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Teaching Sewing To An 8-Year Old Boy

Summary

Your friend’s 8 year old wants to sew more than anything.  What do you do?  You teach him, of course!   Our avocation needs all the young folks it can get!

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Teaching Sewing To An 8-Year Old Boy

Jacob lives in an RV full-time with his family and is home-schooled. He has done a few sewing projects (such as potholders) with other friends of his mother but wants to sew masks and other useful items for his family. My first reaction was, "Not on my machine!" Those of us who sew a lot know that our machines just know when someone else is using them.

Teaching Sewing To An 8-Year Old Boy

 

I talked with his mother and learned that they were ready to purchase a used machine for him. With the budget in mind, I visited shops in the city looking for the right machine for Jacob. His mother and I ended up choosing an older mechanical Singer. We knew there were local shops across the country that could help with accessories and repairs, so it was a good choice for them. I helped set up the machine and showed Dad how to find the Singer manual and lots of instructional videos online, such as winding the bobbin and threading the machine. Videos are the most normal way of learning for kids that age, so I made sure they knew how to find great ones.

 

For lesson one, I drew an "x" on the tension button with a sharpie. This served as a reminder to Jacob not to touch that button without adult supervision. I also put an arrow on the machine near the tension disk to remind him to thread *behind* the disk. These will be permanent reminders for when I am not there!

 

I wanted Jacob to understand HIS machine, so we took the bobbin out and talked about how machine stitching compared to hand stitching. We looked at a sample of stitching and saw what the bobbin thread did and what the top thread did. With the bobbin case out, I showed him how to clean it. Knowing his Dad was a computer type, I warned Jacob never to use canned air to clean his machine. They have a dog, so we talked about him making a cover for his machine. I sent Mom a video link of men sewing useful projects, including a machine cover.

 

To make sure that Jacob understood the inner workings of the machine, I asked him if he knew what gears did. He thought and then looked over at his bicycle. "Yes," he said, "I have gears on my bike!" I thought that was perfect, so we started to sketch the inside of his machine on scrap paper.

bikes

 

For the rest of that lesson, I gave him a large bunch of scraps and told him to try every button on his machine except the tension. He spent the day testing the zig zag stitches, back stitch, stitch width, and length. One of the scraps was a hunk of pre-quilted fabric, so he made a small pillow all on his own.

 

The next lesson was to make sure that Jacob understood the importance of tension. I asked if he knew what tension did. I really wasn't expecting an answer that I could use, but he replied that tension was important on his fishing rod. Not knowing anything about fishing rods, I asked him to explain. Sure enough, in his own way, he knew exactly what tension was.

Fishing

 

We were ready to start his project. I decided, with help from his Mom, that he would make an apron from a shirt. Aprons made from men's shirts are a great choice. Not only can he make one for each member of his family, but they make great gifts for grandparents. We talked about the 3 major parts of the apron: the ties, the front, and the neck piece. With chalk, I marked on the shirt where he was to cut and where he wasn't. I loaned him a small pair of fabric scissors that fit his hands except for one thing – he is left handed! We did agree that he would cut only in the presence of an adult. He did complete his task, but Mom is getting him some left handed scissors.

 

Next, we used the sleeves to design and cut the straps for the ties. Jacob learned about not leaving raw edges. He learned how to pin correctly. I did the ironing, but Dad helped at home. Soon, we were working on the pockets. Jacob chose to make pockets that did what he wanted: they would hold his spoon, spatula, and a couple of pencils.

 

Do you think Jacob is proud?

apron

 

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Glossary

Bobbin
A spool or reel that holds thread or yarn for spinning, weaving, knitting, sewing, or making lace.
Ironing
Moving a hot iron while it has contact with fabric. Often ironing can stretch and distort fabrics and seams. A better alternative is to press, where you just lay the hot iron down and lift straight up from the fabric.

See Also: Pressing
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