One of the best ways I’ve found to keep kids interested in learning is to find hands-on activities that relate to events they already understand. That’s why it’s always a great idea to find activities that have to do with seasons, holidays, special routine occurrences (like church or visits to grandma’s). Sticking with the winter theme, I had my kids practice their sewing skills by making a cute pair of mittens.
Sewing is a life skill that will benefit them later in life, and an awesome fine motor activity. As parents, we are supposed to do so much more than make sure they remember their skip counting charts. We need to give them life skills that will be useful in practical ways as they grow up.
You may be wondering if your child is even old enough to start learning how to sew, and my answer to that is: most likely! As long as you are helping or supervising, then they can probably start earlier than you’d think. Lu is 5 which is plenty old enough to learn, but J is only 2.5 and he did some of it as well!
How amazing would it be if your 10-year-old got a rip in his jeans playing outside and was able to patch it up himself? It’s incredibly important to me to help my kids be an independent as possible. For sewing, that starts out as simple little projects to get comfortable with a thread and needle.
In regards to safety, I’ve seen those large blunt needles and those may be an option for certain projects if you feel your child needs it. I’m not sure what you could truly sew with them, but if you’re threading yarn in and out of sewing cards then those would work fine! For us, we just use regular ol’ needles.
Teaching your Kids to Sew with… Real Needles??
*Gasp* yes, even my 2.5 year old uses a regular needle! And guess what– he does great! I mean he put the thread all over the place and gets a little crazy in that way, but as far as handling the needle he does wonderfully. He’s your typical all-over-the-place boy, but he’s still able to calm down and focus on the task.
I have two reasons for letting them use regular needles. One, I am right there supervising. This isn’t an activity you set them up with so you can get some housework done in peace. They will need help and you’ll need to stand by to help if the thread gets knotted or the needle falls off.
Two, it’s just a little prick! In all likelihood they will poke themselves at some point, but with you close by to monitor it will likely just be a little prick. Both of my kids have done this to themselves multiple times when sewing and it hasn’t even warranted a single tear. I just tell them “well that’s sewing for ya” and we move on, haha.
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But really, as long as they aren’t running around or being too goofy with the needles, a tiny poke might startle them and maybe they would even cry a bit, but it won’t seriously hurt them. That’s how they learn! HOWEVER this is only my opinion and I’ve been known to be more casual about certain things than other parents. So of course just use whatever you’re comfortable with!
Making the Winter Mittens for Kids to Practice Sewing
Back to our craft at hand, this winter mittens project is quite simple for kids as far as sewing practice goes. We just found some old fabric that would never be used and cut it up. You could buy fabric special for this, but it’s just for practicing so I recommend using what you have!
Here’s what you’ll need to make your mittens:
- Scrap fabric, flannel would be perfect
- More scrap fabric of a different pattern
- Fabric scissors
- Needle and thread
- Decorative art mediums, we used glitter glue. You could also use paint!
- Hot glue gun
If you need to stock up on craft supplies, we get a lot of ours from Michaels. They always have a great selection and coupons- win/win!
How to make the winter mittens for sewing practice:
1. Outline mitten shape
Lay the fabric out flat and have your child put their hand down to be outlined. Since we’re doing mittens, have them put their four fingers together with their thumb sticking out.
Outline both hands and make sure to do it with a decent amount of space away from the hands. They will already be small from small hands, but once sewed and flipped out they’ll be even tinier, so start off slightly bigger than their hands actually are.
Once you outline one for each hand, cut them out and use those to outline two more. You should end up with 2 matching pairs, and those are the ones you’ll be sewing together.
2. Sew the mittens together
Now we’re going to get them set up to sew. I like to draw a line along the working area for them to follow. This also adds to the fine motor skills work as they have to control the needle well enough to stay on the line. I also suggest putting a couple of sewing pins along the sides to keep the two pieces from shifting.
The stitch my kiddos worked on was the super basic whip stitch. It’s just a super easy stitch to get started on! They definitely had a lot of variation in how close together the stitches were, but overall the action of a whip stitch was quite easy for them to do.
One last thing I want to point out for this project, or any sewing project for the matter. Always consider the best place to leave the space for turning the project inside out.
For this one, I suggest leaving the bottom part open and starting from on of the bottom sides. The bottom will end up being covered anyway, but even if it weren’t, you’d still get the cleanest look by leaving that space open.
3. Turn inside out
Once your preschooler has sewed all the way around the mitten, flip it inside out so that the stitch is on the inside. You’ll still be able to see the thread, but the stitched area will be hidden.
This may or may not be a project you complete in one sitting, and that’s ok! Sewing is great practice for patience, but don’t be surprised if your child starts to get antsy. Lu surprised me with how content she is to sew for a while, but J definitely needed frequent breaks from that sort of focus.
After both mittens are sewed and turned out, I ironed them flat. It helps so much to flatten that seam line to see how it all looks. We had some small holes in ours but overall I was super impressed with how well Lu did!
4. Decorate the mittens
You may or may not want to decorate depending on the pattern of fabric chosen, but it’s really a lot of fun to let them add some glitz to the mittens. We have a bunch of Elmer’s glitter glue that we love using for everything, so the kids were excited to use it for this project as well.
5. Add the cuff
Now we will use that second fabric to make little cuffs. Sticking to our “reuse” mentality, we used a little pair of baby pants that everyone has outgrown and it has a stain so no one will want them, haha! It also was a bonus that it was a knit pair of pants that worked perfectly for cozy mittens.
I took over for this part and measured the size out to go a little beyond the width at the bottom of the mitten, as well as a little long. Cut it out, hot glue it on, and tuck in the edges around the back with some hot glue.
I would have let the kids do this, but our fabrics wouldn’t have held up great with regular glue and they aren’t familiar with using a hot glue gun (yet).
6. Tie a string through and hang up!
All that’s left is to tie them to a string so they can be displayed! I used a hole puncher to make holes at the bottoms of both gloves. There is probably a better way to do that, but the hole punch worked fine for me lol.
Then measure out and cut one string and let your kiddos tie an end through each mitten hole. Hang them to that the mittens are uneven on the string and then tie a loop at the top so they will stay uneven when hung.
That’s all for our winter mitten sewing practice craft for kids! We’ve done several sewing crafts now and I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see how much my kiddos enjoy it. Mittens are a great way to get children comfortable working with a thread and needle since the shape is pretty basic.
There are so many people who have a passion for sewing, knitting, crocheting, and the like. Isn’t it cool to think about little projects like this planting a potential hobby seed for later on? I think it is! And even if they don’t love it, it’s still a great skill and fine motor practice to work on.