Saturday, May 9, 2015

Teaching My Four Year Old to Sew: Research

After asking me multiple times I’ve decided to teach my four-year-old to sew. On a sewing machine.
I know she’s only four and a sewing machine is a dangerous piece of equipment. She’s asked me to teach her how to use the sewing machine so many times, and I’ve said no so many times, that I feel if I keep saying no I’m going to destroy her interest. So I started scouring the internet for  information on the best way to go about teaching her.
I’ve read quite a few blogs on teaching young children how to sew. Most focus around 6 or 7 but two that I’ve read specifically mention 4 year olds. There are different views on where to start and how to teach young children but there are two opinions that I saw repeated on all the blogs no matter how you start teaching.

  1. It’s not about age specifically but about maturity level and the ability to follow basic instructions. It doesn’t matter if they’re 4 or 14 if they can’t follow basic instructions or obey basic rules they don’t need to touch a sewing machine.
  2. Use a real sewing machine. Share my own machine, buy a cheap one, borrow one for a little while, just do not get her one of the machines targeted towards children (like the Pixie, or E-Z sew). They are more of a headache than they are worth. She is going to be using my old machine the Brother LS2000.

As for methods there are differing opinions:

Hand sewing
Whether or not to begin with hand sewing. Some articles and blogs say to start simple with hand sewing while others say hit the ground running with the machine. I'm in the latter view. She has specifically asked to learn how to use the sewing machine and I personally feel that if I force her to hand sew first she may lose interest so to keep her interest alive we're going to hit the ground running. Learn to use the machine first and then learn hand sewing as the need arises. My plan anyway.

Methods of Introducing the Machine

First there is the hit the ground running with the whole machine as is. Teach her proper hand placement without a crutch so she can learn how to use the machine as a machine truly is. I don't personally like this idea because I feel it's going to be a lot of stress on me. Constantly reminding her of hand placement when she's focused on the pedal is also going to cause some frustration and fear about the needle.

I could have her practice hand placement while I controlled the pedal or have her control the pedal while I guided the fabric. So she can focus on one or the other for a little while. I personally don't like the idea of a disconnect between hands and feet I keep thinking on a delay between action and reaction time. This would probably mean a lot of yelling from her and me.

Finally the method of introduction that I think is the best and the one I’m going with is the one from A Jennuine Life’s "Tiny Sewists" series. She taught her four year old by letting her use the machine without a needle in it. I like this idea because she learns both pedal control and hand placement at the same time without the disconnect and without fear of getting a needle through the finger, hers or mine.

This is a good starting point for my four year old and I’m so proud to be able to share my love of sewing with her.
This isn’t going to be a steady series I will just post to it as updates happen.

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