My Little Miss recently got a sewing machine. She had been keen to sew on mine so I felt it was time for a simple machine that she could use herself whenever she got the urge without needing me to supervise all the time. She got a basic Elna machine with a handful of stitches and a couple of basic feet. It will be enough for her to learn to sew on.
After learning how to set it up and plug it in, we started with sewing on paper. This meant that we didn’t need to learn how to fill a bobbin or thread the machine. She is ten years old and a clever kid so I thought this might be too simple for her, but she was quite happy to spend some time just sewing on the paper and adjusting the stitch length. It gave her the opportunity to learn to reverse and get a feel for the pedal. After a little while we drew straight lines on the paper with a ruler and she practised sewing on the lines, and then next to the lines using her machine foot as a guide.
The next step was to talk about the zig zag stitch and watch how the needle moved to create that stitch. She adjusted the stitch length again and also the stitch width to see how to create different zigzags.
Another day we looked at threading the bobbin and then the machine itself, talking about why the thread went through different bits, and what might happen if we missed some of them. She is the kind of kid that likes to know all about things so we looked at all the details including how to change the feet and the needles. I know she won’t remember it all but we kept the manual nearby so she could see where to look things up again later.
Our lessons happened over a few days and were only short. I know that it is best to grab that moment when she is asking questions to teach and then leave her to play with it by herself so she can learn without me hovering. She sewed the ribbon onto her clarinet cleaning cloth, and made a new pencil case for school (with a little advice along the way), so I can’t wait to see what she makes next.