Sewing with Kids – Using a Machine

Welcome to the third post in a series of tips on how to help your kids build some basic sewing skills while developing a love for stitching and growing a deeper connection with you in the process.

There’s a lot to cover, so the series is split into four segments:

  1. Setting the Stage
  2. Hand Embroidery
  3. Machine Sewing
  4. First Projects

Today we’ll be chatting about machine sewing. You child will need more supervision at first when using a sewing machine (a needle through the finger is no fun for anyone!), but it’s amazing how quickly they’ll be off and running!

I’m so glad you’re interested in teaching a kiddo how to sew. It takes a bit of time and a lot of patience, but seeing a child’s eyes light up with joy as they build a life skill makes it worth the effort!

Machine Sewing with Kids

#16 – Get to Know Your Machine

Teach about the sewing machine before you teach sewing.

Page through and read your machine’s manual with your child. Knowing how the machine works will make sewing both safer and easier! If you don’t have your manual, most can be found online these days if you search for the make and model of your sewing machine.

For a basic diagram and explanation of machine parts, this is a helpful site.

#17 – Safety First!

Talk about the “safe zone” for your hands while sewing (keeping your hands an inch or more away from the sides of the presser foot while sewing). Also, stress remembering to stop the needle when having to look away while the machine is running.

Then discuss it again.

And again.

#18 – Start Simple

Like with hand embroidery, have your child draw lines, simple shapes, or straight line letters on fabric to practice sewing over.

Starting with this method instead of sewing together fabric pieces gives practice sewing straight and lets you experiment with what different stitches and stitch lengths look like on your machine. Plus, I find kids more likely to sit and stitch “worksheets” when they’re the ones who’ve designed them.

Once your child has straight lines downs, teach him how to backstitch at the beginning and end of a line. Next, teach how to pivot at corners, keeping the needle down.

Now he has all the skills needed for a simple sewing project!

#19 – Step in When Needed

Your child may get frustrated by not being able to keep the fabric straight. While she’s learning, you can gently hold the fabric with her as it feeds through the machine. Gradually help less and less as she gets a feel for how to guide the fabric as she sews.

#20 – Use Helpful Resources

Don’t reinvent the wheel.  First off, talk to other seamstresses in your life.  How were they taught?  How did they teach their kids?  Wonderful relationships and tips come from seeking out in person knowledge! 

No one in your life to reach out to?  Check out these great blog series on teaching machine sewing to children:

And you can always send me an email or message with any questions you have! Happy sewing 🙂

Together we can find more ways to reclaim fabric
and breathe meaning, joy, and life into our sewing.

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