Thursday, February 16, 2012

Simple Upcycled Sewing Cards for Kids

I wanted to make Evan some homemade sewing cards. Now, I am really not at all artistic and cannot draw much more than a stick figure and maybe a basic house (with curtains on the windows!). So, I knew that drawing my own sewing cards was absolutely out of the question.

I started looking around for things I could turn into sewing cards. They needed to be something I did not mind cutting up, sturdy enough to withstand some little boy love, and lovely enough to captivate a three-year-old.

Okay, so maybe captivating a three-year-old is easier than what it would take to draw the attention of us big people. Kids look at everything with interest and find beauty in the most average of everyday things. I went to the craft store a few weeks ago with my seventeen-month-old, Clayton, and he spent the entire shopping trip pointing to just about everything we passed and shouting "Pri-tee!"

Anyway, cereal boxes seemed like they would work just fine. I started to collect any empty boxes with interesting images that would be large enough without cutting into a bunch of text. To add to the variety, I collected any other paperboard boxes (crackers, cookies, etc.), as well as plastic-coated milk and juice containers. I cut out the picture, punched holes around the sides of the card or along the edges of the image, and gave them to Evan to try out.

He used his own blunt, plastic needle threaded with embroidery floss.

Another trip to the craft store is really in order before I will be totally happy with the results, but Evan was so, so excited about these sewing cards. Really the holes need to be smaller and I need to get some yarn instead of the embroidery floss that we used. But we worked with what we had and cobbled together something that was surprisingly successful. I just clumped a piece of tape around the end of the thread to prevent it from popping though the holes.

Steps to make your cards even better than mine!

  • Cut out tons of cards (we have six right now and are still collecting)
  • Punch holes in the edges with a small hole punch
  • Thread a large, blunt needle (plastic or metal) with yarn
  • Tie the top end of the yarn around the needle to keep it from falling out while your child is sewing
  • Tie a knot at the bottom of the yarn as you would for normal sewing

As your child is beginning, help them point their needle in the right direction through the holes with some gentle reminders. We pretended that animals were hopping or crawling over our cards and even added stickers to help us visualize this. On our card shaped like a leaf, we talked about the caterpillar who was eating from the top of the leaf and then from the bottom. As Evan was sewing, I repeated, "Now the caterpillar climbs UP through the hole. Now the caterpillar climbs DOWN through the hole..." If Evan missed a hole or wrapped the thread around the side of the card, we would say, "Oops! What is that silly caterpillar doing!"and would work together to get the caterpillar untangled and back to the right place.

Evan loved these cards, even with all of their flaws. They kept his attention and made him giggle a lot too. It was great to watch his focus and to see him learn - by the time we got to the third card or so, he was able to notice and correct his own mistakes and no longer needed constant reminders to bring the needle up and down. I imagine that he will be able to pick these cards up and practice his sewing on his own the next time, as long as I leave some needles already threaded and at the ready.


  1. This IS great! I wish my boy will love the "business" as well, when he gets that age (now he is 1 1/2). Until then I will just get inspired.

  2. Love this. Sewing cards would be a great solution for my little ones when they want to help Mama sew! Thanks for the idea.
    (I also noticed the National Geographic magazines! Our copies get a lot of use too:)

  3. What a great idea to keep little fingers busy! My oldest kids are a bit old for this, but my wee one will be this age before too long-I'll be sure to try this!