The Joy of Teaching a Child to Sew
Since I have sewed for my granddaughters since they were infants, sewing seems like a normal activity to Mira (7) and Caitlin (4). As a fellow seamster, sewer or sewist, it so gratifying to see their enjoyment in home sewn clothing as well as their interest and comfort with a needle and thread.
When Mira was four years old, I gave her a bag of scrap fabric which included left overs from clothing I’d made for her, lace scraps and some eye-catching fabrics to hold her interest. On one of our visits, she and I spent several hours together hand sewing a number of scraps into a small quilt. Her mother was a quilter then, so the idea of a quilt was well-known to Mira. With limited dexterity and as a left-handed child using right-handed scissors, she cut the scraps into small irregular pieces. Then, learning the concept of the needle and thread needing to come up and go down on the same side of the fabric, and reversing the hand movements on the underside of the fabric, she sewed the small pieces together. Aside from threading the large needle and knotting the end there was little help from me.
One of the things I learned was that this project was about the learning, not the outcome. This is unlike most of us who sew to achieve the end result. For this young child, the joy was in what she accomplished and how this activity built the foundation for sewing skills which she is very proud of. Several years later, Mira is very comfortable in using a needle and thread and this first sewing project is not forgotten but is stored away in her bag of favorite fabric pieces.
As a seven-year old, Mira’s comfort with and joy in creating with a needle and thread is amazing. At Girl Scouts, she loves to be the one who teaches other girls to sew. If we saw each other more frequently and lived closer to each other, I’d love to begin to teach her to use a sewing machine.
If you have a child or grandchild and would like to experience the utter joy of seeing a child learn an often forgotten skill, give this one a try. It’s worth it.
What are your experiences teaching children to sew?