Simple and Easy Hand Sewing Projects for Kids
By Natasha Hoover
Easy Hand Sewing Projects for Kids
My mother and grandmother tried repeatedly to spark my interest in sewing. For some reason, I loved making pillows and pouches, but they couldn't get me excited about anything else. Once I actually tried to 'sew' an outfit for a stuffed animal by taping it together! Years later, after I went to college and realized I could no longer just walk down the hall and ask my mom to sew something up for me, I decided to really learn how to sew. Thanks to earlier efforts to teach me, I picked up sewing fairly easily and love making costumes, everyday clothes, and anything else that comes to mind. If you want to teach your kids to sew, too, try these easy sewing projects for kids.This tutorial shows you how to make a bean bag and a drawstring pouch. Both are easy projects and allow your child to create something functional.
As an 'author's note: many boy's enjoy creating a beanbag or pouch for treasures, too. But to make reading this hub less cumbersome, I used "she" instead of "he/she." Also, I use "you" throughout the hub because, depending on the age of your child, you may end up doing some, or even most, of the work.
How to Hand Sew Bean Bags
Bean bags are easy to sew and fun to use. Over the years, I have helped hundreds of kids at camp and living history events make a quick and easy bean bag that is useful for a game of catch, bean bag toss, or coordination challenges.
First, help your child pick out fabric. Because a single bean bag does not take much fabric, you may have usable scraps sitting around the home. Or, if a child is clinging to a worn out piece of clothing, perhaps you could persuade her to make part of the item in to a bean bag and throw away the rest. Of course, you can always head to the fabric store, too. Most fabric stores have a remnants bin where you can find about half a yard of fabric for only a dollar or two.
Because children typically have less manual dexterity than adults, they tend to make larger stitches and use a bigger seam allowance than an adult would, so you need to leave plenty of room for sewing. There are two different ways to make a bean bag. You can either make two squares and sew them together, or make a rectangle with long sides twice as long as the short side, fold it in half, and only sew three sides.
I suggest making a 5" deep fold along the fabric's edge. Mark off 5" of length along the fold and create a 5x5 "square" by cutting through both layers of fabric. Then pin the square together. If you are nervous about your child poking herself on a pin, you can use saftey pins. Then, use a running stitch to sew two out of three sides together. On the third open side, only sew half the edge, at most. This is so you have an opening to fill the bag with beans. The stitches do not need to be tiny and perfect - they just have to be capable of holding beans in. That is one of the reasons this project is so great for kids - a person does not have to be 'good' at sewing to make a functional bean bag.
After initial sewing is complete, turn the bag 'inside out.' In actuality, you turn it right side out and conceal the seams inside the bag. Now you can fill the bag with beans. I used black beans and made a funnel with a sheet of printer paper, but any type of bean, or even rice, will work. Make sure not to overfill the bag - there should be a little extra space. If the bag is too full, it is difficult to sew shut and more likely to break open when thrown.
After the bag is appropriately full, tuck the raw edges of the hole under and pin them in place. Then, stitch hole closed. I used a simple blanket stitch, but a running stitch or whip stitch should work just as well.
After sewing the bean bag shut, it is ready to use. You can line up bowls, cups, and rings to create a challenging game, play 'hot potato' with family and friends, or made a couple more bean bags and learn how to juggle.
Steps for Sewing a Bean BagClick thumbnail to view full-size
How to Hand Sew a Drawstring Bag
A drawstring bag is nearly as easy to sew as a beanbag. As a kid, I had a shimmery drawstring bag my mother made. I thought it looked like a mermaid's tail and used it to hold plastic gemstones. I carried it everywhere with me! Children love having a special place to put treasures, even if those treasures are just rocks or chunks of cement to everyone else. Additionally, drawstring bags are easy to decorate with fabric paint, tassels, iron on transfers, or whatever else strike's your child's fancy.
All steps for making the drawstring bag are shown below - just scroll down a little to see them!
I used a sheet of printer paper folded into a quarter as a pattern, but you can choose to make a larger or smaller bag. The bag is easiest to make when cut with one short edge along the fold, as pictured. After cutting the bag, unfold the rectangle and turn down about 3/4" along each short edge, pinning it in place. Make sure both ends are folded to the same side. Then, use a running stitch to sew the fold down. Sew as close to the raw edge is possible in order to create a channel for the drawstring.
After sewing both drawstring channels, fold the fabric in half so that the sewn channel ends are touching and 'wrong side out,' as shown. Then sew each long side with a running stitch, being very careful not to accidentally sew the channels shut! After both sides are sewn, turn the bag inside out. The bag is now actually 'right side out' and you are ready to make your drawstrings.
Steps for Sewing a Drawstring BagClick thumbnail to view full-size
How to Finger Braid
You can use anything for a drawstring, but a finger braided cord is easy to make, even for fairly young children. For my cord, I used embroidery floss. I cut a 12' long piece, folded it in half, and used it as a single cord. If you do not know how to finger braid, just watch the short video to the right. Repeat the process to create a second cord.
After making the drawstrings, or finding a suitable piece of ribbon, thread them through the bag by securing one end of a string to a saftey pin and pushing the saftey pin through the channels. With two draw strings, you want to thread them opposite from one another, as show. Both tail ends of one string should hang to the left, and both tail ends of the other should hang to the right. This makes it easy to tighten the bag, and helps the bag stay closed when the strings are drawn. If the drawstrings are long enough, you can thread their ends with beads, or even attach tassels.
If you already have the basic sewing supplies you need, but are out of kid's sewing ideas, try a book with fresh, kid-tested sewing projects.
Easy Hand Sewing Projects
Once your child makes a bean bag or pouch, don't be surprised if she wants to make more! I was obsessed with pouches and bags for about a year and made several of them. The bean bag instructions are easy to modify into a pillow, too. All you need to do is make the initial fabric square larger and use stuffing from the fabric store instead of beans. I loved making pillows so much in high school I entirely covered my daybed with them. If you need more easy sewing project ideas that make great birthday and holiday gifts, take a look at my hub on how to make a reusable coffee sleeve.
Both these projects are also great birthday party crafts, if you cut the fabric ahead of time. You can have the kids sew bean bags, use them for a bean bag toss or challenge, and then take them home as unique party favors!
If you have any questions about the process, feel free to ask them - I am always happy to help.