashley said in a very excited voice, “Gosh, I am learning a lot!”

little girl learning to sew with needle and thread

Learning to sew with a needle and thread is fun!

As we were sewing Ashley said, “This is sorta like when we learned about crystals.” It sorta was. We started with one thing and just learned so many other things. That is the cool part about being present with a child. Learning flows because conversation happens.

Here is a tip: When I sew with a young child who has never used a sewing machine, I stand behind them, tell them their job is to push the material forward into the feed dog (I love that term) and keep a straight line. Then I worry about the pedal. That way they can get used to doing one thing before trying to do two and sewing a finger down.

little girl learning to sew on machine

Learning to sew on a machine is easier with some help.

We also did some hand sewing because this cute bag had an embellishment called a yoyo, a cute little material circle used to make a yoyo quilt. She also learned to sew on a button.

All in all we had a great afternoon, learned a lot and she thinks I am the best grandma in the world; and in fact, as far as these children go. I am!!!

What have you done lately with your child that was just a ball to do?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie January 10, 2012 at 12:32 pm

I needed this post. My daughter received a doll for Christmas and was immediately excited about sewing clothes for her. We have three library books with doll clothes patterns setting untouched on our shelf. I needed a little nudge to just do it. Thanks.


Mary Ann January 10, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Oh Julie it is really soooo fun. The big key is to decide how much time you can spend and then clear your mind of everything else. That will really allow you to enjoy. Also, don’t rush. Just let her learn and do it at her own pace even if it takes you a few sessions to finish something. I promise that it will be worth the time spent in confidence and joy that your daughter will have.


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