Sewing with Kids

Do you know someone who would like to learn to sew? Are you teaching yourself, or your child, or a grandchild how to sew?

We think you will love sewing house blocks with Inklingo Combo Layouts, whether you are young, or just young at heart.

We use Combos to print several shapes on one fabric at the same time.

Using the computer and a sewing machine adds some serious glamor for a child.

1. Print the shapes on 3 scraps of fabric with your ordinary Inkjet printer, and cut the shapes apart.

Thanks to the lines printed on the fabric, a child who is too young to learn how to use a rotary cutter can use scissors, and be more independent.

2. Use the Inklingo Puzzle Page to lay all the pieces out in order.

Puzzles are fun, and this one can be used to introduce the idea of seam allowances, sewing right sides together, straight grain, etc.

3. Sew the Sky, Walls, Roof, and Door into 4 rows.

The 4 rows are all different, but the Puzzle Page keeps everything in order.

4. Sew the Windows and join all the rows together.

Inklingo pieces are perfect, and it is so easy to sew along a line that you probably won’t even need to pin.

5. Get out your box of trims and buttons.

Throw the rules out the window.

A sequin makes a good door knob. Do you think Froggy’s House needs curtains? Maybe some green rickrack?


If you have scraps of fabric, some freezer paper, buttons, and trim, you are ready to go!

Everything else is included in the Inklingo School House Shape Collection, and since it is a download, you can have it in the next few minutes.

  • all of the shapes in 3 combo layouts for sky, roof, walls to print on scraps of fabric
  • the puzzle page
  • sewing instructions
  • tips for sewing with kids
  • ideas for decorating your school houses
  • ways to turn school houses into other kinds of houses
  • ways to use more than 3 fabrics
  • ideas for using blocks in a quilt


Kristi of Chicken Soup Designs provides a “driver’s license” to young children who learn sewing by machine. She knows how to make “going to school” more fun.

The School House Shape Collection includes tips for sewing with kids from other designers and teachers too.

My recommendation for very young children is to do it one-on-one, so you can focus on the enjoyment of sewing and creating. You have a chance to turn someone on to a life-long pleasure, especially if the message received is about creativity, confidence, and independence. Our standards of perfection may be different, but if the pleasure is in the process, the technical info (straight grain, etc.) will be absorbed too.


Please leave a tip OR a comment below. If you do, you will be entered in a draw for a $25 Gift Certificate for anything from my site. The winner will be announced on Mother’s Day (8 May 2011).

Don’t you think this is a great way to learn to sew?

Linda & Monkey


New to Inklingo? Order and download free shapes and start sewing in the next few minutes. Quick Start  (Always FREE.) There are triangles, diamonds, and squares  in the free collection—great for dozens of different blocks.

50 thoughts on “Sewing with Kids”

  1. Peggy S in Naples is the winner! The $25 gift certificate number has been emailed to her.
    THANK YOU to everyone who left a tip or a comment.
    Monkey says sewing with kids will never be the same again! 🙂

  2. Don’t know if this is too late, although my daughter is 26, she still expresses interests in sewing. I did give her my hand-me-down Husqvarna Lily. To get her interested in the beginning, I bought a lovely series of books that had great ideas to keep kids interested (and maybe even adults). You made useful things starting out with using paper. There were spirals, mazes, and things to follow which was a great way to learn sewing corners and circles. They turned into little postcards to send to friends. Long and short of it, she never got bored and made a couple small quilts for her cats. Today she will make an occasional pillow or small quilt. Now that I see the Inklingo process printing on fabric, I can see a whole new world opening up.

  3. I agree with others who have mentioned having a young child sit on your lap to sew. My 3 yr old grandson helped make an apron on Nana’s big white machine *as he calls my Viking*.
    I also let my older grkids make small ditty bags at camp Nana a couple of years ago where they not only sewed the bags by machine but also we used a hand mixer to twist our own cording with yarn.
    The best thing I found was to step back from the older ones and let them “learn” not hover but be there to help out when needed!
    Love the frog house by the way!

  4. I have two grandsons, 7 and 10 years old… Both of them love, as they call, ‘working’ on sewing machines…
    The younger one has his own ‘baby’ sewing machine which he loves..(cost $29.95!)’s very slow (just right for him) and not as ‘noisy’ as the big one…
    Schoolhouse block is a perfect project for us. We’ll be using fusible web and than just zig-zag stitch on top….
    btw; zig-zag stitch is boys favourite… they are fascinated by it and love using it especially on paper…

  5. This is great – I’m looking forward to sewing some of these with the young girls I teach. I’m also looking forward to doing the same with my granddaughter – but since she’s only due to arrive in August I have to be patient a bit!

    Thanks for this and the sunflower!

  6. My grandkids live too far away, but don’t forget we can spread the love of quilting to new quilters too. I hope to introduce our group that make quilts for children in The Children’s Aid Society. I plan to use the free sets to teach some simple blocks to our new members.

  7. Because I sewed so much when my son was little, of course he wanted to do what Momma was doing. So I sat him in my lap by the time he was 3 and he helped guide fabrics toward the needle. The results were a haphazard design which I machine quilted for him, and he used for a doll quilt for his teddy bear and other toys. I asked him to write his name for me on paper, and I traced it onto fabric using a Pigma pen, and didn’t alter the backwards “n”, and that is included in the label. We both love that little quilt. I was sewing clothing by age 8, but I recall playing with my Grandma’s treadle machine before that. Happy memories.

  8. Hi Linda,
    Thanks for the wonderful explanation of the answer to Diane’s question. It
    makes the whole situation clearer now. I really appreciate the Inklingo shapes now. Keep them coming.

    Sally A. in NY

  9. Linda, your idea to sew schoolhouses with kidds is fantastic and your Inklingo preparation and the explanations here are wonderful. I’m still waiting to have grandchildren, but I do remember the time my daughter wanted to sew first. Very good memories!
    Thank you
    Brigitte, Germany

  10. Linda, your products are all so fantastic. I wish so that my daughters were younger or my granddaughter was a little older (she is just two), but I plan to purchase this collection for when she does get a little older. I don’t think young girls (and/or boys) are encouraged enough these days to learn the art of sewing. I was taught by my Mother, rest her soul, when I was just about 8 years old and it is a skill and a relaxing hobby I have enjoyed through the years.

    Cathy in TN, USA

  11. dear linda!
    how clever you are! your enthousiam is endless and you take us by the hand in the adventure! even life doesn’t allow me to follow you as much as I would like!
    I taught my four children to sew by machine log cabin when they were 5, 7 or 9 and follow the line on paper was the trick. If inklingo has existed at that time I would have taught them with it!
    thank you very much Linda !
    I always keep in my best tools your tips, and rules and fabrics I won in the challenges!

    MArie in France

  12. Hi Linda,
    I was totally embarrassed to find out that the cd that I have Inklingo was created by you. Life had been hectic n I just didn’t get around to it. Found it in my sewing room wondering what is this. Well, now I know, now that my dvd player is working I’ll be able to check it out. Of course, I just got done watching your video n am anxious to start. I love your work n I thank you for all that you give to us. Happy Mothers’ Day to you n all.

  13. Love the pictures of your backyard. Looks a lot like mine. Thanks for the information on the triangles! Think I will try my hand at EQ7.


  14. Hi all,
    I am really liking the schoolhouse collection.Not only can we teach younger generations to sew but for the few of us who have wanted to make a house quilt but too afraid of doing it the before inklingo way,this is great. I really appreciate eveything you and Monkey do for us.Keep up the great work!!
    Happy Mother’s Day to you and all the mothers out there.
    Peggy S
    Spokane WA

  15. Thank you Linda for the school house pattern….can’t wait to get started on it with Hawaiian prints…my tip for sewing with kids is to relax and enjoy the time with them. I learned the hard way with my son, and now he’s nervous about making a mistake…I will persist

  16. I love inklingo – wish I could buy all your collections. I can see where this would make it a lot easier for a child to start! Thanks

  17. These are wonderful blocks for kids Linda, I think that I have a couple of tips

    rank’s you Linda

    Y speak french C’est merveilleux de travailler avec cette facon d’imprimer les tissus et aussi pour les enfants


  18. I love sewing with my daughter! She’s been on my lap since she was a wee one…I bought a used sewing machine for her to use when she was 5, when she was 7 she was gien permission to sew on my machine without supervision.

    I think the biggest tip is to sew in the best environment you can. My daughter does so much better sewing on my machine in it’s table than she ever did on her machine sitting on top of a card table. She’s more comfortable, and therefore more confident and just better.

    And to not expect perfection. When she’s sewing, we fix WOWs but leave the rest alone. 1/4″ seams are relative. We look at the seam, but only fix what’s really bad.

  19. What a great way to help someone start sewing. When my Son (now 12) wanted to learn how to sew when he was 5 I let him practice on my older machine. I let him use the machine with no thread. I then gave him some lined school paper so he could practice sewing on a straight line. When he was comfortable with the machine I then drew some shapes on the paper. Once he mastered that we made a couple simple stuffies. He really didn’t like using pins to hold the fabric together because he was worried about getting stuck. I think maybe using some stick glue to hold the fabric together might have been a good idea to try. Now it’s all video games but at least he has the foundation in case he wants to try again in the future.

  20. This is so cute! I would suggest that the child make a label in their own handwriting with their name, age, and the date. What a keepsake that would be!

  21. My first tip is get some fork pins. They hold so much better than single pins, whether you’re trying to match seams or just hold two pieces together. These little beauties make matching seams easy for adults, too:)

    My second tip is start young – it’s never too early! I had my little grandson (not quite 3) on my lap this weekend while we mended a pair of pants for his mom. I turned the machine down to slow and ran the foot pedal but he helped guide the fabric to sew on the patch. Now he knows that when you get a rip, you can fix it yourself.

    Oh! And a third tip. I echo what was said above – give them tools that they can handle. I got both 10 year old granddaughters sewing machines this year (birthday present) – a Janome for one and a Brother for the other. Both just basic machines with drop-in bobbin, reverse and zigzag so they can do a lot but not need much help after they become familiar with the machines.

  22. Hi Linda,
    I don’t have little girls in my family but have neigbour girls. Would like to sew with them.
    Erika from Austria where it is difficult to get an introducing to Inklingo

  23. Hi Linda
    My grandaughter wanted to learn to sew at the age of 5 so I sat her down and told her the rules of the sewing machine first.
    Like keeping your hands at the sides and not pulling your fabric but let the machine do the work. Another one is when your foot is on the gas do not turn your head away from the machine also take your foot off first. She just loves to sew and now wants to learn to quilt.

  24. Dear Linda and Monkey,
    what a wonderful creation this is. I have a stack of Kaffe fabrics that are waiting to be used with this block. I am excited to begin.
    I could use Japanese Dwaibo fabric and vintage notions. Decisions, decisions. Perhaps I will go and have some hot chocolate and then decide.
    hugs and high fives and fist pumps,

  25. Let kids “sew” on a piece of paper. They can “trace” a picture with the lines that the needle makes. There’s no pressure to be perfect and the child can become familiar with the motion of the machine.

  26. Wouldn’t it be fun to give a birthday party for your little one and invite a few of her friends to learn to quilt. The pieces would have been printed out and the kids would cut and hand sew their own house. The real fun would be when they start to embellish. A fun memory would be created.

  27. Hi Linda,
    Nice new set! I may have to show to my granddaughters and see if a house quilt is in their future.

    I found that making paper and pinning patterns on the fabric to be sewn was helpful. It allows them to follow the drawn lines and sew through paper and fabric at the same time (especially for dolls, puppets, clothes, etc.) was helpful. It gives them a line to follow and helps to control the stretch of the fabric as it goes under the needle. Paper is then torn off, similar to paper-piecing techniques.

  28. What a great collection Linda.
    My tip for hand piecing with children, use silk thread. You can then knot the thread onto the needle ( just tie a single knot next to the eye). The thread is so fine that the needle will still pass easily through the fabric, but the needle won’t get unthreaded.

  29. Darling pattern, Linda! I think Froggy likes his house the way it is, without rick-rack… He looks so froggy in the doorway! Luv it!

    Thes are all wonderful tips. My goodness, I hope this becomes a “Sewing with Kids” Inklingo collection! There are so many blocks kids would enjoy using this method.

    I guess with the fusible web, it gets even easier – no sewing needed and lots of fun fusing! You could even reduce the size when you print (with the no-seam-allowance Combo), and fuse onto fabric to make covers for school books, decorate clothing, bags, coasters, or whatever else your little one wants.

  30. I have two granddaughters, ages 9 and 14. The 9 year old is the one who loves to sew! I bought a very small Hello Kitty Janome for her to sew with so we would both be sewing along at the same time. My tip is to start small with tools that they can handle, not a machine that does everything and can be confusing. Start with a plan and pattern that the child has chosen to do. I do longarm quilting and I had Alexandria pick a pattern that she wanted to have quilted on her quilt and then from there she picked out the fabric from my stash and we cut blocks and then the sewing began. The only problem was, she discovered the seam ripper and I told her if her seams weren’t consistant and straight, then she might have to rip out a seam and start over. Well, she loved the seam ripper! So as you can see, she loved to sew crooked so she could rip out the stitches! Tip # 2, don’t glamorize the seam ripper! 🙂

  31. For safety (and precision) with a sewing machine, there’s nothing like a vintage hand crank sewing machine! Children love turning the crank. It’s surprisingly easy to guide the fabric with one hand and crank with the other. Many vintage sewing machine owners get involved in fairs and historical reenactments with their hand cranks just to get kids involved. If you’re interested in learning more, consider exploring Treadle On also has a very active email list too.

  32. When I taught a classroom of kids to sew (by hand) one of the best tips I got was to use small snips, the kind that have a cover and look sort of like a pen when closed, for the kids to cut thread. To be sure they had enough to knot at the end of a thread they would stop sewing when the thread from fabric to needle was the length of the closed snips.
    They also cut the threads with the snips toward the table top, and always needed to put the cap back on the snips after they cut. (Good practice for remembering to close the rotary cutter before setting it down.)
    The kids (about 30 of them) had a ball. And requested more sewing.

    Another tip, especially for groups of kids. Have an empty box outside the door to the sewing room. Ask the kids, or kid, to deposit all their wiggles and silliness in the box. Because they need to be able to concentrate and be safe while they are there. THey can pick up the wiggles and such on the way out the door. Sounds silly, but does help with emphasizing that sharp things can be dangerous.

    Love the Schoolhouse block too.

    Pati, in Phx

  33. Oh how I wanted to sew when I was a little girl..not all children do. My daughter never had the desire to learn and I did not push her..I think that is best, let them sew if they want to or they will hate it. The ones that ask to try it will always be the ones to love it. I wanted to so badly and worked at it, going up to my grandmother’s house daily to sew with her..and I got to be very good at it. So my tip is don’t push..some never want to..but grab onto the children that want to sew and they will be the ones to nurture. And even if it is a BOY!

  34. Hi Linda,
    My granddaughters are having their Bat Mitzvah June, 4th.

    When Sarah was an infant, I had just bought an embroidery machine and she would fall asleep in my arms watching the colors sew out and the hum of the machine. She literately grew up around sewing. She (and I) made her first quilt before she was three.

    Sarah and Rebecca LOVE to sew with grandma. We still try to do some sewing when I visit. Unfortunately, for me, they have moved away and we don’t have the same amount of time together.

    Val’s idea of putting interfacing on the back of material is a wonderful idea. My only addition to her list…Guide them, gently, DO NOT push your color choices or placement of fabric. Let the whole project be theirs.



  35. My tips:
    You can take a really small child on your lap behind the sewing machine. That way you can control the foot pedal and the child only has to push the fabric (and you can adjust the fabric or pull little fingers away from the needle where necessary).

    Also, on some machines you can sew without a foot pedal, by pushing a start/stop button instead. A grown up can push the button, so the child only has to concentrate on directing the fabric.

    If the child is a little afraid of sewing at first, you can have him or her test run the block with water soluble thread (top or bottom) first. It makes ripping very easy. Just spray with water and pull the other thread out all at once.

  36. My first graddaughter was born on April 1st and I can hardly wait for her to get old enough to teach her to sew! My grandmother and I spent wonderful hours together where she taught me to embroider and to hand stitch quilt blocks. Sadly none of my daughters caught the bug as hard as I tried so this new grandaughter gives me a new opportunity.

  37. These are wonderful blocks for kids Linda, I think that I have a couple of tips to share:

    First make sure that you are working at a height that is easy for a child. If it means getting a smaller table or a higher chair then do that as it will make a child more comfortable and relaxed.

    kids can embellish with crayons, or markers. Might be easier than sewing on buttons for little ones.

    Also fusible web can be ironed on to the wrong side of a novelty fabric and kids can easily cut out the shapes.

    The main thing tho is to let the child decide what they can do(within reason)…too many underestimate what a child can do, they are way smarter/co-ordinated/adventurous than we are and we shouldn’t forget that.

    Guess this is a jumble of thoughts really..LOL


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