Sew, What's New?

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Kids sewing machines are a great introduction to creative crafting. There's no better way to get a child interested in sewing than to give her a children's machine of her very own.

Most machines that are sold specifically for children are more toy than tool, which can make discovering sewing pure fun. Colorful, lightweight, and often associated with favorite characters like Barbie and Hello Kitty, these super-simplified machines fascinate children. While youngsters are having fun they're developing both creativity and coordination and laying the foundation for a lifetime skill.

Early-learner or toy machines are kid-friendly in more than looks. They're specially sized for children and developed with both safety and ease of operation in mind. They come in both battery and AC powered versions, and many have dual power options. Most models include drop-in bobbins for ease of use and the best also have finger guards, a special safety feature that keeps little fingers away from the needle.

Children's sewing machines aren't the same as mini machines, which are scaled-down versions of standard machines. Mini or compact machines more powerful and have greater speed and capability than those made just for kids, which makes them a good choice for youngsters 12 and over.

Michley LSS-202 Lil' Sew & Sew Mini 2-Speed Sewing Machine
Factors to consider when buying kids sewing machines

Age - generally speaking, even toy machines are best for children at least eight years of age. Though most brands of children's machines are designed and manufactured with safety in mind, younger children may lack the necessary coordination for safe use.

Experience - will this be the child's first exposure to sewing? If so, the simpler, more basic, and more geared to learning, the better. Many child's machines are sold with kits that include instructions for simple projects along with everything necessary to complete them.

Type of projects - Some children's machines produce only a chain stitch, which is easily pulled out. This is fine for "pure practice" sewing, but may not be satisfactory for projects that involve actual construction or are intended to be permanent.

Adult supervision and assistance required

Machines made specifically for children feature super-simple operation and many have special safety features, but children will need some instruction and supervision. An adult should be close at hand when children are using the machines, especially at first.

By Ruth Butters
If you're looking for a small sewing machine that's more tool than toy, mini sewing machines could be just what you're looking for. Find out more about your sewing machine options at Specialty Sewing Machines.

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Comment by Linda Lee on December 4, 2009 at 2:14am
I have a differing opinion. I love toys, but I view sewing machines as serious tools. I would hate a child to experience the discouragement of bobbin or stitch problems from a toy machine. I've been discouraged from an inferior sewing machine, dull needles, dull or cheap scissors that don't cut fabric sharply and many other frustrations from using poor quality tools.

When I give a grandchild a sewing machine it will be a quality real machine in a small enough size so the child can lift it for storage. It will have capabilities to sew built-in buttonholes and other zig-zag and finishing stitches. It will have a cover, hopefully one that can be locked. I might have to add the lock portion. I believe it is important to learn on good tools. I let children help me tie a basted quilt by using sharp scissors to clip threads. They've also trimmed stitches on items I was taking apart. Smaller ones have enjoyed pulling out pins and sticking them back in a soft pin cushion or a magnetic one. Of course, they are sitting by me the entire time. None have been cut or hurt. Instead they learned respect for sharps. I remember my elderly aunt teaching me to embroider. She gave me a lovely wooden hoop, beautiful floss, small sharp scissors and a packet of needles. I practiced often. The worst thing I did was stitch my work to the skirt of my dress. That taught patience and "unsewing."

I learned to sew at age 11 using my mom's machine. She was generous with it and never seemed to worry I would hurt it. Sewing became a lifetime passion I now pass on.

I believe in supplying the next generations with quality tools. I give wooden knitting knobbies and quality yarn to young grandchildren. One called me from another state to ask a question about her project or how to end it or how to begin the next. Between me, the child and sometimes a parent, that works. It works better in person, but I don't live near for now.

I always give children the best arts and crafts equipment and supplies I can find. For watercolor paints, pens, paper, tablets, etc., I use artist supply stores or web sites. I want their art to last and it will.

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