Hearts Knit Together #14: Tips for Sewing with Children

Hearts Knit Together was born out of my struggle to balance my desire to create with my busy life as a working mother of four. I am challenging myself to do something creative WITH my children each week and to share that adventure with you on Mondays. I invite you to share your creativity with your children so that we might inspire each other with ideas to help "knit our hearts together."

If you want to join me, write a blog post about something creative you did with kids and share your link in the comments. No rules really, only that your link is current and something about creating with children. They don't even have to be your own kids. Please remember to link back to The Gauge Wars so that others who may want to join can find it. Pretty simple. Your post can be from any day of the week. It doesn't have to be Monday. Thank you for participating!

I shared a project from the Sewing for Children book Maeve received for Christmas a few weeks ago. But we recently found her very first sewing project from that book and were able to take photos. We were busy celebrating Maeve's 7th birthday all weekend so I don't have a specific creative project this week to tell you about. But I wanted to share some tips I have learned for sewing with children. I think it is so important that our children learn, at least, basic sewing skills. I find great joy in creating, particularly with fabric and fiber. I am not sure if that will be my children's ultimate choice in creative medium but I do want them to know the basics to sewing so they can be self-sufficient enough to mend clothes and sew buttons on. Here are somethings I have found helpful:

  1. Let the child choose the project. I was tempted to try to steer Maeve toward projects in the book that I thought would be easiest to complete. But she was much more motivated to sew when she had a say over which project she worked on.
  2. Be rested, so your patience level is high! I cannot sew with Maeve at the end of a long day. She is whiny and I am tired. A bad combination!
  3. Use embroidery thread. This thread gets tied in less knots. It is easier to see (and thus undo) and the work goes faster. I don't like the floss kind that splits into several threads. Mostly Maeve has been sewing with pearl cotton. I received a box of it from my grandmother when she could no longer sew. That makes it extra special to use with Maeve. A nice multigenerational project.
  4. Thread several needles at the same time. Threading the needle and tying a knot are still really challenging for my new 7 year old. If I can have a supply of needles threaded, ready to go, she is a little more independent.
  5. Split up the steps between child and adult. Maeve is easily frustrated so for now we are splitting up the steps to creating a project. For example, I cut out the templates and help her pin them on the fabric. She cuts out the fabric. I help her lay the pieces together but she pins and sews them. It works for us now.
  6. Low expectations. I hear about people whose teacher made them undo seams until they were perfect. I am not a believer in this philosophy. It may create more perfect seamstresses but less seamstresses over all. I think Maeve would have long thrown in the towel. Her skills will improve with time. But only if she continues to enjoy it. So I have low expectations but high goals. She will have perfect stitches in the future someday so I am not bothered by the unevenness now. It is most important to me that she is enjoying the creative process. 
What tips do you have?

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