I reorganized my project gallery just recently (pure therapy for this order-craving soul), and as I sorted through photos, I was reminded of all the fabric goodies I’ve made with my sweet girls over the past couple of years. At this point, both my 5 and 7 year olds are pretty comfortable diving into hand or machine sewing projects on their own…little pillows, accessories…whatever idea strikes them…but it was definitely a process getting them to that point where they finally had the skills, confidence and excitement to start creating things all by themselves. Every little project we sewed together was another step toward that confidence for them, and also created priceless memories and strengthened our bond. And I think it’s the combination of those things that makes sewing with kids, in my mind, so very important.
So I decided to share a compilation of my favorite sewing projects to do with kids, for those of you with littles in your life. Some of them require a sewing machine, while others are hand projects that focus more on pre-sewing skills like tracing, cutting, and even tying or sorting. So go get your little helpers, and get ready for some fabric fun!
1. Scrappy Wreath
I know, I know, I said this was a list of sewing projects. Well, it is! And a big part of sewing is working with fabric. This project is a fabulous stitch-less way to introduce your young soon-to-be sewist to choosing, sorting, and, if age appropriate, even cutting fabric with scissors.
No tutorial needed for these wreathes- they’re so easy- perfect for kids! Just bend a wire hanger into a circle (keeping the hook as-is), then cut fabric into strips about 1 1/2-2″ wide x 6” long. It doesn’t matter if the size varies, as long as they’re all in the same general ballpark. Then just help your kiddo get started with tying the strips into knots around the hanger, pushing them as close together as possible for a nice full wreath. What an exciting addition to her room, or hung proudly on the front door for all to see!
2. Triangle Garlands
What do you get when you chain piece leftover triangle scraps? The perfect chance for kiddos to practice machine sewing, of course! With no seam allowances to worry about, these pretty garlands are super forgiving, and offer a great chance for new sewers to learn control over the foot petal, while feeding scrap triangle pieces through the machine, one by one. Lovely bedroom, playroom, or party decor for any little Miss (or Mr.!).
3. Patchwork Paper Goods
These patchwork cards have been go-to basics of mine for years, and as it turns out, they’re just perfect for kids because there are no seam allowances, and no need for accuracy…just a casual little arrangements of scraps (I hold mind in place with glue stick). Add some modern, zig-zaggy stitching (or, preferrably, just let them go crazy stitching to their heart’s content) to secure the scraps and add a pretty texture. Apply the same concept to journal and notebook covers, folders, or bookmarks for a truly unique beginner sewing project.
4. Improv Fabric Art
The sky’s the limit on this one! There’s no *right* thing to make, no right way to make it, and the item doesn’t even need to be functional. It’s all about the process. Just pull out the scrap bin and let your kiddo tap into some imagination to make whatever art they like!
During this improv session, my 5 yo started arranging shapes and came up with this bunny, which we both thought was pretty darned cute. I helped her add some free, improvisational stitching to keep things in place. These improv art sessions are a wonderful way to introduce fabric to a child as a type of “paint”, with which they can freely play and experiment with. No rules! Just fun.
5. Ultra Simple Quilt
Once your kiddo is comfortable with stitching on the machine and is ready to move on to something larger, it may be time to take the leap to a quilt! This could be a baby quilt or a doll quilt, depending on the size your young sewist wants to tackle. It’s the perfect way to practice those skills they’ve been learning, with you at their side, and to make something they can use and enjoy every day.
I teach a class on Craftsy that is a fabulous walk through a very, very simple turned-edge tied quilt. Students use pre-cut charm squares so there is no rotary cutting involved. Why not watch the class with your child and then make the quilt together? A priceless first quilt experience!
6. Tic Tac Toe Boards
These little game boards are nothing more than a simple nine-patch block, quilted and bound- but paired with some large buttons, they’re load of fun for the littles! The size of the project makes it a great opportunity to teach the child to bind by machine or by hand, on a small, achievable level.
7. Hair Bow Holder
I just love showing kids just how versatile and useful sewing can be. This little hair bow holder is simple to make from twenty 2 1/2″ mini charm squares, some rickrack, and an 8″ x 10″ picture frame. I blogged about my process making this project here.
8. Magnetic Art Clips
This little project is a really fun way to introduce some beginning hand sewing, and they’re handy (and cute!) for displaying artwork on the fridge. I stiffened some fabric scraps by fusing the wrong side of my fabric to an iron-on interfacing, then traced and cut out some small shapes (I used a heart cookie cutter I had but you could print a shape from the internet if you don’t have one on hand that you like.) We added some sweet little details- buttons and some accent stitching- then hot glued the hearts to clothes pins, and magnets to the backs of the pins.
9. Bean Bags
Kids love bean bags…heck, I love bean bags! From choosing fabrics and helping stitch, to filling them with dried beans, there’s no shortage of fun when it comes to making these classic toys. Check out these fun bean bag game ideas, or pair them with my Make Your Move quilt for an over-sized game of checkers. You’ll find the pattern for both in my book, For Keeps: Meaningful Patchwork for Everyday Living. Snag a signed copy in my shop, or pick one up from your favorite bookstore.
10. Pillow Cases
Last but not least, pillowcases of course! They’re one of the absolute simplest items to sew, and are the perfect project an eager young sewist. I just love the straightforward tutorial over on Film In the Fridge.
And there you have it! Ten fabulous ways to get the kiddos involved and to teach them an invaluable skill. If you’re inspired to go make something with your little buddy, and care to share on Instagram, be sure to tag me, @StitcheryDickory -I’d love to see what you guys make together!