How to make an easy learn to sew kit for young kids. These needles are safe and easy for them to use with burlap in a plastic embroidery hoop.
I think it’s really important to teach kids how to do things that you do. Safely. The one thing I’ve noticed during my parenting journey is that kids imitate. If you do something that could be unsafe, your best chance to ensure your child doesn’t get hurt is to teach them how to do it safely. You need to explain that this is ONLY an activity for when mommy or daddy helps them. You need to baby proof as much as possible. Even when we pretend play, we talk about safety. My kids use a toy oven mitt for their play kitchen, for example.
But I like to teach them all of these things. I find it interesting, they LOVE it, and I think these are useful skills. I taught my oldest, who is 4 years old, to iron, cook (to some degree), hand sew, machine sew, wash windows, and vacuum. He also knows how to properly plug in electronics to the electric outlet which I taught him using a pretend outlet. My youngest is 2 years old and he helps me make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, helps me mix food, vacuums, and washes windows. Both give the dogs food and water. Both help me with laundry and cleaning our fish tank.
As they get older, I’ve given them an allowance or they can earn extra video game time helping out with some of the chores. We use an app called Greenlight to automate allowance– the kids get a debit card for their allowance.
If you’re interested in teaching your kids to machine sew, I’ll add some information at the bottom of the post about that too!
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When we attended church on Christmas, they offered embroidery hoops with plastic needles for the kids to “sew” with during service. It was such a neat idea and I decided to replicate it at home. My son, 5, loves to sew and it was the perfect item to keep him entertained in the car or while watching television. It is fun to have him sew next to me while I hand sew.
The best part is that this is reusable. We remove the stitches and let them start over once they’re done. I made two, one for each of my boys. They both have fun with it. Note that we do supervise the boys when they use this toy.
DIY Hand Sewing Kit for Kids
- Burlap: Plain Burlap or Colored Burlap
- Embroidery thread or yarn
- Children’s Plastic Needles
- Serger to finish edges of burlap (or alternatively, just let it fray or use fray check)
- Embroidery Hoop: White or 6 Pk Multi Color Embroidery Hoops
Start out by cutting your burlap larger than your hoops.
Ideally, you should finish the edges of the burlap. You have three options: 1. Turn them twice and sew a straight stitch around. 2. Use Fray Stop or a similar product. 3. Serger the edges. I used my serger to serge the edges because it was fast.
Once done, you can place your burlap in the hoop and tighten it all.
Thread your plastic needles with coordinating embroidery thread or yarn. You can let the kids do their own thing or you can use a piece of chalk to draw a shape for them to sew along. This is great practice for detailed sewing, as well as for practicing letters, words, numbers, etc.
Why Teach Kids to Sew
I learned to sew pretty young and I always enjoyed doing crafts with my mom, dad, and grandma. I think sewing is a useful skill. The more kids understand about an item, the more likely they are to be able to use it safely. Not only that, but I think creating things- sewing items, growing food in the garden, etc.- is part of good mental health. I think there’s something valuable in connecting to the items that we have… knowing where they come from. We are far too disconnected these days from where food, clothing, and housing comes from. In my mind, being able to see how things are made and created is a scientific skill.
Beyond this all, sewing teaches some important developmental skills. Being able to cut and sew develops motor skills. Requiring my son to calm down before using sewing equipment helps him develop self regulation and (hopefully) good decision making. We’re working on following directions. Sitting quietly to complete a task.
Talking to him about sewing and the instruction itself is developing his language.
It’s also time to bond and connect with my son. By itself, that is valuable enough to make this a worthwhile task.
Tips for Teaching a Child to Sew on a Sewing Machine
I’m going to talk predominantly about safety precautions. Please use caution and do this carefully if you choose to teach your child. You really need to know your child well. I knew my son could handle this at his age. Yours might not be able to.
This is NOT our first activity we’ve tried- it’s something we’ve worked our way up to. He’s done ironing, hand sewing, cooking, and gardening with me in the past.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat safety instructions. Don’t make kids panic about it. Just explain calmly.
- Supervise carefully. I mean… do not take your eyes off them. I taught G during my youngest’s nap so I could focus on him.
- Do not do this unless your child is calm in the moment. My son can get really revved up and hyper. We NEVER do crafts or anything unsafe when he can’t sit still. I often will cue him to calm down by asking him to take some deep breaths before we begin, but ultimately I explain that we can’t sew (etc.) if he’s not calm because it’s not safe. If he can’t calm down, we save the activity for later.
- I baby proofed the door knob of my sewing room so they won’t go and try it on their own. If your kids have hacked the door knob covers, you can just lock the door and leave the key above the door where they can’t reach it.
- It wouldn’t hurt to use protective gear, ie. goggles. I have never had a needle snap out towards me so I didn’t make him wear goggles, but I often have him do so for other projects. And I may in the future.
- I sit right next to him. I have my hands ON him in many situations. I often make a game out of certain things to be safe- ie. when we iron I make him REACH REACH REACH to the sky with his free hand. In the meantime, I have my hand over his on the iron, showing him how to move the iron and smooth out the fabric without burning me, himself, or the fabric.
Videos of My 4 Year Old Sewing
Here’s a couple of YouTube videos that I made of me teaching him to sew.
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