There are few skills so valuable as the ability to sew — whether stitching a tear, hemming a garment, mending a ripped shirt, creating household accessories, or fashioning a new dress. There are several reasons to pass this skill on to our children and teach them to learn to sew:

  • Learning to sew helps build fine motor skills.
  • Learning to sew gives children yet another way to use their creative talents.
  • Sewing develops patience…lots of patience!
  • Sewing provides yet another opportunity to practice following directions.
  • Sewing develops attention to detail.
  • Sewing saves money — repair vs. replacement.
  • Sewing is a skill a child will take with him and value into adulthood.
  • Start with the basics.  When I was very young my mother gave me a piece of cloth and a needle and thread to begin practicing my stitches. Practice straight stitches and zigzags.  Learn how to finish off.  Progress to turns.
  • Add the embellishments.  One of the next things I learned how to do was sew on a button.  Every one should know how to sew a button back on!  You can also try zippers and elastic.
  • Move up to the machine.  Of course, you first need to understand the parts of a machine.  Then learn how to make straight sewing machine stitches. There are wonderful books out there (see resources) that provide templates for young children to use in learning the machine.  They run the sewing machine needle through the templates trying to stay on the lines.
  • The bobbin.  That bobbin is a tricky thing.  It must be threaded and then correctly placed in position.
  • Tread the machine.  Next up is to learn how to thread your sewing machine.
  • Sew.  Start with straight stitches and simple hems.  Work up to zippers and elastics.  Finally move on to reading patterns and creating clothing.
  • Practice.  Learning to sew is easy — becoming a proficient seamstress takes practice!

Additional Resources

Animal Sewing Cards
Cute (and free) downloads from Just Something I Made for the littlest sewers with instructions for making these into a really nice sewing folder.

Fun With Clothes
58-page guide from the University of Florida Extension Center geared to ages 5–8 includes 13 activities focusing on basic sewing skills and creativity.

Kids Sewing Series Bookmark
Not-too-hard project from Singer.

The Basics of Sewing
This 18-page guide from Learning Zone Express at is intended to go along with a video, but works very easily on its own by having students research to find the answers (click on Lesson Guide).  Includes a step-by-step guide to getting started, hand sewing stitches, machine sewing templates as mentioned in the suggestions above, instructions for sewing on buttons, and several projects to complete.

Simple Sewing

Simple Sewing: Complete Instructions for 7 Great Projects
This title by Klutz Press is no longer in print, but you can still find used copies at eBay and other places.  Just be sure to get a new version or one with the fabrics and supplies included.  Our first choice for simple hand sewing projects!

Beginning Sewing eBook
Free 13-page download from Janome covering the parts of a sewing machine, making seams and various stitches, and two projects.  There are several pages that will make great printables for a sewing notebook.

Complete Guide to Sewing

Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing
Can’t say enough good things about this book!  It starts by explaining the various sewing supplies you’ll need or will want to be familiar with (extensive!), moves on to sewing machine parts (bobbins, threading, tension, stitch length, etc.), then covers patterns, fabrics, seams, and other basic construction techniques.  Includes a glossary of hand stitches.  There is an updated version available, but buyer beware!

Unit Studies & Lesson Plans

Kids Sewing Projects
Free sewing lessons for kids from pre-beginner through intermediate level.

Free Science Studies: Elias Howe & the Sewing Machine

Free Science Studies: Elias Howe & the Sewing Machine
Fun tie-in that includes the history of the sewing machine.

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