Saturday, October 15, 2011

Creating With My Kids.... Sewing

After graduating college with a degree in Family and Consumer Science Education, I taught middle 7th and 8th grade beginning sewing. To say that I was nervous to run a classroom of 25 sewing machines and 25 rambunctious middle schoolers, repeated 5 times a day is an understatement! I quickly learned that classroom management was more important in the beginning than learning to sew perfect straight seams. So we started with the very basics.

It took an entire week of learning the anatomy of a sewing machine before I allowed the students to begin their first project. At first, we learned all the components of the machine, the names and how they work. We learned how to properly set up and put away the machines. Then we spent a whole day learning how to "drive the machine." It takes coordination to use your foot to make the machine go (the gas pedal), and your hands to drive (manipulating the fabric). To impress on their minds the potential dangers of a sewing machine, I had my students hold their hands behind their back, and step on the foot pedal "full throttle," making the needle swiftly go up and down all on its own. The force behind the moving needle demonstrated to them the importance of being careful, and that sewing machines are not toys. They were nearly experts in their knowledge of a sewing machine's components by the time we were ready to begin our first project with fabric!

My classroom teaching career was short-lived, but the skills I learned as a teacher have benefited my teaching skills at home with my children. I learned that kids are capable of a lot, and can even be trusted with a sewing machine with when they are correctly taught and supervised. If only we are willing and patient, small children can learn to do a lot!

Have you ever noticed that children love to help when you let them? (I'm sure you have)! My children LOVE to help me sew, and have assisted with several projects since they were about 3 years old. When I am making a project for them (a skirt, or bedroom decoration, for example), I like to find an opportunity for them to help. I feel that giving them a special job teaches responsibility, is a great way to spend time together, and results in true satisfaction for my little helper. There is nothing more rewarding than allowing a willing child to help, passing along my love for sewing, and teaching the skills that I learned as a college student.

Here is a list of ways that I let my young children help with sewing. (As they get older, they will be trusted with more responsibility).

*Shopping- I ask for their opinions on fabric colors and patterns and let them help with the decision making process.
*Thread- I have the kids try to match the color of thread to the fabric.
*Fabric- When it comes time to prep the fabric, my kids love to rip it. It makes them feel so strong!
*Bobbin- My kids know how to fill a bobbin. They love to step on the pedal at full force until its filled.
*Pedal- I usually set my machine to half speed, and let the kids push the pedal to sew straight seams. Sometimes they leave the pedal on the floor and step on it; other times they set the pedal on the table and push it down with their hands. They respond to my commands, slow, medium fast, or STOP! (At one point, my oldest daughter was pretending that her princess dolls were sewing with her, taking turns letting them stand on the foot pedal.
*Sit on Lap- At times, I will let one child sit on my lap as I show them what I'm doing, and teach techniques like backstitching and pivoting.
*Helping with their Own- Last year each child helped make their own Halloween costume. I let them help with as many things as were practical. I also involved them in understanding what all the steps included. They were pretty excited to tell people that they helped make their own costume!

{Little hands pressing down on the pedal}

{Ripping fabric}

{My 1 year old sitting on my lap and watching}
{Helping with Halloween Costumes}

This was originally published on Latter-Day Woman, as part of my series entitled, "Creating With My Kids," found here.


  1. This is great! I am a huge believer in passing down our creative wisdom to our children, as it was passed down to me from my mom and grandma. My 4 yr old son loves to sew with me and always shows an interest in my current projects. I have taught him the basic parts of the sewing machine and he has even sewn a few pillows for his bed! His teacher was amazed that a child that young could have the coordination to do that. They are more capable than we think!

  2. This is wonderful! What a great idea to have the kids help! I love the fun costumes, adorable! I need to have my 5 yr. old help me out sometime. Thanks for the reminder. :)

  3. Great post! I really enjoyed reading it, especially the teaching bit (as I used to be a teacher too --- HS English). How long did you teach? It's always interesting to read about another teacher-turned-mommy's perspective on things. Thanks for sharing. :)

  4. Love your ideas on having your kids help. My little guy just finished helping me with our fun:)

  5. You are awesome! I have had my girls help with cooking, but I haven't dared to let them help me sew...perhaps if I could actually sew and felt comfortable with it...I will have to try it one day...

  6. This is such an inspiring post. Thanks Rach!

  7. Sewing is definitely not my talent, but my daughter just got a little sewing machine today & is so excited! Then my little 4-year old boy asked me to teach's so cute! I love your blog & am your newest follower. I found you from the Tickled Pink Party. I'd love for you to stop by & follow my new blog at

  8. Hi Rach, What a great story. I haven't been brave enough to let Miss Maggie help me sew yet but she loves to cook. Thanks for sharing this.

  9. I love how you are involving them at such a young age. They will probably develop your creativity and passion. I am a new Twitter follower from For The Kids Fridays. Vicky from

  10. Oh, what great ideas! Thanks! =) My daughter is showing interest but she's just barely three, so this will be a great way to start! She likes putting the pins back on the pincushion for me so far.

  11. How cute! I'll have to try this with my boys!

  12. i love that you are teaching your kids. i know it has to take a lot of patience, and it will really pay off. great post!

  13. This is so precious and such a special moment with your girls!!! Your'e a great mommy!

    stopping by from chef-n-traning

  14. You have a lot of patience involving the kids. I should do that more. Thanks for the inspiration. Finding the time even in the kids own schedule is tough. I need to focus in on the weekends!

  15. This is great! I'd never thought of letting my kids help with sewing projects before. I didn't know there was so much they could help with.


Thanks for your comment. Have a great day!
♥Rach H