Sewing classes for kids have sadly become somewhat old-fashioned in the tech-driven world we find ourselves in today as parents. Sewing, also known as tailoring, dates back thousands of years, but the 1st real sewing machine was patented in 1755 by a German gentleman named Charles Weisenthal. Thanks (or no thanks) to modern-day technology combined with computer-operated sewing machines, sewing a beautiful garment has become a lost art in a world of fast fashion.
I have 2 Singer sewing machines and only realized very late in life that learning this skill is, in fact, incredibly valuable, perhaps even environmentally friendly. I immediately approached my grandmother to learn as much as possible from her. She doesn’t come from a fast-fashion generation; she has been making her own clothes since she was 7 years old.
Children can start with basic “arts and crafts” sewing when they are as young as 3 years old although personally, I feel most kids are ready from about the age of 6. This doesn’t mean they need a fancy Singer like the one I have—starting with a needle and thread is just fine. Today, sewing machines for kids are available in different styles and colors to encourage young children to believe that sewing is, in fact, a lifelong skill worth having.
Let’s make sewing for kids cool again!
Sewing projects for kids
On those rainy days when the children get itchy fingers and you’re forced to stay indoors, try some sewing projects for the kids. The enthusiasm they generate might surprise you.
Hand sewing projects for kids
The best way to start is without a sewing machine. Let’s rewind and go back a few centuries and begin with the basics: needle and thread. Start with simple felt projects, like my first sewing kit with basic, clear instructions that don’t take very long to complete.
Projects you can make at home that work well for ages 3 to 6 include:
- The felt pencil case: Every child that ever walked the earth has more crayons than they can count. So, why not create some extra space for stationery with this practical pencil case?
- The Christmas tree decoration: Making several of these tree decorations can really get you into the Christmas spirit.
- Valentine hearts: Because spreading the love is always a good idea.
The great thing about working with felt is that it’s easy to hold for little fingers and stitches are easy to remove and redo if things get a bit messed up.
Beginner sewing projects for kids
Everyone has to start somewhere. Engaging with your child by starting with a basic sewing project helps them enjoy the notion of creating something for themselves and admiring the finished product while simultaneously developing their fine motor skills and, most of all, exercising patience.
Some of my favorite sewing projects were (and still are):
- Super easy kids wallet: Every child needs a wallet at some point if only to place a make-believe credit card in it, so why not sew a custom one to put the money in instead of spending that money on a new one?
- Hair tie scrunchie: Naturally, this is a girls’ project, but judging by the rate at which girls go through hair ties, this project is not only practical but has saved me many times. Plus, having a custom hair tie scrunchie is so much cooler than blending with the masses.
- The drawstring bag: Back in the day, I used my 1st drawstring bag for marbles, but these days, one such nifty little creation can be used as a sports bag for teens or a storage solution for the building blocks of younger kids.
Pro tip: If children are intimidated by pins or prick their fingers and other body parts (which still happens to me occasionally), replace the pins with clips for sewing as those are safe and easy to use.
Sewing kits for kids
Many sewing products for kids out there are labeled “My First Sewing Kit,” but what is it you’re actually looking for in a sewing kit for your child? What if you don’t sew and, like most of us, rely on Amazon to buy a suitable sewing kit that contains most of the obvious items?
Trial and error always bring me back to the beginning. While those all-in-one kits are beautifully packaged and marketed, every time I bought one, I always ended up needing an item that somehow failed to make it into the “all-included” deal. I just wound up with tit-bits I never ended up using. So, I decided I would not fall victim to sales pitches again, and I compiled my own beginner’s list of items.
Essential items for your 1st sewing kit
- Measuring tape
- Fabric scissors
- Washable fabric pens or tailor’s chalk
- Pins with a pin cushion
- Needles for hand sewing or machine sewing
- A seam ripper, or, as my grandmother called it, an unpicker
- A long ruler (yes, a ruler) to draw straight lines
Pro tip 1: Buy non-stretchy fabric when you first start making clothing or non-craft-related items. Stretchy fabric is tough to work with, but a thick cotton cloth will help kids stay motivated and excited as they watch it taking shape.
Pro tip 2: If you can’t find a flashy washable fabric pen (or couldn’t afford one, like me many years ago), use an old bar of white soap, the kind that has already developed an edge. You can draw designs and change them 5 times over and still be sure that those lines will wash out when the product is complete.
Sewing patterns for kids
I found that patterns aren’t that easy to read initially and can seem daunting at a young age. (My grandmother had a world of patience with me.) Understanding how patterns are read and turned into a garment felt like rocket science the 1st time around.
The trick is to keep this part of the process as basic as possible before moving to more intricate patterns. Thanks to the internet, we now have access to hundreds of free sewing patterns for kids to pick and choose from.
Easy sewing patterns for kids
These have been some of my go-to patterns over my years of sewing, in particular, sewing with children.
- The circle skirt. Though it’s considered a beginner’s project, children from age 10 usually fare well with this project as it does require slightly more concentration.
- Mittens. Since I moved to a freezing country where children are forever losing their gloves, this pattern has saved me on many occasions.
- The pillowcase. Spice up the bed with a beautiful one-of-a-kind pillowcase and add some extra life to the room.
Best sewing machines for kids
Does the best sewing machine for kids exist? Below are my favorite kid-friendly, easy-to-use sewing machines that will help kick-start that undiscovered passion.
Buying your 1st sewing machine is very similar to buying a pair of jeans; you have to try them on to know if they fit, no matter how amazing they look in the display window. With that in mind, I thought I’d simplify the process by sharing 5 sewing machines that I have tried and tested and are also perfect as sewing gifts for kids.
1. Singer Chainstitch
At about $50, this machine makes the perfect gift to test the waters before investing in a more pricey product. Though it may remind you of a toy, it certainly gets the job done, which is why I call this beauty the “decision-maker.”
This battery-operated nifty little machine features working lights, a tension dial, a foot pedal controller, and a storage compartment. It’s incredibly compact and weighs less than a pound without the batteries, making it super convenient for young sewers to carry around all by themselves.
2. SINGER | Start 1304
As a huge Singer fan, I can honestly say that this little machine was my favorite, and it was hard to part with it when the time came to move on. This sewing machine is basic and easy to use thanks to 57 stitch applications, all with pre-set stitch width and length.
This machine weighs only 7 pounds, making it great for sewing in smaller spaces and packing away once you are done.
Accessories include all-purpose foot, zipper foot, buttonhole foot, darning plate, pack of needles, bobbins, needle plate screwdriver, spool pin felts, seam ripper, power line cord, foot control, a quick start guide, and the instruction manual—everything you need to get started.
3. SINGER | SM024
Coming in at $40 cheaper than its sibling, the Singer Start 1304, the SM024 sewing machine has 24 stitch options to make simple stitching and repairs equally easy.
If you’re not planning to sew a wedding gown any time soon, you don’t need deep pockets for this practical machine. Its fast threading and reliable stitching features help you finish any beginner’s craft with a smile on your face.
Accessories include an all-purpose foot, a buttonhole foot, a hem guide foot, bobbins, a pack of needles, and other essential items.
4. Brother XM2701
Though still easy to use by a beginner, this wonderful machine boasts some magnificent features for its size. The XM2701 sewing machine includes 27 built-in stitches, decorative blind hem, zigzag and stretch stitches, and an auto-size buttonhole.
The machine has a relatively advanced but very practical feature: an automatic needle threader that perfectly pushes the thread through the needle and a convenient, jam-resistant drop-in top bobbin.
Accessories include 6 sewing feet, a 3-piece needle set, a twin needle, 4 bobbins, an instructional DVD, a manual, and more.
5. Janome Arctic Crystal
Coming in at a whopping $235 and weighing 12 pounds, the Janome Arctic Crystal sewing machine is trying to prove a lot as a beginner’s option. At the same time, it comes in an array of attractive colors (I always dreamt of owning a funky turquoise machine); the only real value here is in the warranty of 25 years.
If this is the start of your journey, you know that you’ll move on to a more advanced machine at some point, and even though I love everything about this one, you have to cough up slightly more than for other beginner sewing machines.
It comes with 15 built-in stitches, a 4-step buttonhole, a front-loading bobbin system, a heavy-duty interior metal frame, adjustable stitch length and zigzag width, a reverse lever, 4 presser feet, beginner accessories, and an easy-to-follow instructional manual.
Safety measures and precautions
While rotary cutters look very professional, please bear in mind that they’re incredibly sharp, so I would advise against children handling these cutters unless they are 100% comfortable with regular garment scissors.
Tutorials and videos will often show you how to iron seams flat. This is the tedious part (for me, at least), but it’s absolutely necessary if you want a carefully constructed item. Accidents happen in the blink of an eye, and I always feel compelled to urge having an adult supervise any children when a hot iron is being used.
My final advice: prep as much as you can beforehand and remove unnecessary items from the working space so any item no longer needed doesn’t become a potential hazard. This means the project for you and your child is more enjoyable, doesn’t take that long, and is safer in general.