Today our interview is with kids sewing teacher Nikki Schreiner who blogs “her sewing adventures” at Pin Cut Sew and lives in Hawaii. Nikki gives us lots of tips to teach a child to sew. Nikki’s simple but important tip for parents who are teaching their kids to sew…”is to remember to let them do it and not to be concerned with it being perfect. They’ll think it’s amazing and won’t see the flaws. Kids are pretty great that way.”
What age are the kids you teach?
I teach kids from 7 and up, including my own three, who are 8, 9 and 11.
How long have you been teaching sewing for?
I’d been teaching my own kids to sew for many years until it occurred to me last summer that, while I don’t like sewing items to sell (the repetition kills me), or sewing for clients (so much pressure), I absolutely love to teach others to sew! And so many people want to learn, especially children, while not many of our generation know how.
I started teaching summer sewing camps and the rest is history. I’ve continued with weekly classes and plan camps during school breaks. It has turned out to be a great way to earn quite a chunk of extra money for our family in a way that includes my children, can be worked around our busy schedule and lets me do what I love to do. It’s a win, win.
Can you tell me a little about yourself?
I’m 34, I’m an Army wife currently stationed in Hawaii and I homeschool my three kids, Natalie, Layla and Kelby. I’ve been sewing since I was very young and it’s the thing I would do all day every day if I could! I make most of my own clothes, I love to make quilts, bags, gifts, costumes, you name it. Currently I’m sewing and altering costumes for the dance studio my daughters dance for.
Do you have any tips or tricks that you’ve found helpful in teaching kids to hand sew?
Hand sewing can be so fun for littler kids! This is how I started teaching my own children before moving onto the machine. A great first exposure is to put some burlap in an embroidery hoop, thread a large blunt needle for them and let them experiment with making designs. This is a great way to teach them the up and down rhythm of sewing.
I think the most important thing to remember when teaching kids to sew, by hand or machine, is to let them do it and don’t be concerned with it being perfect. They’ll think it’s amazing and won’t see the flaws. Kids are pretty great that way.
Have you had any students you can tell me about whom learning to sew really benefited in some way?
So far I’ve had over 40 little sewists come through my home and my heart has been drawn toward each and every one. I think they find community in sewing, just like adults do. We were made creative beings and sewing gives them an outlet for that and I try to create a safe and encouraging space, praying before each class that they would feel at home here. Who knows what lasting impact this experience will have on some of these precious kids!
One girl in particular came to sewing camp and announced first thing that she’s dyslexic and can’t remember instructions very well etc. She seemed so nervous and just really doubted herself. She had her mom stay during class and looked to her mom for each step. After day two, I determined to get her sewing on her own. I waved her over to a machine and said, “Let’s get started, you can do it!” Once she got going, there was no stopping her. I could definitely see the boost of confidence written all over her face and her mom was so proud.
I’ve seen many girls come out of their shells at sewing class. It warms my heart. My favorite part of any class is the moment when someone finishes their project, turns it right side out and gasps with a look of pure joy on their face. The “I can’t believe I made this!” moment is the best.
Is there any tool, notion etc that you find particularly useful to use in your classes?
A good power strip, ha!
Other than the usual things, like machines (I have four Brother machines and we share them between 6-8 students) and good scissors and things like that, I have a few essentials that I find helpful. Since I teach out of my dining room, I set up an extra table with two table-top ironing boards. These are more stable than the tall ones and won’t get knocked over.
I buy rolls of banner paper to trace patterns onto and that’s a big help. I make several of the pattern pieces before class and if anyone wants to take one home, I always say yes. I can easily make more patterns and I love that they want to go home and make something on their own. I then store the patterns in labeled manilla envelopes and stand them up in a magazine holder.
I also like to put little bowls next to each machine for pins to go into as they sew. Pin cushions move around and pins were being left all over the table and dropping onto the floor. The bowls solved that issue. I plan to make thread catcher pin cushions for each machine and I also want to make nonslip pads for the foot petals … in my spare time!
Any thing else you’d like to add?
I’d like to encourage moms who want to teach their own children to sew to set aside the time and do it.
I sometimes joke that it’s much easier to teach other people’s kids to sew than it is your own. It takes a lot of patience and positivity to teach kids to sew and this isn’t always easy when your own child wants you to drop everything and sew with them. But let me testify that, while teaching them in the younger years can be tedious, it is so beyond rewarding once they get over the hump of needing lots of help and begin making things on their own. Help them when you can, but give them access to fabrics that they can experiment with on their own too. I find the key to having creative kids is to simply let them create. And don’t worry about the mess 😉
And for those who are considering teaching kids sewing classes, I hope you jump in! You won’t regret it. Assess what you have space for, whether that’s two or ten, then reach out to see what happens.
And if you’d like to make Nikki’s sweet Pig Neck Cushion head on over to her blog.
Have you taught your children to sew? If your looking for more tips you might be interested in ‘Five Things To Think About When Teaching A Child To Sew’ . Please let me know in the comments if you have any great tips you’d like to pass on! I’d love to hear them!
So fun to read your article, I’m so honored that you interviewed me! Thanks, Trixi 🙂
Thanks Nikki! I loved all your tips and tricks. And it was so nice to get to know you 🙂