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Teaching Children to Sew

I don’t remember learning to sew. It is something I have always done. I don’t remember learning to thread a needle or making a knot or taking a first stitch. I do remember sitting in a grocery store at age 5, waiting for my mother to shop and knitting. I only remember that because people were amazed that this small child was knitting. I don’t remember learning to knit either.

What children are exposed to at an early age, even if they are not adept, they still feel they “know how to do it.”

My granddaughter at age five likes to sew. She probably won’t remember learning because it is just something she knows. When she was just a baby she was fascinated watching me stitch. Then one day at age 10 months I saw her pick up two of my patches and rub them next to each other like she was sewing. A few months later crawling across the kitchen floor, she found a needle I had dropped. She held it carefully in her hand, crawled over to me and said “Here you go, Grandma”.

She was two when I had her “help me sew”. I would start a stitch and have her pull the needle through. I was using my tiny betweens 11 needle and a single thread and I showed her how to close her hand over the thread as she pulled so the needle wouldn’t come unthreaded.

Polly3 copyAt age three and a half she was cutting with small scissors. I remember one day the baby sitter came and saw her with the scissors and quickly took them away saying those were for grownups. She got huge crocodile tears and her feelings were so hurt. She said, “But I can sew. I’m a good sewer, and I can cut carefully with scissors”.

Every time I go to visit, I have a sewing project with me and Polly always asks if she can help. Mostly I’ve been working with diamonds and I give her some to sew together. The last time I went I had squares. She said, “But I like sewing with diamonds. They are easier to sew than squares.”

She has figured some things out on her own. For instance, she has a hard time putting the needle in and pulling it back out and she figured that if she pinched the fabric she could put the needle through and get her in-out stitch at one time.

September is National Sewing Month and it has had me thinking about what starts us sewing and what we can do to pass it on. In next week’s blog, I’ll share with you how those around me are helping spread their love of sewing. I’d love to hear from you about how you have sparked that interest in children: studio@jinnybeyer.com.

7 thoughts on “Teaching Children to Sew

  1. I am blessed to have 9 granddaughters, 5 have lived near me and have wanted to learn to sew. Two attended public and rhree are homeschooled & we made sewing part of the classes beginning when they were 5 making simple pot holders. We then begin quilting simple placemats, table runners, etc. Now 2 of them are in college and they still sew. They even make some of their own clothing. It has been a great way to develop a special bond with each of these granddaughters.

  2. She is so precious. my two little ones want to learn as well, one is a little less patient but they are 3 and 6 ..The 6 yr old did make a row of squares which made me very happy..

  3. At first I thought that I will have daughter, later I thought that I will have granddaughter. But I have borne a son, who presented me grandson. My dreams teach to sew and knit collapsed. Now my grandson is also 5 years old. When he was three years old, I took him to the Ukrainian Center of Culture and Art for the Christmas holiday, and out there he saw on a wall quilt that was sewn worker of Ukrainian Center of Culture and Art. My grandson pointed to the quilt and said it was sewed Lena (he calls me by my name Lena). On the wall was only one quilt, and the rest were tapestries. At that moment I realized that my grandson understands than quilt is different from the tapestry. I have received a little relief 🙂

  4. I’ve had the great pleasure of teaching sewing to a number of children in a local school for many years. I treasure the joy on their faces when a project comes together through their own effort, often struggling with their hands and the tools that are not yet familiar to them. My sons grew up with my sewing all around them, but their creative interests were with other mediums. This summer, before my youngest son left for college he asked me to teach him how to sew. What fun! One machine project and one hand sewing project–not diamonds, but piecing together some bits of border print and felt to make a pincushion that delighted him so much that it went off to college with him.

  5. Dear Jinny,

    I loved reading about your teaching your granddaughter to sew. She is so cut.

    For about eight years my husband and I did short term foster care. When a girl was here for a few days, I would introduce her to sewing by having her make a nine patch block that she then made into a pillow. I remember that the first girl asked me when it would be finished. My reply was, “That’s up to you.” She worked hard to finish it before she left and she was very proud to show it to the county employee who picked up her and her brother. Only one of my granddaughters lives nearby. She was very excited when she opened the toy sewing machine we gave her for her birthday when she was little, but I found the toy to be a disappointment. It just didn’t sew well enough. She did make her nine patch pillow by hand and at age eleven did some sewing on my machine. For a couple of years she has been distracted by other craft activities, but I hope she will return to sewing. She’s still young.

  6. I so enjoyed reading about your precious granddaughter…looking forward to reading more of her accomplishments.

  7. Brenna (then 8) wanted to sew with me. I threaded a needle for her, turned away to thread my own and when I turned back she was had put the fabrics right sides together and was joining them with a running stitch. When I asked her who had shown her how to do that, she said “I watched it on TV. It’s really not that hard, Strega!” Since then we’ve had fun shopping for her own sewing basket and basics to fill it and started her own stash of fat quarters. That was another eye opener for me. Standing in front of the fat quarter shelves, I thought she might go for the cartoon and kid prints. Wrong again! Brenna chose paisleys and sophisticated florals, which led to a mini color lesson and choosing a few solids, “To make it pop! Strega.” We are going to tie her first quilt next time I visit, a little 9-patch for her cat to sleep on, and have a sewing machine lesson.

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