Nearly a year ago, I started teaching sewing classes for kids. At the time, my youngest student was just eight years old.
Right before I flew to South Dakota for Christmas, I decided I wanted to teach my granddaughter (that cute little girl pictured in that photo up there) to sew. She's almost five years old. From my supplies, I put together a kit which consisted of various colors of thread and a few needles.
I purchased this ballerina doll kit from a craft store. After reading through the instructions, this sewing kit mainly had you "gluing" one piece onto another. I did not want to teach her how to glue.
Using the kit, I did a little prep work to turn it from a gluing project into a sewing project. I used my sewing machine and sewed some of the items together like the ballerina's tulle skirt. Then I sewed gathering stitches along the top of the tutu skirt. Next, I sewed the trim from the kit onto the ribbon to create the leotard. I even sewed together two little sleeves.
Once I got to my daughter's home, my granddaughter was excited to sit by me as I showed her some basic hand sewing skills. I taught her how to sew with a needle so that the thread doesn't become unthreaded as she sews. To do this, I had her pinch the thread as she pulled the needle through the fabric. I let her pull the gathering threads on the tutu skirt so it would fit snuggly around her doll's waist. Next, we tied a square knot with the threads and hand stitched the threads to the doll's body so the skirt would not slip off and become lost (you know kids, right... always losing things). We pinned the pieces onto the doll body and then she sewed the blue ribbon leotard onto the doll's body. Using embroidery thread, we embroidered blue eyes and a little red mouth onto the doll's face.
My daughter and I were amazed at how long my granddaughter sat next to me and sewed. Usually, the attention span of a child this age is about 10 to 15 minutes. She sat next to me for at least an hour maybe longer and stayed attentive the whole time. After about an hour, this is the progress she made on her ballerina doll:
I recommend having all your supplies ready before you teach a child. Involve the child in each of the steps of sewing like threading the needle, tying a knot in the thread and stitching. Teach them how to thread a needle, sew with a needle and then how to knot the thread when they are done stitching. The best way is to show the child and then watch them as they try to mimic what you just showed them.
Keep in mind the attention span of the child you're teaching. It'll help you keep your patience. Hopefully. Also keep in mind the project's simplicity. Children generally like the project you choose to be finished the day you start it, so choose something easy to start with. Do some of the prep work first. You'll be thankful you did.
We tweaked the pattern as we went. For instance, I did not like the all ribbon ballet shoes the kit came with, so I created some of my own using pink felt and some of the pink ribbon that came in the kit.
I'm so glad I took the time to teach my granddaughter how to sew. It was fun seeing her little hands enjoy the power of sewing. Go ahead and be brave and teach a child to sew. Pass along this skill...you'll be glad you did. xoxo Grandma