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A few weeks ago my grandson brought home a sewing project to complete. It was a small stuffed animal made from faux fur with lots of little pieces. Not a beginner project, that's for sure.

With a deadline looming, I almost dreaded the nightly lessons. I was pleasantly surprised, it wasn't anything like what I had visioned.

My grandson had "test-driven" some sort of sewing machine at school so what we had to conquer was the actual assembly of Mr. Waddles the penguin.

Sewing with a restless 13 year old boy can be a challenge. Here are a few things I did to keep it a pleasant experience.

It has to be fun. Kids don't willingly jump into something if they think it's a bore or too difficult. Share your enthusiasm and confidence in them. Let your love of sewing motivate them. A smile goes a looooooooong way.

Be attentive, but not in their face. If you are in the same room, that's fine.

Make sure they are doing all the work. Don't help too much. Most kids can figure their own way out of a problem. Do lots of demonstrations on scrap fabric, but let them work on the actual project, not you.

Keep your sense of humor. Kids make mistakes - as we all do. Let them know you also have made a few blunders in your time as well. Share the story with them.

Follow their cues. They will let you know when they need a break. As soon as frustration sets in - stop. Take a break for a few minutes, then return.

Half an hour to an hour is about the limit for most kids. After that, it's a bit too much concentration.

At the end of your lesson, be sure to find something they did well and praise them for it. No gushing, they see right thru that. Just some kind words, a pat on the back and a big grin does wonders. Some sort of treat doesn't hurt either. They will let you know what that might be.

In the end, my grandson made a cute little penguin with attached feet, beak, wings and big blue eyes. After he stuffed it and hand sewed up the openings he felt like he had really accomplished something he never thought he could do. He was so pleased and proud of himself.

Happy Sewing!
Written by: Mary Wilkins
Web Site:

15,917 Posts
I have taught my niece an nephews to sew on the machine and by hand, this lady has the right of it! :D
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