7 Safe Ways for Little Kids to Help With Sewing

Pippa pretending to sew at my sewing machine (which is off!)

My daughter, Pippa, is nearly 3, and I am always looking for more ways to teach her about sewing.

Making her a participant while I sew: 

  1. helps me be able to sew a little more while she’s awake.
  2. develops her fine motor and listening skills.
  3. passes on the tradition of sewing in the same way my grandmother gave it to me.

Of course there are lots of safety concerns when involving children with sewing. Practically every tool is sharp or has corners or is small enough to choke on. But there are plenty of safe sewing activities a child can do!

Sewing Activities I Let Pippa Participate In:

1. The first thing I remember her doing with me while sewing was “wearing” my long chains of HSTs after chain piecing. She loved to pretend they were a giant necklace! Every single picture I have of this is a bit blurry because she was dancing around so much!

Pippa "wearing" a chain pieced necklace

2. Recently, I started letting her cut the chains apart. I have a Purple Hobbies Blade Saver Thread Cutter that uses an old rotary blade inside a safe casing to cut threads. The openings to the blade are small enough that even her little fingers can’t get hurt. She LOVES to do this! She counts “1, 2, 3, Boom!” as she cuts. Sometimes she likes to take turns.

gif of my daughter Pippa cutting apart chain pieces

3. She loves to open my fabric packages from the mail. I get super excited, so she learned it's a very exciting thing to get fabric in the mail. Naturally. Sometimes the mail comes while she is napping, and it's hard, but I wait to open my fabric packages until she wakes up!

Pippa opening a fabric package from the mail

4. She also loves to play with my thread, but this is one activity I do limit. I keep my thread on a wall hanger with the little pegs. I will let her move thread from one peg to another, but after a giant Halloween thread nest happened in her pumpkin bucket, I no longer let her remove them from the pegs to play.

Pippa placing spools of thread in a row on top of the wall unit air conditioner
Pippa's halloween bucket filled with spools of thread in a tangle

5. She is a pretty big fan of posing with my quilts when it’s picture time. And I'm a big fan of the cute shots I get!

Pippa posing on top of my scrappy Letters quilt
Pippa posing in front of my quilt rows
Pippa peeking from behind a quilt which is hanging on a clothes line

6. Another way I involve her is to let her push the pedal on my machine to wind a bobbin. It’s totally fine for her to push the “pedal to the metal,” and my machine stops when the bobbin is full, so she can’t hurt anything or get hurt doing this. Also, the needle is stationery while winding a bobbin, so no worries there. She loves making the “vroom vroom” sound, and I think she feels like she’s driving!

7. She also likes to play in my scraps bin, which can be messy, I admit. But she has fun and gets exposed to different fabrics and textures. She can also be helpful with the scraps, particularly by helping me color sort. 

I remember my grandma letting me do little things like this growing up to involve me in her sewing. When I was 13, I helped my grandma choose coordinating fabrics from her stash to make blocks. She used many of my pairs, but also told me when she didn’t agree that two fabrics went well together. It was such an important learning experience for me, trying to figure out what she would approve of as a pair! Later she gave me that quilt. I look forward to Pippa helping me with more sophisticated tasks such as planning and choosing fabric down the road!

What ways do you allow your children to help in your sewing space? Let me know in the comments below!

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1 comment

My daughter never wanted any part of sewing although she is a very accomplished knitter now. On the other hand her boys have been fascinated with the sewing machine from age 3 (?) It’s a machine, it makes noise, it “does stuff”. I gave them squares, they picked the design from the list, zigzag, alphabet, 80 or so designs and that was exciting to them to see the difference between the picture on the machine to the real thing. But they are getting older and I think it’s about time to take those blocks and make a table runner or something for Mom. Their blocks on one side, yardage on the back and teach them to “quilt”. We laugh that our parenting is different from others – When they jump off the porch, my daughter says “push out farther so you don’t catch your foot”, while the neighbor’s boy does the same thing and that mom says “stay away from the edge you might fall.” Both valid points. So my point is – we teach them to handle danger, not avoid it.


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