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5 Mistakes To Avoid When Teaching Kids To Sew

5 Mistakes To Avoid When Teaching Kids To Sew
Avoid making these 5 mistakes when teaching your child to sew.

Do you want to teach children to sew? Do you want to teach your own child to sew? If you do, pay close attention to these simple yet common mistakes. We want you AND your young sewists to have a fun and enjoyable experience learning to sew. 


Mistake #1 – Expecting Perfection

This is by far the most common mistake. PERFECTION. It’s a dangerous expectation, and one that can cost your young sewist a future of happy and blissful sewing. I can’t tell you the number of adults I have met that gave up on sewing simply because they were held to a standard of “perfection.” Unless your child is some sewing prodigy (statistically this is an unlikely scenario), accept the fact that they will not sew straight lines for a long time. This is completely normal! Depending on their age, it could be years. Don’t expect completely straight lines, or expect them to follow a seam allowance accurately on their first, second, or even third project. While their lines and ability to follow seam allowances will progress over time, it’s a process that takes time. Don’t expect perfection, just expect their best. 


Mistake #2 – Overlooking the Basics

The basics are KEY to a young sewists sewing success in the future. Learning and mastering the basics of sewing takes time and repetition. Allow them time to learn and grow. Don’t rush or force the process. Time is not a bad thing. It allows them to work on their hand-eye coordination and create the much needed muscle memory for things like pinning and using a seam gauge. It is essential for your young sewist to have measured success as they are learning the basics. This is why our curriculum works! As they work through our levels, they learn the basics they need to prepare them for a future of sewing, learning, and growing.


Mistake #3 – Telling vs. Teaching

“Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.” (Quote origin unknown)
This same concept can be applied to sewing. It is easy, and sometimes tempting, to simply “tell” your young sewist where to sew, where to pin, etc. This type of instruction is limiting to the young sewist. This practice limits their ability to progress. It is much better to teach them how to read, interpret, understand and follow pattern instructions. This encompassing type of teaching gives them increased comprehensive knowledge that is invaluable for independent sewing success in the future. This process takes time and is essential. Our curriculum is specifically designed to help young sewists progress in reading and understanding written and illustrated pattern instructions.


Mistake #4 – Overlooking Failure

Carolyn Curtis, Owner of Kids Can Sew, wisely said “There are no mistakes, only lessons learned.” 

Failures, mistakes, oopsies….whatever you like to call them, they are a good thing, and YES, you SHOULD let them “fail” from time to time. As long as your sewist is attempting age and skill appropriate projects, failure is part of the process and should be tackled in a positive way. Failures are simply opportunities to learn and grow. When it happens, and it will, simply follow these steps.
1- Reassure your young sewist that this is part of the process. Positivity is huge!
2- Together, identify what went wrong.
3- Talk about how it happened. Reassure again when needed.
4- Address how it can be fixed.
5- Most importantly, STAY positive in both your tone and actions.  

Caution: While failure can be a good thing and a growing experience, too much of it can be discouraging and frustrating. If your child is struggling too much, they are probably working on a project beyond their skill level. To alleviate this frustration, back them up a bit and make sure previous basic concepts are better understood and mastered. 


Mistake #5 – Expecting Too Much Too Soon

Like previously mentioned, teaching children to sew takes time. A lot of time! Respect and trust the process. You WILL need to explain and show your young sewist over and over again when it comes to things like threading their machine, using a seam gauge, laying out patterns to cut, pinning, following a seam allowance, and more. It may take many young sewists years to be able to accurately follow a seam allowance. Continue expecting their best, and applaud their successes along the way. Remember, if they are overly frustrated most of the time, they may not be ready for what you are requiring. Simply back things up and make sure previous concepts are fully understood and mastered. You can read our blog post about Age Appropriate Sewing, for a better understanding of age specific sewing skills. 


We want you to succeed and we want your young sewist to enjoy the journey. The Kids Can Sew curriculum is specifically designed to provide a solid sewing foundation to pave the way for future success. Become an instructor today! You can get information and sign up here

Happy Sewing!


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One comment on “5 Mistakes To Avoid When Teaching Kids To Sew


The quote about fish is actually from the musical “Big Fish” Our community theatre group put on this musical. My son was the fisherman that was taught how to fish in the song the Alabama Stomp.

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