Trivium Pursuit

Beginning Sewing Tips

One way to introduce small children to sewing is to use plastic canvas with yarn and a large plastic needle. The needle is not sharp and the holes in the canvas are large. When my daughter was 2 we bought her some plastic canvas and needles and just let her play with them. At that age, she wasn’t capable of following a pattern and I spent a lot of time untangling knots. And older child might be able to take on a small project. You can find plastic canvas in small shapes – 2 1/2-inch circles, for example. These can be easier to manipulate than a large sheet. Lanna Overton

Now that my daughter is four she is making her own quilt block. It’s very slow going. I let her choose her own fabric (bright pink and purple) and I cut it for her with the rotary cutter. She has pieced together two sides of a basic four-patch and is now working on putting the two units together. I drew a pencil line on the back of the fabric as a guide for her stitches. Her stitches are large and awkward – this quilt block will not qualify as well-made. But she is learning. And she has said she wants to give the finished block to her grandmother, who I know will cherish it. Anna

Regarding sewing machines: What kind of machine to buy depends on what you want to do with it. If you get a newer machine, you really should go ahead and buy an expensive one. I have a Singer school model. It works well, but there are some problems especially with shoddily made accessories. If you need a dependable machine, well-made, etc., buy an older machine. Older machines were made with all metal parts. They are heavy. An on-line friend who buys, refurbishes, and sells old machines said she generally won’t buy anything new enough to be white because it will have plastic parts that break and cannot be replaced. If you want a good basic machine to sew, look for an older machine. If you need computerized stitches or embroidery stitchouts, spend the money for a more expensive new machine. If you’re learning to sew, get a good book on sewing. Many of the older books will have good information on how to do things with a machine that doesn’t do fancy stitches. 40 years ago, sewists did all the things we do today, using machines with only straight stitch or possibly a straight and a zigzag stitch. The books from that period teach how to use more basic machines well. Sarah Long

To teach sewing to little girls with a living book, you may want to look into: The Mary Francis Sewing Book by Jane Eayre Fryer (originally published in 1913). An exceptionally clever and fascinating story of a little girl who wanted to sew. More than a story, it tells, in story form, how Mary Frances leans to sew from the sewing tools in her grandmother’s sewing room who talk to her….The sewing bird, the thimble, the emery bag, and all the other new friends from the thimble people….The lessons which include all the basic sewing stitches, lead to the making of a cross-stitch sampler and then to the making of a complete wardrobe for a doll…33 patterns in all. Instructions are given in the simplest and plainest words, describing every step and offering basic sewing techniques. Ann Voskamp

One Response to “Beginning Sewing Tips”

  1. Misty Says:

    What great ideas – My daughter loves beading and crafts, and I was just thinking she is ready to do some sewing.

    Thanks,

    Misty

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