Small children can accomplish more than we think they can. With supervision and guidance many sewing techniques are possible. One important rule all must remember: Don’t push them. Attention spans vary . They may start a project but may not pick it up again for months. It might be maddening to us as adults, but that is the way kids are. Really, how many of us have UFOs! In your excitement of passing on your love of quilting… don’t push them. Let them work at their own pace. Also, remember little people see things (colors) differently than we do. If they want to use orange and pink together let them. It is their project.
For the first time sewer:
1. printed cross stitch– this is great to get them used to using a needle and thread. You will spend more time threading and re-threading the needle than anything else. Just remember not to get it wet, because the pattern will come off! They also have some freedom in color choice. (Age 5 +)
2. Sun printing- Great project when the kids are home from school in the summer and driving you crazy. It teaches them about paint and surface design. They learn quickly what happens when they mix all of their colors together!!! They can print T-shirt, bandannas, fabric, etc… It’s a lot of fun. Adults will need to find an area in the yard with lots of sun, give directions to the kids and help with the placement of objects, and with heat setting later. (Age 5+)
3. Baby doll blanket- The first quilting project my daughter completed was a baby blanket. It’s small and very easy. Just cut the pieces ahead of time for them. Remember: children should never use a rotary cutter. They also need supervision with sharp scissors. I suggest a one patch quilt with squares that are at least 5 inches. That way it’s quick to assemble. Show them how to pin the pieces and how to use the sewing machine. Then let them try. I let my daughter sit on my lap. She used the foot control and I helped guide her hand on the fabric, to help keep it straight. She can do it herself now. Adults need to help with the layering of the quilt sandwich, but they can do the machine quilting. I suggest adults do the binding. They can try a section, but in my experience it’s hard. The older they are the more they can complete on their own, for instance cutting the fabric. (Age 6+)
For the not so new sewer:
1. Foundation piecing- Paper piecing is actually easier than basic patchwork! But that is my opinion. Find blocks that will end up about 5 inches with large patches and not complicated. Adults need to help with pinning to make sure the edges are right. Kids can sew by following the line. And the pieces used don’t have to be cut well to begin with, scraps can also be used. Kids like the fact that they are sewing on paper! They may need help with tearing the paper off. If kids rip they could rip out the seam allowance so… use caution.
2. Sew on Buttons- Make an “Art” piece where they use buttons for leaves and flowers. These are great decorative accents. But remember buttons are choking hazards for small children.
3. Sew on Yo-yo-s- Tacking on pre-made yo-yo’s as decoration.
4. Fusible applique – Kids love this. They can create pictures using things that they have drawn. Fuse fabric to double sided fusible web (Adult supervision Irons are hot!) Draw a design on the paper side. Older kids can even cut the designs out themselves. Place the pieces onto fabric and press with a hot iron. Then kids can sew over it or add embellishment. This makes a very fun project.
Safety Warning: Sewing implements such as needles, pins, scissors, rotary cutters, and sewing machines can be dangerous and when working with small children they need lots of supervision. Never leave a child unsupervised with these or other potentially dangerous items. Also small objects are chocking hazards so you age appropriate materials.