Maia has been sewing up a storm the last few of months. She started out by hand sewing simple pillows and doll accessories and has since been been asking for (and getting) basic sewing machine lessons from me.
She now claims sewing is her second favorite hobby. The first is variably art or, from her 60 handstands in a row this weekend, gymnastics.
I thought I’d share her first hand sewing projects here and then give a few tips and resources for getting kids started with hand sewing.
First, Maia’s little pillows… They were sewn using wool felt pieces from the craft store, embroidery thread, and a large embroidery needle. Then stuffed with polyfill.
As you can see, they were sewn with the stitch left visible on the outside. I think this is the easiest for beginner hand sewers. Once they have a few projects under their belts, you can show them how to hide the stitches.
Hand Sewing Materials for Kids
Here’s what’s in Maia’s (beginner) sewing box.
- Fabric :: Any fabric is fine, but you may want to start with one that is thicker yet still easy to run a needle through, such as felt or burlap. They’ll probably quickly progress to other fabrics, such as linen or cotton.
- Thread or embroidery thread :: Maia found the thicker embroidery thread easier to use and keep track of for her first few hand sewing projects.
- Needles :: Again, a larger needle with a larger eye is a bit easier for beginner sewers.
- Fabric Scissors :: Kid-safe scissors just don’t work well on fabric. Maia is 7 1/2 and has been using my own, sharper scissors for a while now. I finally bought her a pair of her very own, smaller-size fabric scissors. You’ll have to decide what you are comfortable with… Your younger kids you might want to help them cut out their fabric pieces.
- Chalk :: Maia usually wings it with her designs, much as I do, but I’ve been showing her how she can draw her outline on fabric with chalk first (we just use a piece of our chalkboard chalk). This allows her to visualize the piece better, is fixable (she can redraw the line if necessary), gives her a line to cut along, and washes out easily.
- Stuffing :: Polyfill or something more natural such as wool or cotton. This is optional, depending on what your kids like to sew. Maia is big into pillows and wants to try a rag doll and stuffed animal soon, so the stuffing is pretty integral to her sewing kit.
- Embroidery Hoop :: An embroidery hoop holds fabric or burlap taut while beginners learn how to sew a line, knot thread, or just play around. It’s also great for beginning embroidery (obviously).
Once Maia got a few pillows under her belt, she expanded her repertoire to include doll vests and accessories (blankets, scarves, and a pair of pants). Except for the pants, there was no sewing involved for these, just shaping and cutting. Kind of a brilliant no-sew beginner “sewing” project really. A child could always add buttons, decorations, or pockets with a little hand sewing while keeping the project super simple.
Making doll pillows and accessories for her and her sister to play with was an easy and motivating way for Maia to get started sewing.
Maia quickly moved on from making smaller doll-sized items to wanting to make the real deal. So she made this full-sized pillow as a gift for her aunt. Then another for my birthday. And quite a large one for Daphne. Yesterday she even started a ladybug pillow for a friend. (Yes, we’ve been going through a lot of stuffing lately.)
Next up, I’ll share Maia’s first sewing machine lessons…
But in the meantime, here are some resources for hand sewing with kids:
- Beginning embroidery (and sewing) on a hoop at Maya*Made
- “Sewing School” book review and project, again at Maya*Made
- Sewing and Embroidery for Kids with Shelf Liner at Filth Wizardry
- Experimenting with different sewing stitches with Zilker Elementary Art Class
- Sewing simple felt ornaments with kids at Suchity Such
Question: Have your kids done any hand sewing? If you have any tips on getting started, please share them with us in the comments!