Sew, baby, sew

Does your child know how to sew? Do you? Members of older generations learned how to sew as a basic life skill but many adults today have never acquired the valuable tool of hand sewing. Sewing offers more than the ability to mend a torn shirt or repair a button. In addition to being a practical activity, hand sewing helps little ones develop fine motor skills and patience.

Try one of these beginner projects to get started.

While working on any of these projects, be sure to talk to your child about the basics of sewing safety, particularly when it comes to those sharp pins and needles.

Lacing cards

Lacing cards are a staple in any preschool classroom. You could certainly buy some from the store, but it is fun to make your own. Begin by drawing or tracing an image on a piece of poster board or cardboard. Let your child color the image.

Cut around the edge, leaving at least a 1-inch border. Use a paper hole punch to make holes around the edges of the image every few inches.

Find a piece of yarn that is long enough to thread in and out of the holes (this will vary depending on how large your lacing card is). Thread the yarn through the needle and double knot securely at the end so that the yarn is anchored at the first hole. Your child can guide the needle in and out of the holes to practice his"sewing.”

Suppies•Cardboard or poster board •Hole punch •Markers or crayons•String or yarn•A plastic needle

Embroidery hoop

Another great way to introduce children to the basics of using a needle and thread is an embroidery hoop.

Choose a porous fabric like burlap or linen so your child can easily pass the needle back and forth. Cut a piece of burlap or linen slightly larger than the embroidery hoop that you are working with. Tighten the clasp on the hoop until the fabric is secure and be prepared to repeat as the fabric loosens throughout the project.

Cut a piece of embroidery floss that is long enough for your child to work with, but not so long that it becomes tangled. Thread the embroidery floss onto a blunt child’s needle and knot the two strands together securely at the ends.

Show your child how to start from the back of the hoop and push the needle through the cloth and then back down again. Show her how to make small, neat stitches and also larger, sweeping stitches.

If your child doesn’t seem interested in free-form stitching, you can always draw a pattern or picture (maybe even the letters in his name) onto the fabric and use the embroidery floss to follow the outlines.

When the piece of floss gets too short, show your child how to tie it off in back and begin again with a different color. Trim the excess edges and the hoop will make a nice frame for your child’s masterpiece.

Suppies•A large Suppiesembroidery hoop•Blunt needle, scissors•Piece of burlap or linen •Embroidery floss

Stuffed doll or animal

This project gives kids the opportunity to design and create a stuffed creature of their own. Draw a figure onto the cloth with permanent fabric markers. Be sure to allow time for the markers to dry before you work with the cloth because the colors will smear.

Use scissors to trim around the edge of the figure, leaving a generous border. Lay your figure on top of another piece of cloth and trim a second piece to match. Pin the pieces together to keep them in place. Make sure to supervise your child with the sharp pins.

Thread the embroidery floss onto the needle and sew around the edges of your figure until you have a 2-inch opening remaining. If you are using a thicker fabric like duck cloth, you might need to use a regular sewing needle rather than a blunt, plastic child’s needle. Keep in mind that the stitches need to be close enough together to contain the stuffing.

Fill your creature with an eco-friendly craft stuffing. Sew up the remaining opening. This process will give the stuffed creature a raw edge and the stitches will be visible. If you want a more finished look, pin the two pieces wrong sides together and sew until you have a 2-inch opening left. Turn the fabric inside out, stuff and sew up the remaining opening.

Supplies• Canvas, heavy weight linen or duck cloth • Fabric markers• Embroidery floss• Scissors, push pins, a blunt needle• Eco-friendly craft stuffing
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