I am a preschool teacher and I work with children ages 3-5. Last year (08-09 school year), our class entered a 9 month endeavor to learn how to sew and make our own garments. It all started with one little girl who asked for "lots and lots" of paper which she would tape together to make a dress. When I explained that I could get her REAL material and teach her how to sew, she was ecstatic! Soon, other children joined into the project and, before we knew it, we were making dresses, police vests, super hero costumes, doll clothes, and viper fish costumes. We started with learning how to hand sew, then we hand sewed pillows out of felt. After that, each child designed their own garment and we used a cheap little machine to bring those designs to fruition. Even though they are young children, we were able to complete such a long-term project because we were doing something they were interested in. We believed in their capability and competency and, with a lot of time and A LOT of patience, something amazing came out of it!
This instructable will show you how to teach anyone how to sew, even those only just developing their fine motor abilities!
Step 1: Hand-eye coordination
With young children, it is important to let them fully explore a medium before you try to give them specific instructions. They are quite curious and need to understand how things work before they are comfortable with building new skills. So we put out small squares/rectangles of plastic canvas with yarn and large, blunt needles. Beforehand, we threaded the needle to the middle of the piece of yarn and tied both ends of the yarn together around one corner of the canvas, so that the needle wouldn't fall off. We let the children practice-without instruction, unless they asked-so they could figure out how to position their hands, how to be precise with the needle, and how to weave in and out in a sewing motion. Some children taught others stitches they had learned outside of school and they all created interesting designs. After each practice session, the canvases were un-sewn by the teachers so that we could reuse them at the next practice session.