If you're familiar with Charlotte Mason, you probably know the importance she placed on children learning handicrafts. In her day, not only were the handicrafts useful as hobbies, but they might also be skills that students used to support themselves as they grew older. Today, that's not the case for most kids, but handicrafts are still a good way to for children to learn different crafting skills along with diligence and attention to detail. September is National Sewing Month, so this week I want to share a bit about sewing and how you can incorporate it into your homeschooling experience.
I'm by no means a seamstress (I shared my sewing frustrations here ), but over the years I've learned enough to make some things I've wanted to make, pretty much as long as they can be made from felt. Somehow, though, my daughter decided she wanted to learn to sew! She wanted her own sewing machine. Because she was so young, I got her a little one I saw at the store at Christmas time and she was so excited. Unfortunately, those machines don't really do much, so if your child really wants to sew, you might think about getting a real machine. When she turned 6 this summer, we took the plunge and got her a real machine (we went with this one, which was recommended by our local sewing shop) and it was amazing. Compared to my machine, which, I kid you not, came with a booklet telling me to write to Montgomery Ward if I experienced trouble with it, this thing is crazy! It's easy to thread, can do all kinds of stitches, sews wonderfully, and is easy enough for my six year old to use with minimal instruction. Because I'm no seamstress myself, we signed her up for a sewing camp where she made a stuffed animal each day. She was in crafting heaven!
If you're leery of spending the money on a machine, remember that you don't have to have a machine to sew. In fact, very young children can learn to do hand sewing, so give them a needle and thread and an embroidery hoop and let them try it out. If you're nervous about them poking themselves (or, let's be honest, poking their siblings), give them the plastic needles and plastic canvas to begin. Also remember that sewing is a good skill for boys to learn, too. Chances are very good that they will lose a button multiple times in their lives, so they need to at least learn how to solve that problem!
So, where do you begin? If you aren't comfortable with helping your child out on your own, enlist the help of a friend or look for a local shop that offers classes. For the most basic things, especially with hand sewing, you can probably learn as you teach them, so don't get too intimidated. Also, look for some books to help you out. Amazon has a huge selection, of course, and I've purchased the first two that come up on the link and found them helpful. Obviously there are more ideas than you'll ever need on Pinterest, but for young ones, that may be a bit overwhelming, so you might want to give them a choice of two or three starting projects or give them a book to look through.
If you have a child who already knows how to sew, don't forget that there are a number of academic skills that can be covered through sewing. My friend Heather (at Blog, She Wrote) does a fabulous job of incorporating her daughter's passion for sewing (check out here sewing blog here!) into the different content areas. You can see some of her projects on her Sewing & Design Projects page and be sure to check out her very thorough guide on Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool.
If you've ever wanted to give sewing a try, give it a go! It's always good to learn a new skill, and if you like it, you've got plenty of time to make some fun and easy Christmas gifts!