Sewing Activity for Preschoolers

Since I've explained to my daughter how homeschooling in our home works, in which she lets us know what she's interested in learning, she's now got a whole list going. Granted, some of the things she says she wants to learn "when I'm older." Some things are a bit silly, like how to pull the perfect string of cheese off a string cheese - I did that once for her and she said "Mommy, I want to learn how to do THAT! I want to learn how to do that when I'm older." I'm loving it. Learning is fun. Learning opens up a world of possibilities. She gets it. Please don't let me screw it up.

She said she wanted to learn to sew after watching me work on a few little projects, so I set her up on the sewing machine for a bit. I think next time I'm going to take off the foot pedal and just use the start/stop since it's hard for her to reach. But I also wanted to show her how to sew by hand. It's a bit silly pulling out the sewing machine when you just need to sew on a button, plus sewing/embroidery by hand increases hand dexterity and strength. She's done lacing cards before, and she's great at stringing beads (even the tiniest seed beads), so I knew she was ready for this.

This is what we're using. Everything we needed for this activity cost us less than $10 (we bought individual floss, not an entire package). You don't have to use exactly what we did - I provided alternative materials in the list/descriptions below. I probably had most of this at home, but I wanted to give her the option of picking out colors, not to mention I hadn't thought of using the Oly Fun material before.

Closeup of the OlyFun "weave"

Closeup of the OlyFun "weave"

  • Oly Fun Craft Fabric (the pink and white on Amazon are actually cheaper than Joann's, especially if you're a prime member) - You've probably come across this material used in reusable shopping bags, so if you do,  feel free to use that instead of buying it. There are tons of colors, it's apparently water resistant and has potential for other craft projects. It's not porous - it's like the weave is melted together, so it gives a bit of a resistance when trying to push the needle through. Other options: plastic canvas (use yarn needles and yarn, no need for a hoop), evenweave fabric, aida fabric, monks cloth, burlap, shelf liner (the kind with holes in it). *A special note for parents of "sensational" children: I highly recommend sticking to the Oly Fun material. The resistance from trying to push a needle through this material makes this activity double as sensory "heavy work." 
  • Clover Darning Needles - the straight ones, not the curved tips. Embroidery needles will work too. You need something with a blunt tip (to reduce the owies) and a large eye for the embroidery floss. If you go with material with larger "holes" like monks cloth, shelf liner, burlap, plastic canvas - use yarn needles for that instead. I don't recommend plastic needles on the oly material.
  • Embroidery Hoop - I got the Susan Bates one that's plastic over the wooden one, because the wood ones didn't seem very "sturdy" for use with kids. Plus, it came in pretty colors, so another thing to entice my child to practice with it.
  • Embroidery Floss - We just picked a few colors of her choosing, but really, if you have any DMC or embroidery floss of any kind on hand, it's all you need. If you go with material with larger "holes" like monks cloth, shelf liner, burlap, plastic canvas - use yarn for that instead.

And that's it. Put the fabric in the hoop, get it nice and tight, trim off excess, thread the needle and show them the basic running stitch. Or don't. See what they figure out on their own ;)