- Kids And Sewing Machines? Really?
- What Age Can My Child Start Sewing?
- When Should A Child Move On To A “Proper” Sewing Machine?
- What Are The Benefits of Buying A Child’s Sewing Machine?
- The Best Sewing Machine for a Child: Reviews 2017
- Things To Remember
- Additional Resources
Kids And Sewing Machines? Really?
Yes, really. As long as they’re not too young, and there’s someone around to supervise, there’s no reason why children shouldn’t start experiencing the joys of sewing. Sewing is a learning opportunity. Using a sewing machine teaches hand/eye co-ordination, patience, and an awareness of the way different circumstances (or fabrics) call for different responses (or stitches.) All of these are skills which will stand a young person in good stead throughout the whole of their life.
Giving the kids a sewing machine of their own also has the added benefit of keeping pestering voices and grabbing hands away from Mom when she’s busy with her own sewing. Life skills for the kids, and peace and quiet for Mom – everyone wins!
What Age Can My Child Start Sewing?
Sewing, particularly on a sewing machine, requires the ability to sit still and concentrate for long periods of time. In general, from around seven years old they are able to manage this for the duration of simple, child-friendly sewing projects. Of course, you know your own child – if you feel they have the nature and ability to start to use a sewing machine when they are younger than seven, there’s no harm in introducing them to it (remember the little girl who read 1,000 books before she turned 5?). Just make sure you’re keeping a close eye, and are able to step in if things don’t work out.
When Should A Child Move On To A “Proper” Sewing Machine?
As with all things to do with child development, it depends on the individual. The golden rule is that the child is skilled enough to keep their fingers away from the needle whilst handling fabric. Usually, the transition from a child-friendly sewing machine, and small, simple projects, to the world and machines of adult sewing, will take place in the early teens. Some children from homes where sewing is a frequent and communal activity will make the transition a little younger.
What Are The Benefits of Buying A Child’s Sewing Machine?
Kid-friendly sewing machines are smaller and lighter, meaning your they can be easily carried from where they’re stored to a work area. They also have a smaller overall footprint, meaning they can usually be situated alongside an adult sewing machine on a work bench or counter top, which makes it easy to supervise and assist your little one. And, from a safety point of view, child-friendly sewing machines come with finger guards, to keep little fingers safe from fast-moving needles.
Have a look at the following reviews to help you decide which sewing machine would offer the best starting point for your beloved.
The Best Sewing Machine for a Child: Reviews 2017
1 – Janome Fastlane
The Janome Fastlane comes in a range of fun, bright colors, so there’s bound to be a machine to suit your child’s own unique style and personality. The Fastlane is easy to use, with a helpful threading diagram, so children can work out what they need to do for themselves. Not only do most kids prefer not having to ask an adult for help, learning to read simple diagrams is an excellent teaching experience, and sets them up with an important life skill. With intuitive stitch selection, the Fastlane is easy to use, and provides the ideal learning experience for someone encountering sewing for the first time.
On the practical side, the Fastlane is lightweight and portable. It also comes with handy accessory storage, and the all-important finger guard safety feature.
The Fastlane is ideal for a young person looking to try sewing for the first time. For a slightly older child, who had the basics down, and was interested in sewing as a hobby, parents would be better off looking for a more durable machine, and definitely one featuring a light for the work area. The Fastlane lacks this, which, while not important when you’re first introducing a child to sewing, becomes a real drawback when they want to work on their own projects.
2 – Sew Cool
The Sew Cool kids’ sewing machine is ideal for project work, and recommended for ages 6-11 yrs. It comes with everything needed for a range of projects, including fabric and thread. There are several pre-cut projects, and further instructions for additional project options.
The Sew Cool is push-button operated – you don’t even have to sew the thread yourself! Given that, even for adults, sewing thread can be tricky and frustrating, it’s great that this potential barrier to children enjoying the experience of sewing has been removed. And, as ever on kids’ sewing machines, there is a finger guard for safety.
The Sew Cool should be seen as a “single use” machine, suitable for completing the projects included with it, as, unfortunately, it is not possible to replace the needles on this machine. Bear this in mind, so you don’t end up with a heartbroken ball of tears when their sewing machine breaks! It’s best to purchase the Sew Cool to see how your child takes to sewing, and, if they show sufficient interest, buy a more long-term kids’ sewing machine once they’ve completed the Sew Cool projects.
3 – Sew Fun
The Sew Fun Electric Sewing Machine from Alex Toys is battery operated, with an A/C adapter. This makes it perfect for using at home and taking to a sewing class. It is also the perfect addition to the holiday packing – especially if there’s a chance the weather won’t hold up!
The Sew Fun comes with an activity kit, so your nippers can get straight to work on easy-to-follow projects. It also has a range of accessories, making it an ideal machine to progress a young sewist through all of their early stages.
As with all sewing machines for children, the Sew Fun includes a finger guard for safety.
4 – Janome Merlot
The Janome Merlot Sew Mini is a child-friendly sewing machine manufactured in the same factories as Janome’s adult range of sewing machines. This means you can be sure you’re getting quality design and function, and makes the Merlot an ideal machine for the older child who is keen to progress with their sewing adventures. It even makes a good back up machine for experienced adult sewists who like the peace of mind of knowing they have an option “for emergencies.”
Overall, the Merlot is easy to use, although it can be difficult to thread, and to set and balance thread tension. However, this is easily overcome by an adult helping the youth with these skills. Even for adult sewists, they can be a chore to learn at first! The Merlot would also benefit from a light for the working area.
5 – Janome Hello Kitty
The 11706 is lightweight and portable, making it ideal for a young person who is attending sewing classes. It offers the versatility of eleven pre-set stitches. This makes it a good investment for a beginner who, nevertheless, has ideas for a range of simple projects.
The 11706 can be a little fiddly to use, but, with patience and adult assistance, this can be easily overcome. Once yours is familiar with the machine, they will find it easy to operate. And besides, we’ve all experienced fiddly adult sewing machines!
Things To Remember
Your ‘bairn’ is not an adult – whatever they may think! Sewing requires a lot of patience and concentration, and children won’t necessarily have these skills. Make the time, not just to supervise, but to engage with their process of both learning to sew, and learning important life skills.
Your child’s projects probably won’t be perfect – and they don’t have to be. We all learn by producing results that aren’t what we’d hoped for, and looking at them to see where we went wrong, and what we need to do differently next time. Encourage your little one, help them improve, and explain that it’s okay if things aren’t right first time.
On a safety note, it is very important that your child is supervised whilst using their sewing machine. Even though the machines we’ve reviewed here are designed for children, they are not toys. Keep your kids safe, but let them learn and have fun.
As well as their first sewing machine, why not buy your little treasure a book to accompany their new hobby? A couple of good books to consider are
Sewing School: 21 Sewing Projects by Andria Lisle and Amie Petronis Plumley
Aimed at ages 5-13, and featuring several hand-sewn and machine-sewn projects Sewing School has a handy “notes for grown-ups” section, which introduces key aspects of machine sewing, once your offspring is ready for that.
Written by a teacher and journalist, Sewing School offers a good, basic starting point. It may be a little over-simplistic for families where sewing is a regular pastime, however.
My First Sewing Machine Book, by Alison McNicol, aimed at ages 7 +, features 35 separate projects, all identified by skill level. This makes My First Sewing Machine Book ideal for beginners and more experienced junior sewists. It is easy to follow, with clear, concise, step-by-step guides for each project.
A special sewing machine, and one or both of the above books, would make an ideal gift for a creative and curious youngster. Sewing is far more than just a fun hobby: it is an accessible, enjoyable way for children to learn necessary life skills such as patience, concentration, perseverance, and the ability to follow instructions accurately.