I was about Kate's age when my mom first sat me down and taught me to sew by hand. I remember having a needle and some thread or yarn and a piece of material. I remember going in and out and constantly asking my mom the rethread the needle (yeah.. sorry mom... I understand the frustration now). She didn't teach me any fancy stitches, but I learned very early how to do basic sewing and how to do things like sew on buttons.
So, I decided to sit Kate down to make her own project. I taught her the dangers of real needles, set up her embroidery hoop, and threaded her needle.
After hours of us embroidering together (and hours and hours of me rethreading needles that came undone and knots that kept getting stuck), Kate finished her project and I made good progress on mine.
|My current project.|
|Kate's version of my current project.|
She is very proud of her work :) I love it because it shows her abilities at 4 years old. I am making mine into a pillow and we are also making hers into a pillow. I can't tell you how excited she is to see the results of her efforts.
I was then told by my wonderful sister-in-law about a plastic practicing version for kids. So, off to Michael's I went. There are these awesome little plastic shapes and plastic blunt needles that kids can use to practice their sewing with yarn. Right now for Katie, it is all about learning the in and out motion, learning to thread her own needle (can't wait for her to get that one), and seeing the results of all of her hard work.
The entire project cost less than $3 since we already had the yarn. She will be able to use the needles over and over again (as long as she doesn't lose them, which I am sure she will) and they have lots of different types of shapes for the future.
Tips for teaching a young child to sew:
- Let go of the idea that it has to be perfect. I first showed Kate how to make the stitches small and close together the way that they are "supposed" to be. She made them really big after I left her to do it on her own. I thought for sure that the plastic forms would help her with that, and was eager for her to follow the holes. She made a couple of stitches small and then went back to making them super long to cover up more space. As much as I wanted to fix it for her and criticize her attempts, I had to let it go. It's her project, not mine, and she is still getting practice and joy out of it. I will save the constructive criticism for when she isn't 4 years old.
- To teach a young child to thread a needle, wrap the end of the yarn with a little bit of tape. Make sure that it can still go through the hole in the needle. The tape will keep it stiff enough and will keep it from unraveling. Threading a needle can even be difficult for adults and requires patience, especially when dealing with multiple threads in yarn or embroidery floss.
- Instead of doing a single strand, double the strand up and tie a knot at the bottom. This will make it so that the needle doesn't come undone every 5 seconds. I first tried to show her how to pinch the top of the needle where the yarn goes through so that it won't come undone, but she quickly forgot to do that and it came unthreaded again. The goal is to not have to have me thread the needle every 10 seconds, so I doubled the strand, tied the knot and let her have at it. She went through the yarn much quicker that way, but oh well.
- The blunt, plastic needles are really awesome for teaching basic skills. They won't go through fabric, but they will go through the plastic forms. She still wants to use a grown-up needle as well, but when she is practicing on her own, she will use the plastic one.