How To Teach A Child To Sew By Hand

By JulieLast update: 2024-04-26

Sewing is a great hobby for kids of all ages. It teaches how to use their hands, how to follow directions and how to be creative with fabric. Making something you can wear or give away feels good too! This article will describe how to teach a child how to sew by hand in a step-by-step process.

Why Sewing Is a Great Hobby for Kids?

Sewing can be a great hobby for kids. Not only does it teach how to use their hands, how to follow directions and how to be creative with fabric, but making something you can wear or give away feels good too!

When teaching children how to sew by hand it is important to take things slowly so they do not become frustrated. They may not get it right the first time, but if they are encouraged to keep trying they will eventually get it.

How to Teach a Child To Sew by Hand – Step-by-Step

Before jumping onto the steps, let’s discuss the things you’ll need first.

What You'll Need

What you need to teach a child how to sew by hand is fabric (cotton is good), scissors, needles and brightly colored thread, and a lots of patience.

An important thing to remember is that children do not have the same dexterity or strength in their hands that an adult does. This means it is important to not be overly critical of their stitches on the first try. If they are encouraged, even when they have done a poor job, chances are they will want to learn more and eventually get it right.

Step One: Holding The Needle and Thread

The first thing you will need to do when teaching a child how to sew by hand is have them cut off a piece of thread. Make sure it is long enough so they can practice a few times without having to tie a new piece in the middle.

Demonstrate holding the needle in their fingers and resting it in between their thumb and pointer finger. Then wrap the thread around their three fingers and back through.

Step Two: Pushing the Needle Through Fabric

The next step is to show them how to push the needle through fabric. Hold your hand over theirs and guide their fingers as they make a basic sewing stitch in the fabric. If it is hard for them to keep their hands steady, put your hand over top of theirs and move their fingers as you go.

Step Three: Making a Knot and Removing the Needle

Next, show them how to make a knot close to the fabric as you would when tying your shoes. Then slip the needle through the loop and pull tight. Tie a knot at the end to keep it from slipping through the fabric.

The last thing to do is have them hold it up, give them a high five and tell them that they are all done! It is now time for them to try on their new creation or gift it to someone special.

What to Teach?

A child can learn how to sew all sorts of things! It is easier if they begin with making simple shapes like triangles, squares and circles. Once they have mastered that, you can move on to showing them how to sew letters or pictures onto fabric.

The most important thing is to take it slow so they are not discouraged.

Our Children, Sewing and Needles: How Big a Risk?

Parents want their children to experience many life's pleasures—and that includes learning how to sew. However, there are risks involved in any type of sewing for children. Some are inherent to the needle itself; others result from an improperly run sewing machine or the lack of adequate safety precautions.

If you do your research, you will find that children under the age of eight years rarely understand what they are doing and how to run a sewing machine properly. This does not mean that children cannot learn to sew—they can, if supervised by an adult.

The Needle is the Real Danger in Sewing

Ironically, it is the needle itself that is most hazardous when children use a sewing machine with a foot pedal. Nearly all of the current models bought for homes, schools, and community centers are used with the motor running (the machine is plugged in) at full speed.

Unfortunately, when a child relies only on their foot to control the pedal, they can easily sew over their finger or another part of their hand.

The machine's needle bar moves rapidly up and down through the fabric, creating an attractive nuisance. It is the only part of the machine that moves quickly enough to do serious damage especially if it pierces an eye or other body part.

The best solution is to use a sewing machine equipped with a speed control pedal which enables parents and teachers to reduce maximum speed for children's use.

High-Speed Sewing Machine Hazards for Children

  • Loss of Finger or Part of Finger

If the children's fingers are too close to the needle, they can be cut or pierced by it as it penetrates the fabric. This is why you must always use the hand wheel to lower the needle before leaving your machine unattended (including when changing sewing projects).

  • Loss of Eye

Children have been blinded by the needle as it penetrates their eyes, even though they were using a foot pedal to control speed. If the child is left alone with a sewing machine that is running at top speed, someone's eye could be lost forever.

  • Other Injuries

The faster the machine moves up and down through the fabric, the greater the chance of injury to other body parts.

Sewing Machine Design is Safer than Ever!

Older sewing machines come with a danger sign near the needle and an instruction manual that warns against using these machines for children under eight years of age. If you have such a machine, it should be set up only for adult use. You can find more about these heavy-duty sewing machines for different materials at textiletuts.

The best sewing machines for children are the newer models that have a speed control pedal. They can be used by anyone at any age, with foot or hand control. You don't even need to read the instruction manual. Just turn on the machine and start stitching!

Suggestions for Sewing with Children

  • Keep supervision at all times.
  • Set up the work area with plenty of light, away from potential dangers such as large furniture or moving pets and people in your household.
  • Teach children to sew slowly and carefully at first so they don't become frustrated and careless—and talk to them about what can happen if they move too fast.
  • Tell children to use the hand wheel whenever they need to lower the needle. They should never rely on their foot to do this—especially if they are sewing over any part of their body.
  • Children shouldn't be left alone with a running machine, not even for a second, because it takes only an instant for tragedy to happen.
  • Help your child get more experience and develop sewing skills gradually, under your guidance.
  • Keep a first-aid kit handy in case of an accident—and teach children what to do if they are injured while using a sewing machine or other home appliance. Your local Red Cross chapter might be able to provide information on how to make a home safety check.


Sewing can be a great hobby for kids. They can make something to wear, use as an art project or gift it to someone special. It is important to take things slowly when teaching children how to sew by hand so they are not discouraged if they struggle with the first few steps.

In the end, it is all about having fun while learning how to sew!

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