We’re hitting the basics today with these DIY sewing cards for kids. If you’re like me with kids unexpectedly at home, this a great quiet activity for kids in the 3-8 range.
When I was little, my Gram taught me how to sew by hand on paper plates in a similar way!
What’s awesome about sewing cards for kids?:
- they help develop hand/eye coordination
- It’s good for problem solving (what happens when your thread falls off?!)
- Develops concentration
- It’s a good way to give new life to old cards
- Oh, yeah, and it gets kids used to the process of sewing!
The cool thing is that you can make these easily at home with whatever you have. My boys surprised me by mega loving this activity! Let’s jump into how to do this thang.
A note on needles for sewing cards
The bigger the needle the better here. If you have plastic canvas needles, these are great. The plastic won’t hurt kids, and they’re easy to handle.
Another option is blunt ended upholstery needles.
Whatever you choose, the big eye and not sharp end are key. Kids will have an easier time threading big needles, and I’m all about cutting down on that frustration!
And don’t forget the old reliable shoelace. They’re perfect for kids who may not be ready to handle any type of needle.
Sewing cards for kids: getting your pictures ready
The first thing you want to do is get your pictures ready. Look for pictures with big shapes. Animals, faces, flowers, and food are all great subjects.
You can print images you find online or dig through old greeting cards.
Another great choice is dot to dot pictures from old coloring books. These have the added bonus of having dots already spaced out for you.
You could even trace around cookie cutters onto paper plates. This is super easy and probably the best kinds of shapes for the littlest hands.
Once you have your pictures, next you want to rough cut around them. Leave some space around the image. This will make it easier to punch holes without damaging the picture. If you use coloring book pages, first cut them out. Then glue them to either paper plate bases or cardstock.
Punching the holes
Next, grab your awl. If you don’t have an awl, you can use a small hole punch or the needle itself.
The idea is that we want to make some pilot holes so that kids know where to put the needle.
Poke holes with the awl at regular intervals all around the main shape in your picture. Keep your kids in mind here. A wider spacing between holes will be easier for the youngest kids. Bigger kids can handle less space between holes.
You can add extra holes around interior shapes too. Pretty much there’s no wrong way to do it.
I stuck to keeping it simple so that my kids would get the idea before getting bored.
After this, it’s time to thread up.
Threading the needle
Now that you have your pictures ready to go, thread your needle with either yarn or embroidery thread.
Wrap the end of the thread around the base of the needle several times and slide the big knot all the way to the end of the thread.
After that, your child is ready to start sewing.
How to sew on the sewing cards
Have your child bring the thread from the backside to the top of the picture starting on any hole. Be sure to have them pull the thread to the end.
Next, have them poke the the tip of the needle through the next hole. Pull the thread to the end. This is a simple running stitch. It’ll look like you skipped every other hole.
You’ll probably have to get your kids started, but after a few stitches, they’ll get the hang of it.
I’d love to say that this is a totally parent’s hands off kind of activity, but your kids will need you when:
- The needle falls off the thread
- When they run out of thread
- If things get super tangled
This is a patience thing, but it’ll good for both of you! Persevere my friend.
My 7 and 8 year olds did this almost without my help, just needing me to start a new length of thread. My 3 year old did actually quite well, but she liked having me there to walk her through stitching almost every hole. But wow was she proud of herself at the end of it!
Finishing off the cards
Continue stitching around the shape. Your kids can stop once around the shape to finish off the running stitch.
If they like, they can stitch around the shape a second time, hitting the holes that they missed the first time around. I find this is easier than trying to explain to kids how to do a backstitch. That’s practice for another day!
When your kids are happy with the look of their card, flip it to the backside. After that, use the needle to wrap the thread end through and around the loops on the back.
Finish it off by securing the end with a piece of tape.
So that’s how you can make your own sewing cards for kids. I think you’ll love how such a simple activity can spur on the imagination of your kids. That they’re gaining some life skills and developing concentration is absolutely bonus. Be sure to check out these other things for your and your kids to sew when you’re stuck at home.
10 things to sew when you’re stuck at home
Beat the indoor stress and make something you’ll love
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.