Hand Sewing with Kids :: Getting Started

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Sewing with Kids -- Simple projects and a materials list for getting started with hand sewing

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.


Hand Sewing with Kids 7

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).

Hand Sewing with Kids 6

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.

Hand Sewing with Kids 8

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.

Hand Sewing with Kids 3

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:

Question: Have your kids done any hand sewing? If you have any tips on getting started, please share them with us in the comments!

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Comments

  1. says

    My almost 10 year old spent much of the summer 3 years ago learning to hand-sew better using the Mary Frances book. Reading and working on these projects/lessons is on the agenda this summer for my middle daughter (7 1/2 years old)…
    A few of my posts tagged with this topic are linked below, though my oldest daughter made much more of the wardrobe (I just never finished taking photos of it all):
    http://bybido.blogspot.com/search/label/Mary%20Frances%20sewing

  2. says

    My six year old shows Interest in sewing on and off. She does like sewing on the machine and has made up stuff as she goes along. She also had made some no sew items as well (fleece is a great thing) . Along with tapefetti accessories. I am going to check out your links. I could use some help with age appropriate projects. Thanks for the post.

  3. says

    Thank you for this! Both my kids have been wanting to learn to sew, and since i’m not very good at it myself, I don’t quite know where to begin. THis helps, and I’ll check out the resources, too.

  4. says

    I copied some of the ideas over at Chocolate on my cranium when teaching machine sewing to kids (she has like 7 daughters and they all get a machine for their 8th birthday and wrote out some beginner lessons)
    things like sewing on grid paper (learn to go straight and turn corners)
    sewing every stitch the machine does and playing around with length and tension of stitches
    my daughter first thing she sewed was a tiny blanket for her stuffed dog (two pieces of material sewed, then turned out and sew hole shut) she has done some stuffed animals aswell. and we make Christmas pillowcases every year and each child helps me make theirs.
    I love to sew paper (paper garlands for parties etc) so I think sewing paper could be a really good beginner idea too

  5. Amy says

    My daughter loves to sew and yes, we have lots of pillows too! My 8 year old has made a doll quilt, pillow case, bean bags, stuffed animals, and pillows on the machine. She likes to hand sew too. Right now we just free style, but I bought a pj pants pattern to try this summer.

  6. says

    I’ve been wanting to get my kiddo sewing and was wondering about needles. I’ll have to check out the embroidery needles! That’s a good idea!

  7. Aileen says

    My daughter was very interested in sewing when she was still a bit too young to do it without getting too frustrated. She started many projects (wish I had thought of the embroidery hoop to just let her practice and play around). Now, she is definitely ready to work on a pillow or the simple stuffed animal vests. Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. Leah says

    We started hand sewing with my 4 year old using burlap cut into shapes and a darning needle with red yarn. Ended up making cute Christmas ornaments and was pretty easy for her to do on her own.