Ugly, I know. Hopefully I'll have a picture of it slightly less full soon!
My helper is my 6 year old. She has been asking a lot to sew and if you have wondered how to introduce sewing in a fun way maybe you'll find these ideas useful.
To let her get familiar with the basics I started with a plastic blunt needle and yarn. For the material I crocheted a rectangle for her, just single crochets, and made a border out of a different color and in a shell pattern. It reminds me a bit of a large scale cross stitch material. It's very, very easily to poke a needle through the holes above and below each stitch. She decided she wanted to make a princess on it and also did purple stitching around the border, but I'd let your kid go wild and stitch all over it if they desire. It gets them familiar with working with string and material and needle. It's great for hand-eye coordination, dexterity, and all those fancy good things. For a motivated attentive learner, this is a great medium for learning simple straight stitch and even backstitch.
After this she wanted a real needle and began folding over little squares of fabric and sewing up the edges, except for a little hole to turn them right side out again. She had been watching me intently and asking all kinds of questions about sewing concepts. So it was soon time for a "real sewing project." She wanted to make a stuffed dinosaur for her 2 year old brother's birthday from some brown fabric she found in the box. If you want to help your little one with a similar project, here's the how:
Simple Stuffed Animal
1. Have your child draw the shape he/she wants on paper (ideally thin paper, but normal paper is fine.) You may have to explain to "think big" and not make any part (limbs, neck) too thin so that there will be plenty of room for seams and stuffing into the parts. Think bubble animal shape.
2. Have your child cut out the paper shape carefully with safety scissors.
3. Fold over the fabric you're going to use and help you child pin the paper shape onto both thicknesses. An adult should then cut out the shape with sharp fabric scissors. I took this opportunity to include a little extra for seams all around.
4. Now the child can embroider eyes or any decorations they choose on the animal.
5. Decide where on the shape you will leave the hole for turning the animal right side out after sewing and stuffing it. Then finish the edges of this area (on both pieces of fabric separately) to prevent fraying. I sewed with a zigzag stitch over a good portion of the edge of back of the dinosaur on both pieces, separately.
6. Have your child put the fabric shapes right sides together and pin around the edges. Then sew with your machine- I used zigzag stitch very close to or over the edge of the fabric to finish the edges. On a long straight part I let my 6 year old push the foot pedal while I guided the fabric and directed her on how hard to step on it. She loved that! Make sure to not sew the fabrics together on the portion you will leave open for a turning and stuffing hole.
7. Have your child turn the animal right side out now. You, and/or child, can poke in the corners and edges if necessary. I find a crochet hook especially useful for this. Then the child can stuff it. The crochet hook is also useful for getting stuffing into corners and appendages.
8. Finally you'll turn in the edges of the hole and sew them together by hand. Drew sewed this part herself too.
And you're done! Have fun introducing the kids to sewing. It's a very useful skill to have and lots of fun for them to learn to create whatever they can dream up!