In general, I think 5-6 is a pretty good age to get kids started on a machine. Sessions are short and really focus on a quick and dirty project. Think bean bags. Sometimes they just want to use the machine to make pretty lines all over. Ok with me! I point the kids to the scrap bins and let them choose the stitches. We always talk about safety - but they hear that from me when they are just hanging out and playing while I sew.
I have let the big noisemakers use my machine. For my daughter's 6th b-day, gma got her a machine - which was actually nicer than mine. So they all sew on that now. Recently I got a new machine!! yippee! So, they can also use my old one. I am a firm believer in letting them use real machines. No toy/kid machines please. They just lead to frustration. I'm not saying they have to use a top of the line machine. I sewed on a $150 machine for YEARS (and still would be if it wasn't for my amazing gift). There are typically machines available on Craig's list. If you don't have a machine at home, or don't want to share, I would suggest starting with a used machine. Just be careful, and do your research. Make sure it works properly. I personally don't like to spend a ton of money on something that I am not sure the kids will want to do for very long. So, you decide what is best for you - just no 'kid' machines please.
Now, what to teach?? Here is a list of the things we have started with. You can also check out my sewing Pinterest board for more sewing ideas. Some are kid appropriate, some are not. But lots of ideas are there.
There are several projects that my kids have really enjoyed.
- Stitching lines on scrap fabric. This is a great way to teach them how to control the fabric and stitching. You can also print lines and curves on paper and have them stitch on that. Just remember to change your needle before going back to fabric.
- Bean bags. These are a favorite in my house. They can cut 'shapes' and sew them into bean or rice bags. These are then used to 'toss' all over the house or are put into the freezer and used as 'boo boo' packs.
- Animal/doll blanket.
- Simple tote
- Skirt for dolls
- Basic quilt
- wrist warmers (I have no idea what these are called, but they are hugely popular these days and super simple with some knit fabric.
This is all we have accomplished in the 5-8 age range. Notice none of these need patterns. So far they have not really been ready to learn to use a pattern. That takes too much time. Projects like these are all my kids seem to handle for their attention spans. They could do more, but don't really care to. So, we try to keep it fun and pretty free flowing.
I have been giving lessons to a lovely 12 year old girl this year. Here are some of the projects she has wanted to do:
- Pillow cases. The sleepover pillowcase by A Lemon Squeezy Home is one of many great options.
- Apron - she chose a retro style
- Messenger Bag - simple tote with a single long strap and a flap.
- PJ pants
- quilt with binding
That is all we have gotten through so far, but I look forward to see what other projects she picks. These projects have included tutorials and/or patterns. I let her pick the projects but am working towards giving her the skills to pick up a pattern and be able to make anything. She is quick and probably won't need me much longer. :)
What projects do you like to do with kids?