Crafts to Build Fine Motor Skills – Hand Sewing For Kids

| January 5, 2010 | 8 Comments

They say knitting is the new yoga and sewing is the greatest happy pill out there. If a needle and thread can sooth the savage beast, fork a whole pile over to me and the 4-year-old. Both of us are searching for that quiet, peaceful truth these days!

And, lately, it seems that those wives tales actually are very true. Over the last couple of weeks we took to teaching ourselves the value of felt, buttons and some together time at the kitchen table in the form of sewing and found it lovely, fun and even soothing.

For the longest time, I have been a bit hesitant to try anything that involves a sharp object that could end up in an eye. But, after a recent assessment for some physical concerns the tiny person is dealing with, the news came back that we needed to find ways for her to work on her fine motor skills, through projects that were both soothing and tactile.

That’s when my mom recommended hand sewing.


I remember as a kid spending a whole lot of time doing embroidery and lots of hand stitching as a way to chill out in the afternoons.

At four-years-old, our daughter isn’t quite ready for something that complex. But, with the addition of a new wooden castle to the “magical world” she’s been creating with her toys, art and stories the last year or so, she wanted very much to find ways to create a whole whack of things to go in her “magical forest” or house her “magical fairies.”

So, we busted out the felt and the button box for some serious sewing.

Here’s what you need:

- Felt cut into chunky shapes (we did leaves for the magical forest),

- Embroidery thread (it comes in great colors, which makes it even more interesting for the younger crowd),

- Buttons (easily thrifted), and

- Large embroidery needle (one with a big eye works best).


1. While you are cutting out felt shapes, let your kids sort through the buttons to find ones with big holes.

2. Let your kids pick the thread color (embroidery thread won’t break off like regular thread does).

3. Thread the needle (for younger kids) and tie a knot at the end of it. Then also knot it right at the eye so it doesn’t come undone.

4. You can either start the sewing process for them or let them try it for themselves. Then, guide them through how to find the holes from the back side to thread back through and how to switch sides.


Be patient and don’t expect perfection. We had lots of string wrapped around the outside of the leaf and lots of redos.

To protect eyes, supervision is most definitely required. We talked A LOT about safety and showed her what it would feel like when she inevitably pricked herself with the needle on her hand. That seemed to do the trick! But, if you are nervous, you can always have your tiny person wear a pair of work goggles or sunglasses.

Once you’ve mastered buttons, you can move on to other cool things. We made fairy sleeping bags that we’ll feature later on this month, along with some other sewing adventures.

It’s so exciting to see kids progressing through their creativity and finding new ways to get into it all.

Now, I have to go get my sewing zen on.

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Category: ARTS & LITERACY, Crafts

About the Author ()

Robin Rivers is the Project Development Director for Vancouver-based Mherge Media Group. Often can be found leaping tall buildings with the help of great friends. Predisposed to odd hats and the color orange. In love with imagination, her kids and that crazy guy who married her.

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  1. Hand Sewing For Kids- Fine Motor Skills · Lesson Plans @ CraftGossip | January 5, 2010
  1. Maureen says:

    Have you tried spool knitting or finger knitting? Both fun and inexpensive.

  2. Stacey says:

    Once the kiddos have the basics of sewing down, small felt toys are fun to make too. We just cut out two matching shapes (we made a yellow chick), then she (6 years old) sewed it most of the way around, I found some bits of yarn to stuff it and I sewed it shut. She sewed on some fancy ribbon to decorate it too. She loved the whole process of making her very own toy.

  3. Robin Rivers says:

    Maureen, we got some finger knitting tools for Christmas. Looking forward to trying that out.

    Stacey, I am totally looking forward to being able to make other things – although the kiddo and I are about at the same level when it comes to sewing skills:)

    Thanks for the suggestions!

  4. Rosina says:

    Ahh… Felt, buttons & embroidery floss. Now that is fun stuff!! L has been doing a lot of hand sewing with felt and it is so much fun for her and me *grin*. I love doing kiddy projects to as they usually end up so whimsical :) The possibilities are endless. Have fun creating!

  5. Wonderful idea! The girls will have so much fun going through my button stash!

  6. Lesa says:

    Felt is nice because it keeps its shape and it doesn’t fray, however, I discovered that it CAN be difficult for children to push a needle through it. I had chosen slightly more blunt needles, for safety, but those turned out to be too difficult to push through the felt – thus MORE dangerous to use. Good sharp needles are best. Even with sharp needles, though, a woven fabric is much easier to push a needle through.

  7. Julie says:

    We too were looking for a way to help the hand eye coordination and have taken to hand sewing. (keep in mind I don’t sew although I took home ec in junior high). My 5 little girls ages 5 to 8 found sewing a wonderful outlet. They have been asking over and over to sew the past two days. Its wonderful to see all they can do. Here’s an idea – use shelf liner and yarn. Look at how we did it. Its inspiring!
    My girls designed their own pictures and sewed them in. Each project lasted about 20 minutes. Perfect for short but growing attention spans.

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