A Child’s First Hand Sewing Project

I hand sewed this little Kiwi bird for a Layers of Learning exploration one evening.  One of my children came by and saw me at it.  He asked if he could make something.  Really?  Well, okay then.  Soon his brothers saw what was up and they all wanted in on it as well.  So here we are, a child’s first hand sewing project.


First Video Instruction

This video shows how to do the project, but if you would rather read, scroll down, we have the directions written out as well.


A First Hand Sewing Project

We will be using felt fabric because it needs no hemming and won’t unravel. Felt is sold in 8×12 sheets at craft stores. We bought a variety of colors at WalMart for a few dollars. We will also be using scissors, thread in a matching or coordinating color to the fabric, and a needle.


The first step is to design the project. I let my kids decide what they wanted to make. Harrison chose a turtle in blue. He drew a picture on paper and I helped him cut out the pieces from fabric. You need an identical top and bottom, which will later be sewn together and stuffed, and then single pieces of legs, tails, wings, and other details.


Once all the pieces are cut out you need to first sew on surface design pieces. Isaac sewed black windows onto his white space ship.


He also added a tail fin to his space ship and this was stuffed to make it stand up and then we used pins to hold it in place while he sewed it on. All of the kids used buttons in their designs as well.


Isaac’s space ship had red buttons as the engines.  These need to be sew in before the two halves of the main body are sewn together. Legs, wings, and other elements will later be sewn into the stitching that holds the whole thing together so they can wait.


Once you have the design elements added to the surface of your creation pin the two halves of the project together, top and bottom, with the wings, legs, and so on pinned into the edge in the right places.


Now, how to do the actual sewing. First cut a piece of thread, about 18 inches long. If the thread is longer than this, it’s difficult to manage and the thread gets tangled, especially with kids. Draw the thread through the needle and grasp the two ends of the thread so they are even with one another and at the end of the threads tie a knot, just holding the two threads together and looping them through themselves. Then pull so the needle is exactly opposite the knot.


Poke the needle through the fabric and pull the thread through, leaving a little space at the end of the thread, just before the knot pulls to the fabric. Bring your needle back up through the fabric and then poke your needle through that little space you left. This loops the thread through itself and creates a perfect knot that cannot slip through the fabric.  This is especially nice with kids because they cannot accidentally un-thread their needle five hundred times while they are sewing.


Then sew along the edge of the fabric pieces up and down, up and down, through the fabric. Sewing on a button is the same except that you have to poke the needle up through one button hole and down through the next, looping the thread through the button hole five or six times to make it secure.


When you have sewn enough that you have about three inches of thread left, tie off the thread by looping the needle twice in succession through a bit of the already sewn in threads. Pull it tight and trim off the extra thread. Then start again with a new pieces of thread.

First pull the needle through a bit of the fabric or a previous stitch.
Then pass the needle through a loop of the same stitch you just made and pull it tight to make a knot. Do this twice to make your knot secure.

Sew all the way around the creation, but be sure to leave a gap of about 2 inches on one edge. Stuff the project with cotton balls until it is nice and fat, pushing the cotton balls up into the head or other small spaces. Once the cotton is in, sew the last bit of the edge of the creation together, tie it off and you are done!


This project took the kids between one and three hours to complete depending on how complicated they decided to make it. My youngest, who is seven, needed help threading, starting, and knotting his needles every time, but the older kids, including the nine year old, eleven year old, and twelve year old did theirs completely on their own once they were shown how initially.


Additional Layers

  • Basic sewing, like being able mend a seam or replace a button are still relevant skills for real life.  This project gives lots of practice without the agony of learning for the sake of learning.
  • Think about other household skills your kids might need, basic electrical, like changing out a light switch, cooking, laundry, or cleaning out gutters, and make a plan to have them practice, or simply mentally prepare yourself for the agony of having “help” and let them at least some of the time.

The Inspiration for this Project

I, Michelle, never ever ever sew just for the fun of it.  I actually abhor crafts. They are my kryptonite. So the adorable little kiwi bird at the beginning of this post was made for a compelling reason . . . you.

Karen and I have written a comprehensive curriculum in the subjects of history, science, geography, and the arts.  It’s especially crafted for homeschools so the units are for all ages, from 6 to 18 years to learn together, family school style.  Though, this also makes it perfect for teachers who often have kids of different abilities in one room.

The kiwi bird project is in Unit 3-15, which includes geography of New Zealand.

Come read about our completely innovative curriculum. You’ve never seen anything like it.

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