Frida has been working with threading and lacing materials for a while now. At 19 months she was threading beads onto a string, at 27 months she was using a lacing fox, and recently she has been using a lacing toy with beads. I have been thinking for a little while that she might be ready to move on from lacing and threading to some “real” sewing work.
I toyed with the idea of making some very simple sewing cards, but after thinking about it I decided to skip that step; knowing my daughter, I didn’t think she would find sewing cards as exciting or appealing as using a real embroidery hoop with material and a needle and thread.
To get started, I put some aida fabric into an embroidery hoop, and then painstakingly pushed some bigger holes through it as I was worried that it might be a bit tough for Frida to push a needle through, which would be discouraging. As it turned out I needn’t have worried as she was able to push her needle through the fabric just as well as the holes I pushed through!
I also threaded an embroidery needle with bright thread in her favourite colour, so that the materials were all ready for her to get started.
I explained to her that we always start our sewing at the back, so that the knot doesn’t show, and that we go from back to front then back again and so on. Because she has been doing lacing and threading work, she got the hang of it quickly.
Sewing, threading, and lacing are brilliant for developing fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and encouraging concentration and perseverance. I think sewing is a wonderful craft for children to learn, not least because it is real, valuable work. At this age, Frida can sew decorations for our home; when she is older, she will be able to take on bigger projects!
She finished the yellow thread fairly quickly – perhaps I should have made it longer, but I was a bit worried about her getting tangled up and I wanted her first attempt at “real” sewing to feel successful and joyful. I asked her if she wanted to use another colour (I bought a big pack of embroidery thread with many different bright colours) and she chose to work with a pale pink. Each time I threaded and tied the needle, but Frida delighted in cutting the thread with her scissors.
When Frida was finished with the yellow and pink, she said that she wanted to use some green thread, but by the time the needle was threaded she had lost interest and wanted to move onto something else. I have left the threaded needle and her embroidery hoop in a tray so that she can choose to continue working on it if she wishes. When she decides she is done I will ask her if she would like to hang her piece somewhere.
Next steps we will work on in the future will include:
- sewing on aida fabric without the aid of bigger holes,
- dispensing and cutting her own thread without my guidance (I would like to make her a thread dispenser with an old jar) – I am sure this will go down well as she loves to cut,
- using lacing cards of varying difficulty,
- sewing to follow a line or shape rather than abstract freestyle,
- sewing buttons or beads onto fabric,
- sewing fabric shapes onto fabric,
- sewing onto normal cotton fabric,
- sewing fabric together without an embroidery hoop to make eg. a simple pincushion,
- learning to thread her own needle with a needle threader,
- learning to tie her own thread,
- putting pins and needles from a container into a pincushion (to practice careful handling of sharp needles), and
- using a normal needle rather than an embroidery needle.
The potential for developing fine motor skills around sewing seems limitless!
If you’re looking for more sewing inspiration, I love Kylie’s sewing posts on her amazing blog How We Montessori – I adore this sewing tray her son Otis was using at four years old. The book Sewing in the Montessori Classroom also looks brilliant although I haven’t read it yet.