Well, I may have a quilter after all, we'll have to see. My 6 yr old son is
showing interest in learning to sew and quilt. At first he asked me to
teach him crochet (I was making up a charity afghan at the time). We tried,
but just doesn't have the hand control he needs to hold the piece, the yarn
and then also make his stitches. So we gave up on that saying that when he
is a bit older maybe we can try again. Now he is doing plastic canvas and
really enjoying it. The reason he wanted to learn to crochet is so he could
make his own 'quilt' he said. I asked this morning if he would like to
learn to sew a quilt since he is doing so well with the plastic canvas and
doesn't seem to be losing interest (at least at the moment). Problem is I
don't have a clue as to how to teach him how. I learned to sew in middle
school home ec. and then again as an adult. I don't know the best approach
for someone that is 6. I'm thinking I want to teach him to sew by hand
first. I don't feel comfortable having him use my machine at all for right
now. Any tips, advise, anything? I need your help to make this as
enjoyable and 'productive' as possible so he doesn't loose interest - I may
not get a second shot later!!!
You might check into the history of quilting a bit, where you will
find that in Colonial America little girls were taught to sew via
quilting, beginning about age 5 or 6. All was done by hand, of
course. When my nieces were about that age we started them with very
simple patchwork blocks. They learned enough to be able to cut
patches the right size, sew on a line drawn with a pencil, and put
together blocks. As to the quilting itself, we helped them learn to
make the sandwich, and they tied the quilts, making quilts for their
doll beds and then smallish quilts for themselves that they used to
put on the floor while they watched TV. That was the end of their
interest at that point, but now that they are in their 30's they are
beginning to be interested again.
Does he have a favourite soft toy, Charlotte?
I hope so!
If so, it would be quicker and, probably, more interesting if he made
his toy a quilt first. It could be just a selection of squares, in his
favourite colours, that were sewn together. Then batting, a backing and
You could tell him he could make one from squares for himself, but that
it would take a little bit longer. You could then make it in small
sectional squares, so that there was lots of accomplishment as you went
along. You could even draw him a little plan that he could colour over
as it got done.
Oh I'd love to be in your shoes and do that with a six-year-old. What
He might like you to quilt it 'properly' for him - or you could both tie
In message , Charlotte Hippen
Now Charlotte! I'm just certain that a 3 year-old nowadays is smarter than
I was. Those little ones can operate tv, cell phone, dvd and microwave as
naturally as they can get dirty. I was encouraged to SM stitch and make doll
clothes long before I went to school. I'll just bet your little guy would
be just fine. Of course, you would have to be the judge as to whether he is
cautious and focused enough to understand that the SM can and will pierce
right through a little finger. I clearly remember the tale my grandma told
me about Aunt Ethel sewing her finger. The story goes that they had to take
Ethel and the SM to the hospital to get her loose and fixed. There probably
weren't any hospitals in those days but she made her point really, really
clear. You could unthread your SM, set the little guy in your lap and teach
him to stitch on ruled paper. Big fun. Polly
Don't underestimate a child's ability to handle a sewing machine. I started
teaching my son to sew on my SM when he was just about 5. First I used an
old needle and had him sew on paper just to get used to controlling the
speed and such. I used a page from a coloring book so he could get used to
following lines and control his motions. Next were fabric scraps to get used
to using the seam guide. Then he sewed a "gingerbread man" and stuffed it
(machine and hand sewing to close). Then he made a quilt for the gingerbread
man and several more quilts for the ratty stuffed terrier "Fuff" and
"Nah-Nah" the elephant without ears. His last project, about 30 years after
the first, were costumes for his Lady Love and himself for an SCA to-do. He
tells people the first power tool he learned to use was a sewing
machine.....the second was a vacuum cleaner, both useful skills ;)
I really had to laugh at Polly's story about sewing fingers. I got pretty
much the same warning when I first started sewing before I was even in
school. HORRORS, keep your fingers away from the needle, Auntie Gayle and
machine were loaded in the back of Grandpa's farm truck, race to the doctor,
almost had to amputate the finger, blood every where, took days to clean it
out of the machine, etc. I related the story (with some editing) to my
child, seemed to work as well for him as it did for me. I didn't sew through
my finger tip till I was about 40, he never has as yet.
BTW, I asked my very elderly Auntie Gayle at a family gathering many years
later about this incident and she claimed to have no knowledge of it
whatsoever. Not only that but also said she'd never used a sewing machine in
her life. Go figure LOL
My just turned 4 yr DGD is using her own machine( I bought her her own
for her birthday Hello Kitty by Janome) under my supervision. She was
"steering" my machine while on my lap for the longest time.She mastered
the foot peddle control almost before it came out of the box. Her MaPa
(grandpa) figured out how to get it in position for her to reach. One
day a few weeks ago I broke out my scrap box and let her go to town
picking out fabrics. I cut them into strips and she is sewing them
together when ever the notion hits her. I put a pack of post it notes
on the throat area to make a seam guide for her. After she gets a bunch
of strips sewn together I trim them to 12 inch blocks. Our plan is to
make a 'mattress" her term for her dog to lay on.
I say that if he is interested in learning to sew then go for it.
Keep the instructions simple and short .As long as you instill some
respect for the machine I say it would be a lot easier for him to learn
to use than hand sewing. My DGD sets up the time and I can tell when it
starts to get boring or time to move on to something else. Short and
simple tasks so as not to frustrate him. At first my DD was horrified
that I was teaching her to sew but she is coming around. My DD doesn't
even call thread ... thread, she calls it string. Not even the slightest
interest there so I am having a blast with Miss Magoo . The last time
we went shopping at Wally World she took me by the hand and led me to
the sewing department. She began going through all the fabrics feeling
each one and telling me what she had in mind to make with it. I had a
heck of a time getting her out of there and we never did get to the toy
dept. darn! She made me buy fabric :) Our next project is pj bottoms out
of an adorable print in her favourite colour...pink.
Keep us posted on whatever way you go in teaching your son to sew.
It 'd be great to swap ideas on what works and what doesn't with little
I am getting ready to teach an 8 yr. old at church. I have cut up
strips 2" x 6" from my scraps to make a Chinese Coins doll quilt. I
bought a child's sewing machine at Cracker Barrel for $20 a while
back, putting it aside for future grandchildren. Now I am thinking I
will get it out for her to try. I am hoping to do this tomorrow. I
will let you know how it goes.
Do they still make childrens' machines? I remember getting a little
Singer for Christmas around 1965. IIRC it was a "real" machine,
insofar as it
sewed a chain stitch, but it was impossible to sew your finger. It
doll clothing cut out and ready to sew. I had hours of fun with that.
I can understand the horrors of loading up a child still attached to a
machine to the ER. We had to take a child with a box turtle still
her finger, that was bad enough.
I am teaching my 5 going on 6 DGD to sew with a needle and thread, she
is still afraid of the machine, but wants to sew....so I let her pick
out a bunch of 21/2" squares from the scrap box and she makes 4P then
we sew those together, I draw a line on the 1/4" seam line on each
piece so she knows wrong side from right side. She uses a double
threaded needle so the thread doesn't slip out. She is making Molly
(American Girl Doll) a quilt for her bed.....She is very proud of her
sewing. She has her own basket with needles, thread, scissors on a
string like grandmas, and tiny thimble. She shows her patchwork to the
sewing ladies (group I sew with on Mondays) and they took her
picture!.....the fabric store is one of her favorite places and she
has to touch all the fabrics and look at the buttons!
Someone on this group suggested sewing on the sewing machine by
turning the wheel, I will try that next.
Myself, I started on my grandmas treadle at 5, making doll clothes and
patchwork. I also learned to embroider at that time too. Cross
Mauvice in Wi (formerly from N. IL)
Thanks everyone for the replies. I haven't managed to read them yet. New
kitten and the boys are keeping me extra busy right now for some reason.
I've saved them all for when I have a quite moment to read them over
(perhaps after bedtime). Thanks for taking the time to help!!
What fun! She will enjoy it, I'm sure.
My 8-yr old neice has been using my old Singer handcrank; very safe as
she has to run it with one hand, so she can't go fast, and it stops very
quickly if it needs to! :)
Looking forward to your report!
On Tue, 10 Jul 2007 08:30:21 -0700, Idahoqltr
If you want to stay away from the SM at this stage, try Manx
quilting. It is a hand sewn log cabin stitched onto a
foundation. You can mark lines to help keep sewing
straight, and two blocks will make a good door stop
(decorated as a chicken or other creature) and four blocks
will make a cushion, so you don't have to make many if the
interest begins to fade.
Sherry! Tell us you're kidding. No. Of course you're not - but I thought
that was another story grannies told to keep us careful. We live in a
'turtle crossing' and all too often the Yorkie will mulishly stand between
us and a turtle. He won't let us even come close. Has he been listening to
"Sherry" I can understand the horrors of loading up a
child still attached to a
He's the type of kid that if I cautioned him like your grandma did, he never
get near a sewing machine in his life. I'm better off just teaching him to
do it by hand then, if he still likes it doing the machine later.
Thanks for the help Mauvice. Something like a 4 path would be good for him,
perhaps alternated with solid squares so there is a bit of pattern there,
but very easy and a bit faster to put together. My DS already has the stool
that came with my latest SM for his plastic canvas storage. I think I may
have to upgrade him to a basket or maybe one of the drawers in the cabinet
because the stool doesn't have alot of space.
The handwheel is also a great idea. I don't think you are supposed to use
the newer computerized machines like that more than you have to, but I now
have an old singer 15-91 that would be perfect for this.
Thanks Cheryl. Perhaps a throw pillow for his bed and then he can make a
small cuddle quilt to match later if he's still interested. I've never hear
of Manx quilting. What type of foundation do you use - something like a
DO it! I learned when I was 5. sat on my Great Aunts lap whilst she did the
treadling.I did the fabric.pink 9 Patch. Unfortunately I do not remember how
far we went.but I spent 12 weeks on her lap for sure--had had my tonsils
out--then I hemmoraged.back then it was ice cream and 7 up and NO
PLAYING...so I learned how to quilt and embroider..my other Great Aunt
taught me that (they were widowed sisters that lived together). They'd come
over every day and help mom with my sis (had hers out at the same time) and
I. Sis learned how to embroider but never took to quilting.
Only advice: go easy-don't over explain--when YOU find YOU are getting tense
take a 5 min break. If he hasn't done so already let him pic the fabrics.
If I recollect correctly didn't someone on here recommend an eraser on the
foot pedal so they couldn't go too fast? Not sure exactly what it
was......that they used for slow speed. does your machine have 2 speeds? One
of mine did....one that my kidlets learned on.
He'll let you know when he's had enuf...he may surprise you and finish an
entire quilt or be done with a doll/toy size.
Just another HTH segment
Butterfly (Started quilting at 5 and still going strong)