Monday, 27 August 2012

When to start

Yesterday my gorgeous 6 year old son went onto my sewing machine for the 3rd time.

This prompted a couple of questions on Twitter about starting children on sewing machines.

In my experience it is down to the individual child.

My middle son is a driven, high achieving child with a huge capacity for concentrating on projects. I can explain things to him and he will follow my instructions to the closely to ensure he gets it right - he doesn't do failure!

However, I have worked with other 6 year old and I wouldn't feel confident letting them on a machine. Maybe that is because they are not mine, but mostly I think it is the lack of concentration. They need to be able to concentrate to ensure they stay safe whilst using the sewing machine.

Each child is different - I teach a couple of 10 years who can't concentrate for more than 15 minutes at a time, so age isn't the biggest fact. We have to work in short stints and then eat a cookie!

I do have a few tips though if you are thinking about teaching a small person to sew:

  • If they are around 6, I suggest you stand them between your legs and work on the sewing together to begin with. It increases their confidence that you are there helping them guide the fabric - also makes you feel better!

  • If you have a machine with the capacity to go slowly, then set it to go slowish - too slow and they get frustrated, too fast and they get frightened.

  • Don't correct them as they sew. Seams are never going to be perfectly straight for children, it is a hard action to get right - watch the sewing, press the foot and keep fingers safe is a lot to do at the same time!

  • Having said that, when they have finished and you are looking at the work together, make gentle suggestions as to how they might improve.

  • Give huge amount of praise - it will make them smile like Cheshire Cats and whisk away all of the tension they may have held whilst sewing.

As you can see midi is exceptionally pleased with his patchwork - bunny has slept in it all night!

1 comment:

  1. Good for him. Looks great. Good advice too. I think if a child is curious about sewing, that is the time to start letting them sew. It might be a joint effort like you say, but telling him he isn't ready yet, will probably lead him to stop asking. Children are so creative and uninhibited in that creativity. What better time to get them involved than when that has been stifled.