Tips on Teaching Young People to Sew

This has been one wet spring so far, to say the least, and most of us continue to occupy ourselves inside. Sunny days are promised by the weather forecasters, but in the meanwhile we can keep busy sewing our projects. Young girls (and some boys) like to learn what their Moms, Grandmothers and Aunties do with the contents of Hamel’s “purple bags” that come home from the fabric store brimming with various fabrics and notions.

As staff, we love to hear about the projects young people are sewing. Here’s a few things we have heard and helped young sewers gather materials for:  pillows with Minecraft characters, birdcage covers for pet bird, doll blankets, appliquéd pillows, jelly roll quilts, ragged handbags and moreaid2417050-v4-728px-Teach-a-Child-to-Sew-Step-24.

We want to offer you six quick tips to help you as you teach and inspire the next generation how to sew:

1.  Keep it simple. Let them pick out the fabric for a beginner project that appeals to them. A doll quilt is the perfect size to keep his/her attention and complete a project quickly without it taking too terribly long. Start a young child with a needle and thread. Show them how to run a threaded needle through a scrap piece of fabric.

2. Fabric precuts are great idea to start someone to sewing. What could be more simple than opening up a package of precut 5″ squares. Let a child lay out the squares and begin to sew them together without having to cut pieces.

3. Go slow. A staff member at the store offers this great suggestion:  try taking the needle out of your sewing machine and let the child practice the foot pedal speed and the sewing machine function. Safety first. Once the child gets the hang of that then they can begin to slowly join pieces together.aid2417050-v4-728px-Teach-a-Child-to-Sew-Step-2-Version-2

4  Be patient – Take a break after a few minutes. Share a snack or yummy treat with the child learning to sew. This can be a good bonding time as you listen to their ideas and watch them get excited in learning a new skill. It’s going to take a bit of time to concentrate on sewing the squares together.

5. Forget perfect – Good advice for all of us. Jenny Doan often reminds us that “finished is better than perfect”. A finished project that is loved and enjoyed is better than something pushed aside because it’s not absolutely perfect. Relax! Children are learning here and they will improve their skills with practice.

6. Take pictures – As you teach someone a skill like sewing, it’s worth having the pictures to look back on and see how things begin. Share the results of your time at the sewing machine. Many professional quilters fondly remember how they began sewing at a young age and wish there was a picture of that first finished project.

We are waiting to hear how things go out there this summer. Happy stitching!

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