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How to Hand-Sew with Kids

Hand-sewing is a great way to develop kids’ fine motor skills, nurture their creativity, and give them a skill that will benefit them for the rest of their lives! However, with an infinite number of projects and techniques out there, it's hard to know where to start, to make the sewing process as seamless (pun intended!) as possible.

Luckily, our amazing teachers at Maker Studio Kidz are experts in sewing with kids, and have developed tons of tips and tricks from our after school Sewing and Fiber Arts classes and our summer “Sew-Cool” camp. We have compiled a list of must-have kid-friendly sewing materials, as well as a guide to beginning the hand-sewing process, from threading the needle to tying off. Whether you're a parent, teacher, or just someone looking to share the joy of sewing, this handbook will help you guide your kids through their first sewing projects with confidence and excitement!

Hand-sewn animal stuffies for kids

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There are a lot of options out there! Here are the materials that we recommend to make sewing easier with kids.

  • Big-eye needle. They are the easiest to thread. When working with a knit fabric, use a yarn needle

  • Needle threader. Many students find it hard to thread even big-eye needles, so it’s good to have some of these on hand. 

  • Rubber thimble. While these reduce dexterity, thimbles are a good way to ease in kids that are worried about getting poked by needles. They can put it on the fingers of their non-dominant hand. 

  • Embroidery Floss. Sewing thread is too thin and will break, so always use an embroidery floss with kids. We like this 37-pack from Sashiko, which is slightly thinner than normal embroidery thread.

  • Pro Tip: To prevent tangling, buy thread that is already wound around a piece of cardboard. If your embroidery floss usually comes in bundles, wrap it around a small square of cardboard and cut a notch in the top to hold the end in place. This will make your life so much easier. 

  • Big-top pins. These are easier to grip for little hands. Some sewers also prefer sewing clips, which also prevent poking.

  • Pincushion. Even better, make your own!

  • Hot Glue Gun. For attaching accent pieces. 

  • Sewing Markers. We find that markers are much easier to use than chalk. These markers will fade away within a week or when run under water. 

  • Fabric Scissors. Unfortunately, kids’ scissors don’t work well on fabric, so you’re going to need to use adult fabric scissors. You might also try out these 5.5 in. fabric scissors

  • Felt: Felt is our favorite introductory fabric to use with kids. It is thick, non-stretchy, and won’t rip under pressure. Plus, it has a nice fuzzy texture to it, making it perfect for stuffies!

  • Optional: Sewing Board. This wooden board is full of holes for younger kids to practice on before they move to fabric. You can also make your own simple board with a piece of cardboard and a hole punch.

Hand-sewing a boba pillow

Hand-Sewing Techniques: 

Preparing the needle and thread: 

  1. Have kids cut their embroidery thread to about the length of their outstretched arms.

  2. Make a clean cut in one end of the thread, have them pinch it between their fingers, and try to feed it through the eye of the needle. If they are having a lot of trouble with this, introduce the needle threader. 

  3. Once threaded, move the needle to the middle of the thread and line up the two ends of the thread. Lay them on the table and have them tie an overhand knot as if they were just one piece of thread. Tying the ends together will prevent the thread from slipping off their needle.

  4. Pro tip: if a kid makes a mistake and wants to go back, you can either redo the whole thing by clipping off the knot and pulling out the thread entirely, or clipping the loop at the top and threading the cut ends through the eye. This second technique means that the thread may now slip off of the needle, but they can still continue sewing without having to undo anything or tie off. 

How to thread your needle


  1. Before we start sewing, we usually start kids on a sewing board to get the feeling of the stitch. 

  2. Pin your pieces together before sewing to keep everything aligned.

  3. Use a running stitch or a whipstitch (also known as an overcast stitch). Both of these are good, and they will have the option to turn their project inside out with both. Once kids are used to these, they can learn more advanced embroidery stitches like the backstitch, blanket stitch, or how to attach buttons.

  4. Hot Tip: If their stitches are so large or far apart that holes are forming, consider marking down where they should sew with a pen or chalk. A clear pattern to follow will help them understand the expectations. 

  5. Print diagrams of the stitch you are using. We find that having these gives students more independence to figure out their own mistakes. 

Running Stitch vs Whip Stitch

Finishing off: 

  1. Unfortunately, most knots for tying off are confusing, and this is where students get in the most trouble. My personal favorite is this one, but students will need plenty of practice to get it down. Here is a list of other options for tying off a hand-sewing project.

  2. Hot Tip: If you are sewing a stuffed piece, tie your knot and then push your needle back through your piece. Pull it out at a random spot and cut the thread. This will hide the end of your thread.

  3. If you are adding accent pieces, use a hot glue gun. It’s just not worth the stress to sew them on, unless you are working with older kids. 


Beginner Projects to Start With: 

Intermediate Projects: 

Bonus: No-Sew Projects!

Happy sewing!

Hand-sewn flowery pillows

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