First Projects for Children on Sewing Machines

sewing image by Lisa Eastman from

The first project a child completes on a sewing machine should be quick and simple, yet useful, as they will want to show off their handiwork. Make sure your child is old enough to handle the responsibility of using the machine. The needle can be dangerous if an error is made. A child should be between 8 and 12 years old to use a sewing machine, depending on their maturity level.

Tote Bag

Use two identical-sized pieces of fabric, and a length of cord or rope for the drawstring handle, to create a simple tote bag. Choose a medium-weight cotton that can be thrown in the washing machine. Prewash and dry shrinkable fabrics such as cotton. Purchase two bandanas for the main part of the tote bag for an even simpler option. No cutting is necessary with bandanas, as theyare already a perfect size. Use of the sewing machine involves three side seams and tubing to hold the cord.

Pillow Case

Both boys and girls can make a pillow case for their first sewing project. Choose a soft cotton or cotton-blend fabric and prewash to account for shrinking. For a standard-size pillow, cut two rectangles that are 23 inches wide and 33 inches long. Sew three sides closed and then hem the top. Use flannel for a cozy winter pillow case. Choose holiday printed fabric for special occasions. These can be made for gift giving as well.

Throw Pillows

The fun in making throw pillows is that they can be many different sizes. Rectangular and square pillows are the easiest for a beginner. Cut two pieces of fabric, the same size. Sew seams on all four sides, leaving a 5-inch opening. Fill the pillow with polyester filling and then hand sew the opening. Children can choose any fabric they like for this project, but steer them away from slippery or thick fabrics that may be more difficult to work with. Corduroy or fleece fabric are both durable. For a really fun project, work with your child to make a group of extra-large floor pillows.

Stuffed Creatures

Find large shapes to use as patterns, such as coloring pages. Pin the cut shape onto fabric, cutting around the pattern. Sew around the edges, leaving a few inches to turn it right side out and then fill it with polyester filling. Hand sew the opening shut. Teach simple embroidery skills to complete the facial features and use buttons for eyes.