Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World and her daughter Jo have a new book out today! Creature Camp helps kids learn and practice a new skill in every chapter, making softies throughout the book.

Today Wendi and her daughter show kids how to embellish fabric with some fancy stitching, which is then used to make really fun snakes. Just like in the book, kids learn how the machine works, how to sew different types of lines (wavy, curvy, parallel, etc.), how to thread the machine, etc. Creature Camp is a great start for kids interested in learning to sew on a sewing machine. 18 critters, monsters and more await!

Wendi loves teaching beginners of all ages how to sew; be sure to hop over for lots of free video tutorials and patterns designed especially for beginners at Shiny Happy World.

Slithery Sewing Machine Skill Drills for Kids

Is my child ready to use a sewing machine?

I get this question a lot, especially now that I have a book out that teaches kids to sew using a machine.

It’s hard question to answer because it depends a lot on the kid. In general I find that ages eight and up are more than ready to use a sewing machine on their own. Up to age eight they’ll need some help. (Get more details about what kind of help in this post.)

The best way to find out if they’re ready is to let them give it a try!

In this project I encourage kids to play with the sewing machine. It’s a no-pressure way get a feel for how it pulls the fabric through on its own, how (and how much) they need to steer, how fast and slow they can make it go and more. And they’re not just practicing on random scraps of fabric that they’ll throw out! They’ll use these fancy fabric strips to sew up a horde of slithery snakes!

If you have a kid just starting out on the machine this is a great way to practice some basic skills. It’s also a good (sneaky) way to see if they’re ready for a book like Creature Camp! Set them loose with this project. It uses a lot of the same skills they’ll learn in the very first project in the book, so if they can handle these snakes they can jump into the book!

Kids like to learn from other kids so I got my daughter Jo (age 11) to do the lesson in this video.

Jo used the same color thread for all her stitching just to keep the pace of the video going. But encourage your kids to change threads as often as they like! It’s a great way to practice re-threading the machine.

Making these snakes is easy!

1. Download the free Snake Charmers pattern here.

2. Cut strips of fabric 3 inches wide and 10 inches long. That’s a little bigger than they’ll need to be for the snakes. All the stitching on the fabric can make it shrink up a bit, so the extra is good. It also can be hard for kids to sew right up to the edges, so this gives them some extra room.

3. Stitch all over the fabric in any design and colors you like. There’s no right or wrong way to do it so this is a totally no-pressure way to practice. Have fun!

4. When kids are happy with the stitching, press the fabric nice and flat.

5. Using the Snake Charmers pattern, trim the pieces to size and sew up some snakes.

6. Make some more!

If they’re ready for today’s project then they’re ready for Creature Camp! It starts out with very basic sewing skills and adds one new skill with each chapter and project. By the end of the book they’ll be working with zippers. Yes, kids can absolutely sew zippers!

Happy sewing!