You may not have thought about it before, but dressmaking can be a great opportunity for you to spend quality time with your kids. So many of us hustle the kids out of the studio when we need to “work,” but wouldn’t it be nice to share what you do with your kids from time to time?
Teaching children dressmaking can foster creativity, coordination, and pride. Wearing a garment to school that you made yourself is a pretty cool experience, and feels good. As they learn dressmaking skills, children will also learn some independence, as they experiment more and more with new ideas on their own.
Teach your kids the wonder of dressmaking
If I’ve convinced you of the value of including your children in your passion for dressmaking, you’ll need to teach them the wonder, the beauty, and the fun of the craft. Some children are simply happy to be included in whatever you’re doing, but others will need to have their interest fanned through a slow introduction to the tools, abilities, and processes of dressmaking. Play with fabric types, colors, and styles. Show them how you accessorize some of your creations with belts, shoes, and bags.
You want to strike a balance between explaining the whys and hows of sewing with simply experiencing the act itself. Teaching a child to sew isn’t all about explaining benefits and advantages, and the cost/benefit arguments are likely to fall on deaf ears with kids. Help your children to complete a project before you spend too much time trying to EXPLAIN. A pillow, stuffed animal, bag, or tunic can all be good first projects for children as they learn about dressmaking. When they have questions, of course you should answer them, but don’t forget the value of DOING to true understanding.
You may end up with a child who simply doesn’t want to join in with your dressmaking work. That’s fine, but don’t be afraid to nudge them every now and then, without pushing too hard. The skill-sets involved in dressmaking are physical and creative, cognitive and systematic. What I’m saying is, there’s something in the process for every personality type – you just need to find out how to show this to your child. Check out these possible approached to getting your children into dressmaking, pattern work, or sewing.
1. Base your approach and their involvement on maturity levels. With maturity comes patience, follow-through, and an understanding of cause and effect. More mature children, then, will be able to take on larger and more involved sewing projects and see them through. Carefully consider the maturity level of your child before choosing a project. A small and immature child may become frustrated when they are unable to complete a project quickly, so help them to build discipline and follow-through slowly – and start simple.
2. How strong is their interest? Is your child learning about dressmaking just because they want to spend more time with you, or is there something about the activity that speaks to them? Either is just fine, but if you observe your child carefully, and gauge their interest level, you’ll have a much easier time figuring out how in-depth to get with the skills, and how much to focus simply on the fun parts of dressmaking.
3. Begin at the beginning. Simple, right? Then don’t forget it. You don’t want to make a gown, fancy costume, or daily-wear garment as your first project with your child. Think simple. Bandannas, pillows, or stuffed animals can be good starting projects. If your child really wants to FEEL fancy in the work, pull your glamor and fun from fabric choices. A simple wrap sarong, requiring little more than measuring, cutting, and perhaps a hem or two – can seem extremely fancy when made from fun fabrics.
4. Stick to the basic techniques. Teach your child a very basic stitch. One way to help them to keep stitches tight enough is to have them make a simple bean-bag. When the beans start falling out of the bag through their sloppy stitches, you have a ready-made opportunity to help them make repairs, and to tighten up their stitches. Whenever they master a technique, you can teach them another. You’ll have a houseful of master dressmakers before you know it!
Recommended Read; Sewing School: 21 Sewing Projects Kids Will Love to Make