Teaching Small People to Sew

11794312_10153419749700491_5740603297487370971_oIt gets confusing when I talk about MoonMunkie. The original MoonMunkie is my oldest daughter.  She spent a lot of time awake at night when she first arrived. I had PND and spent a lot of time sewing to get through it. (If you want to read more about my journey out of PND then you can head over to my other blog Followed By a Black Dog. I don’t need to write it any more, but I keep it as a reminder.) That’s how the name was born.

Since I started my little art and craft business, it seems that I’ve become MoonMunkie. It doesn’t really matter at all. We’re all Munkies together here. But this post is about the original and best. My amazing winter baby. My MoonMunkie. She’s 5½ now. Unbelievable.

She sewed her first softie this week. Yellow-Stitch Fifield, commonly known as “Stitch” is a purple mouse. He’s made from wool felt, stitched with yellow wool, stuffed with raw wool roving. He has BIG pink ears. You can probably guess what they’re made of. And, if we’re being honest, he’s a wee bit cheeky. He’s not keen on bedtime. He has commandeered the dining room furniture from the Sylvannian Families. He sleeps on their table. He likes to hide and then we all have to spend AGES looking for him. We haven’t been able to find the NowTV remote control since he arrived, and although I’m not directly accusing him of hiding it, you have to admit it’s a bit of a coincidence.

I digress. Tips for teaching small people to sew was my purpose for being here. And here they are:

Mostly, it’s about allowing the small person to have ownership of the project. Show them some simple projects on Pinterest and let them think about what they want to make. Guide them in the direction of simple shapes and little and therefore fast projects. Quantity is way more important than quality when you’re 5.

Let them choose their own fabric, or at least the colours. Wool felt makes sense because it’s forgiving, doesn’t fray and comes in at least a bazillion colours. I buy kilo bags of pure wool felt offcuts from Ebay for not a lot of pounds. They have tons of shades and are perfect for so many crafts. And being offcuts I don’t get all precious and obsessive about cutting into them.

Purchase a doll-making needle. They are reasonably sharp, but long and quite chunky.  Easy to thread. Easy for small fingers to hold and manipulate. Hard to lose. Unlikely to get swallowed by SmallestMunkie. I found a bodkin was too short and too blunt to sew with, even for grown up hands. I had to show MoonMunkie that I could press it against my skin and it didn’t hurt. She was worried about getting scratched, but the doll-making needle was very easy to control and we had no injuries.

Allow for short concentration spans and for messy workmanship – see my note on quantity not quality. I firmly believe that if we encourage mistakes and free thinking now, it will develop creativity and a love of the task in hand. Tidiness and “perfection” will come along in their own time.

Choose a strong, chunky yarn for first stitching. Pick a contrasting colour to the fabric so stitches can easily be seen

Whip stitch is a good one to begin with. The needle only goes in one way and comes out one way. No “which side am I on?” confusion. It’s fast. It’s sturdy. You can quickly see where you’ve been. The rhythm of it is conducive to finishing a project.

Resist the urge to help unless asked. This is hard for me! I like things even and neat. MoonMunkie wanted the mouse finished fast. I sat on my fingers and bit my tongue and just allowed her to stitch. She loved it so much, and that was my reward for not interfering. She was pleased with what she’d achieved, rushing off to show MisterMunkie.

Finishing touches may be hard for little, inexperienced hands. Stitch had to have yellow button eyes. Had to, you understand. So MamaMunkie had to do those, or they would become a choking hazard for SmallestMunkie. A piece of wool was attached as a tail, but it wasn’t taily enough, so it was replaced by a short chain of crochet. Again, MamaMunkie needed to assist there too, but only when she was asked!

She adores her finished mousie. So do I, but I love him because I watched her concentrate and work hard and make it herself. And I saw her feel good about it when she was done. She already wants to make him a baby!





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