Sunshine loves doing crafts. Whether it involves paper, yarn, felt, feathers, foam, recycled materials, or clay, she loves creating. So I wasn’t surprised when she expressed an interest in learning to sew. While I know how to sew, I wondered, “How do you teach your child to sew?”
When I was growing up, my mom sewed all our family’s clothes. She was always in the sewing room, so there was always scraps of fabric for me to turn into doll clothes or bags. Now, I sew much less often. It’s a big effort to pull out my sewing box and machine and help Sunshine start a project. And beyond doll clothes and bags, I wasn’t sure what to help her sew.
That’s why I was excited to find several sewing books for her. DK Canada has a nice selection of how-to-sew books just for kids, with great pictures, easy projects, and step-by-step instructions. These were exactly what Sunshine and I needed! She can find ideas for things to sew, and I can help her get the materials and follow the instructions.
Let’s Sew: Learn to Sew with 12 Easy Projects
Let’s Sew is the perfect book for the beginner seamstress. It includes an introduction, a note about sewing safety, and a list of items your child may want to have in her sewing kit. Next, it teaches children how to thread a needle and how to sewing a running stitch and a backstitch. Finally, Let’s Sew covers sewing on buttons and suggests that kids start sewing by making cards. (I actually remember my mom talking about learning to sew by following lines on cards.)
I had Sunshine read through those pages before flipping through the projects. All the instructions included great instructions and an upbeat, positive tone. For a child who learns well by reading and looking at pictures, and enjoys working independently, these pages are perfect.
After that, your child is ready to jump into the 12 projects in the book. These range from really simple ideas such as making heart flags with felt to bigger projects like sewing a hobby horse from spare socks. Your child can sew simple stuffies like elephants, birdies, whales, fish and jellyfish. Or she can make a variety of bags, from a cute koala bag (yes, I asked Sunshine to sew me one!) to a water bottle holder.
The back of Let’s Sew includes any templates and patterns the child needs for the projects. I photocopied these pages for Sunshine to cut the patterns out. As she makes the projects, I’ll probably tuck an envelope into the back of the book to hold the patterns she’s cut out so it’s easier to make them again. There’s also an index at the back of the book.
Jane Bull’s Get Set, Sew: The beginner’s sewing machine book—20 simple step-by-step projects
For the child who has mastered hand sewing and simple projects, Jane Bull’s Get Set, Sew takes sewing to the next level. Like Let’s Sew, this book includes a great “Getting Started” section that goes over the parts of the sewing machine, sewing safety, how stitches work, threading a machine, loading a bobbin, and sewing.
The next section covers “Sewing Essentials.” Last year for her birthday, I got Sunshine a sewing box (as she’d been begging me)—a mini version of my own sewing box. So she already had many of the items listed in this section, though she quickly asked for a set of pinking shears. (She’ll inherit my grandma’s when we go back to Alberta this summer.) This section also explains different types of fabrics for children (even I learned something here!).
Helpful skills quickly covers threading a needle and hand sewing. Get Set, Sew then goes on to explain joining fabric, basting, seam allowances, making paper templates, and more. Again, I’d recommend having your child read through these sections before beginning to sew, and review certain sections before starting each project. I loved the clear, step-by-step instructions and the pretty pictures.
Now that your child knows what to do, Get Set, Sew provides 20 fun projects for practicing! Projects range from simple goodie bags and pillows to stuffed rabbits and dolls. There are ideas for garlands and fabric ornaments, and even one project featuring a zipper. Again, the book includes all patterns at the back, along with an index.
All the projects in this book are fun and appealing to kids. Several are quite practical, like bags and aprons. Others could be gifts for younger siblings or friends, like the dolls and stuffies. I love how the projects are simple, yet teach so many skills to the children.
The pictures and instructions in this book are a lot more detailed than in Let’s Sew. I’d recommend Get Set, Sew for a child who is a good reader. For example, Sunshine (age 9 and reading well) would probably have no problem with this book. I’d probably encourage Lily (age 6 1/2) to keep doing the projects in Let’s Sew.
Made by Me: A Stitch-by-Stitch Guide to Knitting, Sewing, and Embroidery
For the child who is creative like Sunshine and wants to do everything, Made By Me is the perfect book. This book introduces girls to knitting, sewing and embroidery, letting them try all three. The first page offer suggestions for creating a workbox to hold supplies, from repurposing egg cartons to jars.
In “Embroidery,” children learn about threads and fabrics. The book includes instructions for embroidering regular fabric and doing cross-stitch. It includes a sitch directory, demonstrating how to do six simple embroidery stitches. Sunshine really wants a T-shirt to embroider as shown in Made by Me.
“Sewing” quickly covers notions and tools before jumping into projects. Sunshine has made the pocket locket (to hold keys) and is now working on the dolly. Doll patterns are included at the back of the book, with the index.
“Knitting” goes over finger knitting, knitting dolls, and knitting with needles. Once children have mastered this, they can make a krazy kat, knitted purse, or woolen hat. We have some knitting dolls which the girls pick up occasionally, so I was happy to see what we could do with their knitting once its done.
Teach Your Child to Sew
If you want to teach your child to sew, one of these three books would be perfect. If your child is creative but isn’t sure what they want to try, then Made by Me is a great choice as it offers several different creative projects. If your child is just beginning to sew, then Let’s Sew has simple projects and instructions. If your child is ready for bigger projects or wants to try using a sewing machine, then Get Set, Sew is the book for her.
With each of these books, I’ve had Sunshine browse the projects and let me know what she wants to sew. For some of them (like the smaller felt projects), I’ve been able to pull out materials from our stash. For other projects (like the dolly), we’ve made a run to the fabric store. I’ve been buying her “fat quarters” or pre-cut bits of cotton, as she can pick what colours she likes. Often these are remnants which are on sale at the store.
Even if you have no sewing experience, you can teach your child to sew with the help of these books. All include clear instructions, patterns, and pictures. I’ve had as much fun flipping through them as Sunshine has. Learn along with your child and encourage her efforts. (If you have a perfectionist, remind her that her efforts might not look as good as the book’s the first time around!)
Did you teach your child to sew? What helped her learn?
I received these books for review from DK Canada; all opinions expressed are my own. This post contains affiliate links.